Old dogs, like old people, make great companions

By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be . . .”
Robert Browning

It happens all the time.

Someone surrenders a senior dog to the Aiken County Animal Shelter, or worse, someone dumps their old dog far from home and Animal Control finds him wandering aimlessly around the County, hungry and disoriented. They arrive at the Shelter bewildered and scared. Who can blame them?

They have spent their lives with a family, who they loved, protected, and comforted. Perhaps they walked and hiked with their beloved humans, or maybe they just hung out on the couch and watched TV. Sure, as the years progressed, they slowed down, got gray around the muzzle, maybe had trouble jumping in and out of the car, but their blind devotion to their humans never wavered. They never suspected they had become inconvenient.

Then one day, through no fault of their own, they end up in a strange place with strangers. Shelter life can be exceptionally stressful for an older dog—they know what it’s like to have a home, and it looks nothing like their stainless steel kennel at the Shelter. They get discouraged when potential adopters walk by their cages without a glance looking for cute puppies and handsome young energetic dogs. It is heartbreaking to watch the hope fade from their eyes.

Senior dogs need a strong advocate, and that’s when FOTAS volunteers and the network of FOTAS friends and supporters rise to the challenge. Take Chatez, a 13-year-old lab mix who was surrendered to the Shelter because his owners no longer wanted him. Chatez was depressed and timid, so FOTAS volunteers and Shelter staff gave him lots of extra attention to help him adapt. FOTAS posted his plight on social media, and FOTAS friend and supporter extraordinaire, Martha Anne Tudor, reposted on her Facebook page. His plea was shared more than 1,000 times coast to coast and across the pond to England. Kindness prevailed: the Huffman family came to his rescue. Today Chatez is resting peacefully in the sun on a pontoon boat.

Then there’s Elmer, an eight-year-old black chow mix that was dumped by his owners and picked up by Animal Control. His black coat was matted and dirty. He was covered with fleas and heartworm positive. He was hungry.

Elmer was eager and willing to please. Dr. Levy, the Shelter vet, attended to his medical needs. FOTAS volunteers bathed him with special soap and fussed over him, but his overall appearance and tragically-matted coat needed special attention. At FOTAS’ request, Carla Beatty from the Hair of the Dog gave Elmer a proper grooming for no charge. The next day, the sleek, handsome Elmer was adopted by Barbara Snider of Windsor and whisked off to their farm to begin his new life.

So when the time comes to open your home and your heart to a new canine friend, why not consider one of our senior citizens, like the exceptionally sweet, three-legged Pet of the Week, Pete (photo below)? Pete won’t make a mistake on your rug, chew up your slippers, or require a lot of exercise.

Your love and a warm place to sleep is all he needs.

Their lives are in our hands.

Chatez & Renee and Glenn Huffman, ready to go home
Chatez & Renee and Glenn Huffman, ready to go home