I’m sure most of you who are reading this have lost at least one dog if not multiple to old
age, sickness, etc. There are few things that are worse than losing our companions, our best
friends who were there for us for so many years; always loyal, always making us feel better
when we were feeling down. Actually, I have just lost one of my boys last October. He was
almost thirteen, and I’ve had him for about ten years. I thought my heart would break. It has
gotten better but I miss Tyson every day. Sometimes I catch myself looking for him.
But some people do not seem to feel this way. At the shelter we deal with dogs being
returned all the time. There are reasons that can’t be helped (someone moving into a retirement
home for example), but other reasons are harder to understand. Just two examples are getting
divorced or having a baby. But I don’t want to talk about those reasons. I want to talk about
people abandoning, surrendering, or returning senior dogs. This is just something that breaks my
heart. When we get a dog that is about two or three, it is much easier and much more likely for
them getting adopted than it is for dogs six and up. We had one dog, her name was Twist, and she
was returned after a few years because her family decided to get a puppy. Twist didn’t like the
puppy, so Twist had to leave. I remember when I adopted Tyson; I already had my other dog,
Nate. That first week after bringing Tyson home was a really bad week. The two of them got into
fights constantly (instigated by Nate, because of territory issues, I assume). I had barely any
experience, as Nate was my first dog. So I tried to separate them a lot and got bitten multiple
times. Everything calmed down after this first week, but if I had been put into the position to
make a decision if they had not worked it out, Tyson would have had to be the one to leave.
Looking back at this, it breaks my heart all over again and I’m so happy they have worked it out.
Back to Twist, in my opinion, she should have been the one who got to stay and not the puppy.
Yes, senior dogs usually develop health issues, and they get more expensive because of this. But
haven’t we made a commitment when we let them into our lives? They are dependent on us,
when they are being old even more. A decision to adopt a dog is a lifetime commitment.
Unfortunately, not everybody seems to take this as seriously.
And to those people I want to say this: you don’t know what you are missing. These
seniors are so great. They need less activity; are very content. And as hard as it was to make the
decision to let go of Tyson, to give him peace because he was in pain; I’m glad I was there with
him. I sat with him until his last breath and he was not alone. It broke my heart but I was there
for my friend who had been there for me so many times before; basically every day I had the
privilege to have him.
The seniors at Fopas are lucky. If they are in our care when their time comes, someone is
always with them, so they are not alone in their last moments on earth. And they are loved, loved
by every volunteer at our little shelter. And they are mourned. And I feel sorry for the people who
do not get this love, because they abandon their senior dogs because they are no fun anymore, or