I'd been wanting a dog for a while, and I'd pretty much decided on a senior dog for several reasons:
1. We have three cats and I thought a younger dog would be too rambunctious for them.
2. We aren't particularly active people, so something a little more mellow would work better
3. I knew they were less likely to get adopted
4. Honestly, I wasn't sure how I would wind up liking the work of a dog, so a two to five year commitment seemed smarter than 15-20.
There was a shelter around the corner from my office where my friend and I would go on lunch breaks sometimes and just hang out with animals. We weren't official volunteers, just went as time allowed to socialize kittens, walk dogs, whatever. Good stress relief. Anyway, we went once and I saw this sad looking beagle, 10 years old. She didn't bark, didn't push herself forward, and I just knew she would go unnoticed. But I also didn't think my husband would agree, so I left her behind... but I couldn't stop thinking about her. I'd check the website every week or so and she'd still be there. I visited a couple of times but left without her each time. Finally I caved, and pretty much went to get her without my husband's knowledge (although he is a big softie so I wasn't too worried). Brought her home, and she was mellow and perfect for our life. She doesn't bother the cats at all, just basically wants to snuggle.
We have had some challenges; it's become pretty apparent that she spent most of her life in a cage, we are guessing as a puppy mill breed dog. Almost all of her teeth are worn down, like she spent long hours gnawing on metal bars. She doesn't understand toys, and was confused by stairs when we first came home. Most problematically, she didn't understand house training, and when she'd pee inside she'd turn right around and start licking it up, like she had to learn to clean up after herself. Crate training was totally ineffective, and just seemed to cause her trauma.
So, we just started working with her, lots of positive reinforcement, and cleaning the carpets every couple weeks and investing in the pet stain cleaners, and it is what it is. But she is incredibly sweet, and has all of the love of a puppy but none of the destruction. And especially since her life probably WAS so bad, we are committed to doing our best for her now. She is spoiled rotten, loves car rides and Starbucks puppuccinos, takes up more than her fair share of the couch, and makes me laugh every day.
I hope our story and the poem I wrote in her honor can help inspire someone else that a senior dog is a great way to go!
I spent the first ten years of life
Trapped inside a cage
Then wound up at a shelter
Unwanted for my age
I spent my days in loneliness,
Confusion and in doubt
Wondering if there'd ever be
Someone to let me out.
But then one day a lady came
And saw beyond the gray
And ever since that moment
Every day’s been my best day!
I don't know how to be a dog
I couldn't if I tried
I don't know how to play with toys
I sometimes pee inside.
No-one taught me any tricks
I'm not so great with leashes
But there's one thing I'm amazing at…
I love my mom to pieces!
When Mommy comes home every day
From where she went without me
It's better than a million treats!
I love her so devoutly.
She could have picked a little pup
A cuter dog, or bolder,
But Mommy tells me all the time
She likes that I am older.
My usual state is sleepy,
I like to take long naps
And my favorite place in all the world
Is on or near a lap.
I don't claw up the furniture
Or chew on people's clothes
And every day I'm thankful
That I'm the one she chose.
I may not be the perfect dog
Though I try and do my best
My first ten years were terrible
But she saved all the rest.