Cadbury Was Worth Every Ounce of Effort and Every Mile of the Long Drive to Rescue Him
"On November 25, 1998 the Boise, ID, shelter posted a message to the Vizsla rescue list that there was an 'older' male whose time had run out. Rebecca and Daryl Dowdell, who had fostered a Vizsla before and had two of their own, immediately called the shelter to let them know they would drive the 7+ hours from Salt Lake City to Boise to get him the next day. They also posted back to the rescue list to find a Boise member. By 11:00 a.m., they were in contact with Penny Fenton in Boise who agreed to pick up the dog immediately, feed him Thanksgiving dinner and drive him halfway to Salt Lake City on Friday. Others volunteered to help further with transport and care for the dog on layovers.

"You can begin to see the effort that was made on behalf of this little guy! I had done my breed research and knew that this was the Vizla I wanted -- an older one -- since I had volunteered in animal shelters before and knew it was the older ones that were always the hardest to adopt out, but still had a lot of love to give. I decided to name him 'Cadbury,' as I had recently moved back to the states from London and was missing the chocolate. I still had to make a long drive to get him, and my car was in the shop, but, luckily, an amazing friend of mine named Fernando offered to do the 13-hour drive with me from San Francisco to Salt Lake City and to take his car. So, on December 4, we left, and went through snow, ice, sleet, hail, lightning, thunder, rain and wind to get to Salt Lake City.

"It was on that day, December 5, 1998, that my life changed for the better. I wish I knew Cadbury's history - not least of which why on earth his previous guardians had him surgically 'debarked' - something I didn't find out about until he had to have back surgery. The only noise he makes is the chattering of his teeth when he's excited, or the deep sighs when he's being petted in a way he likes. I'd also love to know how old he truly is, especially as his hearing goes and his health deteriorates. How much longer do I have with him in my life? Even if I knew, I don't think I could handle the answer as it's not 'forever.'

"Cadbury is a very unique dog - he uses stuffed animals for pillows - not to chew on, and loves other people, dogs, cats - you name it. He doesn't have a single bit of aggression in him - a couple of months ago a small white dog went up to him and bit him out of the blue. Cadbury looked down at the dog and just walked off. I saw what happened, but didn't realize he had been bitten until I looked at him and saw the bite mark on his side. I don't know what surprised me more - the fact that this dog bit him, or that he just let the incident go. He is wonderful with kids - I always make a point to tell that to parents whose kids want to pet him, and he always enjoys the experience as much as the kids do. I can't tell you the number of people that I have met through him, or the people whose lives he has touched in some way - even if it is just to put a smile on their face that they didn't have before. It may have been a long drive to Salt Lake City, but knowing what I know now, I'd drive cross-country and back for him." Contributed by Lauren Axelrod & Cadbury, San Francisco, CA. August 2002.

Update February 2004: Lauren Axelrod wrote: "Thought it was finally time I gave you an update to post on Cadbury's story... On August 1, 2003, I had to start work on living without him, as his body failed him, and it was time to let him go. While I feel that I never once took his presence for granted and can be at peace with that, not having him by my side breaks my heart. I just hope I will see him again some day."

Callie, at 16 Years, 9 Months! Has a "Wonder" Personality

Callie, Age 16 Years 7 Months"Callie has a 'wonder' personality. She is now 16 years and 9 months old. She still likes to walk with us to get the newspaper so she can carry 'her' section back to the house. She barks for her meals precisely at the time they're supposed to be served, and also for her evening 'cookie.' She loves to celebrate birthdays -- whether hers or anyone else's -- and loudly 'sings' the 'Happy Birthday' song along with the crowd. Our friends come by just to visit her. She always has a nice greeting for them, which includes a thorough inspection of their pockets." Contributed by Sue and Rodger Armstrong. Photo by Diane Petruso.

Saved from Being Euthanized at Four Months -- Sweet, Handsome, Brilliant "Calvin" Is Now 13!

"This is a tribute to our sweet, handsome 13-year-old Lab/Shepherd mix 'Calvin' -- one of the smartest dogs ever to walk this earth. His gentle spirit and good nature have won him many admirers over the years. When he ís out walking, he greets everyone he meets. Someone once dubbed him 'mayor' of his favorite trail. Calvin came home with us at eight weeks. Around four months of age, he was suddenly unable to use his hind legs. His vet (at the time) ran some blood tests and decided, since they could not figure out what was wrong with him, that he should be put down. WRONG! We immediately drove him to the Colorado State University Veterinary Clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado. They saved his life, and for that we will be eternally grateful. He has led a very healthy life ever since that strange and frightening incident. It's only been in the past year-and-a-half that he has slowed down considerably. He has spondylosis of the spine, and his hind legs sometimes don't work like they should. A bout with bronchitis last winter caused us concern. He has a little trouble breathing at times, so we make him take it easy. We miss the long hikes in the mountains with him, but we are enormously grateful that he is still with us and doing well. Calvin's situation is a little unique: he has two families. He lives with his 'daddy' in town and spends time with his 'mommy' and 'uncle' in the mountains. He gets lots of love and affection, not to mention treats and ear rubs. He has given us so much love and joy over the years. We are thankful for every chance we have to show him we love him." Contributed by Barb Penneton, Nederland, CO. October 1999

Lovable, Brilliant Calvin Revisited -- He's Survived "Bloat" and Celebrates His 14th Birthday in March 2000!

"This is an update to the story we submitted in October 1999 about our lovable companion, Calvin. Calvin will be 14 on March 30, 2000!! He's doing very well, despite a very frightening incident in October -- he had 'bloat.' As many of you know, bloat is often fatal, if not quickly diagnosed. Fortunately Calvin's 'daddy' knew something was terribly wrong and rushed him to the emergency clinic. The wonderful vet on duty performed surgery, which included removing his spleen and flipping his stomach back where it belonged. By the next morning (a mere eight hours later), Calvin was on all four feet and walked out of the hospital under his own power! He has made a remarkable recovery. He continues to take us on walks three to four times a day. And when we tell people that he's almost 14 years old, they can't believe it. He's an amazing boy!" Contributed by Barb Panneton, Nederland, CO. March 2000.

Happy 15th Birthday, Calvin!
It's His Third Appearance as a Featured Senior Dog!

"We are very pleased to bring you an update on Calvin, the amazing, incredible wonder dog who will celebrate his 15th birthday on March 30, 2001!

"Calvin's indomitable spirit helped him through a very tough year. He lost the use of his hind legs for 6 weeks last summer. A battery of tests found nothing conclusive. The top neurosurgeon at CSU could not give us any hope that he would ever walk again. We feared the end was near, but we did not give up. We got a sling for his hind end and my husband, Russ, acted as Calvin's personal trainer, helping him regain his strength. Interestingly, that period of time coincided with the hospitalization of his beloved daddy (and my best friend), David. To our amazement Calvin began walking on his own, the day David came home from the hospital.

"Unfortunately, David passed away one month later. I like to think that it brought him some peace knowing that Calvin would have a loving home and would be well taken care of for the rest of his life. We thought that Calvin's broken heart would surely mean the end for him. But again he surprised us. I believe he remained here to comfort me and help me through my grief.

"In December, he had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from one of his hind feet. A toe was amputated (you can see his foot in the photo) but that hasn't slowed him down. He is as strong and beautiful as ever. He still has his sight and hearing and gets around very well for an old guy. We don't think he realizes how old he is!

"We are grateful to David for the loving care he gave Calvin for 14 years. We have been blessed to share Calvin's 'golden years' with him and are very happy that he is still with us.

"Happy birthday to our amazing incredible wonder dog!" Contributed by Barb Panneton, Nederland, Colorado. March 2001.

Farewell, Dear Calvin.....
February 2002

"This is the final chapter of Calvin's story... We sadly report the passing of our beloved Calvin on February 22, 2002..... 36 days short of his 16th birthday. Our precious boy was diagnosed with cancer on his 15th birthday. He lived the past year with pride and courage and far outlived our expectations. We were blessed to have shared so many wonderful years with him. And we are grateful to have had such a magnificent spirit in our lives. We will cherish our memories and forever hold him in our hearts. Happy trails, Calvy." Barb & Russ Panneton, Nederland, CO.

Charmin, an American Eskimo

Charmin"WooF! My name is Charmin. I'm an American Eskimo (they call me 'Eskie Charmie'). I'm 14 1/2 and will be 15 years old on May 21, 1998. I've been with my family since I was six weeks old. I've watched my people's kids grow up and leave home, but I've stayed here close to Mom & Dad so they don't get so lonely. I really 'live' with my family! Mom has a fluffy (white, of course!) mat for me to lie down on beside her while she works on that computer thingee, and, whatever room they drift in and out of, I stay close beside them to make sure everything's okay. I'm kinda spoiled, but they say I'm supposed to be. My people still love me on days my hips don't work just right, or when my poor ol' teeth need cleaning, and when I'm kinda slow and even when my hearing loss is selective(!) I still have so much love to give my people... and do things for them that only I can! I know that's true, 'cause I keep gettin' these big ole hugs and squishy kisses! And a couple of times a year, they even reward me with lots and lots of brushing (just about the time my fur starts flyin' around ever'where). Thanks for letting me tell you about my little family! WooF!" Update August 1998: "I'm 15 now! My mom had a 'birthday page' for me back in May! (An' I even got b-day cards on da Web!) I'm still fighting those bad ole Pet Mills and trying to get everyone to help. An' ya know what?... lotsa people are!! WooF!!!" (Update November 10, 1998: "We ushered our sweet girl over Rainbow Bridge at the age of 15.5 years, fulfilling a promise made long ago that she would never suffer insidious diseases such as the cancer that came out of nowhere.") Authored by: Charmin Fizz-Gigg Bethel, Eskie. Submitted by: Diane Bethel, Mom.

Checkers, a "Gift" Who Grew Into a Prince

"Checkers is an 11-year-old Chinese Shar Pei who was given to us at a dog show. The folks who had brought him to the show didn't want him because he did not do well in the ring that day. With a little love and homemade dog food, this little guy grew into a Shar Pei champion by the time he was 18 months old. I have never in my life had a more loving pet. We were so lucky to get him. He is intelligent, protective of our children (and now grandchildren), a companion who follows us around like there are no other people in the entire world, and a clown who continues to make us laugh at his antics. He is truly a prince among dogs in our eyes." Contributed by B. Stern, Southern CA. September 2001.

Chelsea, Tippy: Two More Seniors Saved by the Silver Springs, Nevada, Spay/Neuter Project

The Silver Springs, Nevada, Spay/Neuter Project has a wonderful policy of taking in senior dogs. In an earlier contribution, they described three of their then-resident seniors, Gype, Elsa, and Mona. Here are two more seniors in their pack:

Chelsea was dumped at the pound when she was10 years old. She is now 16 and still living healthfully and happily with Lee Blomquist, Director of the Silver Springs Spay/Neuter Project. Contributed by Lee Blomquist, Director, Silver Springs, NV, Spay-Neuter Project. February 2002.

Tippy is 18, and was orphaned when her owner died 4 years ago. She was diagnosed with diabetes almost 4 years ago. She just had blood work done and is wonderfully healthy for her age and considering that she has diabetes. We hope we have her around for many more years. Contributed by Lee Blomquist, Director, Silver Springs, NV, Spay-Neuter Project. February 2002.

Chevron, Adopted at Age 9, Gets New Buddies, More Mobility, and a Very Shiny Black Coat

"I adopted Chevron, my senior Labrador Retriever, from the Humane Society in August 1998. He used to live on a farm where he had a few mishaps with horses and cars. As a result, he has a limp and a diagnosis of spondylitis (calcification of the spine). But medication prescribed by the vet has helped greatly. I keep his coat shiny with Brewer's yeast tablets, which he loves to eat. The other dog members of his new family are Robbie (the three-year-old Yellow Lab on the left in the photo) and Bo (one-year-old Black Lab, on the right in the photo). Chevron is nine years old, but it's really hard to tell the difference between him and Bo, except when we all walk together. Then Robbie and Bo run ahead while Chevron and I walk together behind them at a slower pace. Chevron's next adventure will be as a therapy dog visiting nursing homes and people who need cheering up. I know he cheers me up when I hug him; he goes 'mmmmmm.' He really does! " Contributed by Bonny Wright, Portland, OR (January 1999)

Chewie (19 years old) and Princess

A Radio Plea Yields a New Home for a 19-year-old Lhasa

Saugerties, NY -- From an E-mail received from Elsa Norton, November 27, 2001: "In February of this year, an elderly lady who was moving into a senior residence was unable to take her 19-year-old Lhasa. Since she had adopted him from the Ulster County SPCA in 1989, she called and told them of the problem (part of the adoption agreement states, 'If you are no longer able to keep the dog for whatever reason, you must return him to us'). Unfortunately, they told her, they were not in a position to take the dog back. The elderly lady was on the verge of losing her house for taxes; she could no longer afford to keep the dog and really couldn't afford anything but the low income senior housing.

"I heard the lady's plea on the local radio station and went to meet her and the old fellow. It was on the final day before she moved to the senior residence.

"I really don't know what she would have done with him, but I'm glad Chewie is a part of my life now. He has given us nothing but love and happiness. He LOVES to eat dog cookies and will bark incessantly until you give him at least three! I figure at his age he has earned the right to have what he wants. He loves to go for walks and forges ahead at such a lively pace that at times it is hard to keep up with him. His hearing and sight are about gone. He can only hear if you shout at him, and he can distinguish shape and movement only of objects directly in front of him. On January 1st he will celebrate his 20th birthday. It is my plan to have a big party. (I sure hope he makes it!)

"To end with yet another happy story..... Yesterday we adopted an 11-year-old Shepherd mix with the help of Princess is a real sweetie and loves the other dogs and cats. She loves to ride in the car and play ball... Honestly, it is very hard to believe that she is that old. She immediately made herself at home. She has excellent manners and seems to be housebroken (one of the perks of adopting an older dog). She had a very exciting day yesterday, and, when she got tired, she found her new bed (all by herself) and went to sleep. I think she plans on keeping us......I hope so." Contributed by Elsa Norton, Saugerties, NY. December 2001.

July 2002 Update: "Chewie celebrated his 20th birthday in January and I just recently got the photos developed. Here he is with his Birthday Hat looking very proud! He had a lovely party with many friends and family in attendance (both two- and four-legged). On most days he greets visitors and resumes his post sleeping, but on this date he was right in the thick of it all, mingling with the guests as if he knew it was his day! He got a special new hairdo so he could enter his second decade with a new look. He received many lovely gifts and was gracious enough to share them with his four-legged brother and sister. All in all, it was a lovely day. He just had his bi-annual check up last week, and the vet gave him a clean bill of health. Way to go, Chewie! I would not have dared imagine having this much time with him. He truly is a great dog." Contributed by Elsa Norton, Saugerties, NY. July 2002.
March 2003 Update: Chewie went to the Rainbow Bridge; this epitaph was written by his mom: "Dearest Chewie, I miss your sweet little face. I miss your toothless smile and your cloudy little eyes staring up at me as if you could see me. Some would not have seen the beauty in such a face, but you were a handsome boy to me. I miss talking to you, as you always seemed to listen to what I had to say even though I know you didn't hear a word. I miss finding you sleeping by your food bowl waiting for dinner. I miss your barking for cookies, over and over again until you got your fill. I miss you barking at 3:00 a.m. to go out. We had some nice strolls in the dark while the rest of the world was sleeping. I miss your barking at 5:00 a.m. to greet the day. I miss your barking at your brother until he gave up his treat, just to get you to leave him alone. It sure is quiet without you! You only lived with us for two years, but the pleasure was all mine. I love you, little Lou. I hope you are at peace. Love, Mama"

Cimmarron, Age 10, in Wonderful Health After Battling Cancer

"Cimmarron is the light of my life. Isn't he grand? If you look closely, you can see where his neck was shaved. In September '97, he was diagnosed with follicular cell carcinoma of the thyroid. This photo is post-excision, and, a short while later, we went through 19 rounds of radiation for a total of 57 Grey units. He is in wonderful health now." Contributed by Joni Pasko.

"Just wanted to let you know that Cimmarron, who is featured in your Senior Dogs pages, is still here with us. He will be 14 in March, and a 4-year cancer survivor!" December 2001 (Editor's note: Joni Pasko would be happy to be in E-mail contact with anyone who would like the benefit of her experience in facing the challenge of a dog's cancer treatment. Her E-mail address is:

Cissy, a Beautiful Gift from Santa Claus

"This is Cissy, my 13-year-old German Shepherd. Santa Claus gave her to me when I was seven years old. I am now almost 21. Several months before I received her I had been heartbroken by the death of my first dog, a little Beagle I had rescued from the streets when I was five. Cissy and I have grown up together. I am afraid that this might be her last winter because her health is beginning to decline very rapidly. She has always been a very healthy dog, even in her old age, until this year. Over the last year, she has developed arthritis, incontinence, cataracts, and several bladder and kidney infections. Cissy has been the most loyal, brave, and compassionate friend I have ever had, and I am afraid I am going to lose her soon. I've never lost anyone as close to me as she is. I don't know what I'll do without her. She is my shadow." Contributed by C. Huff. January 2002.

Cleo -- Advertises for Herself

"My little Cleo, a 13-year-old Beagle, was advertised on the Senior Dogs Project website when she was in need of a new home four months ago. We had requested the ad for her when we saw her at our local SPCA and knew her chances of adoption there were slim. But, lo and behold! She was her own best advertisement! My husband, Tom, fell in love with her before anyone else could, and we took her home ourselves. It has been four months since Cleo became ours, and it is as though she has been with us for all of her 13 years. She quickly became friends with our other Beagle, Copper, and our Beagle/Jack Russell, Indy, along with our six bunnies! She has also become a 'daddy's little girl' to Tom. We believe 'Cleo' is short for 'Cleopatra' by the way she orders everyone around! Each morning, when it is time to go out for a walk, Cleo requests a tummy rub and/or transportation from her bed. Tom obliges, since she is generous with her affection toward him as he complies. Cleo does not seem to know that she is 13. She plays like a puppy! She loves to run with the other dogs and to play frisbee -- although she doesn't give up the frisbee too readily, so the game doesn't last too long. Copper and Indy were also shelter dogs when we adopted them. Copper is a senior, too -- he's 8 years old -- while Indy is a mere pup at the age of 3. I know my life would not be complete without my seniors." Contributed by Lara & Tom Dushkewich. June 2000.

Clyde, Age 9, Tucks "Dad" into Bed

"Our Dalmatian, Clyde, and his Scotty sister, Bonnie, always like to make sure that 'Dad' is safely tucked into bed for the night. (You can just see Dad's hair peeking out from the top of the covers.) Clyde, a real gentleman, tours local schools with us, politely teaching kids about pet overpopulation and healthcare. If we mention the words 'ride,' 'mailbox,' 'ball,' 'biscuit,' or 'suppertime,' he knows just what we're talking about. He's very, very smart! We got lucky.... a family had to give him up when he was just a year old. He's been our 'big guy' ever since." Contributed by Julie Phillips, Paragould, AR

Clyde -- Nearly Murdered at Six Months -- Still Sweet, Gentle, and Loving at 17

"Clyde is my 17-year-old Weimaraner. When he was six months old, his original 'guardian' tried to kill him by feeding him either poison or broken glass (they wouldn't tell me which). This 'guardian' was impatient with the puppy who was taking too long to die, so he took him to the vet to be euthanized. The vet said the dog might be saved, but the 'guardian' insisted that the puppy be put down. The vet 'agreed,' took the dying puppy into the back, and the 'guardian' paid the fee and left. The vet, who routinely saves animals from abusive owners, did everything in his power to save the puppy. When he finally managed to stabilize him, he arranged to have the puppy transported out of the area to a veterinarian in another state, to prevent any accidental contact with the original 'guardian.' Luckily, a friend of mine had just started working for the vet to whom the puppy was sent. She called me and asked if I was still looking for a male Weimaraner. I said yes; I wanted him. So I drove to the vet's office and the puppy was carried out to my car. I have never seen such a terrible sight! I was near tears when I saw a puppy who was so skinny he looked like a skeleton. He was so weak he couldn't walk. When I got him into my car, he just lay on the back seat and cried. I immediately took him to my regular vet who looked at him, shook his head and told me to keep him 'comfortable.' He didn't think the puppy would live through the night.

"But he didn't look into those puppy's eyes and see what I saw. Six months later, I took Clyde back to my vet. The entire office was amazed at the big, robust, healthy Weimaraner who was with me! He was beautiful, strong and happy. For the first three years he was with me, Clyde would fall on the ground and pee on himself anytime anyone, including myself, approached him. Apparently, in addition to the attempt to murder him, his original 'guardian' had also beaten him badly. Clyde has long forgotten those horrible days. His life has been filled with love, kindness, fun and doggie friends. In spite of the abuse he endured, Clyde has always been a sweet-natured, gentle, loving dog. He has never snapped -- even when new puppies used him as their 'chew toy.' Now that this precious boy is 17 years old, I realize that he will be leaving me soon. It will hurt and I will miss him, but I take comfort in knowing that our very special bond will never be broken. I only pray that his passing be quiet and gentle, just like he is." Contributed by Laurel Santee,Texas. August 2004.

September 2004 Update -- An e-mail message received 9/7/04:
"Dear Friends:
I am so sorry to say that Clyde passed on at home this morning, between 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM. It was expected; he had stopped eating last Wednesday. I spent the holiday weekend holding him, making him comfortable and giving him water. He fought so hard - he did not want to leave. The amazing part of this story is that my sister's best friend (Liz) has been in a hospice with liver cancer the last couple of weeks. She also stopped receiving food last Wednesday. This weekend, I told Clyde that if Liz came for him it was okay to go with her. Liz has always loved dogs but couldn't have one because of her many serious physical problems and illnesses. I received a note from my sister this afternoon. Today, between 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM, Liz passed on. I truly believe that these two are together now; Clyde is in gentle, loving hands and Liz has the best dog there ever was.
Laurel Santee"

Coco, About 7 or 8, Found Her Voice in Her New Home

"In March 1994, I adopted a female German Shepherd mix named 'Coco' from the Peninsula Humane Society. She was beautiful, but very, very shy and thin. The shelter volunteer thought she might not make a very good pet because she was so shy and perhaps not good with people. She didn't make a sound. When I picked her up from the shelter, Coco was very nervous and got sick in the car on the way home. Within a few days, however, she had decided we were her family. It was then that she found her voice. She hasn't stopped 'speaking' since. She is a great protector, but she is also a sweet, sensitive dog. Coco had been surrendered because her owners said she 'got out' a lot and they didn't want to keep chasing her. Our yards are completely fenced, so we don't have to worry about her running off, unless we are careless with the gates. As confident and protective as she can seem, she is terrified of firecrackers and gunshots. Around the July 4 holiday, Coco hides in her doghouse or comes up to us with her tail between her legs at the sound of a firecracker. Gunshots (yes, we do hear those in East Palo Alto!) send her scurrying next to my bed; I'll often invite her up on my bed to comfort her when this happens. Coco is very playful and loves toys. She is relentless in destroying any toy with a squeaker and eventually pulls out all the insides of any stuffed toys. But we just replace them as needed. Other things she loves: bones, pigs' ears, and a couple of our cats -- especially J. Thomas O'Malley, who likes to cuddle up close to her. Although Coco is now about 7 or 8 years old, she hasn't slowed down much. Her muzzle is getting quite gray, but she has a good life and enjoys all the things we do together. One of her favorites is to run around Lake Lagunita on the Stanford campus. She really smiles when running around that lake. I love Coco a lot and hope she lives a nice long life." Contributed by Anne E. Sheldon, East Palo Alto, CA (Coco belongs to the same family as another senior posted on this website -- 'Honey-Boy.') February 1999

Update: April 2006. "Coco is now between 14 and 15. She had a brief spell of vestibular syndrome. Now she has some arthritis, her legs tremble, she sometimes falls down (not as steady on her feet), but greatly enjoys her 4-5 walks a day (we take fairly short walks, with maybe one longish walk thrown in). Coco sleeps a lot more than she used to, barks at approaching people and dogs, but is not aggressive otherwise. I think she is echo-locating by barking because she doesn't see well, and doesn't hear well either. I have another dog now, a purebred Shih Tzu I got as a puppy. Sparkle thinks Coco is the best. It is obvious she loves Coco, while Coco tolerates this little upstart. I give the girls the best food I can afford, walk them multiple times per day. When I am working, I hire a pet walker for a midday walk. I think it is unreasonable to ask an older dog to "hold it" for eleven hours if I am off at a regular job. She has been a wonderful dog, and other than the arthritis, and normal signs of aging is still doing well. She still looks like herself, just older (that could be a description of all of us)!Contributed by Anne E. Sheldon, Thornton, CO.

Update: May 2006: "Coco was put to sleep on May 19, 2006. She was somewhere around 14 or 15 years old. Last winter in Colorado was hard for her. It was so cold that her back end would collapse on walks, and she had a lot of trouble walking. This spring (2006), she started leaking urine a lot and no longer could wait to go outside for bowel movements. My house just stunk, even though I cleaned things up immediately. I think Coco was embarrassed. I knew there are medications for incontinence, but she also had so many other problems, we decided to let her go. A friend of mine told me after that she thought Coco was in pain. The vet also thought she had cancer, although I did not pay the fees for a definitive diagnosis. I stayed with Coco to the end, and I miss her a great deal. She was a very sensitive, sweet dog. She barked at most people and dogs, which I figure was sort of a compensation for not hearing very well the past few years. She wasn't aggressive, just barked, but always responded to petting. My Shih Tzu, Sparkle, who is only two years old, misses Coco, too. She just adored her." Contributed by Anne E. Sheldon, Thornton, CO.

Cody and Dalton.....A family's plight when they could no longer keep two beloved 9-year-old Springer Spaniels

Cody and Dalton first came to the attention of the Senior Dogs Project in the fall of 1999. We posted the following ad on the srdogs website:

10/1/99 -- Two English Springer Spaniel neutered males are facing an enormous crisis at 9 years of age. Cody and Dalton joined their current family as puppies in June 1990. Two-and-a-half years ago, twin girls were born. Now the family is facing a health crisis, and, since having to deal with it, the dogs are no longer getting the care and attention they need and deserve.

As the photo shows, these dogs are wonderful with children; they also get along well with cats and other dogs. They have never had any conflict with another animal. The family writes: "Cody loves to sit on your feet so you cannot walk and would have you pet him forever. He also loves it when you rake the yard. In fact, he loves it when you rake him. He loves to play 'stop the mowing' -- every time I mow the lawn and finish one strip, ready to go down the next, he places a ball in my way so I have to stop the mower and throw the ball for him. Dalton will catch a ball every time you throw it for him and then jump straight up into the air to place the ball in your hand so you don't have to bend over for it. Most of all, these dogs know one thing the best in life -- how to love."

Cody and Dalton's family, the Buelows, were not willing to place them in any but the right home. There were difficult months, as the family coped with their own health problems and continued the search. Throughout those months Laura London, a volunteer then working as Rescue Coordinator for the Senior Dogs Project, provided advice and counsel that kept up the family's hopes and morale and kept them on the right path toward finding an adoptive home. Following Cody and Dalton's adoption, the Buelows wrote to Laura: "We can never thank you enough for all your help and support."

The Buelows screened quite a few offers and turned them all down until the Dingman family appeared. Here is the story of how Cody and Dalton were placed with the Dingmans:

"My name is Betty Dingman. The story of how we came to adopt Cody and Dalton is long, but I think it has value to know the background.

"Last October, my husband Mark and I decided that we would like to find a family pet. We have four children (ages 13 - 7) and live out in the country in New Hampshire. We looked at a local shelter (recommended to us by friends) and found a wonderful dog named Teddy. He was a six-year-old Akita/Chow mix. We took him home on Saturday. On Tuesday evening, he bit my daughter on the back of the neck, and we decided that we had to return him to the shelter. We didn't feel he would be safe around other younger children who would be visiting our home at times. Arrangements were made to return him on Thursday morning, but even before we could do that, there was another incident in which he went after my son and also bit me severely on both of my forearms.

"Teddy was returned to the shelter and sadly had to be put down. We were heartbroken. We realized that Teddy was simply reacting out of his own stress. His beloved owners had given him away, and here he was in a house full of strangers. We loved him and wished it could have turned out differently.

"After talking about it, we decided that we still wanted to find a pet, but this time we would do better research and get the 'right' kind of dog. I knew that I wanted an older dog and decided to try different rescue organizations to find the best match for our family. I was looking at the New England Springer Rescue webpage one day, and I came across a brief description of Cody and Dalton and the link to the Senior Dogs Project website. I looked at all the dogs on the srdogs page and read all the information on adopting older dogs. There were so many, and we would have loved any of them. When I saw the picture of Cody and Dalton (known as 'the boys'), though, I fell in love! I E-mailed to ask if they were still available. I then talked to the Buelows on the phone and gave the background on our 'pet hunt.' I was very concerned about getting the right dog(s), considering the experience we had just come through.

"We made arrangements for the Buelows to bring 'the boys' to our home for a visit in early December. We wanted them to see where the dogs would live and obviously to meet us and our children. Everyone was very excited, and the children really felt comfortable with the boys. We made further arrangements to visit their home in Massachusetts in early January to see how the boys were living there. We wanted to make a transition plan for getting them out of their crates and into a household. They were crate trained but not house trained. I also talked with two diferent dog trainers to get their opinions on how to handle the transition.

"But the Buelows were having difficulty parting with the dogs. It was very understandable, given the fact that they had had them for over nine years. In January, the Buelows decided that they really couldn't let them go. We understood and decided to move on and see if there was a pet somewhere else for us. We found a year-old Yellow Lab named Sammy and adopted him. He fit into our family very well, but the children would still ask about Cody and Dalton, and I, too, would think about them often. I had even kept the photo of them I had downloaded from the srdogs website.

"Then, at the end of March, the Buelows E-mailed to ask if we were still interested in the boys. Yes! I said. We talked about the challenge of our having three dogs and decided that it was worth it. I again talked to one of the dog trainers and put together a plan to introduce the boys and Sammy in a positive way.

"Everything has worked out so well! The children jumped for joy when I arrived home with the boys. Sammy has adjusted well and is very happy to have play partners. They all love their tennis balls and spend hours chasing them across our acre field. The boys no longer stay in their crates at night. They sleep in my daughters bedroom -- Dalton on the bed and Cody on a rug right next to the bed. We had only one pee accident in the house -- that was the first day. None since then!

"We are thrilled beyond belief that we have Cody and Dalton. They enjoy being with us and the children. My husband remarked the other day that 'they have such sweet faces.' We have plans in place to have the Buelows up to visit in another few weeks. We wanted to give the boys a month or so to settle in before they came up. We recognize that the Buelows have loved these boys for a long time, and we want them to still be able to see them.

"Many of the articles and the success stories I read on the srdogs website helped to cement in my mind that an older dog (actually TWO of them!) would be perfect additions to our home and family. We may only have them for a short few years, but we will love them as much as we can during those years. ----Betty, Mark, Jeremy, Jonathan, Anne, Joshua, Sammy, Cody and Dalton"

This happy ending would not have been possible without the dedicated work of Laura London of Reno Rescue, Reno, Nevada.

1/27/03 -- Today we received this sad update from Betty Dingman: "I wanted to give you an update on Cody and Dalton. I last wrote to you in late October/early November and indicated that Cody's health was declining. It is with deep sorrow that I am writing to tell you that our beloved Cody passed away on November 13, 2002. He got progressively weaker over the first week in November and was unable even to walk the last couple of days of his life. On Tuesday, November 12, I contacted Joe and Mary Beulow to let them know that our vet thought that Cody would not live to the weekend. I encouraged them to come and be with him one more time. They came on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. and stayed with him for an hour or so. Cody passed away at 4:10 p.m., surrounded by our children and our other dogs, Sam and Dalton. We buried Cody out at the edge of our field where he loved to run and chase balls. Dalton has adjusted well, and we make sure to give him lots of attention. It has been two months now and yet the loss is still palpable. We want to thank you once again for your part in bringing Cody and Dalton to live with us."

Cookie, Almost 16, Likes B&B Vacations

"Cookie, our 8-pound Lhasa-Maltese, will be 16 on May 15, 1998. Although she sleeps much of the day and has some difficulty with cataracts, she is still amazingly peppy, especially if given the chance to go for a walk or a ride in the car. When she was 10 years old, she proved that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks: she learned to 'sit' and 'shake hands.' Cookie is good-natured and has always felt it her responsibility to be in the same room with us, even when it means interrupting her naps to follow us around the house. She's not a 'lap dog,' except during a thunderstorm. Cookie has been a dear companion to our family since we got her at the age of 8 weeks. We dread the day she'll no longer be with us, so we try to take her with us as often as possible. Last spring, she went with us to a lovely B&B in Carmel, CA, where our breakfast tray each morning included a small dish of dog biscuits!" Contributed by Susanne W. Freeman, Los Gatos, CA

"Old Girl," Now "Cookie"

Cookie with Isela and Helen Lopez

For almost six months, the Senior Dogs Project ran an ad for a 10-12-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, whose name we were told was "Old Girl." She had been abandoned in Reno, NV, and had been living in a foster home on a farm in the mountains around Reno for about a year and a half. The photo we had for posting on the site was rather sad and forlorn, and it didn't seem there would be any interest on the part of any adopter.

Then, along came Helen and Isela Lopez. Helen had grown up in Australia, and Australian Cattle Dogs were an important and wonderful part of her childhood. When Helen and Isela saw Old Girl's photo and then met her in person on the farm, where she was the most pathetic "kid on the block," they immediately fell in love with her.

The first thing they did for Old Girl was to change her name to something that sounded more caring. They named her "Cookie." They took her home to be introduced to the rest of the pack: Molly (another Australian Cattle Dog) and half a dozen cats. After initial shyness, Cookie settled nicely into family life (and also settled nicely onto Isela's lap). Within a very short time, though, it became apparent that Cookie was not a well dog. They took her to the veterinarian and had several very unhappy diagnoses: cancer, a heart condition, deafness, cataracts, severe arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Has this daunted the Lopez family? No way! They have put Cookie into the capable hands of Dr. Allen Stuart, a specialist in cancer and disabilities in elderly dogs. The Lopezes have spent $2100 of their hard-earned money (they are dog walkers and dog sitters) to make Cookie comfortable. The medication prescribed by Dr. Stuart has already begun shrinking the tumor. Whether Cookie has a week to live or another year, the Lopezes are committed to giving her the best possible quality of life.

Although the Lopezes remain committed to the concept of adopting an older dog, they note that Cookie did not receive adequate veterinary attention while in foster care and that there was not full disclosure of her medical condition before they adopted her. Although the Senior Dogs Project requests information on the health status of all dogs who are advertised, in some cases, we do not receive fully reliable information. It is extremely fortunate, and we are extremely grateful, that the Lopez family has been able to take on the responsibility for Cookie's veterinary expenses. According to a recent report from the Lopezes, Cookies "... is having some sort of renaissance during the past month. She's more active (relatively speaking); has stood up to Mollie, and even tried to intimidate the cats! It's pretty amazing. Isela and I think that she's getting used to being loved. She greets us when we come home, and loves to have Isela rub her neck and ears." Our thanks to Stacey Fay for this article and photo. August 2001. Update September 2001: Cookie went peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge.

Cotton, a Very Special Sr. Bichon
"Cotton came to us as a foster dog this past March on our 20th wedding anniversary. Picked up by animal control, his age was estimated at around 10 years. He was in pretty rough shape and needed to have his hair shaved, as he was matted and dirty. Cataracts in both eyes....he is blind in one eye but sees shadows out of the other; and his hearing is impaired, too.

"The first couple of months were difficult -- not only for Cotton but for the whole family -- watching him get lost in corners, run into walls, stare into space, trot around the dining room table for several minutes at a time. He'd rarely settle down and would cringe whenever we reached out to touch him or pick him up. He'd struggle when held. When we took him to adoption days, trying to find him a permanent home, he'd always come back. No one wanted an old, blind, deaf dog. The stress of those adoption days would set him back, and it was clear that they really were too stressful for him.

"After surgery on one of his eyes, we decided there'd be no more adoption days for him to endure. As a result, he not only felt better, he became more secure. We continued to foster him and watch his true personality emerge. When outside, he would race around the yard as best he could, bouncing like a rabbit! In the house, he would get between our ankles and grab at our pants legs. He loves to have his ears rubbed and will roll over on his back to get a belly rub. We could pick him up and hold him for short periods of time.

"Finally, in July, our period of fostering him ended. He was adopted by a wonderful woman who had recently lost her dog to old age. When she came with her granddaughter to see Cotton, he just laid down nearby and would not interact with her. Later, in her home, Cotton behaved as he had when he first came into our home, and it broke her heart. He was stressed, and she couldn't put him through that, so he came back to us. When she brought him to me and he realized I was in front of him, he quickly pushed his head between my ankles, his rear end wiggling with excitement!

"Cotton has been with us almost 9 months and, with the blessing of Small Paws, the agency that rescued him, he is now a permanent part of our family. He continues to blossom. He loves to be held on his back like a baby and will settle down for a nap in the recliner. Every day, when I come home, I'm greeted by our four dogs -- a Border Collie, a Shih Tzu, our foster Bichon Frise and then Cotton, who greets me with such happiness, it's hard to ignore. Having a dog with disabilities is not always easy; there are adjustments that need to be made. Changes in routine and furniture out of place can be stressful. I often wonder about Cotton's life before he came to be with us. What were the circumstances that led up to his coming into our lives? Did he get lost? Was he dumped? I will never know about his past. I will never know him for the dog that he was, but his future will be filled with love for the dog that he is...a very special Sr. Bichon!" Contributed by Cynthia Johnson. January 2003. (Update February 2003: From an e-mail received from Cindy Johnson: "Two weeks ago, Cotton underwent surgery to remove his right eye because of a luxating lens. He is now completely blind. It's been a difficult time for him but he's coming along fine!") (Update April 2003: Cindy Johnson wrote:  "I just wanted to let you know that Cotton crossed over the Rainbow Bridge today. Since losing his eyesight, he began going down hill. He had CCD (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction) when we got him, but it worsened the last couple of months. Life was difficult for him and we couldn't bear to see him deteriorate further. I'd like people to know that adopting a senior dog, 'though it may be for only a short time, is so worth it.")

Cuca, 18 Years Old!!

"Her name is Cuca.....born May 2, 1982..... arrived at our home May 10, 1982, in a little basket, only eight days old. Half-French Poodle and half-Maltese, she looked like a toy....a small, white ball with two round black eyes. She was barely alive. The vet said that she would not survive because she was taken from her mother much too soon. My late mother adopted her, and so began a beautiful relationship. They were inseparable companions. When my mother died in 1996, Cuca looked and waited for her in the garden and at the door for months. Cuca was more like a person than a dog. She did not how to bark. She preferred to socialize with people rather than other dogs and always behaved like a human. Today, she is almost blind, but she is very happy and loves to be petted. She takes walks around the house and garden, and sleeps a lot. For her age -- she was 18 on May 2, 2000 -- she is very healthy." (Photo of Cuca with the contributor's late mother.) Contributed by Mabel Rabellino. Cancun, Mexico. September 2000.

Curly and Waggles -- Delightful Mutts from the Same Litter
"I have had Curly and Waggles for ten years, since I was six years old. Some folks my parents knew had a dog who had puppies. Waggles was the runt of the litter and very friendly, and Curly was the little fat one. I spent the night in the kitchen when we first got them because I didn't want to leave them. They have been with me ever since. They are mutts and have been great through everything. Curly has always been my dog; she never leaves my side when I am home and always sleeps at the end of my bed. She is my best friend and doesn't like sharing me with anyone else, including the cat (whom we got a year ago). Waggles was always my parents' dog (even though she was meant for my little brother). She is both energetic and motherly. She once tried to mother our hamster, Homer, when he left his cage. We found him with Waggles, behind the 'fridge, where they'd spent the day together. Curly and Waggles are still in perfect health, though sometimes I wonder if our cat will give them a heart attack." Contributed by Angela Sullivan, Trenton, Ontario, Canada. November 2002.