Happy 16th Birthday, Maddie!
"Maddie is named after the blonde in the TV show 'Moonlighting.' She might have been 'Vanna' for Vanna White, but she liked Maddie better. Maddie came to us as a rescue dog in November 1987. After a snowstorm, a friend was driving to work and found Maddie and her brothers wandering in the plow track on the country road they live on. The puppies had been dumped there, no doubt for the crime of being mixed breed. Maddie takes after her American Eskimo parent, while both of her brothers resembled their West Highland Terrier parent. No doubt someone's purebred got loose and the puppies were banished to the snow because of it. Their loss was our gain, as Maddie has been part of the family ever since. She's watched the children grow up and even welcomed Jinx, our rescue kitty. Maddie falls down sometimes, can't hear or see well anymore, but after a bath she tears around the house like a pup again. Happy 16th birthday, Maddie!" Contribured by Ross, Pam, Christopher and Sara Panneton, Fairfax Station, VA, December 2003.

Maggie Gives Lessons in Loyalty, Kindness, and Love
"Maggie is 11 years old, but still very active. I adopted her when she was just eight weeks old. She's been with me through grade school, junior high school, and now high school. She taught me everything I needed to know to become a good, responsible person. She has taught me about loyalty, kindness and love. Because of her, I now also have four other dogs, two of which are rescues. The other two were "free to a good home" dogs, which I also consider rescues, because they probably would have wound up in the pound. Maggie does have arthritis, but now that she's taking glucosamine and Etodolac (from the vet), her arthiritis doesn't seem to bother her a bit. She loves people, other dogs and cats. She is the greatest dog I have ever had. I hope she is around for my high school graduation and more!" Contributed by Tracy Foreman,Taylorville, IL. July 2003.

Maggie the Beautiful

"Maggie came to me through a vet's office in spring 1996. She'd been found at a local tourist attraction eating chicken bones in the trash. This poor creature was skinny, had all the worms in the book (including lung worms!) and Lyme disease. She had a strange and funny bark, 'Yoicks! Yoicks!' --like an Englishman after the fox. I looked at her and thought, 'She sure is ugggly!' with her long, sharp nose. But, of course, that opinion changed when I got to know her sweet and quirky personality. We guessed her age at 10, but in the end the vet said maybe it really was 13 or 14. In the year and a half I had her, we treated all her problems and she plumped up nicely. The heartworm treatment caused a stroke--but the scrappy little thing survived and was a live wire the next day. (I was a wreck!) She had about six months of good health and happiness after that. I remember most of all how she pranced when she walked--I thought of it as dancing. She'd sit in my lap, swing her head back so I could kiss her nose, over and over, and she slept with her head resting on my right shoulder (on her own pillow!). Her hard life caught up with her, though, and her kidneys failed in the end. But wait! I don't think of this as a sad story. Maggie brought incredible joy to our lives and wonderful memories! It was a privilege to have the care of her even for a short while. She was a BEAUTIFUL old Beagle." Contributed by Stephanie Spearman, Rossville, GA. January 2002.

Magic and Woody, Senior Members of the Wedding Party

"Although this picture was taken in 1996, both our dogs were seniors even then. Woody is the handsome, brown, Staffordshire type with the bow tie. Magic is the long-haired German Shepherd. Woody was about nine when this picture was taken and Magic about ten; now they are about 12 and 13. Woody has become quite grizzled and now has very poor eyesight and hearing. He snoozes most of the day, but still knows how to pester for food and petting! He also likes lying out in the sun, 'like a lizard,' says our neighbor. Magic has had hip dysplasia all her life, and injured herself further when she fell last September. Since then she's had a disc removed and she hasn't fully recovered her ability to walk by herself. We help her out to do her business and she mostly lies on one of her beds all day -- always near the front door during the day and outside our bedroom at night. She takes her guarding tasks seriously, even though she can barely walk. We each brought a dog into the marriage, and each dog started out with each of us almost from birth. Magic was adopted when she was only a day old, abandoned with the rest of her litter. She was raised on a bottle in a houseful of cats, which may be why she does catlike things like washing her face with her forelegs! Woody was found at the side of the highway when he was about 6 months old, probably cast off during a big 'pit bull' scare in California at the time. Far from being fearsome, Woody has been an active therapy dog since he was three years old and has visited an average of three institutions per month, lavishing his affection on literally thousands of people. It's hard to watch our senior dogs grow frail, but, for all that they have given us, we plan to give them the best lives we can for as long as we can." Contributed by Susan Cole and Mike Forster, northern CA, June 1999.

Maizie and Granny Live in a Heaven that Happens to be a Canyon in Montana
"We adopt senior Labs. We are in Montana and currently have two. Maizie is 9 and was found wandering, lost (probably dumped) in Couer d' Alene, Idaho. She spent one month in the shelter before I found her on PetFinder. The people at Kootenai Humane Society are wonderful folks -- especially Mary, her savior and friend at the shelter.

"We adopted Maizie on March 11, 2003. Almost one month to the day, I called Mary at the shelter to tell her how wonderful our Maizie was. During our conversation, she told me that the shelter had just taken in an old (possibly 12 or 13 year old) emaciated Lab, starved by her former guardian down to 32 lbs., brought in nearly frozen, covered in her own feces. Mary told us that she had promised this wonderful little dog that she would help her, even if that help needed to be to send her off to heaven to relieve her of her pain and suffering.

"The very next morning, we drove the three hours to the shelter and brought 'Granny' home. A court case ensued whereby the former owner/guardian lost custody of Granny and was fined and ordered to have no future pets.

"Granny is the true epitomy of heart and soul. A new life has been given to her and she has blossomed and thrived and continues to amaze us daily. She and Maizie walk with my husband for over an hour every morning on our 86-acre property. Granny actually does not walk -- she flies with a graceful gait unlike anything I have ever seen -- nose to the ground, tail going 90 miles an hour. Granny is deaf, but the fact that her world is quiet is never a deterrent to her joy.

"Mary at the shelter has seen Granny several times since we adopted her on April 9, 2003. Mary told us that she had promised Granny she would send her to heaven. That heaven just happened to be a canyon in Montana with Maizie as a sibling, two cats for entertainment and two folks who are inspired daily by both of our senior dogs.

"Thanks for letting me share this story." Contributed by Susan Schroedel, Director, Project Pet Food, Senior Lab Lover. Plains, MT. September 2003. "All in memory of Auggie, our first Lab, adopted at age 9 and for Kizzie our friend, our love, our inspiration for 12 years until her passing in December of 2002."

A Tribute to Maizie, Passed from this Life August 20, 2004
"Our Maizie passed from our hands today and ventured onto the next life. She will never pass from our hearts, however. Maizie was approximately 12 years old...we will never know for sure as she was abandoned at the time in her life when her eyes were cloudy, her joints a little stiff and her need for her people was the greatest.

"Maizie came into our lives on March 13, 2003. She had been found hungry, lost and frightened in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on February 13, 2003. A guardian angel helped her to the Humane Society where she spent a fearful and uncertain month.

"There was evidence that someone had loved her in the past...at least ONE someone...as her toenails were painted in an array of sparkly colors. That person did NOT love her enough to look for her. Their loss on that day was our gain for exactly 1 year, 5 months and 7 days.

"We first met Maizie on March 13, 2003, after searching for an elderly Labrador Retriever who was seeking a loving retirement home. Certainly Maizie was seeking love, safety and security, too. It was the perfect match. I will never forget the first day we brought her home...her head drooped, her tail carried low between her legs and her eyes were downcast. She flinched every time we reached to pet her. She clearly had not been treated kindly in her life. She never made a sound until five months after she joined the family. One day she BARKED!!!! It was a beautiful sound to us...it made us realize that Maizie knew she was finally HOME!!!

"She was a gentle and kind soul. She loved her sister Granny Dog and accepted her immediately into our family when Granny joined us just one month after we adopted Maizie. Maizie instinctively knew that Granny needed safety and security, too. They were quite a pair. Maizie tipped the scale at well over 100 lbs...Granny just 48 lbs when she first joined the family.

"The first time we saw a spark of life and joy in Maizie was day 3. Dan jingled her new collar with her ID tag on it. Maizie "woo-wooed" at the anticipation of something wonderful about to happen. For the remainder of her time with us...something wonderful happened every morning and she never lost her enthusiasm for the high point of the day...the MORNING WALK. Even up until the last three days of her life...she still managed a little "hop" in anticipation of the morning stroll.

"This morning...her last morning in this life...was spent smelling the smells and lying on a favorite spot in our yard where she could survey most of our canyon. Dan, Granny, Mr. Willard and I sat with her for a long time. Dr. Dave came to our home to help her along on her journey to escape the pain, confusion and struggle she was having. Maizie's passing was peaceful and serene. Her struggles are over. Her pain is gone. Maizie is buried in a favorite shady spot under a huge pine tree.

"We love you Maizie Doo, our Maizie Daisy Dog.

"Until we meet again,

Dan, Susan, Mr. Willard, Bunny Bear and your dear friend Granny Dog"

Ten-year-old Mandi Gets a Bath and a New Home

In September 2000, the the Senior Dogs Project website posted an ad for the Taunton, MA, Shelter, listing four "really nice" seniors who were looking for homes. One was described as, "A healthy, spayed, black-haired Collie-mix girl with cute Collie ears and wavy black fur... about 35 pounds and about ten years old ..."

On November 10, we received this wonderful E-mail in response to our request for an update on the dogs who had been advertised:

"I am replying to the E-mail you sent to the Taunton Shelter. My name is Nadine, and I adopted the ten-year-old Collie mix on 9/30. I already had two dogs (also female -- one who is 2+ years old, and the other who is 7 1/2+ years), but fell in love with this girl when I gave her a bath at the shelter. I took her to the vet and groomer's and then home. I have named her Mandi.

"From the moment I gave her a bath and she gave me a 'thank you' kiss and put her little paw on my arm, I was in love with her. She has already brought much love and laughter into my home, and is a welcome and wonderful addition to the Killion family.

"There was a short time of adjustment on the part of my other 'girls,' but Mandi now fits right in. She is so full of life! She had a little trouble walking at first, but now she runs, jumps, and keeps up nicely with the the other two dogs. It is hard to believe she is ten. I think she just needed a little exercise, some vitamins and lots of TLC. Having the other dogs around also helps her. She is a beautiful lady, and everyone who meets her falls in love with her.

"I never thought twice about adopting Mandi, even when I knew she was ten years old. I felt, whether she had only one year left or several, at least she would have happy days. I believe that older dogs deserve happiness and love and a good home as much as younger dogs. Love knows no age." Contributed by Nadine Killion, Taunton, MA, December 2000.

Update 6/17/01: Nadine Killion wrote: "A very, very sad farewell to the most loving little dog, my Mandi - who gave me more love in our much-too-short time together than many people get in a lifetime... As a poem given to me at the Animal Emergency Center said: '... out of love...bid me farewell, and send me on my way with dignity. And cherish each season that we shared, for they are eternity.' "

Marco, Age 16, Steadfast, Valiant, and Handsome

"Marco came to live with me when he was almost a year old. He's 16 now. Although his eyes are cloudy with cataracts, his steadfast devotion still shines through. His hearing has diminished but he responds to clapping. And that smart fellow has taught me to use hand signals. He has a big fatty tumor inside his right rear leg, so he stands a little funny. Sometimes he forgets to brush his teeth and he needs a breath mint. His face, which used to be mostly brown, has turned almost all white now. With arthritic legs, he follows me up the steps, huffing and puffing at the top. I tell him what a valiant fellow he is. And what a handsome devil he is." Contributed by Barbara Youtie, Atlantic City, NJ.

Mariah Hope Will Know Only Love & Kindness from Now On
"Please meet the newest Dachshund in our family of five -- 'Mariah Hope.' This baby was a puppy-mill rescue and had a life that is hard to imagine. She is about six or seven years old, but there is no way to know for sure. She has a bit of gray under her little chin, but that could also show the horrible life she had before her rescue. Mariah was bred back-to-back seasons for years, and, from the way she acts, she was physically abused, as well. She had a COWTAG in her little ear at one time, and was branded on top of her head. The day I saw this baby for the first time, I took her little face and told her that 'Never, EVER again will you be treated badly,' and I will keep that promise forever. 'Riah' moved in with us on January 28, 2000, after stopping to get her first rhinestone collar, which she so justly deserves. She is now the new sister of Jake, Sue, Jordan and Amanda, most of them seniors, too. (I had posted Jake and Sue here before with my Beloved Mary Marie, who officially became an Angel last July 21, after 19 years. God bless you and keep you, Mary.) Mariah has adapted well to her new family. She's still very afraid of men, but, in time, we will put that fear behind her, just as we did with Mary. It is so wonderful to see her play and run and enjoy life now. After living in a cage her entire life, this baby LOVES to run in the yard and play with the others and the toys. 'Till there are none, please rescue one.' " Contributed by Beth Casselman, Oklahoma City, OK. April 2000.
Mary (18!), Jake & Susan at the "Doxie Ranch"
"This is the eldest of my six rescued Dachshunds. 'Mary Marie' turned 18 in February. She was my first Dox and, to me, is the most special. Mary had been at the Dachshund Rescue in Denver for almost four months. She had been abused to the point of broken ribs and a broken spirit. The reason she hadn't been adopted was that she was a fear biter -- from all the abuse. She also hated thunder. I had the time to work with her, but it took a while. A year after we adopted her, she allowed my husband to pet her for the first time. Today, Mary is the 'special one' here at the Doxie Ranch. She runs the show. She has learned to trust and to give the kind of unconditional love that so many dogs can give, if they get the right opportunity. We love her dearly and treat her like the queen she should have been her whole life."

Jake, 10, "Mr. Perfect" at the "Doxie Ranch"

"Jake is the second oldest of my six rescued Dachshunds, coming in at 10 years of age. He had been a little show dog until he was hit by a car. He is a long-haired Dox, one of two here at the Doxie Ranch. I also call him 'Mr Perfect.' If I had ten like him, it wouldn't be too many. He is happy, playful, and usually quiet, except at mealtime. He is a 'kisser' and loves everybody. I wish he could give lessons to the other five for perfection. He has the happiest Dox Strut and loves to be combed. We adore this one as do his 'brothers and sisters.' "

Susan, 8, is the Most Spoiled at the "Doxie Ranch"

"Little Susan Wheezer (nicknamed 'Wheezer' for all her allergy problems) has the typical sad-eyed, pet-store-puppy look and can melt a heart in no time. Of the six at the Doxie Ranch, she is the middle one, and the second long-haired Dachshund of the bunch. With this face, need I say Sue is the most spoiled and has her daddy trained very well. Susan and her brother Jake luckily are not among the abused rescues that we have. She is the most timid but at the same time can be the most protective. Vocalizing is her strong suit. Even though we call her the 'baby,' she will be 8 years old this Christmas." Contributed by Beth, Doxnlvr@aol.com, Denver, CO.

Mattie Inspires a Volunteer to Look Forward to the Next Senior Rescue

"I had been doing Boxer rescue in the Midwest area for about six months. In that time, I had taken in about six foster dogs, including an emaciated, heartworm- positive male and an eight-month-old puppy who would have qualified for daily doses of Valium. In mid-December, I received a call from the local shelter about two female Boxers scheduled to be euthanized that evening. I rushed to the shelter to assess the two dogs, and another volunteer met me there. He grabbed the younger dog and said he was taking her and leaving the 'old' one for me to decide about whether she was 'adoptable' or not. Well, I knew if I left her there that the coordinators of our rescue group would have had my hide. So I packed up the 'old' girl, and off we went. Once home, we hopped into the tub and I tried to scrub the stink of the shelter off of her. Afterwards she received a hot meal and then a snuggle on the couch. 'Mattie,' as I came to call her, was a wonderful soul. The vet guessed Mattie to be about 10, but said he would be nice and only tell her she was 8. She was spry and loved to play ball, When asked where her ball was, she would run around the house looking for it.

"I fostered Mattie for about eight weeks, and the joy and zest for life this gal had inspired me daily. Mattie has since been adopted by a family with an elderly member (shown in the photo) who is delighted with her and who calls her 'Lady.'

"I have had about 15 fosters now, but Mattie holds a very special place in my heart. She has opened a spot there for the 'old' ones, and I long for the next 'senior' to teach me to love the way she did. Live long and happily with your new family, Mattie, and always remember you have a home forever in my heart." Contributed by Jill Smith, KS. April 2001.

At 13, Max Still Has the Best Years of His Life Ahead of Him

"Here is a picture of my recently adopted Maxwell. Max was housed in a veternarian's office for 11 of his precious 13 years . He's in his forever home now, sleeps in bed, is hand fed and pretty much does anything he wants." Contributed by Pam. March 2001.

Max -- Gets to Live the Puppy Years He Never Had

"We adopted a 5-year-old Black Lab mix over the Internet a few years ago. He has been wonderful. We were very nervous about him, since his upbringing was fairly unknown. Apparently, he was adopted by an older woman when he was a puppy. She developed cancer and eventually died. Since we adopted him, he has consumed our lives. He has been living the puppy years he probably never really had. I make special efforts to take him running with me. We drive to nature trails so that he can run lose. He does some wandering but rarely strays from the paths. He loves to run and forces us to run sometimes even when we don't want to. We often ask ourselves what we did without him. We have been truly blessed with his love." Contributed by Rob Curry. July 2002.

Schipperke Max Was Adopted at the Age of Thirteen!
"I help out with Schipperke Rescue for the eastern United States. Two years ago, I got an e-mail from the network saying there was a 13-year-old Schipperke in Pittsburgh who was soon to be the casualty of a divorce. I thought it would be very hard for him to get adopted at a shelter, so I drove to Pittsburgh with the idea of fostering him. Well, that decision didn't last two seconds after I met 'Max.' He was immediately adored by our family and, two years later, still is. At 15 years of age, he is doing really well but just can't play like my other two Schipperkes who are much younger. We are very lucky Max is in our lives! He is a real sweetheart." Contributed by Steve, Max, Chelsey, and Bear. May 2003.

Max, Almost 12 -- Always So Easy to Love

Gary and Max"Max is our almost-12-year-old German Shorthair Pointer. I remember the day my wife Susan and I went to the breeder's to choose the one dog that stood out among the other puppies. Luckily the choice was fairly simple. Max connected with both of us in a very special way. We still hold that special connection. He seems older these days and isn't able to do some of the things he used to do --like run all day after birds --but he still goes for walks with us along the mountain trails near our house, giving a nice greeting to other dogs he meets along the way. There has always been something wonderful about Max, a certain quality in his personality that makes it so easy to love him. He has always given so much love in return. We're extremely lucky to have him as part of our family." (Update June 7, 1998: Sadly, Max crossed the Rainbow Bridge last night. He will be deeply missed.) Contributed by Susan and Gary T., Beverly Hills, CA

Incredibly Talented and Intelligent "Max"
"I am writing to tell you about the most amazing dog I have ever met in my life -- 'Maximum Doggy Kiely.' 'Max,' for short, is a 14.5 year old Border Collie/German Shepherd (and, we believe) /Australian Shepherd mix. I have had Max in my life since he was nine years old, and from the second I met him he made me know I was important, needed and loved more than anything. There are far too many amazing stories to tell about Max -- his incredible talent and intelligence. We have eleven dogs in my immediate family, and all my family members are amazed by Max's ability to learn, listen and tune into how people are feeling. Here are just a few of the stories about him:

"A year or so ago (remember his age at that time was 13.5 years), Max and I went to my girlfriend's house for a day of relaxing at the pool. I was getting hot and decided to cool off. I jumped off the diving board and skimmed the bottom of the pool until I came to the shallow end. When I surfaced, there was Max, right by my side in the pool. My girlfriend who had watched the incident, said that as soon as Max couldn't see me in the water, he jumped in after me. While Max LOVES to swim, he has NEVER jumped into water; he only wades in. I truly believe he was trying to save my life.

"Another amazing fact about Max: when I come home, he says 'hello' to me. It's something of a howl, but it actually sounds like 'hello.' I thought for years that I was crazy until one day I had a friend come home with me. When we walked in the door, Max said 'hello,' and my friend turned to me with a look of shock, and asked, 'Did Max just say hello, or am I losing it?.' And when I ask Max who loves me, he barks. I can't help but think that he understands the question.

"Max has made my life complete. He lets me know everyday how much he loves me and has virtually turned my life around. Max has slowed down quite a bit in the past couple of months, but he still greets me at the door everyday, along with his brother, Rocky (a seven-year-old German Shepherd/Akita/Cattle Dog cross). By sending these notes and his photo, I want to pay tribute to his life." Contributed by Lisa Kiely, Burlington, ON, CANADA. August 2004.

Maxx Was Dumped When He Developed a "Bad Habit"

"This is Maxwell....we call him 'Maxx.' He came to live with us on January 14, 2001, at the age of 16. He was dumped at a kill shelter by his other 'family' because he had developed a bad habit. His bad habit ...... 'getting too old.' He is 70% blind and cannot hear, but he is absolutely perfect in every other way. He is now 17 years old. Maxx stole my heart from the minute the SOS went out about him on the Small Paws Rescue board. Never give up on the senior dogs. They have sooo much love left in them to share. And maybe, if you're lucky as I am, they may teach you a new special kind of love." Contributed by Vicki. March 2002.

Small Paws is a Bichon rescue organization with a website at www.smallpawsrescue.org. The group rescues Bichons, Bichon mixes, or anything that resembles a Bichon, no matter what age or condition.

Meisha, at Age 9, the Longest-Known Survivor of a Dread Disease

"Meisha, my Lab/Terrier/Spaniel mix, was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia in January of 1992. Her doctor said that if she survived the initial crisis, she might live two or three more years. Six years later, Meisha is not only surviving, but totally thriving. My website has been dedicated to her and all the other dogs and their families who struggle with this disease." Contributed by Joanne Dickson (Coordinator's note: Meisha's website contains important information and links to other internet resources on the topic of autoimmune hemolytic anemia.)

Midnight Is a Best Friend and Teacher

"Midnight Serio (that's been his name for the last 11 years) came to me when he was two. He will be 13 in December. When he was two years old, his original guardians wanted to put him down because of his skin and ear problems. His groomer, a friend of mine, took him in and had the Sepps procedure done on his ears. And then, I came along to work in her grooming shop. Since we were friends, whenever the weather got snowy, I stayed with her and her 12 dogs. Yup, one of them was Midnight. Well, he and I played ball every night at her house when I was there. He is a great ball player. Still catches it like a champ though he now needs to take lots of rest stops. Anyhow, one night when I was going to my own home, my friend said, 'You might as well take him with you; he is your dog now.' And out the door we went.

"Midnight lives with me and our two Shih Tzus, Rose and Sarah. We also have two kittens, Luvanne and Affection. Sarah is ten and Rose is four. Midnight is always right next to me, no matter where the others may be. So many of his peers have already made their way to Rainbow Bridge. He has just had a check up and the vet says, if it weren't for me, he would be gone already. He has some arthritis, a chronic ear problem and needs drops every day for his eyes. But he is still enjoying life. Today I had the deck door open, and he went just outside the door. I found him sitting in the sun, enjoying himself immensely. He is my very best friend. When asked at a recent retreat to name a 'best teacher' in life, I named Midnight for his nurturing, steadfastness, unconditional love and absolute beauty." Contributed by Karima. November 2002. Update October 2003: Karima wrote: "Just sharing the sad news that my darling Midnight made his journey to Rainbow Bridge at 5:05 p.m. on Columbus Day. My life will never be the same without my onliest boy."

Mike, Age 12, the Office Stress Manager
"Our family rescued Mike, a pure-bred English Cocker Spaniel, from an abusive family when we were stationed in Rota, Spain. Mike is now 12 years old and showing signs of slowing down, but he's in a much better state than he was when we brought him back to America. Because of the abuse he had suffered, Mike was a 'fear biter,' which was a cause of serious concern to us. He's mellowed a great deal, though, and the problem has virtually disappeared. This past year, when my daughter went away to school, Mike was alone a great deal. I work full time and there was no one to keep him company. I heard from neighbors that Mike would howl so plaintively that it would break their hearts. I work in downtown Monterey, CA, for a computer-based information technology company. When I mentioned Mike's loneliness, my boss insisted I take him to work with me. So, happily, since September 1997, Mike has been my constant companion, both at home and at the office. I get up in the morning, take him for a walk, and then he goes back for some more ZZZ's. But when he hears me blow-dry my hair, he awakens promptly and heads for the door. (I still haven't been able to explain holidays and Saturdays to him. Oh well.) Everyone at my office has adopted him and taken the cue from him to bring in their pets. Sometimes we have three dogs and a parrot in the office. The parrot is taken to work so that he'll understand how boring work can be for his owner. It's not boring for Mike, though. Everyone says 'Hello' to him before they greet anyone else (our receptionist noted that). Even the Fed Ex lady brings him biscuits and love. I really believe Mike's presence at work benefits my co-workers. They leave the frustration of the moment at their desk, come into my office, and kneel down and massage his ears. Having a little session with Mike is better therapy than hanging around a coffee machine. It makes me especially happy to know that Mike's last years are already filling up with lots of friendly people, other friendly dogs, and lots of love from all." Contributed by Denise Guarnery, Monterey, CA. Update, March 2, 1999: "The Office Stress Manager is now at peace. During the past year, Mike began slowing down like an old clock. He lost the support of his front legs, and my wonderful vet recommended a long-awaited sleep for Mike. His absence is strongly felt both at home and at my office; even they cried when they heard. This is a very painful time, but everyday I celebrate the joy he brought with his Unconditional Love. I miss you, Mike!"

Millie, a Newly-Adopted 6-Year-Old Greyhound, Helps Ease the Grieving for Hank

"In March 1998 we had to bid farewell to our 12-year-old dog, Hank. He had given us so much joy. Our house was empty without him, and much too quiet. Hank died in my arms. He deserved to have me with him when that time came. Our other dog, Hans, was deep in grief. He wouldn't eat, would distractedly wander their favorite trails, or just lie in the yard without any interest in playing. Being unable to explain to Hans why Hank was gone made his death even harder for us. We knew we would bring another dog into our home; we just didn't know when. We waited for Hans to show signs that his mourning was over, but when we saw no end in sight, we decided to adopt another dog as soon as possible. We have friends involved with Greyhound Pets, an organization that finds homes for retired racing greyhounds. Greyhounds are marvelous dogs -- not at all high strung as most people think. They are very gentle and loving. And with their very short coat and quiet ways, they make ideal house dogs. My husband and I discussed it and agreed that a smallish female would be our first choice. Of course, we wanted an adult (older) dog! We called the nearest Greyhound rescue group and learned there was a 6-year-old female named 'Millie' in need of a home. They said she was very playful, which was just what our Hans, who is also 6 years old, needed. When we brought her home, Hans was delighted. They've become great friends. She is the perfect playmate for our rowdy Hans, (in the photo with me) and a wonderful addition to our household -- quiet, very well trained, devoted, and loving. It brings us great joy to watch this lovely greyhound run for the sheer joy of it, not because her speed is being exploited on a race track. We firmly believe in adopting adult dogs. They need little or no training and adapt to a new environment much more easily than people might expect. When friends ask us why we adopted another dog so soon, we explain that no dog could take Hank's place. Each dog is an individual and will always be loved and missed. But there are so many wonderful, well-mannered adult dogs needing homes. We believe our best tribute to our Hank was to give a loving home to another dog who so desperately needed one." Contributed by Dave & Dustine Sparks, Kennewick, WA (Also on this website is Hank's story.)

Millie, Most Needy, but with the Most to Give

"About six weeks ago, I found out there was a female Springer Spaniel at Martinez (CA) Animal Control. I contacted the head of the Golden Gate Senior Springer Rescue Association, and she suggested I go to the shelter to evaluate the dog. I called the shelter to arrange it, but, unfortunately, I couldn't work it out with them. About two weeks later, I received a call from a volunteer at the shelter, saying they still had the dog and asking if I couldn't come take a look at her now. They had a previous record of my call about her and decided to see if I might still be interested.

"The volunteer told me the dog was about eight years old, had lost some of her hearing, had been diagnosed with bilateral cataracts, was being treated for a yeast infection in her ear, and was a bit unsteady on her feet, but that could be because of the ear infection. She also had a slight head tilt. Following that list of ailments, the volunteer went on to rave non-stop about what a wonderful dog she was. She also mentioned that the dog was scheduled to be put down the next day, if 'I' or someone didn't come and rescue her.

"After listening to the volunteer go on and on (I told her she would be a perfect sales person), I finally (reluctantly) agreed to go look at this wonderful dog. I managed to make arrangements with my vet ahead of time, just in case I decided to pull her from the shelter. Before going, I also talked to one of the lieutenants at the shelter, and he said the dog was supposed to be put down at 11 that morning, but because the volunteer said 'I' was coming to look at her, they postponed the inevitable until 5 that night. He also happened to mention that the dog had tumors on her stomach.

"I started to re-think my decision. I knew I couldn't take on a dog with more medical problems, possibly needing surgery. I was in the process of changing my mind, when the volunteer called and asked if the lieutenant had said something to me about the dog having tumors, and I said 'yes.' She said she thought he was feeling the mats on her stomach and hadn't bothered to examine what they were. Before changing my mind again, I rushed over to the shelter to take a look at her.

"I found the elderly Springer in a kennel, lying beside a Pit Bull. Other than shaking (I suspect from just being in the kennel with the Pit Bull, as the other dog wasn't bothering her at all; in fact they were lying on the same bed together). I had the volunteer take her out, so I could look at her. She was a mess: her hair was full of mats, as if she hadn't been groomed in a very long time. The 'tumors' did turn out to be mats of hair.

"I knelt down and put my hands on each side of her head to get a better look at her and to see her teeth, and she proceeded to give me a big kiss right on my face. That did it for me. So what if she could hardly hear anything? I knew she could still see, because I could tell her eyes were tracking the movement of my hands. The only time she barked, the volunteer told me, was when she saw a dog cookie, and then it was as if she was reminding the volunteer not to forget her treat. And so, I filled out the paperwork, put on the collar and leash I had brought with me, and rushed her to my vet. I left her there overnight, because I wanted to be sure she didn't have any diseases she could pass on to my other dogs.

"Saturday, I picked 'Millie' up (a name that just popped into my head). The vet's office told me that her only problem, besides the loss of hearing and some eyesight, was a low thyroid count, but not low enough to be a problem. The vet techs also had to completely shave all her hair, as she was so matted (mats over mats interspersed with stickers and burrs between her toes). I didn't even recognize her when they brought her out. They gave me some ointment for the ear infection, and we were off.

"I decided to keep her away from my other dogs, as they were all much younger and rambunctious, especially my Lab, who tends to be the dominant dog and has to show his dominance by mounting every dog until he is sure they get the message he is 'numero uno.' I decided Millie was not a good candidate for his shenanigans, as I was afraid he would accidentally injure her. So she became a house dog. The first thing she did was find the bathroom and drink from the toilet, a habit I suspect she had developed a long time ago. I had no idea if she was housetrained, so I left her in the kitchen with newspapers on the floor when I went to work. At first, she had some accidents, then they became less and less frequent. I suspect it was just the stress of a new situation.

"Gradually, I worked with her to show her the portion of the yard fenced off from the other dogs so she could go out and do her business. She checked out the chickens, but showed no interest in them. Most of the time, when she wasn't smelling things, she would stick by me. The one and only time she barked was when she saw food; she's a real 'chow hound.' As time has gone by, I have been able to leave her in the house all day when I am at work and know that, when I come home, she hasn't done anything, She just heads right for the door to go outside to do her business.

"She is walking better all the time. She still has a problem with slippery wood floors, but even that is improving. Recently, she had surgery to have a bleeding tumor (benign) removed from her abdomen and a couple of cysts removed from the top of her head, along with an abcessed tooth. It took her a day or so to recover, but she is back to her old self now. It was when she was having her surgeries that I found out 'eight-year-old' Millie is more like 14 or 15, but the vet graciously said he would give her the benefit of the doubt and put '11' on her chart.

"Along with the love she has brought into my house, Millie has also brought with her the gift of patience, which I have had to develop, as she tends to pace and follow me everywhere, always being under my feet. It is as if, now that she has found the love and attention she has so desperately missed, she doesn't want to lose it. I am a firm believer in second chances, and I feel this old girl deserved another chance. I hope that when I am old and in poor condition, someone will be good enough to give me the benefit of the doubt and still consider me a valuable being capable of making a contribution to society.

"When it is Millie's time to go, I will probably adopt another senior, as they are the ones who are most needy, yet also have the most to give." Contributed by Marie-Claire Starr, Antioch, CA. April 2001.