Senior dogs deserve second chances

October 7, 2018

Since 1981, the organization known as American Humane has celebrated October as Adopt-a-Dog Month.

I always like to remind readers that every day is a good day to adopt a dog, but the October designation is a great effort to remind potential adopters about the estimated three to four million animals waiting in shelters with hopes of finding their forever homes.

Of those dogs residing in shelters, many of them are senior dogs over the age of seven. As their owners become elderly and face a whole host of medical, emotional and financial issues, the canine companion is often relegated to relinquishment at an animal shelter.

Then, once in the kennel at the shelter, the frightened creature may cower in a corner or shake or tremble and not “show” well to potential adopters. The fact of the matter is that many wonderful, loving dogs are overlooked on first glance and never given a chance.

According to American Humane, there are many reasons to consider adopting a senior dog and find the friend of a lifetime. Some of those reasons include:

They tend to be less rambunctious than younger dogs.They’re a great fit for people with busy lifestyles.They’re so grateful for a second chance.They love you unconditionally.Did we mention that they’re often already house-trained?

The Beatrice Animal Shelter gets a number of senior dogs that end up at the facility for a variety of reasons. One recent incident is a good example of how a seemingly hopeless situation can have a very happy ending.

A Happy tale/tail

Gage County residents Rayma and Andrew Volkmer are the proud owners of Minnie, a beautiful “Chiweenie” – a Dachshund/Chihuahua blend - they acquired as a puppy. Life was good for Minnie. She was loved and spoiled and ran the show at the Volkmer household. She was not, however, a very social dog.

The Volkmers considered adding another dog to their family. Then one day, fate intervened. A coworker told Andrew about an approximately 10-year-old black and brown mini-Dachshund he had seen at the Beatrice Animal Shelter. Rayma Volkmer and Minnie went to the shelter to meet him, and, as Rayma admits, “It was not love at first sight.

“The poor little guy looked old and scared and trembled when I held him. And worst of all, he smelled awful because of his infected mouth,” Rayma Volkmer said.

The dog’s few remaining teeth were needing attention as were his decaying gums.

“As I held him and he looked at me with his sad, pleading eyes, I started to think that maybe we could make this work after all,” she said.

The Volkmers filled out the application papers and took little Butters - as they named him - home, knowing he was going to need special medical attention. At his vet visit, the Volkmers were told that he had the worst case of periodontal disease that the vet had ever seen. Even his jaw bone had started to deteriorate. Butters was put on antibiotics and had his remaining teeth pulled. The rest is history.

Today, only two-plus weeks later, the once sad, old, sick dog has a new life. He loves to go for walks at his new farm home, he rolls in the grass, loves to lie in the sunshine, chases the chickens, and he has even brought out the playful side in young Minnie. And the smell of dental infection is all gone. He is revitalized and loving his new world.

Second chances

When it comes to adopting a senior dog, Rayma Volkmer has some advice for potential adopters.

“People need to spend time with the animal and remember that even though the dog or cat may have only months or a few years left, they really do have so much love to offer,” she said. “Don’t judge the animal by the marks of old age on the outside...Look for the soul and spirit on the inside. It is truly fulfilling to be a part of the dog’s rejuvenation.”

Butters has inspired the Volkmers to take in another senior dog, and they are currently working with shelter staff to adopt a 12-year-old dapple Dachshund that was recently relinquished.

The Volkmers’ story of compassion is a testimonial for the idea that senior pets are a joy and a blessing to the humans who give them a second chance at a good life. American Humane reminds us that “adopting a senior can even be more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. In fact, it’s likely to go down in history as one of the best things you’ve ever done.”

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