In Praise of Adopting Senior Dogs

In Praise of Adopting Senior Dogs

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

This amazing post was written by Tuesdi Woodworth, one of the founders of Miracle GSD Rescue. (Check them out on Facebook.) We have adopted two seniors in our over 20 years of welcoming rescued German Shepherd Dogs into our lives. We wouldn’t trade our time with Sydney or Cinder for anything!

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Our Cinder (adopted two years ago at age 8)

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Our girl Sydney (gone to the Rainbow Bridge) adopted at age 8

As Miracle GSD Network closes in on our 800th Miracle Dog Rescue, we are proud to say that approximately 100 of them have been age 7 or older. At the same time it saddens us. We wish we could help more of the seniors – but to do that we need to help people understand the joy of adopting and fostering them – these dogs are passed over time and time again, because “It would be too hard to lose them so quickly.”

November is “Adopt a Senior” month. Almost all of the rescues that Miracle partners with have seniors in their programs. Wonderful seniors that are just…..WAITING for a home. And waiting. And waiting. They (and WE here at Miracle) would love to help more of them, but they cannot do it without more fosters and adopters! Everyone always wants the rescues to help the seniors and they get emails and messages by the dozen about it. But how can we save more when they can’t find them homes? When they know they will be there for months and months, because so many people pass them over because they want young dogs. It is just….WRONG. We have to somehow convince more people that adopting a senior is a wonderful thing! Your time with them will be extra special, even if it is a little shorter. How do we convince you? We thought by sharing the story of Miracle Dog #00 – King – might help!

I am sorry that this is going to be long – this is something I am really passionate about it. Please, Please – take the time to read it! I hope that we can convince even ONE person to adopt/foster a senior.

First – All of us at Miracle GSD are so grateful to the fantastic rescues that we work with! They all do their best to help senior dogs when they can, but they all have the same problem…convincing people to adopt them. People want puppies. People want “young” dogs. The Rescues can’t save nearly as many seniors as we would like them to. They simply don’t have space. Seniors tend to stay at the rescue longer, most of the time they can only have one or 2 in residence – as they could be there for months until adoption. That space would turn over multiple times in the same time period with younger dogs. So – they have to be careful. Their hands are tied. When a senior dog ends up in the shelter, it rips all of our hearts out. Yours, too! We all scream for help, and beg rescues to take them. SO – we ALL want these dogs safe, and we all agree they are SO deserving. If that is the case, then WHY aren’t we all ADOPTING OR FOSTERING THEM? Obviously, there are some valid reasons people cannot help a senior. Maybe they have a dog that is not dog friendly and can’t take another. Maybe they can’t afford some of the medical care that might be needed – mobility drugs or that sort of thing. Maybe they live in a home with lots of stairs just to get into it. And of course there are other good reasons.

But do you know what we hear most of all as a reason? “I would take him if I could, but I just can’t do it because I would be too sad that they would leave me too quickly- I couldn’t take it.” Now THIS- this is NOT a valid reason. That comes from fear, and it is selfish. Harsh words, I know. But hey – I can remember saying them, myself a few years ago – so I get why someone uninformed might think that. (Boy was I uninformed, then!). Let me tell you my personal story.

I’ve had German Shepherds, raised from pups, for over 25 yrs. Also rescued greyhounds for the same length of time. A few years ago, when our greyhound passed, we went back to the rescue to adopt another – they had several available under 2 years old. We had a GSD pup at the time, our second, and he was about 6 months old or so. Well – we got there, and they brought out the first girl to see us. OH MY, was she sweet and beautiful. She was a lovely golden color, and so soft and sweet. She slowly ambled up to us, gave us kisses, and went to lie on a bed, I loved her! They said “This is Tillie. She was adopted from us, and her owner died, so she has come back. She’s 8 years old.” MY HEART SANK. EIGHT? I said, umm we said we wanted a dog under 2. He said, Oh – I know. I just wanted you to see her because we really need to find her a home. We will go get another, younger one. He left Tillie there, looking at us, while he brought out the next one. She was adorable, too, and about 2 years old. Fearful, and tiny. Typical greyhound rescue that had just arrived from the track. We will take her, we said. But we kept looking over at Tillie. This beautiful, soulful girl. We just could NOT walk out without her. So we took both dogs. What a fantastic dog Tillie was! We NEVER even thought of her as a senior – she was just a quiet, fun loving presence in our home. She was with us about 3-4 years when she took ill, and we were unable to save her. How I cried when she went, but I knew we had given her a great life. We still had the GSD, now an adult, and the other grey. It never occurred to us that we had done anything special – and again we never thought about her being a senior.

A few years later, my GSD Hobie contracted a fast spreading cancer. He was only 7 years old. The last GSD I had had from puppyhood had lived 14 years, and died of old age. I did everything medically that I could to prolong Hobie’s life, but he died at 7. The weeks before he died (and I knew the end was coming) we did a ton of stuff together, a bucket list of sorts, and the time was super special. I savored every minute because I knew he was not going to be there soon. It was awful when he passed. But I knew I had given him a great home.

So I found myself dog-less. Ok for a few months while I grieved. During that time, I started to see more and more German Shepherds on Facebook popping up needing rescue, mostly in California. I had NO idea this was going on! I am in Maine – we don’t have thousands of dogs in shelters. And a GSD in a shelter would be very rare. I was blown away by what was happening around the country, which until then I hadn’t been aware of! And amongst all those dogs were seniors. Sweet, elderly, beautiful dogs betrayed. I had been planning on getting another GSD pup….but…..the more I saw these dogs, the more I thought – maybe I should help a senior dog. It might be easier – I wouldn’t have to housetrain a pup, run home from work to let them out…etc etc. The idea kept growing, and I kept seeing more and more of them. So I decided. I WOULD do it. I would save an OLDER dog that was on death row! So I did – with help – save a senior dog that was euth listed from a shelter in CA. I won’t go into the mechanics of how that was done here to move the story along. I was so proud, and excited. I had to wait a couple of weeks for his transport, and I was telling everyone here at home about it, and they almost all were asking me “Why would you put yourself through this again! You lost Hobie just a few months ago, and this is an old dog! He won’t be around for long and you will be heartbroken again!” And I kept saying – I will be OK. I am doing a good thing for this dog. I am saving his life! I’d thought and thought about it.

So – King arrived. The shelter estimate was 10 yrs old, I believe he was younger. 8 maybe. He seems to be around 12-13 now. He’s slowed down but he is still pretty active. I’ve had him longer than I thought I would. Can I tell you the JOY that this dog has brought me? He bonded to me the second he saw me. That very day. Don’t let anyone EVER tell you an older dog won’t bond with you. Don’t let anyone EVER convince you that you can’t train an older dog. I’ve checked adoption apps and done interviews for rescues and I have had people tell me that they don’t want an adult dog because of those very reasons. I’ve had them tell me that they want to have a young dog to grow up with their children. I DO understand this, I DO. But how about teaching your children some empathy, too, around this important issue. Imagine bringing a senior into your home, and teaching your kids the value of that – having them grow up with that kind of compassion for older animals? You know how I said when my Hobie was dying, I had a few weeks that were very special with him? We did bucket list sort of things, and the time was super special. With King – we live every day like that since the day he got to me. Because I don’t know how much time he has left, so from the day he arrived – our time has been special! That is how it is when you adopt a senior! And King is responsible for saving HUNDREDS of lives himself, because HE was the reason Miracle GSD Network was formed – his story brought our group together! He started it all! We call him Miracle Dog #00.

Seniors give SO much, and you need to do SO LITTLE in return. Seniors are easy. They are grateful. They fit into most households and packs easily. DO NOT BE AFRAID! When I lost my first GSD at 14, I was devastated. My heart was broken. When I lost my second GSD at 7, I was devastated. My heart was broken. When I lose King, I will be devastated. My heart will be broken. BUT – THIS time will be a little different. There will be a SWEETNESS, too. He would have been dead 4 years ago, if I hadn’t rescued him. Didn’t he deserve those years? I know his last 4 years were better than the prior ones he had lived. And he would have died in a cold, unforgiving place after enduring the crappy life he had been served up – would that have been fair? Because he was old? NO – I gave him something, and he gave me – and the rescue community something. So THIS time – with the sadness will be the sweetness.

Adopting a senior is a joyful experience, not a sad one – you will NEVER regret it. I promise. I would, and will, do it again with no hesitation, until there are no more abandoned seniors being euthanized in shelters. Adopt or foster a senior! From a shelter OR a rescue! If you adopt or foster a dog from a rescue then you are giving them space to save another – you are saving a beautiful life! Please consider it – you can make a wonderful difference in the life of an old dog!

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The wonderful King – Miracle Dog #00

You can read more about Miracle GSD Network here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097/

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

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Update on Miracle Dog #555 – Guthrie T

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

The following story was shared with me by The Miracle GSD Network and The Thulani Program. I’m so very grateful that they keep me up-to-date with their wonderful stories. If you recall, I first wrote about Guthrie T in September of 2015. I feel especially close to Guthrie T in that we were able to donate to help with his surgery and medical care. I hope you will enjoy this update and appreciate the wonderful work being done by The Miracle GSD Network and The Thulani Program in making a huge difference, one dog at a time.

The Story Of Guthrie T.

Guthrie’s rescue story started at the Moreno Valley Shelter in July of 2015. He became Miracle GSD, #555 and brought into the Thulani Program. He came in as a stray with a bloody, ulcerated toe that needed to be removed and biopsied. As it turned out, he had pneumonia as well! Guthrie was treated for his illness, his toe was removed and thankfully, it was not cancerous.

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Guthrie in the Shelter (Before rescue by the Miracle GSD Network)

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Guthrie T Knows He’s Now Safe!

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Guthrie T looks sad, but his medical care had been accomplished

From there he went to his foster home in early September. During his stay with his foster humans, they discovered that Guthrie had had a pretty rough past. He would run away when his food bowl was given to him. He would lower his head and ears when you reached to pet him. It was very clear that he had fallen victim to some sort of abuse in his past. After about a month with his fosters, he started opening up, trusting, and even came looking for love with smiles and his tail wagging! Once he reached this point, it was time for Adoption Days and a search for his perfect retirement home.

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Guthrie T at his Foster Home

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Guthrie T in September!

It took a little while to find his perfect match, but in late December she entered his life. Here are some of her updates:

“All day, when let out, Guthrie would stand at the door and look in but wouldn’t come in if he saw me.

I finally stood by the bedroom sliding door and when he walked in the family room I ran outside, shoeless as to not make noise, and shut the family room sliding glass door.

Just now I let him out to use the bathroom. Got busy and did not leave the door open. After only 10 minutes I heard this howling. It was Guthrie. Opened the door and he came in…. too cute.” 12/30/15

“He has opened up into the amazing dog he was meant to be.

Now sleeping at my bedside. He wants to get on the bed but her royal highness has not allowed this.

He wakes me up to go to the bathroom and runs back in the house as soon as he is finished.” 1/10/16

“The new thing this week is he will come in the house when new people are over and stay near me. He is friendly enough to them in terms not growling but I do not let them pet him yet. We all wonder if he comes inside to protect me?

When they leave he goes back outside.

He won’t come in the garage to sleep but he does go in for his meals and water. Because of his PTSD I do want to get a house for him and put it in a corner of the yard.

When it is dark he does come in to sleep.

He goes to the door for potty and wines a little if I’m sleeping. Smart boy.

Love to see him running to me with his happy smiling face when I come home after even a short absence.

When I tell him he is safe and loved he seems to smile. “ 1/24/16

“loving this boy..

– he is getting in the car

– he went to the vet and had his ears and teeth cleaned .. they said he was a sweet boy

– calmly comes in the house now and even if the door is open stays inside most of the day

– sleeps all over the house, not just in corners

– loves walks

– loves company … or stays near me to protect me?” 2/16/16

“Guthrie no longer has nightmares that cause him to bolt up, growl and cry.

He does not like to stay outside, but will if needed.

New transition –

Guthrie had started crying to get up in the bed a month ago but I didn’t encourage him because Star was so territorial.

One day I walked in the bedroom and he was lying in the middle of the bed as if this is where he was meant to be.

Eventually one day he got up on the bed while I was reading. He was so emotionally overwhelmed he had a panic attack and ran outside to his ‘safe space’.

He now knows to only climb in bed when Star is not in sight and loves to cuddle – well, demands it!

I remember a trainer telling me “why did you take this dog” .. “love will not be enough to help him”.

So happy I trusted my connection and relationship with Guthrie over that advice.” 4/7/16

Looks like Guthrie is finally living his much deserved happily ever after!! Thank you Jeanette (adopter mom) !!

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Guthrie T Looking Loved and Happy

If you want to learn more about adopting a wonderful dog like Guthrie T, please contact Bob at thulanidogs@gsrnc.org. The Thulani Program has several stipulations for adoption which you can read about on their website: http://thulanidogs.org/

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Quick Update on Guthrie T

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

Many of you have asked about some of the “Miracle Dogs” I’ve posted stories about. From the Miracle GSD Network’s Facebook page, I have the following great news:

“Another fabulous senior boy with another fabulous update! These are “progress reports” we NEVER get tired of sharing! GUTHRIE T, Miracle GSD #555 saved by the fab Thulani Program last July is doing great. His Mom, Jeannette shared the following with us: “He has opened up into the amazing dog he was meant to be. Now sleeping at my bedside. He wants to get on the bed but her royal highness has not allowed this. He wakes me up to go to the bathroom and runs back in the house as soon as he is finished. Next week is putting on leash and walks- we have a definite schedule starting at 0600. His best walk time is noon thankfully. As soon as I get him in the car we are going German shepherd boot camp!” The good life… YEAH for Guthrie T!”

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Guthrie in the Shelter (Before rescue by the Miracle GSD Network)

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Guthrie T Knows He’s Now Safe and Loved!

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Guthrie T Shortly After Rescue

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Guthrie T Today!

Everyone who reads my blog knows how I feel about adopting seniors. One look at the “before” and “after” photos here will see exactly why I’m such a proponent of adopting a rescue, and why seniors ROCK!

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

 

 

DON’T BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?–HERE’S A REAL ONE–MIRACLE GSD NETWORK

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

This story is a follow-up to my last post about the Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue 3rd Annual Reunion. I’ve had several people ask me about the Miracle GSDNetwork and the different rescues with which they work. Through the kind permission of The Miracle GSD Network team and Thulani Dogs, I am reposting a terrific article from their website. I’m sure you will enjoy it. These people ARE miracle workers.

Miracle GSD Network Team Members

Miracle GSD Network Team Members

“In the summer and early fall of 2012, a few people got together to see what they could do to help all the German Shepherds they were seeing that were dying in southern California shelters.  After talking for several weeks, they decided their best route would be to work with reputable rescues to move the dogs to places they could be adopted – where GSDs weren’t as common.  Their idea was to navigate the complicated California shelter system FOR the rescue.  Partner with the shelters, temp test the dogs, arrange with a rescue partner for the “pull”, arrange vet, board, and transport to the rescue – AND to raise the funds to do it.  They wanted to do this – to deliver the dog to the rescue – without the rescues having to figure all this out – taking away from the important job of taking care of the dogs, and getting them adopted.  Rescues already HAVE too much work to do!  After months of planning, Miracle GSD Network was formed, and “pulled” their first dogs in October 2012 from the Coachella Valley Shelter in CA for Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue.

Miracle GSD Network only works with a select few rescues that they have thoroughly checked out, and have processes in place that employ good and transparent rescue practices.   Since 2012 they have built a partnership with several rescues and shelters, and with many people on the “ground” assisting with temp tests, fostering, and transporting. They have earned the trust of so many people in rescue.  This small group of people is spread out all over the country – Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina…”

Thulani Dogs is one of the select rescues who has been approved to work with Miracle GSD Network.. They have a marvelous website. Thulani is not your “everyday” rescue. These are people with an amazing strength. Here are a couple of excerpts from their website:

“The Thulani Program is a subactivity of German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California (GSRNC) that focuses on helping German Shepherds with limited life expectancy, typically measured in months or possibly as much as a year.  Although independently run, this program is fully integrated with the much broader activities of GSRNC…”

“The Thulani Program for providing hospice care and sanctuary for German Shepherd dogs with limited life expectancy was founded in mid-2009 as a German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California response  to a need identified by our shelter evaluators.  The evaluators were finding German Shepherd dogs in shelters that were wonderful dogs, but because of terminal medical conditions or extreme age, were not dogs that could successfully be adopted out to the public as part of regular adoption program. Yet these wonderful dogs have some quality life left for them, even though it might be short. The evaluators realized that, if they turned their backs on these dogs, they very likely would die alone and afraid in the shelter almost immediately…”

The Thulani Program has a wonderful website: http://thulanidogs.org/

Here are photos of “Morrie T.” He was a Miracle Dog who was adopted through Thulani.

“Morrie T” in the shelter (Just pitiful!)

Photographer, Jane Sobel Kronsky Morrie T with

Photographer, Jane Sobel Kronsky
Morrie T with “mom” Vicky (this year) – Just look at the happy, healthy, much-loved boy , now!

JUST ADDED!!!

Here are photos of two sweet, elderly dogs who were just rescued out of a shelter in California. They are going to the tremendous Thulani Program!

Shelter photo of Lucky and Sugar

Shelter photos of Lucky and Sugar

and NOW, here are their “Freedom” photos!

So good to see these two going to a place where they will be loved the rest of their days!

So good to see these two going to a place where they will be loved the rest of their days!

“Miracle GSD Network is PROUD to partner with the Thulani Program, to save Senior & Hospice German Shepherds – a cause near & dear to their hearts.  Miracle GSD Network is an “informal” organization dedicated to helping rescues navigate the difficult shelter system by coordinating “pulls” of dogs in need.  Visit (ask to join) our Facebook page – it is a HAPPY PLACE – where we post updates of all our “Miracle Dogs” – to date over 450 saved:”

Since this article was written, so many more dogs have been saved thanks to the combined efforts of the Network and their associated rescues. As of this writing, 564 dogs have been pulled from shelters and sent to rescues across the country. It’s so remarkable that such a small group can do so much good! I think it proves that if you really want to do something ‒ you CAN!

If you’re interested in learning more about Miracle GSD Network, you can visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097/

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!