Dog Years, Smog Years

Nicki's smiling face How could anyone refuse this face?

How could anyone refuse this face… those bright eyes and that delightful, toothless grin?

Apparently, many can and do refuse — instead opting for a rowdy puppy over a settled silver fox.

There are tons of websites that provide great arguments for re-homing a senior dog, but so many adopters want the benefit of seeing the puppy grow with their family. It may be especially hard to convince a young child to pick the gray, goofy, toothless dog when visiting the shelters. If you realize, however, that they too deserve to be re-homed just as much as their energetic counterparts, you will appreciate even more the stories that come with a senior dog.

Their stories can include simply outliving their people companions and finding themselves homeless at their stage in life where they need a safe place to call home. Many may find themselves being relinquished to shelters and rescue groups because the medical needs and associated costs with an older animal can be too much. It takes special people to adopt senior animals, but we know they are out there. Nicki is a prime example of finding her way home — again.

Nicki was found in the winter around February or March. She was picked up by Elward Holgate in Tuba City at the local McDonalds. Elward is married to Dr. Carol Holgate of Desert View Clinic.

We met both Nicki and her companions, Sylvia and Willie, this spring during a visit to RAR’s Southwest Program Partners. Sylvia, the director of the Tuba City Humane Society in northern Arizona, recalled the year that Nicki came into their lives…

She said, “The mange Nicki came with kept the Holgate’s from pinpointing what mix she might be… it was so bad she hardly had any hair. Dr. Holgate thought she might be around 13 years old, but it was hard to tell because so many older rescues have such terrible teeth.” Sylvia and Willie had just lost another rescue — Toby, an Akita cross mix — to old age and health issues.

Sunroom with individual dog beds The dogs have a sun room attached to our home and they each have their own bed.

Elward keenly suggested, "Why don't you take Nicki back with you?" He knew that no one would likely adopt a dog as old as Nicki. Sylvia thought, “I think Toby would want us to rescue another dog in his place.” Sylvia hadn’t seen Nicki for a while since her original rescue at McDonalds.

“I was shocked to see how much hair she had. Plus she looked like an Aussie cross,” she said. Sylvia described Nicki as, “a total goof — a smiler who loves to run and play and has no health issues.”

They had five other dogs in their “pack” and Nicki got along great with them. They thought that Nicki might be only 12, but because she was so active it was hard to tell except for her gray muzzle. Sylvia went on to say, “She fits in with all the other dogs and is a part of the family. The dogs have a sun room attached to our home and they each have their own bed of featherbeds or down quilts on top of crib mattresses. With so many dogs, we free feed so there are no issues with food. [I] can't imagine Nicki not being here with her goofy smile.”

The benefits of adopting an older dog include that they are wiser and more mature. With this maturity you get a dog that knows the difference between a pair of brand new shoes and a chew toy… Maturity means they typically know where and when to go to the bathroom. Maturity is appreciating the finer things in life — like a good nap in the middle of the day, knowing the value of silence, and being grateful for the time you have together.

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