Current Features
Gizmo -- A Really Nice Dog Who Inspired the SPCA to Provide Heartworm Treatment
"I adopted Gizmo, a Cocker/Lab mix from the SPCA when he was 7 years old and heartworm positive. Because of his looks and lovely nature, everyone -- even the vet -- thought he was a Golden Retriever mix. His legacy may well be that, because he was such a nice dog, he inspired the SPCA to start treating heartworm positive dogs and have done so many times since treating Gizmo. He hated being confined during the treatment; it was rough on him, but he was always so loving. After his treatment was finished, he was introduced to one of my foster kittens. He has now helped to foster over 105 cats. He is 14 years old now and has had two cancer surgeries, but is still enjoying life. He is my constant companion and has been such a joy for me. When I'm home, he's never more than a few feet away from me. I am so glad that I gave an old dog a chance. I know I have gotten as much out of this relationship as he has, as we have both given unconditional love. An older dog is to be valued and loved. You get so much in return. No one knows how much time we will have together, but we will enjoy every day of it." Contributed by Renee. December 2009. (Editor's note: Renee also contributed a tribute to "Gator Bait" -- "GB" for short -- in 2000; click on "G" in the pane at the left to see GB's story.)

Muttville Places "Dandy" with 100-year-old Eleanor!

Danielle was looking for a little dog for her great grandmother, Eleanor. Eleanor had been turned down by many rescue agencies and shelters because she is old.....she had just turned 100. Eleanor has a heart of gold and has been despondent without a dog in her life. She has always had one and has tons of time and love to give a little dog. Danielle and Sherri Franklin of Muttville went over many questions about the care of a dog and the risks also, particularly making sure her great grandmother had a support system in place. Sherri introduced Eleanor to many Muttville dogs and finally narrowed it down to the dogs that would be best suited. Eleanor needed a dog that did not need special medication and could get up on her couch. Eleanor always loved little Poodles and Danielle had given up ever finding her one, but then, in walked Dandy! Dandy is a little white Poodle found wandering the streets of Hayward, CA.  No one came for this scruffy raggamuffin, so Muttville rescued him and cleaned him up, readying him for adoption. Well, the rest will be history. For Eleanor's 100th birthday she got the best present of all: her new companion, Dandy. This is Muttville's message: there is a home for these sweet old dogs and there are companions out there for our sweet old senior humans, too! Contributed by Sherri Franklin, Muttville, San Francisco, CA. March 2009


Maggie Shows the Way to an Holistic Lifestyle
"My husband found Maggie sitting in the middle of a back country road. She had traffic stopped in both directions. He hollered out to her and she ran to him -- hopped right in the car. She was in bad condition -- very thin, dirty, fleas, worms. She looked like a 'breeder' someone had abandoned. The veterinarian estimated her age to be 10 (I think he was being optimistic). I admit I was hesitant to adopt such an old dog, but she was ever so sweet, and we decided to keep her. At age 12, Maggie was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and referred for emergency surgery. Instead we went to a chiropractor. He stopped her screams in just one visit. She had always had problems with her anal glands; I'd never even heard of them before. Finally, at age 14, in the year 2000, we had no choice: Maggie had to have her anal glands removed; she was so uncomfortable. The surgery went well, but the news was very bad. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given two months to live. I was told nothing could be done to help my dog. Maggie's illness was the final straw for me. I had a cat with diabetes (how the heck does a barn cat get diabetes?), another with a thyroid problem. A dog that had needed stomach surgery, skin disorders, etc., etc. It just made no sense to me. I was doing everything I was supposed to do. I thought I was a good pet mom. But, thinking there must be something more I could do, I bought two holistic veterinary medicine books and decided to follow their recommendations. I started to make my pets' food -- raw organic. I cut back on the vaccines. A year and a half later, I took Maggie to the veterinarian for a bladder infection. They were sure it was a recurrence of the cancer but found no trace of it. One morning last year, in 2007, I took Maggie to the veterinarian for swelling in her gums. The veterinarian gave her Rimadyl, and she died shortly afterwards. She was believed to be 22 years old. I still miss her. She was a very special little girl. We'll be forever grateful to her for the gifts she gave us. We grow organic food and live a holistic way of life. We are rarely sick. None of my many dogs, cats or horses are ever ill. Thank you Maggie for showing us the way. Thank you for picking us." Contributed by Judy Szela, Quakertown PA, August 2008.

Great Pyr/Collie Mix Buddy Joined the Pack After Being a Foster Dog
"About two years ago I started my own doggie family, eventually winding up with four dogs. Once that was done, I thought I would try fostering for a rescue. After successfully fostering three dogs, I found myself agreeing to take care of an eight-year-old Great Pyrenees/Collie mix named Buddy -- a big guy at 102 pounds. Buddy was surrendered because his guardians had to go to a retirement residence and had no other choice but to surrender their beloved dog. Since I already had two other Great Pyrs, I offered to take Buddy into my home, knowing that at his age and with his special needs (arthritis and food allergies) he would not be easily adopted. I enabled him to lose weight so that he slimmed down to a much-healthier 87 pounds, and I found a food to which he wasn't allergic. Buddy settled in nicely with the other dogs, and, as the days, then months, passed, my attachment to him grew stronger. At the end of a year, it became pretty clear that no one was stepping up to adopt Buddy, so I proposed to my Significant Other that we adopt him. His reply was a resounding "NO!" I was shocked because I saw clearly that they loved each other -- they watched TV together and slept cuddled together, and Buddy followed him everywhere. So what was the reason? He said he was going to be hearthbroken when the time came for Buddy to go to the Bridge. So that was how we came to adopt Buddy and he officially became part of my dog pack. Buddy has changed over the past year -- he's become playful and more active. Mention the words "leash" or "walk" and he barks until you leash him up and head for the door! Buddy has taught me patience and how to enjoy life. He's taught me that when the going is rough, you need to keep on 'til it gets better. Buddy has changed my perception of senior dogs. They have that something special -- presence and life experience. Buddy is one exceptionnal dog, and I'm glad he found me." Contributed by Melanie B., November 2007.

Samson -- Age 20 -- Hates to Have His Hair Cut
"Samson is a mixed-breed, neutered male who was born about March 20, 1987. He found me at a busy gas station on the Interstate in Smyrna, TN. I had stopped for gas and was cleaning out the back seat of my car when I saw this six-month-old puppy jump in. I told the gas station attendant that their dog had gotten into my car. He replied that the dog wasn't his and that it looked like he was now mine. According to the attendant, the dog had been dropped at the station about a month before and no one had come to claim him. I drove off with him thinking my sister, who had a farm, would take him in. Well, a week later I found myself putting in a $3000 chain link fence at my home. We had no idea what type of dog he was. The vet guessed part Australian Shepherd, part Bernese Mountain Dog. But we never knew or cared. Samson has always been the most gentle, kindest dog anyone could wish for. He has always been a true gentleman -- never strayed from home, would never come in the front door, and always let the other dogs in our family eat first. At about 15, he started to have some trouble with his hips, and they've since gotten worse. He doesn't appear to have any pain, but he just can't get around very well. He barks when he needs to relieve himself or when his water bowl is too far away. He still has all his teeth, still has great vision, and is very cognizant of what is going on around him. He likes to stay outside as he always has, but in the summer, during the heat of the day, I have him stay in our air-conditioned, refurbished barn. The barn is also heated in the winter to keep him comfortable. He is very content and very good at letting me know if he's not happy or if he needs something -- e.g., if he needs to go out or if his water bowl is too far away. I thank goodness I stopped for gas and Samson chose me to be his. We all love him and he loves us. He has been a constant in my life and has helped me get through the shock and repercussions of being diagnosed with MS in 1998. His strength and courage have been an example to me, helping me to face anything that life throws my way. These older dogs have learned how to handle life with an inspiring grace and confidence." Contributed by Kay Bennett, Nashville, TN, July 2007. ("And, by the way, being named 'Samson,' he of course hates to have his hair cut.")
Annie -- An Unbelievable 18!!
"I got Annie from a shelter when she was about 2 1/2 years old. She was emaciated, had burrs on her ears and the base of her tail. Her eyes were unable to focus in the same direction and she smelled horrible. She had been locked in a basement for long periods and she was afraid of hands. Within the first week, she improved significantly. My other Beagle, Cedric, grew to love and accept her - they became great friends. When Ceddie died of cancer, Annie was so sad she just slept for weeks. She recovered (as did we all) and is still vibrant and loving. She sleeps more now. She has had a very long life with more than one close call. She is my last pet - perhaps forever. She is a survivor. She is a lady. She is my very best friend. She is Annie. My love for her knows no bounds. All the best to you, my pet. You are all good things and I will never forget how you have enriched my life. I love you." Contributed by Julie Kadas, May 2007.
Griffen: A Happy-go-lucky Guy with a Silly Smile
"I hadn't had a dog for eight years and was finally in a place where I could adopt and knew I definitely wanted an older dog. It broke my heart to see dogs in shelters who weren't getting adopted simply because of their age. During my search, I came upon Griffen, who was recommended to me by Furry Friends Rescue of Fremont, CA , and soon after that I found the Senior Dogs Project, too! It was great to get insight on older dogs before I adopted my dog. When I went to the adoption showcase and met Griffen, it was love at first sight. His silly smile and happy personality stole my heart. For the next seven months we became devoted to each other and he was my heart. His smile and love even convinced those who weren't dog people to love him. Griffen seemed to touch everyone he met with his happy, toothless smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor. Unfortunately, his previous life had left his kidneys weak, and eventually renal failure took over, and he was put to sleep the day after Christmas. Even though he was with me such a short time, he was very much loved. I will always remember him and everything he taught me and will love him forever." Contributed by Vicki, San Francisco Bay Area, February 2007.
Molly Found Paradise on Earth
In February 2002, the Senior Dogs Project posted an ad for Molly, a Pomerainian mix, who had been abandoned at the San Francisco city shelter. Molly was adopted by Camille Buschman, and moved to a beautiful home just north of San Francisco where she lived nearly five happy years. In December 2006, we received the following e-mail message: "Molly went to Heaven at about 9:00 AM Tuesday 12/05/06. A dear vet came to my house and put her to sleep. About five days previously, she suddenly stopped eating, and indeed moving, and even smiling. She didn't seem to be in any pain or discomfort, however, thank God. Of course she has been showing her age increasingly, but was such a cheerful trooper. The vet speculated it might have been liver cancer and/or heart failure. I know she was ready to go. In any case, I am at peace (amidst the storm of tears) that she is at peace and will never hurt or need to worry. God! I adore her and bless her and thank her for her presence, her precious friendship, and all the joy she brought me during our five years together." -- Camille Buschman
Lucky Filled the Last Years of an Altzheimer's Patient with Happiness and Love
"I just wanted to let you know how much I love your website and that I appreciate all the stories, information and resources available on it. On Saturday, November 4, 2006, we had to say goodbye to our first senior dog due to kidney failure at age 13 or 14. A suspected puppy mill stud who had been abandonded at about 7 ot 8 years old, he had also been abused and neglected. Though we've had dogs since 1967 (though only three ...they've all been long-lived), Lucky Lou was extraordinarily special. Not only did he become a happy, treasured member of our family, but he was the perfect geriatic companion dog for my father with Altzheimer's. Ironically, my father passed away just a year before Lucky, in November 2005. Dad was able to spend all but his last nine months at home. This is remarkable for an 84-year-old Altzheimer's patient, and his doctors were astounded. I attribute Dad's ability to stay relatively in the present and manageable directly to Lucky's love and emotional care. Dad's newspaper obituary photo was of both him AND Lucky! It was only fitting. I'm still very sad and in mourning; my feelings are still raw for my sweet little Lucky Lou. But for now, I'll just say THANK YOU for being there and all the wonderful work you're doing. Lucky literally transformed my life and made my dad's last years so happy. I know your presence is changing many, many, lives too! Senior Dogs Forever!" Contributed by: Kathy Zak, Sugar Land, TX. November 2006.

"P.S. What I did not mention, was that Lucky brought home five stray cats in the last two years, including a 'nurse' for himself, a companion for Mother, a playmate for his 'nurse' (another abuse victim), and a feral cat that we feed and shelter in our garage. In fact, just a week before his death, Lucky alerted us that the feral 'Mamma Kitty' had been accidentally sealed up in our next door neighbor's house during renovations. We hadn't seen her for a week, but really weren't concerned because she was feral. He heard her 'meows' through a ventilation outlet, and refused to come inside and barked until we understood and got the neighbors to remove her. We are not exactly 'cat people' but we are learning. We tell the neighbors that they're 'Lucky's Cats'; I guess he didn't want us to be lonely without him!"


Duke..."Adopted" by Utah Lab Rescue
Utah Lab Rescue in Orem, Utah, requested in July 2006 that we post an ad for "Duke," an 11-year-old, 70-lb., healthy male Labrador Retriever who had been surrendered by his family and who was looking for a new home. They wrote the following about him: "Duke is an amazing Lab! He is fully housebroken, crate trained, knows all of his basic commands and then some, is great on or off leash, has a wonderful temperament and personality. He gets along perfectly with other dogs (big or small) and even kitties! He ADORES children, and is always happy to meet new people, and has a smile for all! His family decided after 8 years they didn't 'have the time for him anymore.' "

On September 18, 2006, we received the following message: "... Some bitter-sweet news about our dear Duke: he has gone on to Rainbow Bridge. Poor Duke suffered from a neurological problem and became confused and aggressive out of the blue. He would then would snap back into reality and be just fine. I could tell after these episodes that he was very confused, sad, and even appeared to be in pain. I just couldn't let it go on. I knew we had given him as much time as possible here with us and that it was time for him to move on. I guess you could say I adopted him. He was with us for many months, and lived a great life of happiness and love, and had tons of treats and friends. I can truly say he was happy and fulfilled. Maybe that's why his time came. I know that we loved him very much, and he helped to fulfill a part of our lives as well. He was our 'Darling Duke.' He was not our first Senior 'adoption,' nor will he be the last. We, too, have a love for 'the older kids' as we like to call them here." Contributed by Barbi Carroll, Utah Lab Rescue, Orem, Utah, September 2006.


Coco and Honey-Boy....both gone to the Bridge
Anne Sheldon of Thornton, CO., recently updated us on Coco and Honey-Boy, two dogs she adopted from northern California shelters when she lived there. After long, happy lives with the Sheldon family, they are now at the Rainbow Bridge. Please scroll in the navigation bar at the left, and click on "C" to find Coco's biography and "H" for Honey-Boy's.
Cooper, Adopted at Ten+, Filled with Buckshot
Karl Cobler, the Secretary/Webmaster for Chow Chow Rescue of the Sierra Foothills writes: "We are in Grass Valley, CA, but our websites feature dogs from all over the USA regardless of age. We focus on Chow Chows and their mixes but help with just about any breed. Look at my baby and shadow, Cooper, a German Shepherd Dog mix. Adopted one year ago. 10+, buckshot all over, Lyme's Disease and severe heartworm. Best dog ever. Now he keeps me company hiking over five miles every day." Contributed July 2006.

See the websites: Chow Chow Rescue, Mystery Mutts Dog Rescue, Salter Dog Park.


Gentle Reya, at the Shelter, Stole Their Hearts
Reya, a 10-year-old Shepherd mix, was found at the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc., (RBARI) in Oakland, New Jersey, by a volunteer who could not bear to leave her there. She writes, "I was spending time at RBARI to walk and play with the puppies. While I was there, Reya came in. She was about 20 lbs. underweight and looking very weak. I brought my dad in to look at her. He fell in love with her beautiful eyes. We then left for a vacation in Florida, where I did nothing but talk about bringing Reya home. My mom finally cracked and said that she would go see her. We went to RBARI -- the whole family -- and my mom fell in love with her. She agreed to foster Reya for a short time. Well, needless to say, six months later, on Father's Day, we were at RBARI. My dad had a check in hand, and we went to the front desk to pay to adopt Reya. We had taken her along so she could say good bye. My dad handed the lady his check, but she shook her head, and, instead of taking the check, she smiled and said, 'Happy Father's Day.' She patted Reya on the head and handed us the adoption papers. Reya was finally ours. We took her home, and for the next year-and-a-half, she was my mother's shadow, following her everywhere. She was a big, warm ball of fur to cuddle with or cry on; she was our Puppy Love." Although, sadly, Reya died in January 2006, she enjoyed the last part of her life with a family that adored her. Contributed by Danielle. Oakland, NJ. February 2006.

Chelsea....Faithful Companion to All the Family
"Your site has been a great reference for me as I take care of my girl, Chelsea, who is now over 15 years old. Chelsea is a Manchester Terrier/ Chi mix. She was given to me as a Christmas gift when she was a wee pup in 1990. She spent several years living with my aging parents -- first became Dad's best friend until he passed in 1996, then Mom's faithful companion until she passed in 2004. She's now back under my roof, and content to be here with her original mom. Chelsea is in pretty good health for her age; her eyesight and hearing aren't what they used to be, and she coughes at times, but overall her life happily revolves around napping, following me about the house, and begging for doggie snacks. She still gets spurts of running around the house like crazy when she gets excited; which is a riot! She rarely barks, and the only time she seems unhappy is when I cut her nails -- she hates that! Thanks for dedicating your time and resources to the Senior Dogs Project, Chelsea and I appreciate it!!" Contributed by Mary Bracey, Dearborn, MI. January 2006.
Bubba's Rules

"We adopted Bubba as a 13-year-old from a local shelter in November 2001. He was hard of hearing and stiff and weak with arthritis, but, otherwise healthy. He lived three years with us (and our two other senior Bassets) and passed away in March 2005. He was a very dear old dog and we were happy to be able to allow him to live out his full natural life. Here are some of the rules Bubba taught us:

Eat your vegetables. (Bubba's favorite things to eat were fruits and vegetables. He would wake up from a sound sleep if you walked by him with tomatoes fresh from the garden.)
Don't pass up an opportunity to use the restroom. (Whoever housetrained Bubba did an excellent job. It was Bubba's habit to relieve himself immediately whenever he was let out of the house or car. Then, before he came back in, even if he had only been out a minute and had relieved himself on the way out, he would pee again before coming in. It was as if he knew that he should make sure his bladder was empty because he might not have another opportunity for hours. I try to apply that rule, myself, when traveling.)
Take the ramp.
Check your dish.
Participate....at every age, experience new things.
A loud bark opens doors. (Corollary: Bark at every door.)
Even when you can't see or hear, you can still smell!
Enjoy the simple things: Living through the night + a good BM = a good morning and calls for a celebratory nap.
Respect the cat.
Once you're up, keep moving."
Contributed by Fran Madden, Redwood City, CA. November 2005.


Broadway Recognizes Senior Great Dane "Rudy" for His Therapy Work with Children

Rudy, a 10-year-old Great Dane from North Carolina, received the 2005 Hero award at the seventh annual Broadway Barks. The event, produced by Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS and sponsored by Animal Planet, Dogsters, The New York Times, Loews Hotels, and Sherpa, took place on Saturday, July 30 in Shubert Alley. Presented by Monty Python's Spamalot stars David Hyde-Pierce, Christopher Sieber, Michael McGrath and Steve Rosen, the award was granted in recognition of Rudy's work with the children of Grandfather Home, a home and charter school for physically, emotionally, and sexually abused children located in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Receiving the award on Rudy's behalf was Laurie Zoock, Public Relations Director of MAGDRL, Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, Inc.

The Broadway Barks Hero award is a certificate of recognition awarded to an animal or individual who has made a significant contribution to the community and/or to animal welfare. Past recipients have included various types of service dogs, as well as a dog that played a prominent role in search and rescue on 9/11.

According to Debra Rahl, President of the Mid-Atlantic Great Dance Rescue League, "Rudy is a fine example of the many wonderful Danes that come through our rescue every year. Many who have experienced similar neglect and abuse still, like Rudy, have it in their hearts to love and trust people and to give back ten fold. I am extremely proud to be part of such a dedicated organization of volunteers. When you meet a dog like Rudy though, you can truly understand why there are such a large number of wonderful people so willing to give of their time to help this gentle breed."

Laura Hickey, Rudy's adoptive mom says, "You really have to be there (at the Grandfather Home) to hear the soft voices say "Goodnight, Rudy" from their bedrooms . . . or to hear a child say "Hey, Rudy! Guess what!" and then continue to chatter as she walks to school with Rudy, her confidant. Those voices say it all!"

For more information on Broadway Barks go to: www.broadwaybarks.com Read more about Rudy's work with the children of Grandfather Home by visiting their website at: www.grandfatherhome.org, then click on the Rudy's link. For more information about Great Dane rescue please visit MAGDRL's website at: http://www.magdrl.org


Even "Neo the Cat" Loves Rusty

"I adopted Rusty, who is a five-year-old male Golden Retriever, from the Bergen County Animal Shelter in September of 2004. He has adjusted wonderfully! Rusty was overweight and has since lost 15 pounds. We have a dog pen here at our condo and he has dog friends with whom he plays. It didn't take Rusty long to become a member of our family. Even our cat, Neo, who is not the friendliest of cats, loves him and plays with him and his toys." Contributed by Susan M. Staples, Rutherford, NJ, April 2005.


Bella -- Sprung from the Shelter in the Nick of Time
Bella's foster mom wrote, just after Bella was rescued: "Bella was scheduled to be euthanized the day she was rescued from a shelter, having been left there by a family that no longer wanted her. She is a wonderful old girl, and seems to feel much better since her surgery. She was initially very frightened of people and would be terrified if you moved to pet her too quickly, and would run the other direction if she could. But she's improving every day. She LOVES attention and loves to be petted now. She feels most comfortable around the other dogs in her foster home and looks to them for direction. She still has some funny little habits -- for example, she won't come inside the back door -- most of the time she'll stop at the threshold and whine until you pick her up and help her over it (there's no physical barrier or step that might be stopping her). Until recently, she wouldn't eat if someone was watching her. But she's really a big cow, and loves to eat, so food finally won out. She's extremely sweet and gentle, and very submissive."

Bella was supposed to be available for adoption. However, her foster mom next wrote: "Now that it's Christmas time and I'm beginning to reflect on the things that I'm thankful for, I just want to thank you (and your organization) again for all the help and advice you gave me when I was trying to get Bella out of the shelter. Bella is now a happy and friendly girl, and is no longer scared of everything and everyone. I was very pleased to see her actually approach strangers at the dog park recently and ask to be petted. She loves being a housedog and her best friend (my other foster beagle) Maggie. I am so thankful that because of your help (among many other wonder people), Bella did not die alone and afraid. She is such a sweet girl, and didn't deserve the tough life that she obviously had (do any of them??). On a sad note, Bella was diagnosed with inflammatory carcinoma in August, and despite surgery to remove the tumor, it has now metastasized to her lungs. She is in no pain and is not suffering, but I think her time here on Earth is short. I knew when I rescued her that she might be very sick, so her prognosis is not a surprise, but it's still a very sad time for me. She's had a wonderful six months, and I know that we all did the best we could for her. The only thing I feel bad about is that she's only had a short time to experience the love and happiness that every dog deserves. But I'm still hoping for a Christmas miracle!"

Sadly, on January 18, 2005, Bella's foster mom wrote: "Dear Friends, Bella ended her fight with cancer last night. She died peacefully, with her 'best friend' (foster dog Maggie) at her side. I know that she didn't want to leave this world, but am comforted by the thought that wherever she is now, she's happy and healthy and probably chasing rabbits and eating hot dogs. Thank you all for everything you did for Bella -- helping to get her out of the Animal Control Shelter in the nick of time, taking her into your rescue group (knowing that Bella most likely had cancer), posting her on your web site, showing interest in her when nobody else cared, and keeping her in your thoughts and prayers. She had a great nine months; she was happy and loved and was eating her favorite dog treats until moments before she died. I can't really ask for more than that." Contributed by Jenny Morris, VA. January 2005.

End of Current Features