Old Dogs

By: Joel Allen

Hello, folks! I hope everyone had a great Saint Patrick’s Day and the “Luck of the Irish” was with all. Years ago, when my PeePaw (Granddad on Mom’s side of the family) was alive, he rescued a few dogs. He gave them lots of love. One thing he used to do was call the dogs to him, and he would give each one an Oreo cookie. There was one among his pack named Checkers, and she would always eat her Oreo quickly and circle back around as if she never got one. PeePaw would play along and give her another. After PeePaw passed away, my mom and the family all took in PeePaw’s dogs. Mom brought home Checkers and Sissy. At the time, they weren’t that old but they were very loving. Sissy was a Great Dane and German shepherd mix so she was a big girl. She had the color of the shepherd. Checkers probably had Labrador and collie mix.  She was white with brown speckles and a brown mask to her ears.

Anyways, they were quite the characters. Checkers was a “foodie” and though Sissy liked food she craved “lubbins” too. Sissy did not like storms though, and if one came, she was in your lap smothering whomever was the poor victim that so happened to be near her. It was usually Mom, LOL. But when Sissy was happy, she would be by Mom and Dad’s bed arching her back and scratching it with the side of their bed doing a happy bark with every shove of her body using the bed as a back scratcher. Checkers was dubbed “Chubby Checkers” because she always wanted your food, and she would smile and wiggle her body in such a cute way that it was hard to say no. I cannot remember exactly how old they were when they passed, but I know that they lived a long time with all the love we gave them.

So, who is thinking of adopting or fostering an old dog? Are there pros and cons to doing so? If you’re reading this and are having thoughts of adopting or fostering, then we will try and help make up your mind.

Let’s talk about adopting an old dog. Adopting is supposed to be a permanent deal, and the life one can offer an old dog should be one of loving and understanding. This can be a first-time adoption where the family has never had a dog and an old dog would be a great start. Old dogs tend to be set in their ways, so if they are a little stubborn, just be patient. Then again, ask yourself, “Who’s being stubborn?” Could it be that you’re expecting the old dog to behave like a younger dog? Be careful not to believe some popular beliefs of how a dog should act, like for instance like Lassie. (Just throwing that thought into the mix.) If they give more than expected in a positive way, then take that as a win-win. One can also adopt an old dog that just needs a peaceful place to be loved while they are getting ready to pass on. Sort of like a “hospice” for dogs where they are given a safe place to call theirs until they go to be with the Lord. Some will say, “Why not euthanize the dog?” I see your logic, but in my opinion, it’s a cold logic and I tend to look at a dog with more respect than some humans. Why not euthanize yourself when you’re past a certain age? Another thing to remember is that like old people, old dogs can have achy joints or health issues too. So if they are slow and grumbly, again, be patient.

Now let’s discuss fostering. Fostering is much like adopting with a slight difference. Your home will be open to the dog for a place to stay while the shelter or rescue searches for their “furever” home. Some shelters and rescues offer a foster-to-adopt program which is really a great idea because your home could be a perfect fit should your foster dog get along with everyone, including the cat. Fostering also keeps the shelter or rescue involved in any vet care the dog may need and fostering also frees up space in the shelters or rescues. Be sure to ask your local shelter or rescue about their requirements for fostering.

Lastly, I will leave everyone with an Easter story of what my PeePaw did for a joke, as my mom told me years ago. Sorry Mom if I leave out anything, but I am going to share this as best I remember it. I hope everyone gets a laugh. Typical PeePaw pranking everyone. It was Easter morning and Mom and her sisters were kids. PeePaw waited for them to get up, and as everyone was coming into the kitchen where the dogs stayed, PeePaw threw a lucky rabbit’s foot down and said, “Look girls! The dogs ate the Easter Bunny.” Well Mom and her sisters began to cry and they started whipping those “bad dogs” with their pillows and such for eating the Easter Bunny. The dogs had that “What did we do?!” look on their faces. PeePaw was just a-laughing, and the whole time, no one bothered to look at the rabbit’s foot and see it had a gold chain attached to it!

I leave everyone with one more thing to consider when adopting or fostering. Some dogs have been through hell and back. They too can develop PTSD and sometimes these dogs have permanent character flaws. A trainer can help with behavior issues should the need arise, but I cannot promise that this will correct the problem. So, until next month be safe!

By: Joel Allen