Loving a senior dog like our sweet Arthur

Arthur is a handsome, 7-year old retriever-cross with four white socks and a gray muzzle. He was found wandering on the road, dumped by his owner—confused, scared, half-starved, hair falling out. Just like he did the day he was found, he perks up whenever a car drives by or pulls into the Aiken County Animal Shelter, a look of hope on his face. Is this my human, coming back to get me?

Dear, loyal Arthur. Sorry, buddy—that human is not coming back to get you.

It breaks our heart. Arthur is gentle, completely housebroken, with lots of pep in his step. He’s great with kids. Cats? No problem. Plus, he still loves a ride in the car.

Arthur desperately needs a home, a family to love. He’s been at the Shelter too long—you can see it in his eyes. He’s become depressed.

My heart breaks for senior animals who end up in a shelter. They spend their entire life in a home, with a family—safe, warm, and secure. Then one day they end up in a shelter, scared and bewildered, through no fault of their own.

Typically, the animal was a cherished companion to an elderly person who died or had to move to an assisted living facility that wouldn’t allow pets, and no friends or family were able to provide a home.

Sometimes the family falls upon hard times, or has to move, and the pet can’t go with them. Or a couple divorces, and no one wants the pet. But many times, like Arthur, senior pets are just dumped on the side of the road by heartless owners, left to fend for themselves. No food. No warm, safe place. They have become an inconvenience to the family they loved, something to be discarded without second thought.

Senior dogs have a hard time adjusting to shelter life, no matter how great the shelter is—the noise, the collective anxiety of the other animals, limited human contact. The dog gets depressed, which reduces their “kennel” appeal even more. Potential adopters walk by in search of younger, cuter, more energetic prospects.

I beg you, don’t do it! Don’t walk by that senior dog or cat.

Senior pets make great companions. They are mature and calm. They don’t make mistakes on your rug. They are way past the “teething” stage. They don’t need a lot of exercise; they are happy to hang out with you on the couch and binge-watch all eight seasons of Breaking Bad. They are grateful for a second chance.

All it takes is a little patience and kindness.

Arthur will make someone a loyal, affectionate companion for years to come. He’s shy and a little fearful of other dogs, most likely a byproduct of a harsh past, so he would be better off in a home with another gentle, calm dog or as the “only dog” in the family.

Will that someone be you? Please don’t hesitate. Come to the Shelter tomorrow and take Arthur home … please.

By the way, here’s more good news: Arthur’s adoption fee has been sponsored, which means that taking home this delightful dog won’t cost you a thing but the gas to drive to the Shelter.

 Their lives are in our hands.

By Joanna D. Samson, Vice President