A Word About Senior Pets

by Houndstooth on

In case you didn’t know, August is Adopt A Senior Dog Month.  I know that most Greyhound people know that May is Adopt A Senior Greyhound Month, but August is a month for all breeds of dog.  When I realized this, it got me thinking about a few things.

We recently adopted Flattery and she’s a very young Greyhound.  She’s the sixth Greyhound to enter our lives and we were very conscious about a lot of things when we chose her.  We met a couple of other Greyhounds that we really liked, one especially named Lorelei, but we chose not to adopt those dogs, partly because it would put them at the almost exact same age as Bunny.  I didn’t consider them too old, as matter of fact, they all seemed to have a lot of puppy still left in them without being just too much.

Lilac in the Sunshine -- Tales And Tails

Lilac in the Sunshine

The reason we didn’t choose them was because we realize that in a few years, Bunny will be a senior dog.  It’s not something that I want to think about and I’d like to deny it forever, but I know that isn’t possible.  What I do know is that when she’s a senior dog, I want to be able to take care of her as well as I possibly can, and having two senior dogs at one time can be an expensive venture.

We have adopted a senior dog before, and our experience was fantastic.  Lilac turned out to be so much more than we could have dreamed.  I thought she’d live a quiet life with us for a few years, but she ended up liking it here so much that she stuck around for more than half her life.  She was seven and a half when we adopted her, and she was over sixteen when she passed away.

A Moment With Lilac

A Moment With Lilac

Lilac brought so many things to our lives that we never expected.  She played with her toys, especially her Mother Bunny bunny until she was about fifteen, and got a bit unsteady on her feet.  I think she was in danger of knocking herself over when she shook the toys.  I didn’t expect her to be so playful as an older dog, but we enjoyed watching her.  She even played more than Blueberry, who was the resident baby dog at the time.

She also taught us a lot about aging.  Lilac had a certain dignity about her that it’s hard for me to entirely describe.  She absolutely was not interested in being helped in any way shape or form.  As she got older, she was unsteady on her back feet and we tried to help her up and down the back steps.  She would have none of it, and if we weren’t quick enough, she would try to just jump off the top step to avoid carefully walking down the five steps in the back hallway.  Standing in the kitchen was difficult, but she refused to eat on her bed, so we would stand in the kitchen and hold her butt up so she could eat where everyone else ate.

Lilac and her Mother Bunny Bunny

Lilac and her Mother Bunny Bunny

We learned a lot about making life easier for senior dogs with Lilac and Blueberry both.  Heated dog beds and fans helped us to make them a lot more comfortable as they aged.  Giving them glucosamine helped to keep them moving comfortably for a long time.  We also learned about the magic of shaky cheese to help get them interested in eating.  I also learned that I had reserves of patience that I didn’t know existed.

If anyone asked me if I would adopt a senior dog again, the answer is a definite yes, as long as the time was right for us.  One group that I have a lot of respect for is the GPA Senior Sanctuary in Florida, dedicated to helping senior hounds find new homes, whether their family members have passed away or they can no longer take care of them.  They have a true passion for helping senior Greyhounds which I really respect.  They can always use donations, too, if you feel so inclined.

Long Suffering Lilac -- Tales and Tails

Long Suffering Lilac

The truth is, you never know when you adopt a dog how long you’ll have together.  You could get a puppy who only lives a few months or a dog who lives to very old age.  What you will get back from that dog is more than I can tell you with words.  There is something incredibly sweet about older dogs and it’s something I hope that everyone gets to enjoy and experience.  Yes, sometimes it can be hard, but I have found that the experience is more positive than anything else.

Lilac Takes the Cake

Lilac Takes the Cake

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24 Responses to "A Word About Senior Pets"
  1. Jen says:

    What a lovely post. I’d been thinking about Lilac lately, I’m not really sure why. I guess I miss the lady too, and she didn’t even live with me!

  2. Sue Dyer says:

    What a lovely post. Really enjoyed seeing photos of Lilac.

    I would love someday to have a young Greyhound, but here they seem very few. Most dogs around here are 5 upwards.

    My two Greys have been 6 and 5.

    My dad has adopted two oldies in the past few years. Maggie (a Staffy) was already 9 and showing signs of Arthritis in her legs. She had nearly two and a half years of a wonderful life with my dad, before cancer took her. Albe, his present dog (Staffy cross?) was 9 when dad got him almost two months ago. He certainly isn’t showing his age:)

  3. Jay of The Depp Effect says:

    I’m with you all the way on this one. Adopting a senior is magical. You have to know you can cope, both financially and with the level of care they often need, but I love seniors. There is something so sweet and funny and dignified about them, even when they are clumsy or mentally challenged (like my Jeffie, bless him). And I love those old grey faces that look at you with such love – even when they can’t actually see you anymore.

    There’s another reason for not adopting a dog of more or less the same age, too. It’s no guarantee, of course, but I never want to be put in the position of losing two dogs within weeks of each other and leaving my house empty of dogs. That was a truly horrible experience.

    That first picture of Lilac is just soooo gorgeous!!!

  4. Sara Blair says:

    Senior dogs are amazing!

    There is a senior sheltie up for adoption, and I was really tempted when I read about him. But, I’m not sure it would be good for Oreo, so some other lucky person will get to bring him home instead.

  5. harrispen says:

    We considered a couple of senior dogs when we were looking, but since we had just come off a long struggle with Nina we decided youth would be the way this time.

  6. Emma says:

    Anytime you adopt a pet you might be in for major expenses and time commitments because they can get very ill or injured at any age but a senior pet is more likely to need special care and attention. Mom’ first dog passed away at ten from cancer but it was very quick. Katie is now eleven, Mom’s first real senior dog and we are all learning to cope with all the small issues and changes that pop up. It is working well, but you need to be prepared to make adjustments to many things. Seniors are wonderful, thankful beings but it is important to make sure you are up to the challenge and possible expenses.

  7. Two French Bulldogs says:

    We love adopt a senior month and think it is very important
    Benny & Lily

  8. Roxy says:

    Senior dogs are awesome in so many ways. I got Roxy as a pup, and now she is almost 9. She is showing her age in small ways and i have to be careful of what she can and can’t do now. Bringing Torrey into the family has been good for her and helped her think younger I think.

  9. Kari Neumeyer says:

    Such a beautiful girl! All your dogs have great names, too!

  10. All Things Collie says:

    I agree, seniors are so special and bring so much love into their families’ lives!

  11. CorbinM says:

    Lilac was one of our favorite blog friends! She always appeared so wonderfully elegant. We wish more people were open to adopting a senior pet, or even just an adult dog. So many people concentrate on puppies and it drives the momma crazy. We love this post!

  12. Yes, senior dogs rock. I adopted my 9 year old when she almost 7. She’s the best dog! She’s in much better shape than when she first came to me. Here’s to hoping she will live many more wonderful years with me. Thanks for such a great blog today 🙂

  13. Jodi says:

    Both of our dogs are considered Seniors but IMO they don’t act the part and I’m quite fine with that. But you are right, Senior Dogs are special.

  14. SlimDoggy says:

    What a nice story about Lilac and what you learned from her. Seniors are work, but they are full of rewards too.

  15. Jackie Bouchard says:

    Sweet post and great pics. I miss our senior girl. It’s so right, what you say about not know how much time you’ll have with any dog. We adopted our last pup at 4 months, and she only lived to be 2 1/2 as she had bone cancer. She had cancer for more than 1/2 her time with us. She was an awesome dog and we learned a lot from her. But I look forward to our current pup, Rita, some day being a senior. Fingers crossed she’ll make it there!

  16. This is a beautiful post about our senior dogs!! It is so hard to let go…although we all know that eventually that time will come. Beautiful pictures too! xo Jeanne, Chloe and LadyBug

  17. Sue Muir says:

    I remember when you bought the cart ‘thingy’ for Lilac and she jumped out of it and hurt herself! She was such a wonderful character. The way things are going I doubt I’ll be able to have another GH until Beryl or Frankie goes. It’s taken Beryl 2 weeks and 2 days since Flash arrived before she’d venture off my bed for more than food or walks. She’s over foster dogs! I’ve missed her, lol. But I’d be quite happy to adopt an older GH. I’ve had quite a lot of dogs who lived into their teens and they are wonderful despite the extra care and work 🙂

  18. You said it beautifully. We have one experience, adopting 10 yr old S, that helped us learn how amazing it is to adopt a senior. Your Lilac is another wonderful example.

  19. Words With Wieners says:

    What a beautiful post about seniors in general, and Lilac in particular. What an absolutely beautiful girl she was, and I can tell she had a very special personality. She was before my time reading here, so I’m sure I missed many stories about her. Such a blessing that you had her much longer than you expected, although I know it makes the letting go all the more difficult.
    We are seriously trying to decide between adopting another right now (would be a senior or very close to) or fostering. Very hard. My heart leans toward both equally. I know the compromise would be fostering a senior, but we won’t do that. If we take a senior, we will be keeping him/her – I’m not putting a senior through any more upsets than necessary.
    I don’t blame you for adopting young Flattery instead of an older dog. That was very wise of you to think about Bunny being senior in a few years, and how tough it would be to have two seniors in the house.

  20. Lori - What Remains Now says:

    So wonderful to hear and think about the lovely Lilac. I never met Lilac, sadly, but she sure meant an awful lot to me. Her antics never failed to make me laugh outloud, and she was a huge reminder to me that life isn’t over until it’s over. Love you, Lilac!

  21. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets says:

    I agree that the experience of having seniors is mostly positive. They are just so sweet and easy. We never intended to end up with 3 seniors at the same time, but they are far enough apart in age and size that I hope we won’t get hit with a lot of medical costs at the same time. Not to mention the sorrow when we lose them. I would also definitely consider adopting a senior dog. We’ve done the puppy thing enough that I’m not really sure I want to do that again!

  22. genjiscorner says:

    Great to see Lilac on the blog again. We did the same thing you did. Adopt a young black girl. And during adopt a senior month too. We loved adopting Beth, even though we only got to spend a year with her. We didn’t plan very well, and we have a house full of geriatric dogs.

  23. BarbaraZabadu says:

    I miss Lilac. I miss Blueberry. I miss my Buddy. With all the articles out there on what you’re supposed to feed your dogs to get them to a ripe old age, I’ve always felt awful that I couldn’t afford all the different concoctions. But when I look back, I’ve never had a dog “die young”. All of my dogs have lived past 12, and Buddy was 15 when he finally sprouted wings. All of my dogs have been considered “plump” according to standard and all have died peacefully – most on their own, and a few with “help”, but none less than 13 years old. So I must be doing something right. And I say “hear hear” to those calling for adoption of the old ones. There’s something about a “non-puppy” that is so incredibly endearing. While they have few of the puppy traits, they have their own old ways that are more wonderful. They may be creaky, but they show you love in so many ways. My 9 year old Trixie is cranky, dislikes the younger ones and follows me around until I want to scream, but in many ways is exactly like me, and has all the traits of me that I like about myself, and all the traits I wish I could fix about myself. So do it. Adopt the older one. You won’t regret it.

  24. Linda Miller says:

    You’re so lovely for looking after these hounds, and posting about them. I long for “replacements” of those that I had for so long (and nowhere near long enough). Both of my seniors came with lameness of leg, but great hearts of gold. Next time I want a young one that’s 100% fit. Soon!

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