Missy, Age 10, Loves Italian Food

Missy and Lou

"You can tell that Missy's an older dog by her white face. She's a Vizsla and supposed to be honey-colored all over. We got her when she was eight weeks old, and on the very first day we had her, she fell into a pool. We thought she'd never get over it; instead she turned into a great swimmer. She absolutely loves it! She also loves to eat -- pizza and Italian meatballs, in particular. My husband is of Italian descent, so perhaps that's why she likes Italian food. We don't actually give her this food. She steals it whenever she has the chance. In the photo, she's with my husband, Lou, just about to go for a dip in San Francisco Bay." Contributed by Maureen Perrone, San Francisco, CA

Misty, Never Thought of as "Old"

Misty, hiking"My husband and I adopted Misty, a Golden Retriever, when she was ten years old. The folks who gave her up never dwelled on her age as a disadvantage, and we didn't either. In fact, we were so delighted to get her, it never even occurred to us to think of her as 'old.' Her most endearing quality has always been an unquenchable desire to spend all her time with us. At fourteen, she has been on chemotherapy for a year, but canine oncology has made tremendous strides in the past few years, giving Misty -- along with scores of other dogs -- an extended lifespan and a quality of life that is excellent. She may not be up for a six-mile hike anymore, but she loves riding in the car and can still make it onto the back seat in one leap. (Sometimes we wonder if there is such a thing as selective agility.)" Contributed by Andy & Teri Goodman, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Robert Heil. (Update September 1997: Our beloved Misty 'ran out of gas' and could not remain on this earth with us any longer. She will remain in our hearts as the most beautiful and most deeply-loved of any companion in our lives.")

Mitzi, Snuggles and Sammy -- Well-Loved and Best Buddies

"Mitzi and Snuggles, my two Pekes, were always my best buddies. I saved Snuggles from going to the pound. She was a little, red ball of Pekingese fuzz when she became my first puppy love. A year and a half later, she gave me a daughter, Mitzi. The two were inseparable, and people would often ask me if they were twins. My husband had an American Staffordshire Terrier named Sam when we met. Sam was very gentle with Mitzi and Snuggles, and we all lived together happily for many years. Then, in January 1998, my husband brought another American Staffordshire named Guinness home from work, but, sadly, the next month, we lost Sam; he was 14 years and 7 months old. Shortly after that, in May, Snuggles was diagnosed with kidney failure. She was 14 years and 10 months old. A big light in my life went out when the vet put her to sleep in my arms. Mitzi went into mourning, too, and I wasn't sure she would come out of it. But then we adopted a foundling black female cocker named Ashley. Ashley gave Mitzi a new lease on life, and she became her yappy self once again. Sadly, Mitzi passed away in her sleep on February 24, 2000, one month shy of her 15th birthday. There is nothing more loving than an older dog. I miss all three of mine -- Snuggles, Mitzi and Sammy. May they all romp pain free and be there to greet me at the Rainbow Bridge." Contributed by Brigitte Kersten-Riggs. June 2000.

A Family Adopts Two Sweet Seniors at Once -- Mo(e) and Ginger

"Thank you for this wonderful website, which has been a valuable resource for us, as we have adopted not one but two senior dogs in the past two months. I had some hesitation about taking on the responsibility of caring for these animals, but your site reassured me that we could do it. In late June, we brought Mo(e) home to live with us. (My husband prefers the spelling 'Moe' but I like 'Mo' better -- hence the current version of his name.) Mo's former human was no longer able to care for himself or for his four dogs. He moved into a nursing home and neighbors and people from the veterinarian's office cared for the dogs until homes could be found for them. The last dog to be placed was Mo(e), a 10 1/2 year old arthritic Rottweiler with a cataract in one eye. The owner's legal guardian was about to have Mo(e) put to sleep, but the owner's niece (currently living in Michigan) and a vet technician who really loves Mo(e) were sure they could find someone to take him. That turned out to be us. Mo(e) has been with us for six weeks now and we are grateful for every minute of time with him.

"One of Mo(e)'s former yard-mates, Ginger, was not thriving in her new home, so she came to live with us last week. Ginger is 13 1/2 years old. She is partially blind, partially deaf, and has a heart condition. But she is the sweetest little girl imaginable. She and Mo(e) are happy to be back together again and we are enjoying her as well. Both dogs are as good-tempered and gentle as could be. We love them both dearly and are thankful to have them in our lives. Thanks again to the Senior Dogs Project for paving the way." Contributed by Mary Miller and Robert Rhudy, Athens, GA. August 2002.

Molly, a Big Lab in a 14-Pound Package, Gets a Second Chance

"When I found this little dog last November, I was living in an apartment where pets weren't allowed. I wanted a pet eventually, but not a small dog -- too yappy, too hyper, I thought. Molly turned out to be neither! She's very laid back, like a big Lab in a 14-pound body. She rarely barks, as she is deaf. She likes everyone (even cats). Molly adores a good massage. She also likes rubbing her face along the side of the couch while snorting and wagging her tail. When she realizes someone is watching, she stops and stares at you as if to say, 'What you think you just saw really didn't happen.' She found me while wandering through a church parking lot in Atlanta. Our eyes met and I knew she needed help. She was very thin and wouldn't eat, but showed no fear or aggression, so I took her to a vet and made many calls to find her a home. It became clear no one wanted an older dog of unknown origin and questionable health. I thought if I could keep her, I would; but how? This was a costly proposition, due to her need for medication and vet care (for intestinal inflamation). I was very fortunate -- several generous souls contributed to 'Molly's Health Fund,' and a friend kept her temporarily. Most important, my partner, David, agreed that we could move so I could keep her. Our lease was up soon, so the timing was good. Molly spent 11 weeks with my parents in North Carolina while we looked for a new place. In February, we moved to Decatur, and Molly joined us a week later. I met more people on our walks that first week than I'd met in three years at our last apartment! I also found a good job in April. All this would have happened eventually, but, because of Molly, it happened much sooner. Contributed by Ellen Marsh, Decatur, GA.

"Sweetest" Molly Was Abandoned at the Tracy, CA, City Shelter

Molly, a Labrador Retriever mix, was adopted 8 years ago from the Tracy shelter. When her family moved, they turned her back into the shelter. The staff at the shelter were dumbfounded! How could they desert this sweetest, most gentle, loving, loyal dog? The Senior Dogs Project was alerted to Molly's need for a new home and ran an ad for her. In September 2001, we received a forwarded message from her new "mom," Barbara Dickinson, who started out as her foster mom, but decided to keep her:

"I just thought you'd like the final word on Molly.....who might, in fact, be the best dog in the world. My cats have calmed down and so has Molly. Molly knows she must be good to them, so when she sees them she either sits down or walks the other way. Her life with me is pretty good. One of my neighbors has a Golden Retriever puppy in her backyard, so two or three times a week she goes to doggy day-care at her friend Champ's house and she doesn't have to be alone. She also occasionally has overnight slumber parties at my ex-husband's house with his two dogs who love her as much as she loves them. The rest of the time, she goes everywhere with me and waits in my truck for me -- to the point that my three year old asks, "Where's Molly?" as soon as he gets in the truck. So, I've adopted her. She will have a home with me until she dies. I would appreciate it if you would let her friends at the Tracy Shelter know about her happy ending. I know they care about her. Thanks again for my new best friend, Molly." Contributed by Barbara Dickinson, northern CA. September 2001.

Molly's Foster Mom Will Be Happy to Keep and Love Her

"Molly is my 15-year-old foster dog. She is an English Springer Spaniel. I have been an English Springer Spaniel Rescue Association foster mom for about two years. Molly was at the Springfield, Missouri, Humane Society. Her time was up on a Friday, but the shelter said they would keep her one more night without euthanizing her if I would pick her up on Saturday. That was five months ago. Her former guardian called me three weeks later, said Molly had been their dog for fourteen years, and was upset that I had her; however, they never called back or inquired about her again. Molly was severely neglected with about 400+ fleas and ticks on her. She is such a loving girl and the most well-behaved pup I have ever had. She has no accidents, doesn't pull on the leash, jump, or bark unneccesarily. I couldn't ask for a better pup. A few people have inquired about adopting Molly, but there has always been one thing making them change their mind. I am happy to keep Molly for the rest of her life. She is definitely NO trouble at all. She has taught me a lot about loving a senior dog." Contributed by Diane Hawkins, Blue Springs, MO. September 2003.

Montana, Age 14,"Lights Up Our Lives"

"I adopted Montana as a ten-week-old puppy in March of 1984 from a farm where her pregnant mother had been abandoned.  The lady of the house charged $25 for each puppy, reasoning that people wouldn't pay that much for a dog they didn't really want.  She told me in no uncertain terms to bring the dog back if I didn't want it, rather than abandon it.  Fourteen years later that puppy still lights up our lives.  Montana's mother was a Whippet mix and her father was a Benji look-alike, but Monty looks mostly like her mother.  Her health has been excellent over the years, and, except for a little stiffness and a little deafness, you would never in a million years guess she is 14.  We didn't know her exact birthday, but decided on January 15 so she'd share it with Martin Luther King and our good friend Gerrit.  We've since acquired two rescued Greyhounds and two birds and, though at first she was disgusted, Montana came to accept her denmates.  I never thought she'd put up with a bird the way she does with "Pepper," the Jenday Conure.  (Pepper doesn't give one much choice, though.)  We've taken the best possible care of Montana over the years, and, if we have our way, she'll live to be 20.  The best things about old dogs are their sense of right and wrong (they've got it all figured out), the sweet, mellow love they give, and the personality they develop.  Looking into the eyes of an old dog is the sweetest thing in the world." Contributed by Gaye & Jeff Woodward, Glenmoore, PA

The Fabulous Moolah

"This is my best friend Moolah, who is 10 years old and still letting everyone know who is the queen of this property. Moolah is very special to me. She was named after a lady wrestler of the '60's and '70's called 'The Fabulous Moolah.' She's been a wonderful mother to her own pups and once had a litter of 12 healthy pups -- 6 females and 6 males! In this picture she is with her grandson, Ranger, who was orphaned . Because Moolah helped me raise him, he is now a gorgeous 125 lbs. I took Moolah with me to a local flea market to sell a few things, but every time someone stopped to look at my goods, Moolah growled and scared them off. We didn't sell anything but had a good time anyway. Moolah loves all little children, but will not allow any stranger to enter her property without permission. I wish everyone could experience the love and devotion I've had for the last 10 years with The Fabulous Moolah." Contributed by Pat Sommers, Pittsburgh, PA. November 2001.

Morgan, at 9, Is Now Even More Special

"We first brought Morgan home from the Humane Society in September of 1990. She was believed to be between six and eight months old. She was a stray who was found out in the country and was a little 'wild' at first, chasing anything that moved. We took her to obedience classes (which she loved); then she graduated to agility and even won first place in a local agility competition! When Morgan was eight years old, she was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor (even though we had had her spayed). Unfortunately for Morgan, the spay turned out to be more like a tubal ligation, and her reproductive organs were left intact -- just snipped apart and strategically sutured. Luck was with us, however, and she remained in good health for two years. Several weeks ago, though, she developed a limp. X-rays and other tests revealed mild arthritis. I was relieved, until it seemed to get worse, even with treatment. Finally, after a trip to a specialist, Morgan was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called 'synovial cell sarcoma.' So far, there is no obvious indication that the cancer has spread, but there are no guarantees. She is going to have her leg amputated, as it is really her only chance for survival. She has always been such a special dog....I guess she will now be even more special."

Update June 30, 2000: "Morgan was diagnosed with a synovial cell sarcoma in her left back hock on March 3, 2000 (two days after her 10th birthday). On March 13, 2000, she had that leg amputated. She had her surgery on a Monday evening and, when I called the next day for a progress report, she had just had her breakfast and had come back from a walk!! By the next morning, she was ready to come home. As you can see from her picture, she never missed a beat without her leg. She was finally pain free and was able to do all the things she loved to do. (chase cats and squirrels, jump onto the sofa to snuggle). Most people don't even notice that she is missing a leg until they get very close, and even then, some still don't notice. She has adapted very well and I am very glad that we proceeded with this surgery. However, a few weeks ago, I found a couple of lumps, one on her back and one in her groin. Biopsies revealed that these were sarcomas and that her cancer has come back. This was a tough blow, but at this point, she is still doing very well. She is eating well and gaining weight and still loves to go for long walks. She has no discomfort and enjoys life with a zest that is a pleasure to watch. I'm not sure how much time we have left with her, but I know that every moment is a joy with her and we plan to enjoy her for as long as we can." Contributed by Sandra Toal, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. March and June 2000.

Morgan's "Sister" Madison

"Here is a picture of Morgan's 'sister' Madison. Madison is an 11-year-old Border Collie cross who is as lively as the day we brought her home as a puppy. Luckily for us, Madison has had no health problems at all in her long lifetime and we hope she will be with us for a very long time to come." Contributed by Sandra Toal, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. June 2000.

Morgan -- Still Able to Reach the Kitchen Counter

"My Irish Setter, Morgan, was born March 7, 1988. I got Morgan when she was about three months old. This picture was taken when she was a spry 13 year old. She was always an 'alpha' dog, and bossed everyone around. Now, in her old age, she is content to lie on the couch and bark out orders, instead of coming to get us. A year ago, Morgan had a bout with pneumonia and we almost lost her. Then she had a cancerous growth removed from her abdomen. Although Morgan has some arthritis and stiffness, she somehow manages to jump up on her hind legs and put her front paws on the counter if she thinks there is a tasty tidbit up there. She is nearly completely deaf because of chronic ear infections. This has affected her equilibrium, which causes her to stumble around like a drunk. Her newest 'trick' is to go into our guest bedroom and lie down next to one of the twin beds. Then she works her way underneath the bed and gets stuck. Eventually, we'll hear her muffled yelping, and we have to drag her out from under the bed. I know her time with us grows shorter each passing day. It will be hard to say goodbye when her time has come." Contributed by Peg Meehan, Willowbrook, IL. March 2002. Update December 2003: "Morgan began losing weight and became more and more arthritic and senile. Then she developed a bladder infection. I took her to the vet, and she said Morgan was very sick. I knew her time had come. I held and hugged her while she went under sedation, until just before the euthanasia. My husband stayed with her until she breathed her last breath, as I was too distraught to stay in the room. Morgan was 15 years, 9 months old. No one can ever prepare for the loss of a dear friend.The grief I'm feeling right now is almost too much to bear. I know that it will take a long time to come to terms with her passing. How does one cope with losing a friend who was there every day for nearly 16 years?" In Memory of Morgan, 3/7/88-12/6/03.

Muffin, Saved from a Rummage Sale, Is 18 Years Old!

"Our Muffin was 18 years old on March 30, 1999. She is half Llasa Apso; we're not too sure about the other half. In 1981, our neighbor's Llasa Apso had puppies. My son and daughter, then 10 and 6 years old, begged to keep one. I said no because I knew I would be doing all the work -- house training, feeding, etc. A few weeks later, while we were having a rummage sale in our yard, the neighbor walked over with a box containing the last puppy (all the others had been sold). She suggested I give away the puppy at the sale. I didn't have it in my heart to send the little creature off to an unknown fate, and so Muffin is still with us -- more than 18 years later! She does not see very well, but eats, drinks and sleeps well. She has the run of the house and yard and doesn't seem uncomfortable in any way, but we check her first thing every morning to be sure she's made it through the night okay. When we leave for more than a day, the 'Animal Nanny' stays at our house so that Muffin will be disturbed as little as possible. It will be hard to say good-bye when the day comes, but we have lots of memories from her puppy years to her senior years, and we're happy to be collecting them still." Contributed by Terry and Diane Long, Sioux Falls, SD. August 1999.

Muffin, Maggot and Scamp

"All three of my babies are adopted, and were 'seniors' at time of adoption. Muffin (on the right) --a cross Jack Russell Corgi -- came to me at the age of 8 years and will turn 15 in February 2003. Her human had to move into a flat, so asked me to take her over, since I had lost both my previous doggies to old age. Muffin is the matriarch and is very motherly. Enjoys life hugely, but is getting a little geriatric now. Maggot (centre) was a stray (of most dubious parentage) whom I rescued from our local veterinarian, who cares for lost animals. My wife named her Maggot. I objected, but it has stuck. We do not know her age and can't guess, as she looks old but runs and jumps like a youngster. She sticks close to Muffin whom she regards as her special 'auntie.' Scamp (of Maltese descent) also was displaced when his previous family moved into a flat. Came to us at the age of 8 and is now 11. All three are bitches and enjoy each others' company very much. Especially Muffin and Maggot. Sorry to show so many dogs -- but I am most attached to them." Contributed by Colin Bompas, Durban (South Africa). January 2003.

Murphy, Rescued at Age 12

Murphy with Willow"He was just a ragged old dog, pathetic looking with sores and tumors that could be seen clearly through his sparse coat. His eyes were clouded with cataracts and his ears swollen with infection, but he would still wag his skinny tail when someone touched him. When my vet's office contacted me, my first response was 'No, no, and no again.' I already had three large dogs, two of which had been throw-aways. Even though I lived in the country, I didn't want the burden of yet another dog, and another large one at that -- although I had noted with some interest that he was a Golden Retriever. It took a little coaxing on the part of the vet's office, but, after a while, I agreed to go look at the old dog whose owners had ordered him put down.....killed. It seems that the old dog had lived his first eight years in a loving home, pampered and petted, an obedient fella who would stand still for a bath and knew to be kind to children. But then the owners had to move away, and they gave the old dog to neighbors who promised to care for him. Well, they didn't care for him. He was left to roam and fend for himself. The third time the police picked up the dog, the neighbors refused to pay the fine for his incarceration and said to put him down. The vet, being a gentle soul, could not bring herself to kill this old dog, who was still in fairly decent health, in spite of being so old and and looking so ghastly. He was about twelve, she thought, but seemed ancient due to his lack of care. When I arrived at the vet's office, I was taken to the grassy area at the back of the building to see the dog. I was shocked. The vet had been treating the old guy for a week, and he was still a mess. He responded to me in a familiar fashion, with his 'Golden reputation,' and my heart went out to him. I decided to go back to my house and return with my two male dogs to see if they could all get along. When I took them into the enclosed area where the old dog was, they noticed him and then ran to him. We were all prepared to separate them if there was any aggression, but we saw only happy, wagging tails. I decided that 'Cody,' as he was called, would go home with us for the weekend. At home at dinnertime and then at bedtime, everything went smoothly. It was as if Cody had spent his whole life at our house. I had already called the vet and said Cody would be staying with us permanently. The days went by with very few adjustment problems, although we soon discovered that Cody was deaf. This gave me the opportunity to make a change that I felt was needed. I hadn't been comfortable calling him 'Cody,' and thought, in fact, that he looked more like a 'Murphy.' My husband was a bit concerned that it might confuse the dog if I changed his name, but, since he was deaf, I didn't think he'd notice. So, 'Murphy' he became, and with medicines from the vet, lots of good healthy food and a field to roam in when he got the urge, he blossomed into a beautiful Golden Retriever, with glistening, full coat, bright eyes and healthy skin. The tail, once so scraggly and encrusted with dried skin, filled with long, silky, reddish hair. 'Murphy' has been with us for over a year now, and he is a sight to see -- a beautiful animal in the twilight of his years, in a loving home, with plenty of food and a canine family to romp with. He always lies on the floor next to me while I work at my desk, and sleeps so soundly that I have to step over him to get out of the room. He is a faithful and loving companion, and it seems was just waiting for us to find him." (Update, May 1999: "Our ol' Murph is gone now. He crossed over peacefully on the morning of May 21, 1999. He was something else -- just an old fella of 12 who needed a loving home and went looking for it until he found us." There is a Memorial Page for Murphy.) Contributed by Willow Miranda, Sebastopol, CA. May 1997.

Murphy Was Supposed to be One Year Old; It Doesn't Matter That He Was Really Seven

"We adopted Murphy in May of 1995 from the local Animal Rescue League. They told us he was only one year old. Our vet told us he was closer to seven years old. It didn't matter, because Murphy has brought so much joy to our lives. He doesn't see very well anymore and is taking medication for arthritis, but he chases a ball with as much enthusiasm as any puppy I know. I can't imagine not having him. Our experience with Murphy would definitely lead me to adopt another senior dog. As you can see, he is a beautiful creature. We vow to take care of him for as long as he needs us." Contributed by Phil & Kelly Barbon, November 2000.