The mission of the Senior Dogs Project is to inspire and facilitate the adoption of senior dogs (anywhere from six or seven years old on up) and to provide lifestyle and healthcare information for their adopters (or anyone with a senior dog) so that, in the company of their guardians, the dogs can lead the happiest, most healthful lives possible throughout their remaining years. We facilitate adoption through practical information and inspire it through real-life stories of the benefits and joys of adopting a senior dog. The healthcare information and discussions focus on best practices to maintain basic good health for seniors and on how to observe signs of senior dog diseases and ailments in order to be alert to the indicators of an existing or oncoming problem.
Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:
Does the Senior Dogs Project have a facility that provides housing and care for senior dogs? No. The Senior Dogs Project exists only in virtual form on the Internet.
Do we adopt out dogs? No….but our website lists hundreds of organizations that rescue and adopt out senior dogs.
Do we accept donations? No….but our listings provide information about and links to hundreds of non-profit organizations that do accept donations.
Do we accept advertising? No. We do not offer the opportunity to advertise on the srdogs.com site.
How can the healthcare information on the site be helpful to senior dog guardians? We do our best to research and stay updated on nutrition and healthcare information and provide it on the site to equip guardians of senior dogs to maintain their dog’s health and to be alert to various conditions and diseases and their management. When we have relevant information based on our own experience with the healthcare of our own dogs, we offer it. Over the years, we have also focused on raising consumer awareness of products and pharmaceuticals that have had serious side effects – such as Rimadyl. In acting as “information central” for reports of negative side effects of Rimadyl, we helped a consumer group to organize and to alert the government’s FDA/CVM to the problems with the drug. Ultimately, the government issued a mandate requiring the inclusion of a “Client Information Sheet” when drugs like Rimadyl are prescribed. The Client Information Sheet lists the potentially deadly side-effects of such drugs and advises the consumer about steps to take should the side effects appear.
None of the information on the srdogs.com site is meant to equip a guardian to diagnose or treat a dog’s health issues. We advise guardians to see a veterinarian –twice a year for a senior check-up and immediately when the dog’s symptoms are of concern.
Here’s the story of how all of this began–
Misty, the Senior Dog Who Inspired the Senior Dogs Project
The Senior Dogs Project was launched in May 1997, shortly after our family adopted a ten-year-old senior — Golden Retriever “Misty” (in the photo at the left). We fell totally, helplessly in love with her gentle nature and calm demeanor and felt very lucky to be sharing our life with her.
A Neighbor Asks for Help “Getting Rid of” Her 14-year-old Golden
While we were happily walking Misty on our street in San Francisco one day, a neighbor who knew that we had just adopted her, approached us to ask if we would help a friend of hers who wanted to “get rid of” her 14-year-old Golden Retriever. We couldn’t take her ourselves, we said, but we knew a number of people in the dog-loving world and would try to find her a home.
No New Home, Only Euthanasia
Despite our best efforts, however — asking among friends, contacting the local animal shelter and then the local SPCA and even Golden Retriever rescue — we failed. We were stunned when every one of those organizations told us that they would most likely have to “put her down”; there was no “market” for senior dogs because just about everyone looking for a dog to adopt wanted a puppy or young dog. These organizations could not afford to house old dogs that no one was going to adopt.
Changes in Attitude
Fast-forward to 2021, and much has changed. There are now a number of dog rescue groups dedicated specifically to finding new homes for senior dogs (see Rescue organizations that help senior dogs), and most shelters will now give a chance at adoption to seniors. And, if a shelter is unable to adopt out a senior, they will do their best to find a rescue group that will help find a new home for the dog. We’ve worked hard for these changes — through this website and through our support of agencies and shelters that advocate for senior dogs. Misty taught us that senior dogs deserve to be celebrated and valued, to be protected from discrimination because of their age, and to be given the best health care available. It has been our mission to disseminate that message.
More about Our Mission…..
A “throw-away” society: When we asked the woman who wanted to “get rid of” her 14-year-old Golden Retriever why she felt it was necessary, she explained that it was a matter of convenience. She was moving from her house into an apartment, and she would have to walk the dog rather than simply let her out into the garden as she always had at her house. No, she herself was not old or infirm. No, it was not a question of money. She told us she couldn’t take much time to talk because she was extremely busy packing. Besides, she said, she didn’t think the dog would live much longer anyway and she wanted to “get rid of her” as soon as possible.
Advancing age is a significant disadvantage in the “civilized” and “westernized” nations of the world, whether it appears in a dog or in a person. When the “youth cult” is added to the “throw-away” mentality of our society, the result is that little thought is given to preservation or conservation, and little patience is applied to making possessions or relationships last. If it’s old or broken, obsolete or unattractive, it’s put on the trash heap. When it comes to dogs, we see heart-breaking examples of this mentality, in many cases because people think of a dog as a disposable possession rather than a companion with whom they are in a relationship. And, of course, even if there is a relationship, if it becomes inconvenient, well, then, why not just end it?
Triage at the shelter: If you are a dog lover and visit a shelter, it’s bound to be the older and therefore “less desirable” dogs that break your heart the most. You know that the puppies have a fighting chance of being adopted because they are cute, cuddly and irresistible. You also know that an older dog might not make it, if the shelter runs out of space. The shelter’s reasoning is that since old dogs are the least likely to be adopted, space in the shelter is best used for the younger, more appealing dogs.
Questioning the current state of affairs:Although many shelters are changing their attitudes toward older dogs, there’s a basic assumption that it’s okay to kill the dogs who don’t find homes before space at the shelter runs out. According to statistics published by the Humane Society of the United States in 2017, “Of the 3 million cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year, approximately 2.4 million (80%) are healthy and treatable and could have been adopted into new homes.”
Why is this euthanasia rate okay? Why is it that our taxpayer dollars are spent killing adoptable animals while breeders continue to create more population and an entire, money-making industry exists to bring more companion animals onto a planet already overcrowded with them?
A throw-away society is no place for the loyal and wonderful canine species. But we believe that society can be changed by opportunities to demonstrate compassion. A dog can bring out the best in people; a dog unwanted because of age reaches to the very depths of human kindness and compassion. We believe that the more examples there are of compassion around us — whether toward our outcast dogs or fellow-humans — the better will be humanity’s chances for peaceful survival.
On any given day, in any given shelter, the older dogs there will be hoping to have someone take them to a new home before their time runs out. The good news is that there are some excellent reasons to adopt an older dog.
How We Hope to Fulfill Our Mission…..
Listing of Shelters, Rescue and Placement Agencies, Sanctuaries
The Senior Dogs Project site presents a broad listing of various agencies that help to rehome senior dogs. You can find a dog to adopt through these agencies. See the listings by location page. For specific breeds of dogs, see the Breed Agencies page. For agencies specializing in seniors, see the Senior Agencies and Sanctuaries page.
Senior Dog Health Care Information
Caring for a dog is a major responsibility. From puppyhood through the senior years, both time and effort are required to learn and conscientiously practice the basics of good dog care. In addition, there are continuing advances in veterinary medicine that are making possible the good health of our dogs well into seniorhood. On this site, you’ll find information on general health care and specifically on some conditions and diseases that pertain to senior dogs. Although limited in scope, the information addresses topics about which you’ll want to become informed in order to partner with your veterinarian to best care for your senior dog.