After meeting her husband-to-be and Susie, the senior dog he'd adopted, Erin Stanton was inspired to launch a popular social media campaign (nearly 600,000 followers on Facebook alone!) and found a non-profit organization, both called Susie's Senior Dogs, to help raise awareness of the plight of older shelter dogs, who are too often passed over for adoption because of their age.
In her book, Susie's Senior Dogs: Heartwarming, Tail-Wagging Stories from the Social Media Sensation, Erin shares dozens of stories that attest to what warm and loving companions older dogs can be. Here are some of our favorites.
Our darling Mouse...was ten when we pulled him from a rescue in Arkansas. In addition to having cataracts, he was emaciated and had a tapeworm, scabs, a limp, and a grand total of eight teeth. When we got him home, he snarfed down his first meal in snorting gulps, mewling all the while. I held him close and vowed to look after him for however long he had left. He was so sickly and pathetic, I didn’t think it could be long. Never in a million years would I have guessed he was about to take me on a magical ten-year ride....
He’s not the rascal he once was, but that’s been one of Mouseketeer’s many gifts: to show me what it is to love unconditionally. As the embers of his huge personality dim and fade and the fearless possum-chasing Mouse of yore is replaced by this little old man, tottering about on unsteady pins, I find I still adore him.—as told by his humans, Kate & Ginger
Rex is almost completely silent. He plods around the house so calmly. I know he’s coming only when I hear the click-clack of his nails on the floor. He also has little awareness of his surroundings. Quite often he’ll stand in a room completely still, staring into space, not responding to anyone at all. He whines when he wants attention, but he almost never barks. He leans on things—walls, doors, furniture, people. Greyhounds love leaning on people when they’re being patted. He does a sort of parallel park next to you and then just leans his whole body on you. It sort of reminds me of Michael Jackson in the “Smooth Criminal” video....
I used to be worried that because he was older, there wouldn’t be enough time to spend with him, that it would be easier to adopt a puppy because then you don’t lose them so soon. I’ve forgotten all about that now. Rex is Rex and he, like all senior dogs, has so much love for you that it makes up for lost time. —as told by his human, Angie
I adopted fourteen-year-old Eeyore when Wolfgang, the namesake of my Instagram account, died a couple of years ago. Eeyore is the most easygoing Chihuahua you will ever meet. He loves all toys, all people, and all dogs, in that order.—as told by his human, Steve
Englebert is only eight, but he [has a] heartbreaking past. His previous owners kept this four-pound Chihuahua as an outside dog in the Colorado winter. By the time he was taken away from those owners, both ears had frostbite and he had suffered some neurological damage. He is a true survivor and the brightest light in this house.—as told by his human, Steve
Madeline is a sixteen-year-old black-and-tan miniature pinscher who generally prefers to be alone. She came to me when her owner moved and couldn’t take her along. I’ve learned she is like one of those people who rarely say, “I love you”—but you know they do anyway.—as told by her human, Steve
I first met Lexy in February 2014 at our local animal shelter when she was eight years old; she had been there for many months waiting for someone to notice her. My heart was grieving after losing my previous senior rescue, Pete, to a deadly immune disease. Pete’s loss took a strong emotional toll on me, but the love he and I shared allowed me to see through my grief. I knew I had to honor his memory and my newfound strength by helping another senior dog in need. And to Lexy I owe a great debt—she picked up right where Pete left off and has taught me much about forgiveness and acceptance.—as told by her human, Jenny
Before I adopted Koby, I never owned a dog, and in fact my family doesn’t even like dogs. After reading two books about doggy care, I threw myself into the adventure of fostering. I figured that’d be a low-commitment way of trying out how all of this would work. I was not going to adopt a dog. No way. I had a very difficult year behind me, with many personal ups and downs. In addition, my mom was terminally ill, and there was nothing to be done. To see someone close to me suffer and not being able to help is incredibly hard, and the only thing I could do to stay sane was to take all that emotional energy, all the crying and despair, and put it into something positive. And that was Koby. I didn’t rescue him—he rescued me. During a time of challenge and change, he was the constant in my life. He was the little pair of eyes that would look at me and say, “I love you, please take care of me,” no matter what happened.—as told by his human, Christine
Some animals have best friends, and it’s not uncommon to find bonded dogs at animal shelters. If separated, bonded dogs can get very depressed, and may stop eating or even fall ill. It’s hard enough to find a home if you are a senior dog, but it is doubly hard to be adopted as a bonded pair. And a senior bonded pair? Well, that can be near impossible.
Gretchen and Merlin are known as the Odd Couple. Gretchen is a fourteen-year-old, 120-pound Rottweiler and Merlin is a ten-year-old, 15-pound fox terrier. Gretchen and Merlin were surrendered to the shelter when their former owner moved into an assisted living facility—a heartbreaking situation for all. Shelters and rescues will try their best to adopt out bonded animals together, but that’s not always possible. So when Gretchen and Merlin found their home together, it was a miracle!—as told by their human, Kelly
The day we brought Eva home she weighed about 68 pounds and we had to carry her up our four front steps. We’ve had her for thirteen months now and she has grown to 100 pounds of joy in our lives.
We have such love for this creature who has graced our lives for only a short time that we feel like we raised her from a puppy! And oh, man, we wish we could have seen what she was like as a puppy... Eva has let us all know that she is here to stay! She greets every morning with a smile and makes us appreciate what we have each day. She won’t let her aches and pains slow her down and she still wants to be included in everything we do! And we will do everything in our power to keep her feeling that way.
I would adopt a senior dog again in a heartbeat. We would never have guessed just how attached it’s possible to get. They rely on you and you create a space of safety, comfort, and care for them such that the amount of time doesn’t seem to matter. Even if it is for just a short period of time, the bond you form is like nothing else. We are grateful!—as told by her human, Jenny
Given Timba’s age (she will be fifteen!)...we are so grateful to say that our sweet girl continues to astonish us with her energy, appetite, and graceful use of her doggy door. She loves cuddles, maybe more than ever before—or that could just be my imagination and my continuing need to show her how much she is loved.—as told by her humans, Phyllis and Walter
Four years. That’s how long the Great Dane tethered to a six-foot chain survived with no shelter and little food or water. Then a miracle occurred—rescue and, soon after, loving hearts took him into their forever home. Finally, life could really begin for the Great Dane known as Zeke. The tapeworm and pneumonia were banished and Zeke eventually gained sixty much-needed pounds...
Now, nine years after his rescue, Zeke’s veterinarian refers to Zeke as the miracle dog. At thirteen years old, ancient in Great Dane years, Zeke is happy and healthy, albeit a little creaky. Truly a gentle giant, his golden brown eyes hold secrets of both good and bad days gone by. However, what Zeke’s gaze really offers is unconditional love for anyone who takes the time to know him. All in all, life is good. Every day is a new adventure, and the Great Dane realizes that he is loved and, most important, protected. So Zeke quietly reigns over his snug world, content with the knowledge that he has truly found his forever home.—as told by his human, Vicki
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