A Late Hello
“Aint but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime,
But old dogs and children and watermelon wine.”
The old song by Tom T. Hall went through my mind as I began to think about getting another dog, after the untimely and accidental death of my 13 1/2 year old Labrador Retriever. This month was the only time I’d been without at least one Lab in my life in the past 34 years. And Sandy was one of two very special Labs I’d owned. I was grief stricken without her.
But one day, about a month after she was gone, I spilled some crackers on the floor and exclaimed, “I need a dog!” Strangely, my husband, the Confirmed Cat Man, agreed. Our local paper coincidentally the previous day had ran a story from our county animal shelter about seven senior dogs that had been turned in, some because of the economy, and had little chance of adoption. And one of those was an 11 year old chocolate Labrador named Hayley. Her photo just called out to me. So the next morning I called about her.
I filled out the adoption papers, and took her home that same afternoon. What a sweetheart of a dog, with a very soft temperament. When I got home, I asked my hubby, “Do you love me?” which he took to mean (correctly) I’d done something. As he walked by the the bag of dog food I’d set on the counter, he said, “Well, if that isn’t for a goat, I guess it’s not too bad.” Yes, he was pleased to see her smiling face in the car. Hayley had found her forever home.
When I told my youngest son that I’d adopted an older dog, he said, “Mom, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak again.” I said to him, “Son, the only heartbreak is seeing a senior dog in a small cage, spending their last days without a home.” I reminded him there are no sure things in life, I could walk out the door and get hit by a truck.
A senior dog is the way to go. Some people would worry about the extra money spent on veterinary care, but when you add up the cost over the years of a puppy or young dog, not to mention chewed up shoes, furniture, etc., it all equals out. The only thing a senior dog wants is a warm loving hand to pet him, some food in his bowl twice a day, maybe some medication for arthritis, and a nice bed in which to curl up. Pretty much the same as we humans need.
Too Soon Goodbye
That first afternoon, she was coughing. Her medical records showed nothing about a bordetella vaccine, so I assumed she had kennel cough. I called my vet and set up an appointment. The doctor confirmed it was probably kennel cough, but was a little concerned about some lung congestion she heard. She took a couple of xrays, and came back with a somber look on her face. The xrays showed a lung tumor. What devastating news, as Hayley had already bonded with me, and I with her.
Treatment consists of open chest surgery at a specialized hospital (none in my state) and at least seven day stay there for recovery. And several thousands of dollars. As I began to think about winning the lottery so I can afford this surgery, I asked how long she had. The doctor said maybe months, maybe a couple of years.
There are no guarantees with a younger dog, either. Puppies and young dogs can have accidents, health problems, and genetic diseases which shorten their life spans. And although our time with Hayley will be limited, she will live a well loved life until the time comes for her to cross the Rainbow Bridge. But that goes for any dog you rescue. And no senior dog should ever have to be in a shelter, unadoptable, just because of age and health issues. That’s so very wrong.
Please consider adopting a senior dog. Don’t let the risk of an early goodbye stop you. There are so many that need homes, often through no fault of their own. Especially in these economic times, when people are losing their homes and have to give up their dogs, YOU can provide a loving environment for these wonderful seniors. They’re trained, they’re mellow, they’re wise. All they want is a warm bed, some good food and lots of loving. And maybe some snow to roll in if they’re a Labrador Retriever. They deserve that love and care in their final days, as we all do, but especially our dogs.
“Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes;
God bless little children while they’re still too young to hate.“
About The Author:
Sue Clark had dogs all her life and exclusively Labrador Retrievers since 1976. She’s bred, trained and shown them in conformation, obedience and for hunting certificates, and was a foster mom for breeding stock from Leader Dogs for the Blind. Her love for the breed is due to their marvelous versatility, and the wonderful companionship they provide. Her first Lab, Duke, was the bad boy of all bad boys. If one thinks Marley of the book/movie “Marley and Me” was bad, they never met Duke.
Being a Lighthouse lover, author, blogger and preservationist, you can keep up with Sue and receive all of the news and features about our coastal beacons, worldwide, on the www:
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