October is Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month and I've invited some of my fellow "ChicagoNow" bloggers to share their adoption stories. Today, Erin Vandenberg of Eri-Thon let's us know why adopting a senior dog is amazing.
By Erin Vandenberg
My husband and I have been married 11 years. In that time, we’ve rescued four dogs.
No, we don’t have a dog zoo. No, we don’t have a revolving doggie door. We currently have one dog. But, this is our first puppy. Our previous dogs? They were what the shelters refer to as Seniors.
I’m a sucker for a hard luck case. Our first dog, Spot, was approximately 10 years old when we adopted him from the shelter where he’d lived for 9 of his years. Yes, you read that right. Ten years old, terrified of flashing lights and loud noises, afraid to bark or wag his tail for months after we brought him home, he wormed his way into my heart and into becoming a dog owner. A senior dog owner, no less.
We paired him with Ashley, another senior dog from another shelter. They tolerated each other but loved my husband and me and anyone who would pet them.
We had Spot for four short years before he died from lymphoma. I cried so many tears but never once regretted adopting a senior dog. A few years after he passed we decided Ashley needed a friend (she had other thoughts) and rescued Trinka Deu from the humane society.
Trinka Deu was a rambunctious six year old German Shepherd/Husky mix who was smart, loyal, and loving. Again, she and Ashley tolerated one another but Trinka Deu was, admittedly, sad and confused when Ashley passed away. We doted on Trinka Deu until cancer took her before we were ready. That’s the downside to adopting a senior dog. You’re never ready to lose any dog but it can be especially difficult when you only had a small amount of time with them.
So now we have a puppy. A puppy who turns 1 in October. We still rescued him. He was 8 months old when he came to live with us and he’s taught us A LOT about the differences in rescuing a senior dog and a puppy.
Chewie has all the puppy energy and all the puppy issues. But he lacks the confidence our senior dogs had. Even Spot, believe it or not, had more confidence than Chewie in many ways. Chewie loves my husband and me more than anything but doesn’t want to Interact with other people. His life experiences have been so limited and it’s up to us to expand them.
With our senior pups, they blossomed some after coming to live with us, but their personalities were well-formed. They picked up on everything quickly and even already knew some commands, not to mention being housebroken. They loved everyone. And maybe we were just lucky with our first three dogs. Maybe lightning does strike three times. Let’s hope it strikes a fourth and our sweet puppy becomes an amazing senior dog.
I love our puppy. I really do. But there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the senior shelter dog who will love you just a fiercely. Who will do whatever you ask of him or her. And who won’t pee on your carpet nearly as much.
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