Senior dogs and cats – how lovely and endearing they are. I adopted a German shepherd mix, Scarlett, who was 11 years old at the time. I chose her because I thought no one else would take her home and my heart just aches to see senior animals without a forever family. Abandoned when they most need us, it seems a cruel and unnecessary fate to give up older animals in their twilight years and fading health. By then they are quite the mellow friends to have along life’s journey. Scarlett was absolutely well-behaved and no trouble at all. I really couldn’t believe she had been surrendered. I always wondered what her life story was and how she ended up in a shelter.
This desire to bring home an aged dog came about because of my two prior sister black Labradors, Ali and Brownie, rescued from the streets of San Francisco in 1989. I saved them when they were puppies and they lived to 15 and 16 years old. Caring for them into old age made me realize that when love is your motivation for bringing animals into your home, aging with them and caring for them really isn’t difficult. Each new challenge is faced together because of the bond established years prior. Love, compassion and caring makes all of us perform super wonderful acts of kindness and this is no different. What I realized about Scarlett, who had been in at least two previous homes, was that she truly seemed grateful and relieved. She was given regular and proper veterinary care, I had beds for her in different areas of the house, she had sparkling clean water bowls in various areas too, so that her arthritic joints didn’t have to walk too far and lots of short walks around my neighborhood with my horse. She was such a pleasure and good company. She was great with her feline friends in the house as well.
Scarlett lived just three short years with us and passed away at age 14. To this day I think of her with such an ache – she was so nice, so pleasant, so charming that in just a brief span of time she left a huge paw print on my heart. I am the one who is grateful for having her in my life. She gave me more than I could ever give her – appreciation, love, companionship and loyalty.
Consider adopting a senior friend. Not only will you not regret it but to provide a home for a dog or cat who has limited years left is truly a gift of absolute love and kindness. Your purpose in life doesn’t have to be splashed across TV or be well-known. You know what you have done and that is the only person who should matter. Opening your heart and home is what makes our world a sweeter place and solidifies your reason for being here. Thank you to all of you who set aside space in your life to adopt animals – you are the real heroes.
Elizabeth is Interim Executive Director at the SPCA of Northern Nevada and is the honored guardian to two SPCA dogs, four rescue cats and one horse.