Senior Dogs Bring Love and Gratitude to Their New Homes

Thinking of adopting a senior dog? These inspiring stories will help you decide.

Happily snuggled up in soft blankets on a cozy bed, it’s easy to believe Diamond has always lived in the lap of luxury. Her mom, Jenn Waters of New York, joked that the 12-year-old Pit Bull thinks she’s entitled to the finer things in life. But it wasn’t always this way.

In December 2014, Diamond was picked up as a stray and taken to a high-kill shelter in New York City. Sick, skinny, full of worms, suffering from mange, and a Pit Bull, her odds weren’t good. That is until her picture was posted by The Mr. Mo Project, a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing senior dogs.

Jenn stumbled across the photo on Facebook, messaged the organization, and offered to provide a foster home for the Pit Bull. A year later, it seems “Queen Diamond” isn’t going anywhere. “She had some interest from potential adopters, but for some reason, I never thought they were quite good enough,” Jenn said, laughing. Diamond is a “foster failure” and now home forever.

Jenn has fostered 45 dogs to date, but it wasn’t until she met Diamond that she realized how hard it is to adopt out older pets. Senior pets are the most difficult group to find homes for, according to a recent survey by Petfinder, an online database of adoptable pets. People who pass over golden oldies for younger pets are missing out.

“Diamond would have been perfect for just about any family,” Jenn said. “She’s cuddly, loves people, loves other dogs, and enjoys a good butt scratch. She opened up a whole new world to me and made me realize that age really is just a number.”

one big happy family: corbin (left), amelia (middle), and diamond.
One big happy family: Corbin (from left), Amelia, and Diamond. (Photo courtesy Jenn Waters)

Love and devotion

When Carroll Fanning of Colorado saw a video of Maddie, a 10-year-old Mastiff, she fell in love. “Her foster mom was taking her for a walk, and Maddie was literally bouncing with happiness,” she said. “It was hard to believe this was a senior dog.”

Although Carroll knew 10 was ancient for a giant breed, she made arrangements with Big Dogs Huge Paws Rescue to bring her home. It only took a couple of days for the gentle, loving pup to become part of the family.

Happily, Maddie spent the next 15 months of her life loved, cherished, and doted upon. Some might not adopt a senior because they might have a short time with them, but Carroll wouldn’t trade those 15 months for anything.

“There’s something so special about a senior dog,” she said. “They truly know how lucky they are, and, well, they’re easy! They don’t need 15 walks a day. The only thing they really want is to be with you. You’re their entire world, and because of that, there’s this whole other level of love and devotion.”

Time well spent

Stephanie Rotunda of Colorado brought home her father’s dog, Bear, shortly after her dad passed away. The Rotunda household is active and busy, and the 13-year-old Labrador Retriever gave her a chance to slow down and appreciate the little things.

“Bear was the first senior dog I ever cared for,” Stephanie said. “Because he was older and had limited time, I spent a lot of quality time with him. I laid in the yard with him where he loved to lie. I spoiled him with my time, attention, and treats.”

Stephanie’s 11-year-old son, Jett, also kept Bear happy by playing fetch with him. The game, Jett said, made Bear’s “tail wag and brown eyes light up.” There’s no doubt that the time the two spent together was good for both.

As these families discovered, senior pets have a lifetime of love, devotion, and joy to offer each and every one of us. So the next time you’re thinking about adopting a pet, take a closer look at those sweet seniors!

Senior Boxer by Shutterstock.
Senior Boxer by Shutterstock.

Tips for adopting a senior pet

The Mr. Mo Project is a labor of love for Mariesa and Chris Hughes. Founded in 2014, it is devoted entirely to rescuing senior shelter dogs. It’s their way of preserving the legacy of Moses, their beloved senior Pit Bull. “We only had him for 20 months,” Mariesa said. “But he rounded out our family.”

If you’re thinking of rounding out your family with a senior, Mariesa and Chris offered these tips:

  • Ask about personality.
  • Ask about health and special needs.
  • Consider your budget. Vets usually recommend twice-yearly visits as pets age.
  • Be patient. Some seniors fit in right away; others need time to adjust.
  • Be prepared. You might not have a lot of time with your senior pet. But, Chris said, “Remember that even if it’s not a long life, it’s a life that deserves to be lived.”
  • Not quite ready to adopt? Become a foster parent. Many organiza- tions like Mr. Mo will take care of all the vet bills if you provide the love!

Top photo: Woman kissing dog by Shutterstock.

Kristen Levine

Kristen Levine is a pet living expert, author, speaker, and founder of Kristen Levine Pet Living blog. She lives in Florida with her husband, dog, two cats, and two miniature donkeys.

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