After fostering dogs for five years my husband and I have welcomed three of them (at various times) to be part of our forever pack. One thing that I learned with our second adoption was that sometimes people actually equate the value of a dog (or cat) with the number of years they MAY have left to live. To hear someone say “$150 to adopt a ‘rescue’, the dog is eight years old,” then look at the dog they are talking about. Sad. So what? Look in the dogs eyes…does she seem less lovable because she’s old? NO. Don’t kids value their grandparents more as THEY age…interesting irony here! However, I do understand that humans and pets aren’t the same (to some).
As my own pack ages, we have twin eight year old beagles and two unrelated rescue beagles that are over 10, I don’t think, “Gee furballs, I don’t love you quite as much now that you’re older?” Good grief. Granted when you are adopting a companion for another dog it may be very prudent to get one closer in age and of course temperament.
We adopted a nine year old pitbull into our pack, that’s right, a double whammy she was old AND she was a pitbull! Dolly was the calm my rowdy beagle boys needed and a great friend to us. After taking her to several adoption events and people sort of snarking at her, my husband and I just thought this dog just needs a place to ride out her years, a place to either feel love again or for the FIRST time. She loves us, we love her, and never looked back.
She came pretty healthy, a 7-8 year old. Our rescue group vaccinated and fixed her (this old gal had a litter of puppies several months before she came to us–poor thing–and then ended up being found as a stray and in a shelter for about 2 months before she came to our rescue group). About eight months after we adopted her she developed a lump in one breast, we had it removed and didn’t bother testing for cancer, as treatment for cancer at her age would’ve reduced her quality of life significantly.
About 3 months before her time… Dolly started having seizures, actually she probably was having small ones we weren’t noticing according to the vet — when she started having full body seizures we definitely noticed. The vet gave us an emergency medication in case she had another and otherwise she was healthy, she did markedly begin to decline mentally after the “big ones”…she would be disoriented easily, and began to look as though she just didn’t feel well or care to go outside to potty. The rest of the pack seemed to notice as well that Dolly was slowing down.
After only about a year and a half with us, Dolly’s time came and we had to lay her to rest. When I look back though I still feel like we were able to squeeze in a lifetime of love for her and from her in the little time we had with her. We don’t feel like we got ‘jipped’ or that it wasn’t worth the minor cost to remove her lump (which didn’t return).
Sometimes an elderly dog does come with a little more health related baggage…sometimes they don’t, but in the scheme of things it doesn’t reduce their ‘doggy value,’ at least to me.
Now when someone says “that dog is old” about a dog looking for a new home I am sure to try to share with them, “it’s not the number of years but the life and love in the dog.”