In case you haven't heard, November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month! And, quite frankly, we think Seniors Rock!
Sure, kittens and puppies are adorable, but they may not be for everyone. Seniors are just as loving and loyal as youngsters, plus you'll most likely see what type of personality they have right away. Bonus if you've got your heart set on a certain "type" - couch potato, walking buddy, snuggle bug, travel companion, etc. Plus, older pets don't require constant monitoring and teaching as adolescents do. Typically, Seniors are already house-trained and many know basic commands like sit, stay and come. You'll get all of the love, without the stained carpets and chewed up shoes!
Senior pets tend to be the last to be adopted from local shelters, which puts them at greater risk for euthanasia. They can also become depressed in a shelter, longing for a person or persons to call their very own. Therefore, when you adopt a Senior and give him a loving, forever home, you're quite literally saving a life. Many shelters even offer discounted adoption fees for Seniors, as well as Senior-To-Senior programs which help to place a Senior animal with a Senior Citizen who needs companionship. Be sure to check your local shelters to find out what programs they offer.
Another benefit of Senior pets is their timeless beauty. As she got on in years, I can't even begin to count the number of times I was stopped by strangers who wanted to tell me just how beautiful Lola was. The beauty those old eyes held was stunning, and it showed. As does the beauty in all of the Senior dogs spotlighted in the new book, My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts.
My Old Dog tells the story of 19 Senior shelter pets who were given a second chance in a loving, forever home. Quite simply, it is one of those books that you just cannot put down.
“No Dog Should Die Alone” was the attention-grabbing — and heart-stirring — headline of journalist Laura T. Coffey’s TODAY show website story about photographer Lori Fusaro’s work with senior shelter pets. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often represent the highest-risk population at shelters. With gorgeous, joyful photographs and sweet, funny, true tales of “old dogs learning new tricks,” Coffey and Fusaro show that adopting a senior can be even more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. You’ll meet endearing elders like Marnie, the irresistible shih tzu who has posed for selfies with Tina Fey, James Franco, and Betty White; Remy, a soulful nine-year-old dog adopted by elderly nuns; George Clooney’s cocker spaniel, Einstein; and Bretagne, the last known surviving search dog from Ground Zero. They may be slower moving and a tad less exuberant than puppies, but these pooches prove that adopting a senior brings immeasurable joy, earnest devotion, and unconditional love.When asked why she (along with photographer Lori Fusaro) did a book about senior dogs, and what's so special about them, author Laura Coffey response said it all, "Senior dogs are awesome. They’re calm, mellow, sweet, loveable, and they’re usually already house-trained. All of these traits make them so much easier than puppies. Dogs in this 'golden age' — over the age of about 6 or 7 — often make ideal pets for people with busy lives or for people who simply want snuggly, tranquil companionship. That said, as wonderful as senior animals are, they often represent the highest-risk population at shelters across the United States, where nearly 4 million dogs and cats are put down each year. We wanted to do this book to help change people’s perceptions of these fantastic older animals."
As someone who not only has a huge love of dogs, but a passion for photography as well, I am awe struck by some of the photos captured by Lori Fusaro for My Old Dog.
When asked what her creative process was for these very special photographs, Lori said, "I had an idea of what shot I wanted for each and every dog in this book. And you know what? I didn’t get one of them! Haha! The beauty about creating this book was being in the moment and letting go of every preconceived notion I had. We were up against a lot of challenges. And I had to just let go and let the dogs show me what they were about. Just let the moments come naturally without trying to force it at all. Sometimes it was hard! But I think life is like that. You never know what is going to happen, so it’s important to be able to go with the flow and be willing to see and try new things."
You can learn more about the My Old Dog book, author and photographer on their website, and keep up with the latest via the My Old Dog Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram as well.
I could go on and on, but I think you'll already agree that My Old Dog sounds like a pretty awesome book, right? And one that should be on every pet lovers bookshelf. So, grab yourself a copy today (if you click through the Amazon link above, I will earn a very small commission on your purchase). Heck, grab two and give one as a gift this holiday season. While you're anxiously awaiting it's arrival, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy the story of Remy...
REMY, Age 9
Elderly Nuns Rescue a Dog “No One Is Going to Want”
“It was like a match made in heaven.” — Shelter director West Artope
It’s not every day that three women in their seventies and eighties walk into an animal shelter and tell the executive director they’d like to see a dog nobody wants.
But to Sisters Veronica Mendez, Virginia Johnson, and Alice Goldsmith, nuns from Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine in Nyack, New York, their request made perfect sense. Why not adopt one of the animals most in need?
That mind-set led them to Remy, a nine-year-old pit bull that had been overlooked by shelter visitors for more than three months. “As soon as I saw the sign that said Nine Years, I said, ‘This is the one. No one is going to want this one,’ ” recalled Sister Veronica, a vivacious seventy-one-year-old with iron-colored hair and a no-nonsense demeanor.
The nuns’ connection with the dog was immediate. Remy was docile. Remy was sweet. And when given a moment to mingle with the sisters at the shelter, Remy leaned her head into Sister Virginia’s chest and sighed. “She just got right up there,” said Sister Virginia, seventy-nine. “She said, ‘This must be my new family.’ ”
For the nuns, a four-legged addition to their small, no-frills convent could not come fast enough. They were grieving the loss of their dog Kate, a gregarious seven-year-old mutt who had been a boundless source of energy and comedy in their lives.
Kate had left them too quickly. On a Friday, she went on a four-mile walk with Sister Veronica. On Saturday, Kate’s groomer spotted some unusual lumps. On Sunday, Kate was lethargic. A few days later, she was ailing so much from lymphoma that the veterinarian put her down. “She was healthy one day and then, all of a sudden, lymphoma?” Sister Veronica said. “I was furious. I was so angry. I cried! Oh, how we loved that creature.”
The sisters rattled around their house crying for one week before they decisively hopped into their car. Their mission: rescue a shelter animal on death row. Minutes later, they explained their goal to West Artope, executive director of the Hi Tor Animal Care Center in Pomona, New York. West liked these women. He learned that Sister Alice was eighty-seven and that Sister Virginia, while statuesque and spunky, often needed a walker to get around. His mind raced and made a hopeful connection: Remy. Calm, gentle, unadoptable Remy.
“It just worked out so well,” West said. “We did a follow-up with them and went to the house, and the dog is so comfortable in that environment you wouldn’t believe it. It was like a match made in heaven.”
The nuns said they weren’t concerned that Remy was a pit bull — they could tell how good-natured she was. And even though they were reeling from Kate’s death, they decided not to dwell on Remy’s age, either. “Our feeling was that she was in danger of being euthanized, and we wanted to give her the best three or four years she has left,” Sister Veronica said. “Here we are, three senior sisters, so we adopted a senior pet!”
Between the three of them, Sisters Veronica, Virginia, and Alice have spent 179 years serving as nuns. Their main mission has been religious education for children and adults up and down the East Coast. “It’s a great life,” said Sister Virginia, a nun for sixty-two years. “I wouldn’t change it.”
They love living in Nyack because of Hook Mountain, the Hudson River, and other natural wonders that surround them. “It’s the perfect place to pray because you stand here and see all of God’s beauty,” said Sister Alice, a serene woman of few words. Sister Veronica agreed; she likened looking at the mountain to “praying without realizing it.”
Veronica loves having a dog to take along on contemplative walks and hikes. Remy also gets to romp in the tree-filled backyard, play with scads of toys, and luxuriate on soft dog beds in multiple rooms of her new, comfortable home. Remy quickly earned a nickname — Thumper — because of the happy way her heavy tail goes thump, thump, thump whenever one of the nuns approaches her or rubs her stiff left hip.
Sister Virginia said Remy’s contentment reminds her of foster kids she helped years ago as a social worker. When those children clicked with their adoptive parents, they showed an unmistakable sense of tranquillity and relief.
“Remy did that with us — she sensed, ‘These are going to be my people. I can tell,’ ” Virginia said. “And we knew this was our dog. We could tell.”
From the book My Old Dog. Text copyright ©2015 by Laura T. Coffey. Photographs copyright ©2015 by Lori Fusaro. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura T. Coffey is a longtime writer, editor, and producer for TODAY.com, the website of NBC’s TODAY show. An award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience, Laura has written and edited hundreds of high-profile human-interest stories. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Lori Fusaro is staff photographer at Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles and owner of Fusaro Photography, whose clients include BAD RAP, Guide Dogs for the Blind, k9 connection, Angel City Pit Bulls, and other animal rescue organizations. She lives in Los Angeles.