Sable, a Well-loved Rhodesian Ridgeback

"Sable is my 11.6-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. She was born in April 1989 in Purfleet, Essex, England. The day I went to get her was the luckiest day of my life, because she turned out to be priceless and filled my heart with joy always. The sands of time are running out for her. I love her so much!.....from the first day 'til the last." Contributed by John G., Grays, Essex, England, December 2000. ( Late December 2000 Update: "Sable died on Boxing Day morning. I will think of her every day of my life. I have been so lucky to have had such a wonderful dog. She can never be replaced, and will be missed and never forgotten.")

Sable...Always a Joy, Always Fit Right In
"This is our 'girl,' Sable. We got her when she was just a puppy. She always was a joy to have around and fit right in with the family. She loved to travel with us, especially on camping trips. She had two litters of puppies and was a wonderful mom. At one point, we had Sable, one of her puppies, Logan, and one of his puppies, Speedy. Whenever they went outside, they were known as 'Ma Barker and the boys.' Sable was always so protective, never realizing that some dogs were bigger than she. She is 13 in this photo and she is greatly loved." Contributed by Ron Morris, DeSoto, TX. M

arch 2002.

Sabrina, Age 11, a Terrific Therapy Dog

Sabrina is one of three therapy dogs -- all Siberian Huskies -- who visit patients in their homes or at nursing facilities in New England. As a "sled dog," she knows how to pull a vehicle, and as a senior, she's quite experienced at giving very gentle wheelchair rides. "Dogs must be friendly, affectionate, patient, gentle, outgoing, loving, and well behaved to be therapy dogs," according to Mary Gadbois, her mom. Of course, Sabrina possesses all these wonderful qualities -- as do her two "sisters," Tiffany and Clover. Contributed by Mary and Bob Gadbois, East Lyme, CT

Sadie, at 9, a "Walking Miracle" and Photo Contest Winner

"I am the Texas coordinator for rescue/foster/adoption of the wonderful English Springer Spaniel breed. 'Sadie' came to us from the Allen, TX, animal shelter in July 1998 -- after her first adoption fell through because the folks decided that they didn't want a dog her age after all. Our best guess at this time is that she's about 9. Shortly after arriving on our doorstep, she became mysteriously, gravely ill and entered into a two-week-long battle for her life. She had a horribly swollen leg, a temperature of 106, and terrible blood counts. We couldn't find a bite mark, ran every test known to mankind, and never found the cause. We thought she would never walk again, even if she did recover. Today, Sadie is our walking miracle. She has survived seven mastectomies, four lumpectomies, a spay, and exploratory surgery on a mysterious 'lump' on her face. Her biopsies, thankfully, all tested benign. She's not as fast as our younger dog, but she is still very full of life, loves to play, and lives to be loved. I believe it was a whole lot of love that saved her -- in addition to her stubborn little personality. She has taught us the rewards of adopting a senior dog, for which we are grateful. I wouldn't trade her for anything. Recently, we entered her photo in a contest, and she won the 'animals' category." Contributed by Kate Kyer, English Springer Rescue America. March 2000.

Making Sanny Happy Makes Everyone Happy
"Although I am a Greyhound and Whippet person, I recently adopted a 13-year-old mix. He was left in the Animal Shelter, unwanted because he is old. His right eye is blind, he is hard of hearing and he has tumors. He also has a fine personality, is sweet natured and is always in the best of spirits. He is not in any pain and likes to walk, to compete with my Whippet (a former racer), and to sleep with my old cat 'Sister,' who fell in love with him as soon as she met him. We all fell in love with him, in fact, right from the start, and make every day a special and happy day for him because he is long past his expiring date! My vet said last week, 'This dog lives only because he is happy and by the strength of his will.'

"Sanny's original family had him for 13 years. He lived in a shed outside the house. When they turned him into the shelter, the staff all agreed that he was probably too old to be adopted by anyone, and especially that medical costs might be of concern to a potential adopter. They noted that he was a sweet dog but would have to be 'put to sleep' because no one would want him.

"Sanny is a very kind creature. All my neigbours are quite fond of him and children especially like him. I think that is because his face resembles a Panda Bear's. It is also endearing that he will go close to a person's face and look very intently at it. He does that mostly because his eyesight is bad, but it moves people because it seems as though he is trying to communicate with them.

"What I find very striking about Sanny is that he is an archetypical dog in his behaviour. I've read many books on dog behaviour -- Jane Fenell's books, Stephen Budiansky, etc. -- and Sanny responds quickly and correctly to all leads that are given in professional literature on dog behaviour. I even took agility classes with him! Because he is frail we did not climb high fences, and all the slats of the other fences were set at the lowest level, but he loved it. Especially the tunnel! He aims to please and, when he is cheered, he is visibly happy. One has to cheer very loudly because he is rather deaf... but, even if his senses are failing, there is nothing wrong with his brains!

"I have three dogs and four cats (all abandonned and none with a pleasant background), and Sanny took his place in the pack correctly and easily. He is a perfect gentleman. My other dogs are Tess, a Whippet mix, whom I adopted when she was 8 (now 12), and Levi, a semi-professional racing Whippet. It is wonderful to make a dog happy who makes you happy." Contributed by Ms A. Langedijk, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. March 2004.

Sighs and Sadie
"One day two years ago, on November 18, 2000, I went to a shelter about an hour-and-a-half away from my home to pick up a white, female Toy Poodle needing rescue. This was only my second shelter pull and I was a bit nervous. Being pretty new to rescue, I had lots of worries -- would she be manageable?.... what kind of shape was she in? ... .was there hope for her?

"I got to the shelter, and heard a dog barking hoarsely in the back. I told them that I was there to pick up the Toy Poodle. The shelter had been calling her 'Cinderella.' They went to the back to get her and came back with a heartbreaker of a dog. She was pitifully thin, matted, and had barked so much that she had lost her voice. I did my best to make friends, loaded her in the crate in the car and headed for the rescue coordinator's house. I took Cinderella inside, thinking that I would be leaving the coordinator with a hard-to-place senior dog. We sat down at the kitchen table and I held the little girl in my lap. She finally started to calm down, then got very peaceful, leaned her head against my chest and let out a very long sigh. I leaned back in the chair and let her take what I surmised might have been her first nap in quite a while.

"You can probably guess the next part; she came home with me. Her health was not good and she really was not place-able. She had a heart murmur -- a bad one -- and many of the other problems that go with being a neglected, elderly dog. Despite how bad it looked, I gave my all to get her as healthy as I could and to make the rest of her days happy. To my surprise, she responded and started to become a different dog.

"The first gathering we took her to was Thanksgiving Dinner with family. It was as if a light bulb had turned on: she played for the first time, went around sniffing, and greeting and mugging for treats. She was suddenly years younger. We took to calling her 'PG' -- Party Girl -- after that, and that was her name until I finally stumbled on the name she answered to. The first time I said 'Sadie' to her, she answered, so 'Cinderella' became 'PG,' and then 'PG' became 'Sadie.'

"Sadie was as loyal and loving as anyone could ever wish a dog to be. She was my constant shadow. Everywhere I went in the house, Sadie went with me. She was never farther away than armslength. It took a while, but we finally discovered the only two toys she would play with -- a frisbee and a tennis ball. These both seemed unlikely choices for such a wee girl, but her delight with them was undeniable. She would scoot the frisbee between her back legs like a football center, and then run, chasing it across the room. The tennis ball she would pick up by the fuzz and fling and fetch.

"A couple of months ago, I knew she was failing. Much as I wanted more time with her, it was running out. With my vet's help, I kept her comfortable and spoiled the daylights out of her. Steak and eggs and meatloaf were her favorites. She has been gone five days now; today would have been our second 'gotcha day.' No one could have ever explained to me the gentle joy and diamond-like quality of adopting an 'old dog' before I shared my life with Sadie. But now I know. And I will be eternally grateful for that first huge sigh from her.... the one that made me bring her home. And now I sigh because I miss her so. Contributed by Kari Miles. May 2003.

Sadie-Belle, Age 9

Sadie-Belle"Sadie-Belle is a very bossy little thing! She keeps our two German Shepherds in line. Only Hanna, our ten-pound 'wonder mutt,' gives Sadie a little back-talk. Sadie's favorite hobby is sliding across the floor on her belly." (Editor's note: Sounds like an exciting household.) Contributed by Roberta Stolpen, Charlotte, NC.

Sam, Adopted at 5, Now 7, a Great Therapist

"Okay ... so I couldn't resist sending Sam's picture (grin) ... but look at this face!! Who could resist this face!!! Sam picked me out when I visited a local 'no kill' shelter to find a best friend. We needed each other. I was recently divorced and Sam had recently lost his quite elderly 'dad.' Sam was 5; I was 44. I walked through the shelter and chatted with about 25 dogs, all of whom were young, spry, adorable, but nonetheless oh-so-rambunctious. In the absolute very last kennel in the absolute very last row stood my Sam, quietly and patiently waiting to introduce himself. With a smile he walked to the door, nuzzled my hand warmly through the fence, then returned to his bed and curled up. His actions seemed to be his apology for not being young. Sam was depressed and grieving for his 'dad,' who had passed away. I was depressed and grieving for the loss of my marriage, which had passed away. It was a match made in heaven. Money couldn't buy the therapy we gladly gave each other during those first months. The ending? Sam and I have both recovered, have decided that life is good, and have moved on to a new life together! He is my kid, my confidant, my playmate, and my very best friend." Contributed by Lee Wheeler, B

Sam Deserves the Very Best

"Meet Sam. He is nine years old. I adopted Sam in Joliet, IL, about five years ago. He has become a very important part of our family since that time. My husband and I have been married for ten years, and we have no children; our pets are our children. Sam is an incredible canine. He was a police dog who worked hard for his department until an injury to his left leg made him retire. Sam can do just about anything: he can open doors or get you a cold drink from the fridge. He loves to play ball and just about any other game he can participate in. He speaks to our hearts every day, and we are thankful to have such a special friend in our lives. Sam has been diagnosed with arthritis and hip dysplasia. He has been taking Rimadyl, glucosamine and MSM for about three months and seems to be doing great, given his condition. I am not expecting any miracles, but I will do all in my power to make his life as comfortable as possible; he deserves that. Sometimes it is really hard to think of a future without our beloved Sam, but I am so very grateful for our time together. There is nothing like the love of our pets, and they deserve the very best from us! Thank you for meeting Sam.......God Bless!" Contributed by Leslie Callaway, May 2002.

Sammie Finally Got to Learn What Love Was

"Last October I answered a newspaper ad regarding two AKC registered Beagles. I did not have a chance to see them before having to make a quick decision about taking them. The person giving them up was about to move out of state that day. In a phone conversation, I agreed to take both dogs, having been given the impression that they were healthy and friendly. I drove 45 minutes and waited an hour to meet the lady who was to deliver the Beagles. She finally showed up and, after a few signatures, I went out to her car with two new collars in hand ready to take my babies home. She opened the car door and -- no joking! -- you could have smelled those dogs a mile away.

"The first dog was small, white faced and very timid. When I set her on the ground, she dropped to a lying position and whimpered. My husband picked her up and put her in our car. Then the second dog popped out. She was a larger Beagle who looked like she weighed a ton. She was so obese that she could barely hold herself up.

"When I got the dogs home, I found that Sammie (the fat one) was wearing a collar that was so worn and so tight I had to use cuticle scissors to cut it off, a string at a time. Both dogs slept together that night in our office and 'sawed logs.' The next day I discovered that neither dog was housebroken and that Sammie had massive tumors. I decided that, because of their apparent medical problems, I could not keep both dogs. Donna, the smaller one, seemed in better health, so I contacted Beagle rescue and they agreed to take her. Then I made a vet appointment for Sammie. The vet said that she was 50 lbs. (about 25 lbs. overweight), that the tumors she had could be cancerous, and that her teeth were rotting. He tried to talk me into putting her down and getting a puppy. Instead, I contacted another vet for help.

"It turns out that Sammie was from a puppy mill. She was a 'bitch' and nothing more. She didn't know how to walk on a leash, was not housebroken, and didn't even know what a rawhide was. I was not about to give up on her, though. She had to lose weight and conquer a bladder infection before the vet would do any surgery, but finally, in April, six tumors were removed, and she had a mastectomy, spay surgery, and -- believe it or not -- a tummy tuck!

"Today, I have a healthy dog who is fully housebroken, walks well on a leash, comes when called, and loves her rawhides and her weekly Frosty Paws. She is 25 lbs. and doing great! I can't imagine my life without her. And, even though she was eight years old when I got her, and I know that half of her life is over, I am still overjoyed that she gets to spend the last half loved. Whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks was wrong. You have to work harder and you may never have your slippers brought to you, but, when you teach an old dog to love for the first time, you have taught something worth a lot more than tricks." Contributed by Sara Hansen. September 2003.

Samson, The Swimming (!!) Doberman at 9 1/2 Years
Samson"Six years ago, I adopted Samson, a 3 1/2-year-old male Doberman from Doberman Rescue in San Jose. Samson won my heart immediately with his big smile and open heart. He has been my loyal friend and companion ever since. Samson is friendly to everybody and enjoys visiting convalescent hospitals with me to cheer up elderly patients who miss their pets. He has also represented the Humane Society Hug-A-Pet program at public events and booths, showing what a great pet a Senior Dog can be. Samson usually goes with me when I travel for week-end recreation. Although he is quiet and unobtrusive, dogs are usually not welcome at hotels. I solved that problem by teaching Samson to curl up in a large suitcase so I can smuggle him in without detection. I do a lot of watersports so Samson had to get nautical quickly. Dobies do not normally like to swim and Samson was no exception. We had a breakthrough when Samson discovered he could chase waterbirds. Now he is an excellent swimmer and can sometimes be found barking at ducks on the lake outside our house. He's still working on learning to fly. Samson rides with me on my jet ski and sails with me on the HobieCat. He loves the water now and asks for rides on the jet ski by going down to the boat dock and barking. Last October, Samson was diagnosed with Wobblers, a crippling spinal problem common to Dobies. He had an operation at Christmas that fused three of his vertebrae. Now, after a long period of recovery, Samson is going strong. At 9 1/2, he can still chase critters all day." Contributed by Nola Donato, Cupertino, CA

Sandy, a Loyal, Intelligent, Brave, Protective Best Friend for Over 14 Years
"Sandy came to live with me when she was ten weeks old. Although she was so young, my home was in fact her third (and, of course, permanent) home. She was about 90% German Shepherd, and because of her, I fell in love with the breed. I learned of her loyalty, intelligence, bravery and protectiveness of me. She was truly a soul-mate who would have followed me to the ends of the earth. My nickname for her was always 'Angel.' When she was four years old, we got our 'mixed' dog 'Spike.' He came from 'off the street' --the expressway to be exact! They instantly became buddies and remained so until the day Sandy died. (At this writing, Spike is still alive at age 14.) When Sandy was five, I had my 'human' kids. People told me to 'get rid of that big dog,' now that I had kids. Those comments went in one ear and out the other. Sandy was the sweetest, gentlest 'furry' sister any creature could ever be to my kids. Of course, I also taught my kids from the beginning to treat her with love and respect, which they did. As Sandy aged, I started to feel a terrible knot in my stomach. Could it be? Was there going to be a time in my life that she would not be with me? As life goes, that day came. Nothing could have prepared me for my sadness. On the awful day that I had to euthanize her (September 6, 1997), my heart broke. It was the same weekend that Princess Di was killed and Mother Teresa was buried. That is one weekend I will never forget. I try to console myself by saying that the angels came that weekend, and took a few of the best --Sandy being one of them. I have another Shepherd now from a rescue organization, but I often think of Sandy waiting for me in Heaven (yes...that is where I believe she is). Sandy was my beautiful, loving, loyal friend for over 14 years. Rest in peace, sweet Angel. My best friend, Sandy. December 1, 1982--September 6, 1997." Contributed by Sharon Senter, Michigan. October 1999.

Sandy, Age 14, Found Her New Family on the Beach

Sandy with Jeanne"Sandy was about a year old when we found her on the beach in San Filipe, on the east coast of Baja California. She was a stray who had been befriended, along with her puppies, by an American couple who lived there. When Sandy met our two beautiful shepherds, she decided she liked our company. She began showing up at 6:00 every morning, when we all started our walk along the beach, and stayed with us through breakfast. She'd have a nap in the sand underneath one of our beach couches and then, at about noon, she'd trot off -- we guessed to go to her pups -- not to be seen again until the following morning. At the end of our month in San Filipe, when we piled into the car to leave, it was clear that Sandy wanted to join us. The American couple had their hands full with the puppies, so Sandy came back with us to San Francisco. She's outlived the shepherds by quite a few years and has just turned 14. She is a dear, sweet, neat dog -- and we hope for at least several more fine years with her." Contributed by Jeanne Dodds, San Francisco, CA.

Twenty Years of a Love Affair with Sandy

"This is a love story about Sandy. Sandy was the runt of the litter when she was born. Her mom, Lady, was a beautiful pure-bred Cocker Spaniel; dad was a 'traveling salesman.' Sandy was such a pretty little girl, and I never regretted that I had kept her, even though she was the runt of the litter. Several years ago, Sandy was mauled by one of our other dogs. Unfortunately, my husband and I were gone when it happened. When we returned home, we heard whimpering; I immediately knew it was Sandy's voice and that she was in pain. It was after office hours, but our vet met us at the clinic to treat her. I could see a look of fear and pain in Sandy's eyes. I felt so bad for her. As the days and weeks passed, Sandy recovered and became her old self again. In fact, she doesn't act at all like an old dog, even though she'll be 20 in August. I love her today as much as I did when she was born." Contribured by Penny and Tom Johnson, Topeka, KS. June 2001.

Update July 2002: "Greetings from Topeka, KS! I just thought you'd like to know that Sandy is STILL going strong at 21 years old. When friends come over, they marvel at her spunkiness. Tom and I joke that Sandy actually had the 'Eveready Bunny' in her! (I'm beginning to wonder myself. We even have Sandy's Daughter Dog, Princess, who is 17 years old and she, too, keeps up with the group! I enjoy this web site. Keep up the good work." From PennyJohnson, Topeka, KS. July 2002

 Sandy, Rusty, and Kayo
A Trio of 13-15 Year Olds!
Sandy, the White Shephard, Rusty, the Golden Retriever, and Kayo, the German Shepherd
Trio of Old Dogs"I have three senior dogs. They range in age from 13-15 years. They don't walk very well (except Sandy), but then neither do I. When I become an old human, I certainly hope someone would bend over (even when it hurts) to give me a kiss and a hug. I talk to my three dogs, even though one can't hear. I got my last old dog last year after his master died and the kids were letting him starve. He's had some muscle damage from being neglected, but he will be okay. As long as my old furry-tailed friends can let me know they are happy to be here, then I'm going to keep them around as long as I can. I'd certainly want someone to do the same for me." Contributed by "Oldfangled Person," Middlebury, IN

Santé, at Age 17

Sant*"Santé was about 2 years old when she was found on an East Bay (northern CA) freeway. She had been placed into and then rejected from two homes before coming to live with me. She was quite difficult at first, leaping over sofas and reading the paper rather than going on it. I tried to look at life from her perspective and soon we both began to relax and she calmed considerably. Fifteen years later, it's like a fine old marriage, for better or worse, through sickness and health. My basic care list for Santé is: dry dog food only (no scraps). 1 -2 mile walk daily; plenty of social acknowledgement -- e.g., talking to her every time we walk by her; touching, scratching, petting, massaging (especially hips); regular vet care; careful monitoring of behavioral changes; professional grooming every three weeks; socializing with other dogs and other people." Photo and notes contributed by Susan Anderson, Los Altos Hills, CA.

Sara's Story

"On October 5, 1999, while at the recycling depot, I saw at a distance, behind the fence at the animal shelter, a lovely, small Rottweiler who looked as though she had just weaned a litter of puppies. I drove over to get closer to her, and, as a loving mom to a rescued Rottweiler/Retriever and a blind Corgi-Collie (both older adoptees, now 12 and 13 respectively), just happened to have some dog biscuits in the car. I gave one to her, and she happily took it to her 'den' to eat it in privacy. I called the pound the following day to ask whether anyone had claimed her. They told me that her family had been contacted but refused to pay the $265 outstanding fine. Apparently, she had left home a number of times to forage in garbage, and this time the fine was a bit too steep. I bailed her out, with the intention of getting her out of the puppy-for-profit cycle, having her spayed, and finding her an excellent home.

"She got along well with my dogs, and, though she liked to chase the cats, she didn't seem to want to harm them. So she joined our happy fur-bearing family. We named her 'Sara,' and she seemed to like her new name. A few weeks later, I took her to the vet to have her spayed and her shots updated. The vet took some blood tests, which revealed she was extremely anemic. I was advised to feed her the best food possible to build up her blood and increase her weight before having her spayed.

"Four days after seeing the vet, she began to pant and drool. She also seemed to be straining an awful lot. By midnight, she was beginning to slather, and I thought she was developing a reaction to her vaccinations (in particular rabies, since I had no idea when she had last had her shots). At 1:30 in the morning, I was convinced she had an obstructed bowel, so I called a friend and had her help me take Sara to the emergency vet. Ten minutes into our journey, Sara looked as though she was going to have a bowel movement in the car. Being the good friend I am, I reached to grab for the poop, and was amazed to discover that I was touching four tiny, little puppy feet. On October 25, Sara had a total of nine babies with five survivors. My vet was amazed to hear that Sara, whom she had seen only four days earlier, was pregnant. The emergency vet said that, because Sara was so thin, she would not have suspected her of being pregnant either! Sara was 8-1/2 years old when she produced this last litter. The vet said it was likely that she had had at least a dozen litters in her lifetime.

"Imagine my shock and dismay, when I realized that, instead of finding a home for one dog, I would now be looking for homes for five of the sweetest little purebred Rottweiler puppies you could ever imagine. Well, I was ready for the challenge and was determined to be extremely cautious about who got to adopt these precious little gifts from God. I wanted to be certain these pups would never know the horror of being chained or relegated to the role of 'vicious guard dog.' Thanks to the generosity of several wonderful dog-lovers and by charging adoption fees for the puppies, I was able to defray most of the costs of my ever-mounting vet and dog-food bills. Despite the cost, I wouldn't give up this incredible journey for anything in the world!" Contributed by Vera van Diepen, St. Albert, near Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA. May 2000.

Update January 2003 -- In Memory of Sara (1991-2002): "God needed a special angel and decided to call you home.".... You were called from our world of memories to a home of eternal rest, Just when your life was brightest, just when your years were best, Silently, peacefully, you slipped away during the early morning of that day. Love you forever....Mommy, Buddy, Pepper, Little Lily who you sent to help us heal, Bijou and Gizmo

Sarah & Newt, 11 and 12, as Different as the Sun and the Moon

"Sarah is our 11-year-old yellow lab. Newt, our half-pit-bull-half-golden-retriever and full-blown clown is 12. Newt and Sarah were raised together, but are totally different -- one the sun, the other the moon. Sarah has never been very energetic . She's just happy to follow mom and dad around and keep us in sight. Her favorite activities have always been eating. Recently Sarah decided a mocassin might make a good snack. Two days later, I owned an unrecognizable shoe that had cost $700 to extract from her insides. The day I took her to the hospital, the vet warned me that her long histroy of prednisone usage was not going to help her chances on the operating table. I said my good-byes for what I truly believed was the last time. About six hours later, an astonished vet called me at work to say there was more than just a shoe in there, but it looked like she would be fine. Twice more we have said our good byes -- once when her back was particularly bad, another time when it was her hips. When she make her miraculous recoveries, she'll run through the house triumphantly chasing the puppy. It's as though she'd heard talk of puppy heaven and decided she'd have none of that. Newt, on the other hand has been a ball of fire since day one. She still can outrun our pup and our grand child. She will play ball until we take it away from her. The only sign of age she currently displays is her sleep patterns. Now when she goes to sleep in our chair (she and I share it.), she sleeps the sleep of the just. She won't move for even the 'treat' word; she just looks as if to say, 'Could you bring it to me? That last round of frisbee wore me out.' Our older dogs aren't the same as in they were in their youth; but they have a maturity and bond with us that says, 'I would die for you,' a look when we leave the room that always says, 'Hurry back.'" Contributed by Lisa McLain, Leland, NC. March 1999 (Update January 2000: "I am just now getting up the courage to write the news that our dog Sarah passed away in August. After a long struggle, she was no longer able to stand up or walk on a regular basis, and her body was in so much pain that she shook with the effort. We took her to McDonalds where she ate two whole cheesburgers. She went out of this world with ketchup and mustard on her face, appropriate our vet said because one thing we could always count on was her appetite. We miss her dearly; Christmas was difficult for all of us, but not once have I regretted our decision to have her put to sleep. Her body was relaxed and not in pain for the first time in years. My vet told me a long time ago I would know when it was time and Sarah would too; and he was right. The upside of our life is a new addition. 'Surry's momentary lapse of Raison' better known as 'Raison" -- a 9-month-old Black Lab puppy who keeps our 13-year-old Newt going strong.")

Sargis, 13 Years Old, Moved Into His "Retirement Home" with the Kindest, Most Generous, Very Best Neighbors

"Sargis, the German Shepherd that used to live across the street from us, has become a permanent house guest. He is getting on in years (around 13), and his back end is wobbly -- he cries when he tries to stand up. He is also almost deaf, and his eyesight is going. Anyway, he used to be an outdoor dog, but he can't handle bad weather anymore (we live in a semi-rural area near Chicago, where winters can get pretty nasty and summers quite steamy). When he was younger, Sargis would cross the street to visit us almost every day, coming to the back door for some petting and treats. As he got older and weaker, we began to let him inside on bad days, and he soon learned the rules of being an indoor dog. Our neighbors eventually asked if we would take him permanently, so he's now in his 'retirement home' across the street from his former home. He still goes across the street to visit his first family." Contributed by Parnell & Sandi O'Brien, near Chicago, IL

Sasha Becomes a Therapy Dog at Age 10

Sasha has been with me and my husband, Ben, for about a year now. Before that, she lived with my mother for a year and a half. My mother could no longer care for Sasha, so we agreed to adopt her.

"Sasha was originally rescued by friends of the family in central Pennsylvania. We think she's 10 years old. The story we heard was that Sasha had been kicked out of her previous home and was living under a porch for over a year. Since they knew my mother was looking for a dog, our friends got Sasha into good shape -- had all of her mats clipped and took her to the vet -- and presented this 'new friend' to my mother.

"In August 1998, my mother drove with Sasha from Long Island to Boston to be present for the final fitting of my wedding gown. After the long drive, my mother didn't want to leave Sasha in the car, and so she got permission from the sales staff at the bridal shop to bring Sasha into the store. Everyone's heart melted when they met this sweet, loving little girl -- including mine. I fell completely in love with her that first time that I met her.

"I saw Sasha regularly over the next year and a half. At family gatherings, I noticed how she loved all the hustle and bustle and wanted to be in the middle of it all. When my mother said she could no longer care for Sasha, I volunteered to take her with pleasure. She became part of our family on Easter Sunday, 2000. That day, we went to visit friends who are guardians to an emotionally-challenged woman named Mary. Sasha went exploring around the house and found Mary, who shouted, 'A puppy!' Sasha jumped into her arms, and they were instant friends. That gave me the idea that Sasha would make a great therapy dog. She hated to be left alone and was very attentive to people. I thought it would be a good fit.

"I found a local organization called 'Helping Hounds, Ltd.' Sasha passed their certification test with flying colors and became a registered therapy dog. Helping Hounds was ending their season for the summer, but I was just getting started and didn't want to stop, so a few of us from Helping Hounds started another group called 'Hug-a-Pet.' Throughout the summer, Sasha went to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, a local mental health hospital, and adult day care facilities. (We have since changed our name to Caring Canines and are now part of Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.) Sasha is so excited on every visit, she can't wait to go to work! She's the 'lap dog' and complements the other dogs who do tricks, entertain, and chase toys. She gives kisses and puts a smile on people's faces on every visit, including staff. She senses loneliness and seems to give people the loving attention they need.

"On Christmas Day, Sasha saw Mary again. Not only did she jump into Mary's arms again, but she watched over Mary for the entire day. Mary uses a walker, and whenever Mary walked anywhere, Sasha 'spotted' her, walking behind her at her pace. Sasha kept tabs on all of us, but she seemed to know Mary needed more care.

"Sasha is a seasoned therapy dog now. We go on visits an average of twice a week. She gives so much pleasure to so many people. When I started doing pet therapy work, I never realized how much of myself would go into the visits. My colleagues encouraged me and, most of all, I learned from Sasha. I feel so blessed to have her in our lives." Contributed by Caroline Nudelman. April 2001.

Sasha, at 16 1/2!!

"Sasha is a Golden Retriever who came to live with me as a puppy when I was in school in Oregon in 1985. She is now 16 ½ years old and unfortunately really showing her age -- not eating as well and definitely having trouble getting her hindquarters to do what she wants. (I recently built a wheelchair-style ramp over the four steps that lead outside from my back door, as she could longer do the stairs.) Now she just has to dream of chasing seagulls and biting white caps at the coast. The photos were taken with my nephew and niece, two and three years ago, respectively. I guess she qualified as a 'senior dog' back then, when she was a mere 13 or 14 years old." Contributed by Kathy Vannatta, Cincinnati, OH. January 2002.

"Savage" and Intelligent -- 15-Year-Old Is Part Timberwolf

"This is a treasured photo of my 'Savage' -- romping free in the hills in her younger days. She was the female runt of the litter when I picked her out fifteen years ago. Her momma was half-Shepherd, half-Timberwolf; her dad, full-Shepherd. When I brought her home, I looked up "Timberwolf" in the encyclopedia. The first words entered were 'savage and intelligent.' Hence her name. She has been with me my entire adult life. We no longer walk in the woods or swim in the creek or chase other animals. Due to arthritis, Savage has reached the point in her life when a rabbit in the yard is just her speed. I treasure the days I have left with her. I know there will never be another Savage." September 28, 1998: Savage went to the Rainbow Bridge. "It is true; they don't leave you." Contributed by Diana Sprucebank, Palmyra, PA

Schnitz, a Precious Package of Sunshine, Leaves an Inspiring Legacy

"In 1996, my husband, Rusty, and I went to our local shelter, the York County SPCA (Thomasville, Pennsylvania), to adopt our first dog. We didn't know what we were looking for, and shelter staff recommended against the first three dogs who caught my eye that day. Rusty pointed out a sweet little Jack Russell/Sheltie mix who sat quietly in his cage. When the other dogs barked and jumped, little Schnitz just sat there, looking up at us. We asked to meet him, and we knew right away that he was the one for us. Above all, we could tell that Schnitz had picked us to be his new family.

"When we were told that Schnitz was 8 years old, I hesitated. I remember saying, 'But he won't have very long to live!' My sister-in-law, Tina, made her point rather succinctly when she replied, 'Well, he will die a lot sooner if he isn't adopted.' That clinched it. Well, that and the fact that Schnitz was clearly the most perfect little doggie I had ever seen.

"Like so many older dogs, Schnitz had a story. He had been surrendered to the shelter by the family of his lifelong companion, an older woman who had become very ill and required nursing home care. He was adopted and then returned because he '...required too much love and attention.' Well, if that is a character flaw, then I am at a loss.

"During his time at the shelter, this little guy became the staff favorite. Staff told me that, if Schnitz didn't find a home, one of them would take him in to save his life. It didn't come to that, because he became our new little son that very day.

"I had grown up with a dog in my life; my doggie 'brother' was a Beagle who, at that time, was about 15 years old. Still, I was not prepared for the deep and profound impact Schnitz had on our lives. It didn't take very long for us to begin thinking of him as a little person in a doggie body. He was smart, attentive, sensitive, playful and decidedly not 'doglike.' Even people who hated dogs loved Schnitz. I think that sums him up best: Schnitz could win over even those who hated dogs. EVERYONE loved him. EVERYONE. And boy, could he play! Schnitz loved his toys, especially his talking Wack Wack and his stuffed hedgehog. Even at the age of 13, he would do laps around the living room, chasing his toys and barking playfully. He never lost touch with his inner puppy. In fact, he grew more active and playful as he grew older with us.

"It was such a joy to watch him come out of his shell! When Schnitz was about 10 years old, routine bloodwork uncovered the early stages of Cushing's Disease, a condition of the adrenal gland that impacts liver and kidney function, cognition, energy level and many other things. His clinical symptoms had not progressed very far, and medication worked wonders. It wasn't always easy, however. About every six months, we would have a crisis that necessitated a change in meds and more tests to stabilize his condition. We became dedicated to giving him every opportunity to lead a healthy, happy life. As he grew older, the bad days began to outweigh the good, so we fought harder.

"Thanks to our vet, Dr. Craig Lello (Market Street Animal Hospital), we were able to keep Schnitz healthy enough to enjoy all of his favorite things until just days before his death. Sadly, the advanced Cushing's, combined with what we believe to have been a fast-growing tumor, made it impossible for our little Schnitz to go on. After three difficult days during which he fought bravely to hang on, it was time for Schnitz to go. He passed away on June 23rd, in our arms, with his Grandma and Grandpa Myers and Aunt Tina by his side. Grandpa Myers, someone who was never a big fan of dogs before he met Schnitz, built a special casket and buried him in the backyard. For weeks afterward, Grandpa Myers would place fresh flowers on Schnitz' grave. Our friends and family helped us raise hundreds of dollars in memorial contributions so that a plaque could be purchased for the York SPCA's memorial wall.

"I draw a great deal of comfort from knowing that Schnitz will be so well remembered by those whose lives he touched. Rusty and I were blessed to be his Mommy and Daddy, and we are so proud of the contribution he made to this world. We learned so much from having Schnitz in our lives. We learned that our canine friends deserve the same respect and love as their human counterparts, and we learned that there is no more faithful companion that a sweet, older dog.

"A month after losing Schnitz, we met a 9 year-old Papillion mix who had been confiscated as part of a cruelty investigation. He was emaciated and frightened, and nursing injuries from a Pit Bull attack. We were told that he was forced to live in a room with a Pit Bull and Rottweiler, sharing food and water with them and sleeping in his own waste. In spite of this abuse and neglect, little Pumpkin won our hearts immediately. He has some issues to work out, and we will be there to help him along. He wants nothing more than to curl up in my lap and snuggle, and I am happy to oblige.

"In September, we were asked by a family to take in their 12 year-old dog, Misty, because they could no longer care for her. Misty is a gorgeous, golden tan Beagle/Cocker Spaniel mix who looks like a Golden Retriever with short legs. She is an absolute angel, and we are so happy to have her as our daughter. She is Daddy's little girl.

"Schnitz' legacy has left such an impact on Rusty and me. Because of him, we were moved to take in two wonderful older dogs who were considered unadoptable due to age and health issues. We are the lucky ones, though. We have again been given the opportunity to be a family, and we will cherish every year we have with our Pumpkin and Misty. But, we will never forget our wonderful little Schnitz and the light he brought into our lives." Contributed by Kristi O'Connell Myers & Rusty Myers (and Misty & Pumpkin) Remembering our precious little sunshine, Schnitzy Myers (1/6/88-6/23/01). Thomasville, PA. November 2001.

The Decision to Adopt Scooter Was Not an Easy One

"This is Scooter (aka Tuffy). He is between six and eight years old. We adopted him a few months back. He is originally from the St Louis Area, where he was in a shelter for quite a while, and to everyone's worry, would soon have to be put down or a new home found. A shelter in Illinois took him, and that is how I found him --- through a Bird Dog Association. (I'm sorry to say that right now their exact name escapes me, but that is how I found him.) Anyway, the decision to adopt was not an easy one. We had just put to sleep our McGee, who was with us for 18 years. (Her kidneys finally gave out on her, and it was time for her to rest.) Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could ever love another animal like I did McGee. WRONG !!! Scooter came into my live and filled that void as even I cannot believe. Not that I love him more than I ever did our McGee, but that I surely love him just as much -- not one bit less! He has truly captured my heart as only an innocent could. I thank God every day for him, and his love and his devotion, which he shows to me everyday. I only hope I show it enough to him, too, as he has naturally been through a lot already: being a stray is never easy on any animal, I am sure. I always think how frightened he must have been, out there all alone. Anyway, that is our story.....thought some of you might enjoy it. Love to all, Lenny & Scooter." July 2002.

Scruffy's Big Brown Eyes Still Hypnotize at 16

"Scruffy is our 'baby,' now that our kids have moved out. She is over 15, but still eats well, walks (a little) and does her circus act (lies on a pillow and does a summersault). She can't hear much or see well, but she can find her food and us. At night, we listen for her snore. When we travel, we have two wonderful friends who move in to take care of her. Last year, they stayed with her for over a month while we traveled. On our trip, we stopped to pet every dog we saw, as we missed our Scruffy so much. She used to look like Benji, but with her new $30 hair cut, we think she looks pretty fancy (even with all her lumps and bumps). We sure love that dog! Those big brown eyes have us hypnotized." Contributed by D.& D Hensinger. August 1999. Update February 2000: "Scruffy Hensinger is in Dog Rainbow Heaven. Scruffy left us at 9:30 am on the 20th of January. We shall bury her ashes out back under the black Bamboo. When winter rustles the bamboo, we shall go out and pray for our silent dog. It's so hard to say good-bye to our cherished and beloved pet. The grief has been terrible. We miss her so. Everyone has sent cards, but nothing seems to help our sadness. It will take a long time to find another companion like Her. Sincerely, D.& D. "

Scruffy, Once Abandoned, Adopted a Jazzy Life-style More Than 12 Years Ago
"Scruffy adopted me when I moved to a rental house in the country. He and a toy poodle (eventually named 'Scooter') were living under the house, having been apparently dropped off to fend for themselves. Scooter went off to live with my mother in the lap of luxury, but Scruffy stayed with me -- a decision neither of us has ever regretted. I don't know his bloodline, but Scruffy is obviously a Terrier mix, with what looks like a good bit of Airedale. In the 12 1/2 years he’s lived with me, there has been a succession of other cats and dogs through the house, either visitors or pets, and he's always gotten along with all of them. He also loves people and always goes to visitors to be petted -- with one exception. When I was married, if a stranger, like a salesman, came into the house, Scruffy would stay next to Jeannie, my wife, and kept himself between her and the stranger the whole time. He didn’t growl or act unfriendly, just firmly protective. Scruffy likes music, and will frequently stay in the living room while my jazz group is rehearsing, especially if Mike is playing his soprano sax. He’s less thrilled with solo drums, and leaves the room when I practice by myself. He also likes to go fishing in our boat, but prefers to stay indoors when it gets hot. In more than 12 years, we’ve shared a lot of adventures, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been adopted by such a great dog." Contributed by Paul Miller, Lewisville, TX.

Update on Scruffy.....He's Turned 15!

"Srdogs featured my dog, Scruffy, on this page back in 1998, right after he started taking Rimadyl for his arthritis. I had found srdogs while searching for information on the drug. I'm pleased to report that he had no bad reaction to it. In fact, it took about 10 days for it to take effect, after which he started running and acting like a 7-year-old again. Our vet later switched him to EtoGesic, and Scruffy continues to thrive. He turned 15 in January. At least, I think it was January. He adopted me in March of 1986, while living under the house I rented, and we estimated his age then at about 2 months. He's still active, and likes to go for walks, albeit shorter ones than previously. He sleeps longer and harder and is bothered by some hearing loss and cataracts. Nevertheless, he still greets everyone who comes to the door with a tail wag and a smile, and continues to be my best friend. I don't know how much longer I'll have him around, but I'm profoundly grateful for every day of the last 15 years. Thanks for your Web site." Paul Miller, Lewisville, Texas. March 2001.