Since April is Adopt A Greyhound Month and May is Adopt A Senior Month, I felt that this was a good time to share a few words about our experiences with senior Greyhounds. Many Greyhound adoption groups offer discounts on senior Greyhounds in May and there are also some businesses that offer special gifts to seniors adopted in May. Not that I think you should wait until May to adopt a senior hound, but if you’ve been considering it, May is a good time to jump on the bandwagon and go for it.
When we adopted our first Greyhound, I had no idea what kind of ride we’d be in for. I was a member of several online Greyhound communities and I loved the stories people shared about their senior hounds. Treat was a diva through and through and I knew she was going to be a spectacular old lady dog. As she entered her early senior years, it never occurred to her that she was getting older and even with a much younger Blueberry in the house, Treat was the one who always wanted to be on the go and doing something. She was a certified therapy dog and READ dog and on some occasions she had to come to school with me and spend the whole day there before the after school reading program. When she was ten years old, she developed a spinal tumor that took her life in just five weeks. I never really did get to enjoy her as a senior dog.
Of course, Lilac made up for that. We began fostering Lilac when Treat and our other Greyhound at the time, Hawk, were about five years old. Lilac was seven and a half, but she never got the memo she was old, either. (Unless she wanted something badly, in which case she’d drag out the “I’m old, I might not see tomorrow” card.) I was supposed to foster her daughter, Blueberry (long time readers know how that worked out), but someone else was interested in adopting her. I was happy to switch and I said “I’ll take that old lady dog! She’s waited long enough for a soft place to lay down. She can come to my house.” When I opened the kennel door to get her out, she wrapped her head around my neck and gave me a squeeze. Everybody there said she’d never leave my house. I scoffed and said “She’s foster number eighteen!” It turns out that everybody else was right.
Months went by and there were no inquiries about Lilac. She was making herself very comfortable at our house, though, including that infamous Easter Candy Heist. In May, which happens to be the month of my birthday, Mr. Taleteller generously told me that if I wanted to adopt her for my birthday, then I could pay the reduced adoption fee and keep her. I figured that she’d have a few good years to enjoy being a pet before she passed away, and I wanted them to be comfortable and happy.
What an innocent, starry-eyed adopter I was. Lilac decided that retirement suited her and she had a lot of living to do. She lived more than half her life here with us as a sassy, opinionated pet before passing away about a month past her sixteenth birthday. If you’re a long time reader of the blog, you know that she was a larger than life character. She kept us on our toes for over eight years. I learned more things than I can tell you in one blog post about what I learned from her about aging gracefully, loving fully and saying exactly what’s on your mind. When we had to let her go, it was doubly hard because while I was reeling from the loss, I also felt that I had let everyone who read the blog down. The truth is, dogs still can’t live forever, and looking back, it was irrational, but it was truly how I felt at the time.
That pain I felt when we lost her, though, was still nothing compared to all the joy we and laughter we had while she shared her life with us. I would never have given that up to have avoided the pain of her loss. She made me a better person in more ways than even I know. There is something intrinsically sweet about senior dogs. They spend a little longer sniffing the flowers on a walk, even if you’re in a hurry. They appreciate a good cuddle and will not hesitate to demand it from you, in the sweetest way possible. There’s no better compliment on a meal well-served than a senior belch in the face to let you know it was oh, so good. They take life at a slightly slower pace, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t savor every minute of it. Whether its a dog who has been a brood or stud dog and is finally retiring to the good life or a dog who was in a home and has been returned for some reason, senior dogs seem to appreciate it on a level that their younger counterparts don’t understand yet. To this day, Lilac is still the only dog we’ve had who would hug us with her head around our necks, and she did it often.
If you have been thinking about possibly adopting a senior Greyhound, today I’m telling you to go for it. Its true, they might not live as long as a younger dog, but there are no guarantees that a young dog will live a long time, either. I’ve read enough stories of heartbreak over Greyhounds who died young for various reasons to know that there are no guarantees in life, and my own life experience has taught me that, too. What I do know is that if you adopt an older Greyhound, you will get back more than your money’s worth for whatever time you have together.