A Few Words About Senior Greyhounds

by Houndstooth on

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.

Long Suffering Lilac -- Tales and Tails

Long Suffering Lilac

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.

Treat Reads -- Tales and Tails

Treat Reads

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.

A Moment With Lilac

A Moment With Lilac

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.

Lilac, Regal at the Temple -- Tales and Tails

Lilac, Regal at the Temple

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.

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  • Great post. To win the love and trust of a senior dog, well any dog I guess is the greatest compliment we can pay you hoomans. She made you a better person in more ways than you even know……..and I bet she really did.

  • Sue Dyer

    What a fab post. I remember Lilac and Blueberry with a smile. Can you imagine what Lilac and Blueberry are up to at the Bridge? 🙂 LOL

  • Sue Muir

    I’m looking forward to Beryl getting old. I think she’s going to be more of a Lilac than a Blueberry, lol. If I’m lucky enough to have another Greyhound or 2 I’m going to hang out for a needy older one (or 2) rather than a needy young one. Great memories of your lovely girls.

  • dragontearz

    I still frequently think about Guinness who got even sweeter the older he got, and wish Obie hadn’t left us so soon without being a senior..we’re currently enjoying having Loki here and enjoying every day with him because you never know.

  • Reilly & Denny Cowspotdogs

    I have been lucky enough to have my dogs all live to ripe old ages – my last sheltie was 18 years old, she enjoyed her walk on the beach like we did every day, had a cuddly day, ate her normal dinner and then curled up for the night and just passed away in her sleep. She lived every moment of her life right up to the last and was loved more then words can say.

  • Jen

    Your stories about Lilac are what drew me in to reading your blog in the first place! You’ve given me a great outlook on what “senior dog” could mean for somebody.

  • I’m very glad to hear about the previous greyhounds, and their personalities! Good job! I had 2 dogs live to 14, and the next one passed away during a nap at age 9. In 2012, Val had Osteo and was euthanized at 11 1/2 ( I began the blog just after that). Fleur is 11, and Power is 2 +11 mo. I hope I do as good a job with my babes as you and Mr Taleteller do!

  • Amy Boyer

    I wasn’t a reader during Lilac’s reign. It sounds like I missed a lot of great stories!

  • Yes I Know My Dogs Look Funny

    I know so many people who though they’d give a senior dog “a good year or two” in a forever home and ended up spending many years with them. I was robbed of my chance to see Girly Girl as a grande dame but at 10 going on 11, I hope to finally get my chance at dotage with Blue.

  • Two French Bulldogs

    You saw so many beautiful greyhounds at our pet expo. Many were adopted out
    Lily & Edward

  • Beautifully stated, and it is wonderful to see photos of Lilac again! Sweet ol’ gal! ♥

  • ShineJake

    You’ve certainly given us a lot to think about concerning this topic, and it’s always touching to read how you reminisce about those sweet dogs and how different they all were, especially Lilac, the royal lady!

  • genjiscorner

    We hadn’t planned on it, but we adopted Beth at 13, and gave her the best year of her life. We hadn’t planned on adopting Jenny recently either, but at 11, we hope she’s got a few good years left with us. Seems we keep accidentally adopting senior dogs 🙂 And have never regretted it.

  • M. K. Clinton

    What a beautiful tribute to the joys of adopting a senior dog. Now my eyes are all teared up!

  • Sara Blair

    I do think about adopting a senior pet…mostly because I have young dogs, and miss that ‘senior’ sweetness. They sure are special.

  • Ryker From Alaska

    Although I see the occasional GH up here in Alaska I would not feel right about it…the weather is just to cold.

  • Emma

    There are no guarantees on age. Some of us dogs pass on before we are a year old, some live to be eighteen. It is always a gamble, but if you have love, that is all you need no matter how long the time is the love makes it worthwhile.

  • Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    Very well said. There is just something so special about senior dogs.

  • I think as I get older, I’d rather have a senior dog. lol I don’t know that I could keep up with a puppy anymore!

  • Flea

    Thank you so much for sharing your babies with all of us. I wish I’d known Lilac. She sounds like a wonderful family member.

  • Jodi

    That was a lovely post, she sounds like a real charmer.