Hank, Now 12+, Joined "Hans" in a Heavenly Home at Age 10

Hank"We have two dogs, Hank who is 12+ years old, and his pal Hans, who at 6 years is just on the verge of qualifying as a senior dog. We adopted Hank two-and-a-half years ago when his owner was no longer able to keep him. His ancestry is uncertain -- most likely Golden Retriever and hound of some variety. He has lost most of his hearing and his vision is growing dim. The years he spent outdoors before coming to us have taken their toll on him. But his nose is still excellent! We recommend adopting an older dog. Neither my husband nor I wanted to go through all the training a puppy must have; nor did the chewing phase sound like fun to us. When we had the opportunity to add Hank to our animal family (we had adopted Hans two years earlier when he was two years old, and also have three cats) we were quite happy to have him join us. Hank has always been the gentlest of creatures. He has never had an 'accident' in the house, and aside from having raided the trashcan on occasion, he has been a perfect gentleman. When he came to us, he was no longer left outside as he had been in his previous home -- whatever the weather. When he's in our house, he isn't restricted to a rug in the corner, either. At first, the freedom almost overwhelmed him. We had to be careful of quick motions and loud voices, or he would cower and shake. Our veterinarian, Dr. Rob Privette here in Kennewick, is especially good with older pets. Blood work revealed Hank's thyroid was low, and his hips quite arthritic. Steroids have helped him regain some strength, and an aspirin a day has also been beneficial. Hank has attached himself to my husband, Dave, and every evening when Hans and I hear Dave arrive home from work, I shout to Hank that his daddy is home. He never fails to grab a toy and stiffly trot to the door. He 'talks' when he greets anyone, or is particularly happy. And, I am glad to say, he seems to be happy quite often. HansHans bonded to me immediately. I have an old spinal cord injury that puts me in a wheelchair most of the time. Hans would protect me to the death, and I think Hank would do what he could as well. So, we are a fortunate couple to have two such fine dogs. We love Hank very much and know the inevitable final kindness is nearer than we want to think. But, in two short years, he has brought us more joy, laughs, and unconditional love than we had ever thought possible." (Update March 9, 1998: "Very sadly, we had to bid Hank goodbye today. We all miss him so much; the house is too quiet without him. Hans is grieving the loss of his friend, and at the same time, he is comforting us. The good news is we are so happy with having adopted a senior dog we are making plans to adopt another adult dog." Update May 1998: Read about "Millie," the new senior adopted by Hank's family.) Contributed by Dave & Dustine Sparks, Kennewick, WA

"Hansie" -- A Mini Doxie....Survived a Hard Life to Find a Beautiful One

"When we lost our Sophie dog in August of 1999, we were so devastated that we said: 'That's it! No more dogs! It hurts too much when they die.' But the house felt empty, and eventually we decided we would get another dog.

"'It might as well be one that needs us,' we thought, so I contacted a rescue group and made an appointment. The group's facility was crowded with a variety of dogs--Scotties, a Tibetan Spaniel, and about a dozen other breeds. One of the littlest ones was a black and tan miniature Dachshund -- a very appealing dog who kept trying to make eye contact with me. I like Dachshunds, but this fellow was ten years old. I had just about dismissed the possibility of adopting him but, as I was looking at the other dogs, I noticed him trying to chew his way out of the metal gate that was keeping all the dogs in their area.

"I really did like him. 'If only he were eight, or six,' I thought to myself. I didn't want to get a dog that we wouldn't have for very long. As I was mulling this over, I found myself noticing that those other dogs were rambunctious! They were all pushing at the gate while the Dachshund quietly but determinedly worked at maintaining his place at the front of the pack. He knew what was going on. He kept up that eye contact with me!

"'It won't hurt to get to know him,' I thought, so I sat him on the sofa beside me, while the other dogs leaped on the couch, leaped behind us, and were generally being Very Bad Dogs. Not the Dachshund; he just sat there and shook. I kept him on my lap for protection for him as much as anything, and he continued to be a Very Good Dog. A Shivering Good Dog!

"It took me two hours to think it over (that rescue lady had the patience of an angel). I decided that, even though the Dachshund was ten, he was a very special fellow. I wanted him. I paid and he was mine. He happily walked on a leash out to the car and then dropped his charade of Mr. Good Dog. He bounced all over, looking out the windows. He was sprung from that place and he was enjoying his liberty!

"My husband liked the little guy right away. We named him Hans. We didn't introduce him properly to our cats, so he chased them all. Poor Tripod Bob looked terrorized as he rounded a corner on our wood floor. (I should have had Hans on a leash.) Most all the cats straightened Hans out, all except one who still runs from him.

"About three weeks after we got Hans, our sons and their girlfriends came to visit. We rented a minivan and went sightseeing. At the first waterfall, Hans led the group down the path to the waterfall. He was so cute walking on his leash. Everyone thought so! We went to the coast and bought Hans a tiny ice cream cone. After he had a few licks, I decided that was enough and put the cone into a plastic sack on the floor. Hans got down on the floor and got that ice cream cone out and wouldn't let go! It was his!

"We had so much love wrapped up in this little guy that I thought it would be best to get a second dog, to spread the love around a little. We bought a puppy -- a red Dachshund. Hans went with me to get the puppy. We sat in the car and got acquainted and he liked her from the start. She loved him! She still does. My vet says that Hans is the luckiest dog in the world: he has a girlfriend who is younger, who is beautiful, and who adores him!

"Ten months after we got Hans, he was attacked by a predator -- probably a bobcat. I heard the screaming and, as I ran toward Hans, he collapsed at my feet. The bobcat ran off, and then I saw the deep wound on Hans' left abdomen, with inner material spilling out. I was sure he was going to die. We rushed him to the emergency vet. The X-ray gave us hope! He had four broken ribs (up near the top of his spine, where the predator had bitten him), bruised lungs, and deep abdominal wounds. (My current vet recently looked at the X-rays and said it looked like Hans had a broken pelvis, too.)

"Hans recovered wonderfully. My vet thinks he's twelve, but he could be older. He's also judged that it has been a hard life for him. We know that Hans was abandoned twice within a four month period -- in Las Vegas and in Portland. He gets around really well, though, for an old guy with short legs who has had a hard life. Miniature Dachshunds can live for 15-17 years and we hope to have many years together yet!" Contributed by Betts D., Brush Prairie, WA. February 2002.

Hector (a Girl!) Is a Character!

"Hector is a girl! 'H' for short. She was only 12 weeks old when I got her from Binfield Dog Rescue Centre. She is now ten. The people who surrendered her just could not cope with a puppy. Luckily she was not ill treated, unlike my other two German shepherds who were waiting at home for her. (Unfortunately, they are no longer with me.) From the minute Hector walked through the front door of her new home, she tried to show them who was the boss -- not very easy for a 12-week-old puppy facing two rather large German shepherds! She's a bit of a 'bossy boots.' Personality wise, she's a nut case! She sits and 'talks' to you (makes 'groaning' noises), if you ignore her; then, when she gets your attention, she looks away as if to say 'don't talk to me.' You can't win. She's a dreadful scrounger, too. She'll sit for hours -- and I mean hours -- looking into my neighbour's kitchen window, knowing that, when she's spotted, she will get a biscuit. However, once she gets her biscuit, she just sits and guards it. She's such a character when we're out, too. She absolutely loves car boot sales, which we go to regularly on a Sunday in Bracknell, where we live. Everyone there knows her; one lady even brings her a dog biscuit every week. Hector also likes to hang out by the back door of the Hot Dog Van (can't imagine why!). She wanders around all the stalls, getting lots of attention, then pops back for a drink and to make sure I'm still there, then goes off again. She's the best. Loyal, loving and my baby. Heaven forbid the day I'm without her." Contributed by Jill Revill, Bracknell, England. July 2000.

Henry....Mellow, older Dobie is adoptive mom's idea of "a perfect dog"

Henry came to the attention of the Senior Dogs Project in early March 2000, when he was rescued from the Berkeley, CA, shelter by Home At Last. We ran the following ad and updates for him as a home was being sought:

Berkeley, CA -- Male Senior Red Dobie "Henry" Continues to Reveal More of His Sweet, Gentle Self

March 2000 -- Still in foster care, and now named "Henry," we've just heard from his foster mom that, "Everyone who meets Henry lights up because of his sweet face and gentle spirit. My vet thinks he may be younger than originally assumed -- probably 7 or 8 rather than 9 or 10. When we go to the park, he gently and cheerfully greets every dog there with a slow tail wag and little smile. He is such a sweet dog! He thought my husband was in trouble while soaking in the tub -- grabbed him by the hair, trying to pull him out! Too funny! He's looking marvelous -- health and stamina have improved dramatically. Even the old hips are working almost normal."

Sharon Burnett tells the story of her adoption of Henry:

"I originally saw a post about a GSD that was in bad shape and offered to adopt her. She was no longer available, so I was told about Henry. I went to the website and fell in love with that sweet face.

" I am a 59-year-old widow with a small home on a well-fenced acre of land. I got my first shelter dog about six years ago, and it got me involved in a kind of informal rescue operation. Counting Henry, I now have three dogs and five ex-feral cats. The animals have the run of the house and yard. Henry is a sweet, mellow, old boy who deserves to live his life out in peace. My last senior was a Mini Poodle. I adopted him at age 13 and he passed on in September at age 19, just two days after his birthday. I was about to go looking for another old-timer, when I learned about Henry.

Henry with Sharon and Beauty

"It is not compassion that leads me to adopt needy dogs and cats. They do a lot more for me than I do for them. They don't allow me the luxury of feeling sorry for myself. They keep me busy and cheerful. I can't lie in bed sulking, because I know someone will park a food bowl on my chest or lie across my bladder. I love seniors in particular because they are calm and slow moving, like myself. We can go for walks without my feeling like a kite at the end of the leash. Even Gidget and Beauty are getting to be seniors at 7 and 6 years old. The youngest cat is six; the oldest probably 10. We are all growing old together.

"The girls, Gidget and Beauty, still have their noses out of joint because Henry gets so much attention. However, they are used to rescue dogs coming and going and so are calming down. By the time they figure out he is not being re-homed, they will all be friends.

"Bless you for saving Henry so I could adopt him. He is close to my idea of a perfect dog."

These blessings are being forwarded to Donna Reynolds, who was instrumental in Henry's rescue, fostering, and adoption.

Hobbes, Almost 11, Proves That "Happiness Is the Smile of a Senior Dog"

"Hobbes is our wonderful senior 'love dog.' He's a pampered Yellow Lab going on 11 years (1/1/2000), whose energy and remarkable ability to bounce back from health challenges have amazed us endlessly. Beginning with epilepsy as a youngster, his battles have covered the bases from tumorous growths on his legs (his diagnosis and treatment rendered him a case study at the University of California at Davis) to the biggest scare we believe any dog could face -- gastric torsion -- which he had just a little over two years ago. Somehow, he has had the will and the strength to overcome these adversities. Hobbes' favorite friend is Teddy, his stuffed bear, which he runs and gets every day when we arrive home from work, and which he faithfully brings to bed every night. We discovered not too long ago that he loves to pull perfume ads out of magazines and to wear them (after a thorough drop and roll on the scented pages). But he is selective; not any old perfume will do. In fact, he is especially fond of the perfume that features Labradors in their ads -- we kid you not! It was the first ad he pulled from the magazine. Like any retriever, he loves his ball, walks, rides and puppy treats. With his big brown eyes, wagging tail, and charming puppy-like personality, Hobbes has lots of admirers in our neighborhood. What we love most about having him in our lives is his faithful devotion to giving us his doggy smiles when we need them the most." Contributed by the Swensons, northern CA. August 1999.

Update May 2000: "Hobbes is having some of the aches and pains that can come with being a senior dog, but Ascriptin (coated aspirin, twice a day) has been all he has needed. We did change his diet recently -- he's now permanently on rice, cottage cheese and a little ground beef. Even the 'designer' senior blends were too hard on his delicate digestive system. Since changing his diet, he's been much less gassy (which makes every one happier!!!). The bottom line is that this dog, for all the health challenges he has been through, truly amazes us! In fact, Hobbes has rediscovered youth -- he has a new friend across the street (Harrison, a two-year-old Yellow Lab who 'washed out' of guide dog school and became the pampered pooch of our neighbors). We've never seen Hobbes take to another dog like as he has to Harrison. Though he tends to tire out much more quickly than Harrison, Hobbes loves to play with him and often trots across the street to do just that. It really gives us a happy feeling to watch them play together. Dogs are so wonderfully innocent, and they really do smile! We humans stand to learn a lot from our furry friends and their easy-found pleasure romping about in the grass."

Update August 2001: Sadly, Hobbes moved on over to the Rainbow Bridge in mid-August. We received this E-mail from the Swenson family:

"It is a sad day in the Swenson house. Hobbes left us yesterday after 12 1/2 years of friendship, companionship, and love. We took him into the vet yesterday afternoon because he had a case of ADR (Ain't Doin' Right). We found out that he had an enlarged heart, probably from some form of heart disease. We think his heart was so large because he would always take the pain from our heart and put it in his. He was a trooper right to the end, but was ready to go play with the other doggies in heaven. We miss him tremendously but have wonderful memories of his smiling face. Say a prayer for the big yellow dog." Two recent photos of Hobbes, that capture his stature and his humor:

"Hobbs" in San Francisco Has a Permanent, Loving Home

Hobbs was dropped off at San Francisco Animal Care & Control (ACC) because his family was moving on -- without him. It's hard to imagine why they would leave behind this sweet dog who lives to fetch his tennis ball and bring it back to you. ACC is not permitted to adopt out a dog with any kind of medical problem -- even one as minor as flaky skin, which was Hobb's case -- but they can, instead, turn him over to "rescue."

First, it was Laura Fosbender who answered our urgent appeal for a foster home for Hobbs. That enabled Hobbs to get off "death row." Then Mollie Gruber came forward to offer him a home. Robyn Orloff pitched in to help with the logistics of getting Laura and Mollie and Hobbs together. Hobbs now lives with Mollie and her family, and she writes:

"Hobbs is a heaven-sent joy! We have set up a bed for him in each room, and he loves to hang out and cook with me in the kitchen (loves pasta -- he's probably Italian). What a sweetheart he is! He slept with us the first night and seems completely satisfied just lounging around. I have to encourage him to go outside and maybe lie in the sun on the porch to 'air out' a bit. His eyes need to be cleaned out each morning, and I am continuing the antibiotics; the lump in his mouth also seems to be decreasing in size."

It is impossible to adequately thank everyone who responded with an offer to help Hobbs. Your compassion is a continuing inspiration to all of us at the Senior Dogs Project.

Hobo, 15 1/2, Finds Himself a Home and a Family and Is Still Learning New Tricks

"My dog Hobo has a tumor in his hind leg. Hobo's vet doesn't want to operate unless he has no choice, especially since Hobo is also having a little problem with his kidneys. The vet says Hobo's in pretty good health, when you figure in his age. But he is worried about the tumor. The vet says he may not survive the operation, or, if he survives it, he may have trouble walking. Right now, Hobo still gets around very well and, when he plays, gives 110%. Hobo used to play Frisbee, but his eyesight began to fail. This year, as I was cleaning the garage, I found an old basketball, took it outside, and threw it for Hobo. He hadn't been able to see the Frisbee, but he sure could see the basketball. He loves to chase and attack it. Not bad for a 15 1/2-year-old. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Now, let me tell you how Hobo adopted me. I have some property across town. About 15 years ago, I was working there, and this little runt of a pup came around and started lapping rainwater from the ground. I put a bowl of water down for him, and he drank it, then hung around with me for hours while I worked. When I got ready to leave, he jumped in the cab of my truck. I shooed him out. I figured he was someone else's dog. When I pulled out on the road, this little runt of a pup came running as fast as he could after me. I stopped my truck, and he got in. I drove house to house on the street to see if he belonged to someone there. A couple of people said they had seen the dog around the area for a couple of months and thought someone had dumped him off. So I drove him home. On the way, he wanted to look at everything out the window, but he was so tired he kept nodding off. Hobo got along great with my other dog at the time, Francine. I named him Hobo because I thought it was fitting. I am just going to enjoy him whatever time he has left." Contributed by George Feschenko, Youngstown OH. December 1999. (Update: January 3, 2000 -- George Feschenko wrote: "Hobo can't walk at all now. I had him at the vet today; there's nothing more that can be done. I took him home so the family can say good-bye. In the morning, he goes to the vet for the last time. I am going to miss my little buddy. His mind is still good, but his body gave out.")

Happy Update to Hobo's story: January 17, 2000 -- "I have cried every day at some point since losing my Little Buddy, Hobo. I went through all the photo albums and gathered all the photos of him together in one place. Because of Hobo and the srdogs website, I have a new friend. It was Hobo's problem with tumors that led me to the srdogs site, and, when I lost Hobo, I used the site to do a search on the web for shelters. I found 'Pet Search,' typed 'Beagle' and my zip code, and up came a listing of Beagles. One of the sites had a picture that looked a little like Hobo when he was young. My new friend 'Scooter' is lying next to me, right now. He was a stray who got hit by a car. The SPCA nursed him back to health, and now his legs are fine -- he sure likes to run in my back yard! I had him to my vet today; he's in perfect health. Again, thank you for posting my Little Buddy Hobo on the srdogs site, and thank you for helping me find my new Little Buddy. It will take us some time to bond, but we're off to a good start."

Losing Ellie....Adopting Holly

In April, 2000, Liz Doughty and her family adopted Ellie, a Beagle whose age was estimated at 12-to-14 years, and who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. (Ellie's story also appears on these pages.) Ellie was kept as comfortable as possible during the time she had left. She died in October.

Now, Liz has just written: "You'll recall that Ellie, whom I adopted on April 1, lost her battle with cancer and died on October 8. I had been fostering a 10-year-old retired show Beagle all summer whose home had burned down. I'd tried to place her and finally had a home lined up, when it fell through---on the day we picked up Ellie's ashes. I knew then that Ellie was sending us a special gift, whether we were ready or not. Holly is now our dog. After Ellie's dignified stature, I wasn't prepared for the little ball of snorting and waddling that Holly is, but she jumped right into my lap and has worked her way into our hearts. We miss Ellie every day, but are thrilled to have added such a wonderful senior to our home once again." Contributed by Liz Doughty, December 2000.

Holly's Photos Will Be Arriving for Many Years

"My Collie's name is 'Holly.' He is 11 years old. I adore him! I do everything to ensure that he will live a long life. I hope I will be able to send you photos of him at 12,13,14,15,16,17.......... ." Contributed by Ceyda Kayaoglu. November 2002.

12-year-old Honcho Joins Kobo in a New Family

"Two months ago today, I adopted a 12-year-old Japanese Chin named Honcho. I already had a 3-year old Japanese Chin named Kobo, so Honcho made a nice addition to our family. We sure love him. He is a true joy. Anyone considering an oldster should know that it is worth it." (Honcho is sitting on the lap of Merlin Shannon, at the left; Kobo is on Eileen's lap, at the right.) Contributed by Eileen Shannon, February 2002.
Beautiful new photo of Kobo and Honcho contributed March 2002.

August 2002: "Here is an update on my Japanese Chin Honcho. I adopted him in November 2001 and he wiil be 13 years old on November 1. He has really blossomed. He was very sad for quite sometime, but now he knows he is with us always and we will always love and protect him."

August 2003: Honcho is now 13 years old and and 8 months. Here he is in a new family photo:

Honey and Frodo, Beloved Members of a Loving Family

"Here is a picture of me and my two senior children. Honey, the white Lab/Husky/Shepherd mix, is thirteen, and Frodo, the Beagle mix, is nine or ten. We've had Honey since she was two months old. She was our first dog, and she is our Baby and also the Queen. Frodo showed up when he was around a year old and has been the perfect companion for our family.

"Honey and Frodo are our children and they share our hearts, our home and our bed, along with three cats. They are the most perfect, loving, little spirits with not a mean bone in their bodies. They love to run in the woods and chase squirrels, and Honey loves to swim. She is also a great frisbee dog, and, 'though Frodo isn't a retriever, he loves to steal the frisbee from Honey after she's caught it.

"They love people, other dogs and cats and bring us joy and laughter 24/7. I cannot walk by either of them, but especially Honey, without loving on them. It's hard to say who gets the most out of it, and I don't know how I'll live without my daily Honey fixes when she is gone. She is wearing a t-shirt in the picture because she recently had surgery to remove a large mast cell tumor on her side. Everything went well and she is feeling great, but there hangs over us the uncertainty of whether or not the cancer will return. We take her health and happiness day to day and spoil and cherish her more than ever, if that's possible. I sometimes wonder how my husband and I will be able to handle not having her around. I have never loved anything as much as I do Honey, and my husband feels the same way.

"We don't talk about it much, because it's just too painful, but when she is gone, I have decided to find a senior dog to save and love. I just wish we could save them all. Thank you so much for your wonderful web site and your efforts on behalf of older dogs. I wish more people would appreciate what a gift God has given us in the love and loyalty of these most precious of creatures." Contributed by Georgia Goodell, Kiln, MI.  May 2003.

Honey-Boy, Adopted at 7, Now Age 10

Honey"This is my senior dog Honey-Boy. The photo was taken last summer, right after we shaved him because of the heat. He has much more fur now. Honey-Boy is 100% Cocker Spaniel. We adopted him from the Peninsula Humane Society when he was seven; now he is 10 1/2. He is slightly overweight (came that way), snores when he sleeps, and loves to roll on my bed. When he plays ball he is like a two-year-old. In fact, the only time I'm aware that he has gotten older is when he gets up in the morning. He is stiff and sleepy and kind of hobbles along until he has had his morning treat (kind of like coffee to us). Then he is ready to play." Contributed by Susan Sheldon, Northern CA

Update April 2006, contributed by Susan's mother, Anne Sheldon, Thornton, CO: "I had considered Honey-Boy almost a miracle of modern medicine. Not mentioned in Susan's story about him, he had a cherry eye when we got him in 1994. We had that fixed. He then developed an ear flap hematoma. That was successfully fixed. He developed a large, cancerous lump next to his other eye, and we had that removed with a successful skin graft. You could hardly tell he had had surgery. At one point, he had injured his foot; the tendon was torn. The vet operated and put in string to simulate the tendon. He told me tissue would cover the string, and Honey would walk okay. He did. He never even had a limp. When he developed abdominal cancer, we had him put to sleep, August 30, 2003. He had been vomiting daily, and was no longer continent and having lots of diarrhea. Poor boy. He was a terrific dog, and obviously enjoyed life until the last few months. We had him 9 years. We think he was 10 1/2 in 1997, which means he was 16 to 17 when he was put to sleep. He had slowed down a lot, but still mostly enjoyed life. I stayed with him as he was put to sleep, talked to him, and cuddled him."

Senior Princess, Houndy

 "This is our Senior Princess, Houndy. She is 14 or 15 years old. We found her in 1991 at a rest stop in Southern Illinois. She was sitting in the alcove, attempting to stay out of the pouring rain. Nothing but bones -- 21 lbs. when we found her. She tried to walk when we offered her food, and fell flat on her face. My husband picked her up and put her in our truck. We intended to nurse her back to health and find her a good home. We could not keep her, since we already had two Beagles and a cat. Most pitiful girl we had ever seen. No hair from her chin, down her belly, and a hairless tail. Tattered, torn ears, a large bleeding gash on her head. Every worm a dog could have except heartworm. Fleas like I had never seen. Frightened of everything -- even a hand reaching out to her would cause her to cringe. Well, she found a good home. She's still here, lying at my feet as I write. Tail wagging every once in a while. Her face is white, she has slowed some with her age. But the best girl we have ever known. She has a Beagle sister, Lumpy who is 11 years old, and a new rescue Basset sister, Judy, who is 4 years old." Contributed by Larry, Pam, Houndy, Lumpy, and Judy. March 2002.