Tasha Watches through Pretty Eyes

"The first time I ever saw her was12 1/2 years ago, when I opened the front door and found her sitting there. She looked at me with her 'pot belly' hanging down and wagged her tiny tail furiously. Through the years, she has been a 'silent watcher.' She was there throughout my junior high and high school years. She was there when I put on my high school graduation outfit and helped me pack my clothes when I left for college. Although I was gone during the week, I would always return home to visit Tasha on the week-ends. Every Sunday, when I left to go back to school, I hoped that my parents and sister would take good care of her. Five years later, she became again that 'silent watcher' who saw me put on my college graduation outfit. Since then, she has watched me get my first job, then buy my first house. She recently suffered from Old Dog Vestibular Disease. For the first time in her life, she got 'sick.' Up until then she had always been very healthy. She quickly recovered, but the incident made me realize that she is not a puppy anymore. Where did the time go? She is still that vibrant, adorable puppy my father adopted from a local animal shelter, but moving a bit more slowly these days. I look forward to her being that 'silent watcher' when I get married and yet again when I have my first child." Contributed by Rose Correa, San Diego, CA. March 2003.

Update, July 2004: "Tasha passed away on July 4, 2004. She was diagnosed with chronic renal failure on March 15, 2004. After months of heartache, I came home on July 4, 2004 to see if she was okay. She could not get up anymore and I looked straight into her eyes and she told me it was time. Her vet came to our home to help her cross the bridge. My auntie, uncle, cousin, grandma, fiance, mom and dad were there to say goodbye. Unfortunately, she will not be attending my wedding in November in person, but she will be there in spirit. We are happy to know that she is playing in a healthy body now. There is a website for her at: http://www.mypetspages.com/mysite/776/"

Tassie..... Likes Cudding, Spicy Chinese Food, Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Watching Over a Four-Year-Old

"We got Tassie (purebred Newfoundland, 8 years old on July 1, 2001) just this past October from a kennel that was being disbanded. She had been shown and had had puppies, and just needed a 'forever' home at this time in her life. We drove the five hours each way to pick her up and feel it was one of the best decisions of our lives. Within a couple of weeks, she had grown accustomed to our routines and will now go to the front door when SHE feels it is time for that last trip outside for bed! If we don't go upstairs when she feels we should (our usual is 10 PM), she goes up without us. She also feels it is her duty to remain in the bathroom when our four-year-old is in the bathtub. It is very difficult to work around a 120 pound dog sprawled on the floor in front of the tub. Her health has been better than we expected. We obtained insurance for her, but about two weeks before it went into effect she developed Pyometra which is an infection of the uterus. She came through the surgery beautifully and was her usual self within three days! Other than that, she has only had a urinary infection and a pulled muscle. She enjoys lying in the yard (on her back) and being sprinkled with the hose on hot days, going in the van, cuddling, spicy Chinese foods and ice cream sandwiches." (Photo is of Tassie with four-year-old Laura.) Contributed by Valerie Freeman, Mt Lebanon, PA. September 2001.

The Story of "Little T" and the Potential for All Creatures Who Are Loved and Cared For

"Let me tell you about my wonderful dog Taylor, or as he is nicknamed, 'Little T.' I found him two years ago wandering around in circles in the middle of the road in a rainstorm. I picked him up to get him out of the road, knowing he'd get hit if I didn't. I brought him home and got him all cleaned up, figuring we'd put up signs in the neighborhood the next day. He had no identification tags. From the looks of him, I knew he was old. He had cataracts and was grey around the muzzle. He also had a limp of sorts.

"Well, we put the signs up the next day, the local police and animal shelters were called, and the 'found' ad went in the paper. No one called looking for a dog of his description. We weren't seeking another pet, as we already had a dog, a cat, two mice, and various fish. We figured we were topped out for our household. But we also knew that, if we turned him in to the local authorities, they'd hold him the requisite three days, and he'd be history after that because of his age and the condition he was in.

"As I was volunteering for a humane society at the time, I took him to the vet they used for evaluation. She estimated his age at 10 years. He had an ear infection, a urinary tract infection, several black teeth, and he wasn't neutered. But his heart was strong and his bloodwork came back with nothing horrible, so the decision was made to fix him up and put him up for adoption through our humane society. This little dog probably thought he'd been better off when he was in the street in the rainstorm than when he came back from the vet that night! He'd been neutered, shaved (his fur was matted and he'd had ticks), and had six teeth extracted. The vet also found a testicular tumor when she neutered him. Even though this was in the spring, for the next few weeks, when I took him out for walks I put a terrycloth jacket on him to cover him up because he looked so horrible (being shaved and so skinny and all), and I didn't want people to suppose that I had done all this to him!

"Long story short, as he was recuperating at our home, we also realized he was deaf, sight-impaired and not housetrained. NOBODY was going to adopt this dog! But, of course, after having recuperated in our home for those weeks, we absolutely fell in love with him! It's something in the way he looks so innocently and trustingly at us, and in the way his ears go 'flip-flip' when he walks.

"He's come such a long way in these past two years. He's filled out, now has glossy black fur instead of the thin-textured, dull grey/black color he was when we found him, and runs around with his 'brother' dog, our Border Collie mix 'Champ.' He still has his issues, but I can't imagine being without him. I'm so glad our family was blessed with his presence for the balance of his life, however long that may be. And I'm glad we could offer him a loving, secure family home for his golden years.

"Because of his story, I have made Taylor the mascot for my humane education program, PetEd Humane Education. His photo goes on the letterhead, business cards, forms, etc. He's a living symbol of what my program tries to educate against -- that animals are simply subordinate beings, not needing to be considered or cared for in any but the most cursory way, as property of an owner. His transformation shows what his potential is -- indeed the potential inside all creatures, if they are loved and cared for properly.

"Thank you for reading Taylor's story." Contributed by Cheryl L. Maibusch/ Hinsdale, IL. March 2002.

TEDE, an Angel with Four Paws

"TEDE (pronounced 'Teddy') was a gift to me after another beloved pet passed on. I'd never had a dog before and when I first met this little two-month old critter who looked so much like a baby lion, I thought it disgusting when he licked my hand. Boy, has my thinking changed! TEDE was my constant companion, despite trials of every sort. Not sure if I believe in 'spiritual soulmates' or 'animal guides,' but I truly believe he was the closest I've ever come to experiencing something of that kind. He was a best pal and a dutiful hero, protecting me from burglars on the east coast and saving me from two attacking off-leash Rottweilers in San Francisco. Those were certainly his 'glory days.' He suffered a great deal of trauma and physical injury in the dog attack, but showed no sign of hurt until we were safely home and he collapsed. That was at age eleven! I then became his protector. Several people told me to put my best friend to sleep because it might be 'inconvenient' to care for him. They were definitely out of bounds on that recommendation. TEDE continued to be a faithful friend and companion until his death by poisoning at age 13. Let it be known to all: Senior dogs aren't all inconvenient, and nothing and no one can replace the love and appreciation an older dog has for his/her human companion and caretaker. I thank God every day for having had that very special senior dog in my life, my angel with four paws -- and for not following other people's advice!" Contributed by Michele Caprario, San Francisco, CA. March 2003.

Teela, the Best of a Boxful of Puppies

"Teela, my beautiful senior, has been my faithful and devoted companion for 11 years, since her puppyhood. She is a wonderful and devoted guardian to my children, as well. I have had several dogs in my life, but she is the BEST.

"My husband and I found Teela on a trip to the grocery store. We came across a family there, trying to find homes for a boxful of puppies. There had been an accidental breeding between a Blue Heeler and a Chocolate Labrador; the pups all looked like little Chocolate Labs. Since my husband and I are big Lab fans, we took one home. I had NO IDEA that the puppy we selected from that boxful would become the best family dog we have ever known.

"Teela was a rambunctious puppy who didn't think she had to mind. But, once she figured out that Mom was the boss, she began to understand just what was needed of her. She particularly understood that it was important to protect my children; she guarded them from strangers and from other dogs (one, in particular, who was menacing my two year old); on one occasion, she dragged my four year old away from dangerous fireworks.

"Teela is happy and healthy, and, even though she's starting to show her age, the vet says she's in great shape. I was happy to hear that, as I hope she has a lot more time with us.

"About a year ago, we brought home a new Yellow Lab. Teela was quite insulted, but is learning to tolerate him. These days, she spends most of her time with me, usually in the house, pretending to be a throw rug. But she still loves her evening walks. She is truly a pampered pooch. Sometimes my husband says, 'When are you going to start making these dogs be dogs?' But he knows the answer: Never!!! They are wonderful members of our family, never 'just dogs.' -- Contributed by Julie Castanza, WA State, May 2001.

Update July 2003: "I just wanted to let you know that Teela is still here and doing pretty well. Here is a new picture of her, still in her favorite spot at the kitchen door, watching Mom cook. Teela is now 13 years and 5 months. Her age is beginning to show a bit, but she is still a much-loved, important part of our family. Thanks for your work at Senior Dogs. I hope everyone will come to appreciate and value these faithful souls." -- Julie Castanza

A Rescued Bearded Collie Mix, Brings Happiness and a New Cat to His New Home

"Terry is now 15 1/2 years old. My husband and I adopted him more than 14 years ago, when he was 11 months old. At that time, Terry helped us over the loss of our previous dog, who was killed in a car accident. We live in Darmstadt, Germany, in the vicinity of Frankfurt, and found Terry there, in a home for abandoned animals. He is a mix, but very much like a Bearded Collie or a French Briard. We have always had a great time together. At home, he has to share us with two parrots and a cat that he and I found in a forest, nearly 12 years ago. The cat followed Terry without any fear, and he adopted her from that very moment. When we travel, Terry is the only one who gets to go with us, however. About three years ago, Terry started to have some problems with his legs. He gave up climbing the stairs about a year ago, and now, when he lies down, he depends on us to help him up. Once he is up on his paws, though, he enjoys walking leisurely in the woods near our house, where he often meets his dear Bearded Collie girlfriends, Cora and Lea. He's been deaf for a couple of years, but his eyes are still bright and clear, and, as long as he does not suffer pain, we will do our best to make his life as easy as possible." Contributed by Anne Hoellt, Darmstadt, Germany. October 1999.

Tia and Rosa Won't be Returned after Christmas
"Tia is a 15-year-old Shih Tzu who was found as a stray at a very busy intersection in Sioux Falls. This was especially dangerous for a little girl like her, since she is approximately 80% blind. (She can see only shadows when her hair isn't covering her face.) The Humane Society called her guardian three times, but he refused to bail her out. And that's when Tia went home with me and got her 'extreme makeover.' I have always been a sucker for the 'down and out' and would rather take the really 'needy' ones whom no one else wants. And so, because there was an elderly Chihuahua/Terrier mix named 'Rosa' in the cage next to Tia's who had a terrible underbite and stood and shook in the cage when I looked at her, she also went home with me. Rosa is an 11-12 year old who has clearly had too many puppies in her life. When I took the dogs to the vet, it was found that they needed major dental work. In addition, Tia had a terrible jaw infection and had to be on antibiotics and soft food for a long time. Rosa has no more underbite because her bottom teeth had to be removed. But she has healed well and hasn't missed a meal since. Not only do Tia and Rosa have a place in my heart, they have a place in my bed every night. God Bless the Humane Society and all who give of their time and compassion to do jobs that are both heart wrenching and rewarding. These are two dogs that won't be returned after Christmas. They have found a place to spend their Golden Years." Teresa D. Berg, Sioux Falls, SD. March 2004.

Tigger, Age 13

TiggerTigger (on the right in the photo) is a sweet, wonderful, gentle Doberman who loves everyone and was born to be petted. In this photo, Tigger is with senior Lab friend, Bailey, who is almost 12, and Chivas, a 13-year-old Shepherd mix who is a great obedience dog. They always have a great time together in the park. Being seniors, they have many of the same interests in life and go at about the same pace. Contributed by Lee Walker, San Francisco, CA. July 1997

Tiki, an Esteemed Member of the Family and a Wonderful Friend

"Tiki is a 14-year-old female Lhasa Apso. She has been an esteemed member of our family since 1991. The first time I saw her, my heart melted and I knew she was the dog for me. She is a wonderful girl, sweet and patient. She has been my constant companion for over 12 years. In January 2003, Tiki was diagnosed with Diabetes. This was a scary time for all of us, but we now have her blood sugars under control and she is doing much better. This March, Tiki developed cataracts and is completely blind. I was initially devastated. There was a period of adjustment, but Tiki carried on in her usually happy determined way and is now managing very well. She loves her walks and continues to parole her yard. It is difficult to articulate the effect this little dog has had on my life. When I am sad, she listens. When I am lonely, she is there. When I am happy, she is joyous. What more could you ask of a friend?" Contributed by Colleen. May 2003.

Timi and Masa, Getting Older and Better....Like Wine
"I have two senior dogs, cousins to each other, ages 9 and 10 this summer. Both are male Malinois, named Timi and Masa. I think getting old has made them better...like wine. They are with me as much as possible. I'd rather stay home with my dogs than leave them alone for more than six hours. I won´t go on any trips if my dogs can´t come with me. Masa and Timi are the lights of my life, and I love them dearly. I wish they will live many more years, and, when it's time, that they die happy and peacefully." Contributed by Marika Koste, Hamina, Finland. May 2003.

Titi, 11, Has Inspired Tolerance, Compassion, and Unconditional Love

"Titi (pronounced 'Tee-tee') is my sweetie-pie girl. I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance when I worked at Universal Studios in Florida. She was supposed to be a Rin Tin Tin look alike in their animal show, but, for some unknown reason, they were not using her. From the moment I saw her, I loved her. I didn't notice that she was skinny and flea bitten and had patches of fur missing. I saw only those beautiful, sad, brown eyes and those impressively erect ears. One of the trainer's selling points, to convince me to take her off their hands, was to say, 'She doesn't eat very much.' Well, the trainer wouldn't have eaten very much either, if she was as sick as this poor dog. I soon found out that Titi had bilateral ear infections, FAD, a urinary tract infection, pyodermas, seborrhea and hypothyroidism. Early on, the vet told me to get rid of Titi because she was going to cost me a lot of money. The vet was right. Titi has been chronically ill since I adopted her in 1992, but she has also been a source of joy, companionship and protection. She has taught me tolerance and compassion and how to love unconditionally. We have spent many days walking along beautiful trails deep in the woods (places I would have been afraid to go without her), traveling up and down Interstate 95 from Florida to Massachusetts, and just sitting quietly together. I'm not sure how old Titi is; I think she is about 11, so I worry about when her time will be up. I'm sure I'll cry and be unconsolable, but after a while I'll be able to think of her and laugh at the times(twice) she ate a hole in the middle of my mattress, ate six out of eight pieces of fried chicken (the grease on her nose was a dead give away), would fall asleep with her face inside my mother's shoe, and the way she innocently emits noxious fumes while asleep. To sum it up, I adore my little girl, and tell her every chance I get." Contributed by Joan Evans. August 1999.

Tippy, 15 Years Old, Is Happily Retired to the Country with His Devoted & Loyal Officer Companion

"The old gray fella (the one on the left) is Tippy, a 15-year- old Belgian Malanois. He is now retired after nearly ten years on police patrol in a major city in the southeastern USA. He and I worked together for three years. When I was promoted, Tippy was assigned to another officer, and then two years later, to another. When he was about to be re-assigned yet another time, he was beginning to show his age and it was decided that he had served long enough. I was was offered the opportunity to adopt him. So here he is, retired and living well in the country with two canine companions, a horse, and several other animals. He protected me on patrol; now I take care of him in his golden years. Loyalty -- he earned it." Contributed by George V.

He is now retired after nearly ten years on police patrol in a major city in the southeastern USA. He and I worked together for three years. When I was promoted, Tippy was assigned to another officer, and then two years later, to another. When he was about to be re-assigned yet another time, he was beginning to show his age and it was decided that he had served long enough. I was was offered the opportunity to adopt him. So here he is, retired and living well in the country with two canine companions, a horse, and several other animals. He protected me on patrol; now I take care of him in his golden years. Loyalty -- he earned it." Contributed by George V.

For the Love of "Old Gold:" The Rescue of Senior Golden Retriever "Toby"
"The holidays didn't seem promising as '98 was ending. I'd been ill and most of my family was far away; but then a friend planted a seed of thought for a purposeful mission -- and just the ticket for a change of scenery. It seemed like fate that I would drive 160 miles to rescue Toby, a senior Golden Retriever. His family had divorced, and he'd been relegated to a brother's backyard and the mercy of extreme Texas weather for a year. He'd had little human companionship, and now his new 'owner' could no longer afford to feed him. I was to be Toby's taxi service out of that situation. I thought that a ride was all that we would share, but there was to be so much more. The sight of the chain link fence that had been his lonely prison weighed heavily on my mind as his 'owner' apologized for his behavior. Toby was starved for affection, but his Golden exuberance was very endearing. I talked with his 'owner' a bit, gathered his paperwork, and we told his old life goodbye. Into our 'taxi' we went, where Toby and Zoe, my Golden pup, formed a fast friendship. While I was transporting Toby, a rescue affiliate was to attempt to find a foster family who would keep him until he was adopted. I decided that I'd check into a hotel, as I was eager to do some behavior and personality assessments and was tired from the drive. I called the Dallas rescue contact a short time later to inform her that Toby was an intelligent and delightful dog; but she said a foster family had not yet been found for him. 'I'll be happy to foster him,' were my next words. My heart had already been won over. I could see that Toby had once known love, had once been the light of someone's life. I couldn't help but wonder how that love had stopped, especially at his mature age. I wondered how he must feel to undergo yet another transition, to be homeless again. With these thoughts in mind, I thought I'd slip off into dreamland, but that was not to be, as Toby incessantly and lovingly licked my face and hands and vocalized his glee throughout the night because someone, anyone was there for him. We went 'home' the next day to a lukewarm reception from my stepdaughter and her father, neither of whom are dog fanatics. However, Toby went to work at once, quickly charming them, too. Soon he was the topic of every conversation and amusement of the moment. He'd become the family favorite, and all our hearts were tightly wrapped around his paws. Sometime later, Toby almost had a home in Dallas; but it fell through. Then, Helen Redlus of Golden Retrievers in Cyberspace kindly featured him on her website. Helen has done much to further efforts at educating the public about Golden Retrievers and the need for rescue. It wasn't long before the inquiries came pouring in. Thanks to Helen and the wonders of the Internet, a perfectly-matched and loving family was found for Toby, a long plane ride and half the continent away. While we were saying our good-byes in those very early morning hours on the way to the airport, Toby's new family was traveling the 220 miles to the airport where his direct, nonstop flight would land. Though we'd only had a fortnight together, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I closed the door on Toby's travel crate. I couldn't stem the flow of bittersweet tears; they lasted far beyond the ride home. Perhaps this is the most touching postscript to Toby's story: shortly after his arrival HOME, his adoptive family sent me some photos, all of Toby, I thought. Interestingly, one was of 'Noah,' a beloved family pet of thirteen years who had crossed the Bridge the preceding year. Toby is the spitting image of their beloved Noah! It seems so often in life that things happen for a reason, and often they happen without our complete understanding. So it was with Toby." Contributed by Peg M. in recognition of the love of "Old Gold," and in appreciation of Helen R., Karen J.; rescue, foster and adoptive families; and compassionate hearts everywhere who learn what it is like to be loved by a senior rescue dog. March 1999

"Boss" Toby

"I adopted Toby in 1987, after a friend found him wandering along a highway. It was shortly after I had to have 'Bojo,' my companion of 8 years, put down due to heart problems. My life just wasn't the same without a dog, but I knew I wanted an older dog, not a puppy. Toby qualified. When I took him to the vet for a checkup and shots, we discovered he had heartworms. This required a risky treatment, and he also had to be neutered, but he came through both surgeries with flying colors. The vet guessed he was about 2 years old at the time. Now, almost 13 years later, he is still the top dog in my house. In 1994, I took in a little stray who wandered into my life -- a tiny, seven-pound sweetie that I named 'Skippy.' Toby accepted him into our family immediately (with the provision that he remained BOSS). Toby and Skippy have been constant companions. In the past year, Toby has developed arthritis, seems able to hear only hear barking and hand clapping, and is practically blind. However, when he had a physical in December, the vet advised me that his heart was still good and strong. I know the time is soon coming when I will make that last trip to the vet with him. I will not let him be alone at that time. He has been a wonderful companion to me, especially after my husband of 38 years died in 1993. I will miss Toby when he goes, but intend to enjoy every day I have left with him." Contributed by Jean Wilson, Marion, OH. February 2000.

Fifteen-year-old Tricia Has Much Work to Do and Many Lessons to Give

"My first experience with your professional, friendly and caring organization was with Gabriella, an 8-year-old Lab/Chow mixed breed dog we took into rescue from a veterinarian. She turned up at his door a stray. Gabriella's story had a very happy ending, thanks in part to the help of the Senior Dogs Project. Gabriella now goes everywhere with her new family and is no longer left behind. She even goes to work with her new 'Mommy' and has the run of the office.

"Having Gabriella's successful story behind us, when Tricia appeared at the veterinarian's office where my teenage daughter works, my daughter did not hesitate to rescue her. Tricia had been completely pampered and adored by her original guardian. However, when her guardian had to go live in a nursing home and the family could not take her, she was brought to the vet's office to be euthanized.

"Taking Tricia into our rescue group did not go without some ruffled feathers. Many in the group did not quite appreciate our taking responsibility for a 15 year-old Australian Shepherd mixed breed rescue with medical needs who did not seem a good adoption candidate. That discord over Tricia was largely responsible for my forming a new rescue organization called, 'Our Lady of Mercy's Catnip Cottage.' (Summerville, SC) The 41 animals we have helped in our first two months of existence would offer Tricia a huge thank you for that, I would venture!

"Far from aspiring to become a dog-like rug in front of my door, 15-year-old Tricia proves herself to be very active and work-oriented! She follows her 'herd' (the rest of us call it a 'family') from room to room, careful to know where each member of the herd is at all times. She is protective and watchful! She is also quite clever -- much to my dismay at times! When the family was too busy to give her attention I would sometimes contain her in tthe kitchen with child-proof gates. I thought that, at 15 and with age-related arthritis, she was not going to try jumping the gate. At 50 lbs, she certainly could not go under them. Yet, somehow, she was getting out. I was left speechless when I finally saw one day how she did it: she reached over to the end of the gate with her mouth and, step by step, collapsed the gate just as it should be, thereby opening it properly and walking on through.

"I am beginning to think that I should not underestimate Miss Tricia! She has much work to do and she does it enthusiastically. Tricia is teaching me that you are never too old to be useful. She also makes it her business to ensure I do my work as well! One thing I will not be at all surprised at is when I get that inevitable call, E-mail or application from someone who has realized how wonderful Tricia is and wants to adopt her. She still has much to give a family that needs to learn the lessons that Tricia is waiting to teach them." Contributed by Maureen Dell'Olio, November 2002.

Update December 2002: "Tricia gently passed over from this world, and awaits her former guardian, Miss Madeline, at the rainbow bridge. Although Tricia never was adopted, she did enjoy life in her foster home here and was truly a member of our family. She taught me an awful lot, she was greatly loved and is greatly missed." Maureen Dell'Olio.

Turbo Shared a Very Special, Fun-Filled World for 13 Memorable Years

"Turbo left us a few months ago. She lived to the ripe old age (for Bassets) of 13. Those were 13 fun-filled years! When she was a puppy, at the obedience training class, the instructor commented that Turbo must be a riot to live with. Little did she know! Nothing sad and slow about this girl! Though few of our neighbors knew our names, they all knew Turbo's. Especially the little kids. Loved by all. We got to know all the county parks with Turbo's help. She loved to hike in them. And then cuddle down in one of her many pieces of dog furniture to nap afterwards. Our house was modified to accommodate a Basset's unique build. The back steps were made less steep, there was a ramp added at the foot of our bed. A carpeted box was placed under the window so she could get up there and watch for Mommy to come home from work. Two bean bags littered the living room -- one vinyl and one cotton, to suit her mood. A large insulated box was placed along the inside of one garage wall. This was her home when we were away from the house. A truly wonderful companion, right on through her old age." Contributed by Linda Herman, Rochester, NY.

Beloved Twinkle

"This is our beloved Twinkle. She is about 9 years old. We found her lying, exhausted, under a neighbor's porch this summer. We had noticed her walking around the neighborhood for about two weeks or so, but she would never let us get close to her. Twinkle was in sad shape: she was deathly thin, she limped, her eyes were cloudy and her hair was matted and full of ticks and fleas. The only way we could get her to our home was to let our puppy, Star, lead her to our back yard. We believe our gentle Twinkle had been abandoned at the park near us. She had no collar or ID tags. It disturbed us that, when we raised our hand to pet her, she flinched as though she had been mistreated by her previous family. Now, after four months of care and attention, Twinkle is beautiful. We are fortunate to have found such a beautiful, loving, devoted dog to take in as a member of our family." Contributed by Melinda McWilliams, Baltimore, MD. January 2002.

Ty, about 7 or 8, Couldn't Stay with Us Very Long
"We've often heard people who are dog lovers say that they don't want to adopt an older dog because they will be heartbroken too soon when the dog dies. It seems to us, too, that our old dogs don't live long enough to suit us and our hearts are always aching. However, it also seems to us that NO dog lives long enough, regardless of the length of time we've spent together. Maturity in a dog is so positive in so many ways, however, that any disadvantage of age pales by comparison. It's quality of time together that matters more than quantity.

"Making a commitment to loving a dog who may not be with you very long isn't easy. On certain occasions, after losing a beloved older dog, we've wondered whether we ourselves can find the strength to do it again. But, in the end, the question we always ask ourselves is: If WE don't adopt the older ones, who will?

"We write this in memory of our dear, beloved Ty, a stray of about 7 or 8 years, who came to us through Golden Retriever Rescue in the fall of 1997. He was able to stay with us just a year. During the course of his illness, which we fought with every available weapon, we often asked ourselves why this had to happen to our sweet boy and to us. A friend told us that, whether it was luck or fate, he'd been put into our hands to experience both joy and pain. What a special boy he was! Despite the pain of losing him, we are grateful for the brief but intensely wonderful time we had together." Contributed by Andy & Teri Goodman, San Francisco, CA. March 1999 (Photo by Charlene Campbell.)

Undine Knows She Is Appreciated for Being a Senior Dog
"My name is Undine. That's Latin for 'Water Spirit.' I am a 12-year-old Lab-mix. I grew up in a house in Georgia with a large yard. My mama adopted me when I was about five months old. She did not need another dog because she already had 'Bomber,' but I was happy she took me in. I got along fine with Bomber, although he was kind of bossy. About five years ago, my mama and dad split up ('though they still talk to each other and care about each other). Bomber always was more Dad's dog, so he went to stay with him. I was lucky enough to stay with Mama. I then became the world's happiest dog. I had always thought I should be an only dog! Mama has a new companion now, and we've all moved north, close to the Canadian border. We enjoy life as much as we can, even though my hips are wearing out. I love the time in the morning when Mama takes me out and I get to sniff around to find out who visited our yard during the night. We walk in the woods, too, for about an hour every day, and, on hot days, we walk to the Saranac River for a refreshing swim. Although my hips often hurt, I need to get exercise. Mama helps me up and down the stairs when I need it, and, although I have my own bed next to her, I often sleep on the big bed, so I get some extra lovings. I have a wonderful life. I realize just how good it is when I see other dogs in the neighborhood chained up all day, who never get attention or taken for walks, who are not considered part of the family and who are neglected. Mama would like to see some changes in the law about this and has often talked about bringing other (especially older) dogs home to give them dignity and happiness in their last few years. I like to be the center of attention, so I'm not exactly keen on this idea; but, who knows, some old dogs learn new tricks. I am glad there is an internet site and therefore people who are concerned about us senior dogs." Contributed by Undine, c/o her family in the North Country, USA, July 1999.

Ven, Age 15, A Real "Pal"

Ven and Don"My wife, Irene, and I bought our convertible because Ven liked it so much. 'Ven' means 'pal' in Norwegian, and this guy has really been the best pal anyone could ever have. Originally he was my stepson Mickey's dog, but when I married into the family, Ven became mine. It was part of a really terrific package deal. He's very attached to me. One time, when I left for a long trip, he refused to eat -- wouldn't even touch a piece of rare steak that Irene had cooked for him! He always sleeps next to my side of the bed, but if Irene isn't feeling well, he'll hang out next to her until she's better. He's 15 now, but still going strong, and we hope he will be for quite a while yet." Contributed by Don Osbourne, San Francisco, CA. (IN MEMORIAM: Ven went to the Rainbow Bridge in September 1998, at age 17.)