Everyone likes something that is shiny and new. New cars. New houses. New everything. The same applies to dogs. New doesn’t always mean better! It seems everyone loves a cute, bouncy puppy and they don’t even give “senior” dogs a chance. There are so many senior dogs in shelters that just wait day after day, week after week, month after month to be adopted. People walk by them and just sigh, “oh, that one is too old.” People surrender their senior dogs to shelters every day because they got “too old.” It is heartbreaking – and, let’s face it, everyone eventually gets old!
Being a senior dog is not a bad thing; in fact, there are many benefits to an older dog: They sometimes already know tricks and commands, are usually housebroken, and are happy to just be with their human. They are loyal, calm, gentle and grateful. They don’t do irritating puppy things like chew, cry, and bite your ankles. And, a lot of them don’t care if you have an uppity cat! If your mindset is that you won’t have a senior dog in your life long enough, get over that. Some dogs live 3 years, some 18 years. A dog’s golden years should be the best of his or her life and a dog’s life should be measured by quality, not quantity. They should be spoiled and pampered and cared for. They should not be dropped off at a shelter because they entered their golden years.
At Born Free, with the help of Instagram, Susie’s Senior Dogs, we have had many “seniors” adopted. People have driven from all over Florida just to adopt a senior from Born Free. All the dogs’ new families love them and are so glad they adopted them. Nobody ever looks back and thinks, “Gee, I’m sorry I adopted a senior dog.” Never. So, please, the next time you are at a shelter wanting to adopt a dog, don’t just pass by a senior and discount them. They deserve love and respect just like any other dog. Puppies ARE cute, but seniors RULE!
Below are some testimonials of senior dogs who were adopted from Born Free:
“When we made the decision to move to the suburbs, we knew the extra space would allow us the opportunity to open our home to another dog in need. After some searching, I came across Cooper on Susie Senior Dogs’ Instagram. The post said that Cooper’s owner had died when he was 4 years old, he was now 10 and had been in the shelter for SIX years. At first glance, Cooper was a shy dog, he would rather be in the safety of his kennel than meet new people. This caused him to be overlooked again and again. However, from the photos, you could see a kindness in his eyes; this struck a chord with me. I think anyone who has ever been criticized for being shy can relate, sometimes you just need someone to believe in you and we were going to be that for Cooper.
We were in New York and Cooper was in Florida, so it was not the most ideal situation, but I was determined to make it work. My husband agreed and off we went to Miami to meet Coop. We knew right away that our instincts were right. Flying was not an option to get Coop home, but we were lucky enough to find a volunteer to drive him north for us. He made his way to New York just in time for Christmas, his first with a family in a long, long time. The first few nights were rough, he was scared. It was a big change for him, but every day he trusted us a little more, showed us a little more of his personality and within a week, you couldn’t sit down without him trying to fit his 80 pound body in your lap. Cooper was gentle, Cooper was funny, Cooper LOVED his family. He spent the next year and a half running in the yard with his brothers, cuddling with his humans and getting tucked into his very own bed every single night.
When you adopt a senior dog, or any dog, you know that one day you will have to say goodbye and while we knew that day would come, when Cooper got sick we were crushed. As hard as it was, when the time came, we were so thankful to have been able to change his story. He had a family, he experienced love, he was able to feel safe, and even though he became sick he didn’t have to go it alone. I am grateful every day for the joy he brought our family and feel so lucky to have known him. Given the chance, I would do it all again. I hope that Cooper’s story can inspire others to take a second look at the shy ones, the senior ones, the ones that just need someone to believe in them. Cooper was proof that a little love can go a long way”
“I had been following Susie’s Senior Dogs (SSD) on Instagram for a while as I have always had a soft spot for older dogs. There is just something so special in their souls. In early 2018, I came across Duchess’ post and it was an instant connection for me. There were photos of her smiling in a witch hat and a video of her slowly walking across an open field. There was something about her that caught my heart immediately. Life got busy, but I kept thinking about her. In April 2018, when I saw the second post about Duchess on SSD, I knew I had to go meet her. I spoke with Maria and decided if Duchess got along with my yellow lab, Marley, she would be coming home with us that day. We went down to meet Duchess, and it was love at first sight, so she came home with us which was a week after her 11th birthday.
They had warned me that she was food aggressive, so I knew I needed to keep an eye on that when feeding both of them. I wanted her to know that she did not have to worry about sharing any of her food, so I would feed them a short distance away from each other (with me always present). When I gave them treats, it was next to each other and alternated who went first so she would get more comfortable. It took about a month I would say, but she got over her food aggression completely.
Duchess was a bit timid and reserved at first, but over time she came out of her shell. Marley helped show her how to enjoy the spoiled dog life and she became more and more comfortable as time passed. We lost Marley to cancer a year ago this month, but Duchess has handled the unexpected change so well. She has really come into her own and you can tell she knows she is home for good. It’s almost as if she was holding her breath until she knew this was her forever home. She’s got a whole lot of sass and spunk which is so fun to witness. She loves being outside, all things chicken, hanging out with my parents’ golden retrievers, going for walks and car rides, and just being around me. She’s got a bit of a granny walk and has to take thyroid medicine, but other than that, she is doing great at 13 years old! I know I won’t have as much time with her as I would like, but each day I get to see her enjoy life it makes it all worth it. Senior dogs have so much to offer, and I would encourage anyone looking to adopt to consider an older dog as they have just as much to offer. You will never regret it!”
“I first saw my boy Oliver (previously named Popito) on Instagram. I thought he was such a beautiful dog and knew nothing about him when I reached out to Born Free to meet him. Once I arrived at the shelter, I learned that Oliver was 7 years old and had been living at the shelter his entire life. He also had an old knee injury that left him with some bad arthritis in one leg. Oliver was found abandoned at 3 weeks old in the Redland area, he was brought to the shelter and bottle fed until he was old enough for solid food. I learned that Oliver had never shown well to potential adopters because he was too timid, he would hide in corners and under chairs at adoption events and when people were able to meet him, he showed little interest in them. When I first met Oliver, he came running out of his kennel to smell the grass, stretch, and prance around. Just as I had been warned, he showed little interest in me but I had a feeling we had a connection that would grow and develop through trust and time.
I adopted Oliver and brought him home to meet his new little brother, a 2-year-old beagle named Cooper! Oliver, who had never lived in a home, adjusted quickly to his new life of air conditioning, comfy beds, homemade dog food, and lots of kisses. He developed a trust in me and started following me everywhere! I always refer to him as my “trusty steed” since he is such a loyal companion and always by my side. He is smart and alert and quickly learned commands like “sit” and “stay”. Oliver has joined me on roads trips, hiking adventures, and most recently to a big move to Manhattan. Oliver is adjusting amazingly well to city life, he is so curious about all of the smells and sounds of the city! We are looking forward to more road trips and even camping trips in upstate New York this year. Oliver turned 10 just this month and I am so grateful to have him in my life. He has taught me the joy of animal rescue and the love and gratitude that only senior dogs can give. I know that me and Oliver still have a lot of adventures ahead of us and I will continue to give him the life he always deserved.”
“We discovered Key in quintessential millennial fashion – on Instagram! My husband and I were scrolling through recent posts when we saw Susie’s Senior Dogs had shared a picture of an elderly canine gentleman near Miami. We had been looking for an opportunity to adopt a senior dog and within hours had completed an adoption form and contacted Born Free Pet Shelter. Just a few days later we welcomed Key into our home and have loved every moment since! He enjoys lazy afternoons lounging on the patio and sunbathing in the grass. Key has put on a few pounds in his retirement, added a few new gray whiskers, and made new friends throughout the neighborhood. On our afternoon walks we often hear, “What a beautiful dog you have!” and Key definitely enjoys the compliments tossed in his direction – almost as much as his treats! Key has been a wonderful addition to our family and we can’t thank Born Free Pet Shelter enough for taking care of him for 7 whole years (unbelievable he wasn’t scooped up before then) until he found his forever home.”
“It has been one year since I adopted Ears and I am so, so happy I did!! We actually had his “birthday party” with his dog friend, Widget, last month to celebrate.
Initially, it was unclear how well Ears would do with other dogs, but, honestly, we have had so much improvement in just one year! After a slow introduction, Ears can now play, and even share toys or treats with other dogs! We take meeting all new dogs slow and steady and have had good results. He seems very happy when he gets to go over for playtime with his friends!
Overall, Ears has had so many new experiences since leaving Born Free! He has been camping, barked at the ocean, rode out a hurricane, learned how to use stairs, had his first family Christmas, tried on too many dog costumes, and chewed through so, so many balls. It’s very clear that in his 10 years (!) with Born Free that he was taken care of very well. He’s good with all sorts of people and not afraid of new experiences!! Thank you to everyone for helping connect us! I think we’re both happy he has come home.”
“I first saw Katie on a Susie’s Senior Dogs post on Facebook. Her beautiful face and her story of waiting 6 years for a home just touched my heart. I reached out to Maria at Born Free Rescue and after a few communications I was approved to adopt Katie and the rest is history. Katie came into her new home September 21, 2019, quite timid and shy. I have several cats and another senior dog so there was quite a bit for her to process. It took a few weeks until she gave me a sign she was ready to join us in the main house. Until then she spent time in her own room (with frequent visits and encouragement from me) but was able to see the “action of house” without having to interact. I looked to her to determine her comfort level in all situations and when she got anxious, I would take her back to her safe haven of her room and her crate. Fast forward to today – 10 months later – she has accepted her furry family and has claimed her spot in the family. She loves to take her daily walks with my other dog Sophie and play with me in the yard. During the day, she sleeps in the living room on her bed next to me while I work. She is also interested in attention from strangers which is a big accomplishment for this shy girl!
If I could offer any words of wisdom to have a successful adoption, I would have to say set your new pet up to succeed. Read their body language and cues and make adjustments so they feel secure. Let them come into their own in their own time. They all have unique personalities just like us, so embrace who they are and love them where they’re at. Time, Patience and lots of Love is my recipe for success!”