Old Dogs & New Tricks


Yesterday on Facebook, I shared the plight of an abandoned, blind Chocolate Lab named Zeb. From his picture, it was obvious that he was well into his senior years, although the shelter did not have his age. Poor Zeb was very frightened by his new surroundings. The shelter located his owner who refused to come get Zeb, but was willing to pay a euthanasia fee instead.

I have to censor myself carefully here because of my rabid outrage. I will leave it that I know in my heart with absolute certainty that there is a special place reserved in hell for people like Zeb’s owner. When I shared Zeb’s photo and information, he had just a few hours to live—he was scheduled for euthanasia at 7 am the following morning. Thanks to the dedication on an amazing rescue group, Angels Among Us, Zeb was pulled from the shelter and saved. Zeb already has a legion of fans, several of whom are clamoring to meet and potentially adopt him. I have no doubt that Zeb will know only love and happiness for the rest of his life.

I have been blessed in my life by several dogs who remind me of Zeb. Each awkwardly (and, occasionally, painfully!) transitioned from puppyhood to adulthood before making a graceful and dignified transition to become seniors. As they aged, my appreciation and love for them continued to grow—puppy love has nothing on the love of a grey muzzle.

My Sheltie, Shadow, was a blessing each and every day of her life. She was diagnosed with diabetes at age 6, losing her vision to its complications by age 8. I wish humans could accept disability with the courage and common sense that Shadow—and all canines—accepted her new limitations. Shadow was the undisputed queen and guardian of our house long after she lost her vision. She continued to play fetch for hours daily by switching from tennis balls to fetch toys which made noise when thrown—her favorite was a stuffed cow whose “Mooooooooooooooo…” could be heard for nearly a minute. If her hearing failed to help her locate the prize, her keen nose soon took over. She would furiously hunt until she could pounce on her treasure, returning it to me for another toss.

I have absolutely no regrets over the minor modifications I made in my life to accommodate Shadow. I carefully scheduled mornings and evenings for her twice daily insulin injections. She would let me know when it was time, barking loudly from in front of the refrigerator where she knew the insulin was kept. The promise of a cookie after the shot was good enough for her! Few other changes were necessary—changing the furniture around was a no-no unless we wanted to see her bumping into things. Otherwise, she navigated flawlessly through the house.

Zeb, like Shadow, has so much to offer a family. The idea that because he is old and blind he is somehow inferior is absolutely ridiculous. That the wretched human being who would allow his life to end in such a callous way had no loyalty to an animal which loved him unconditionally for years speaks poorly on him and all of the other humans who so carelessly throw away a life.

If Zeb’s story makes a difference to you, or if it reminds you of a special senior dog who enriched your life, I encourage you to support rescues such as Angels Among Us who come to their rescue. These rescues tirelessly give of their time, money, and love to help pets like Zeb. Support rescue efforts by offering to foster, work adoption events, donate supplies, or sponsor dogs so that they can be saved from animal shelters.

For those who would like to find out more about Angels Among Us and the wonderful work they do on behalf of homeless pets, please visit their website at www.angelspetrescue.org. If you “Like” them on Facebook, you can follow the animals that need foster, adoption, as well as success stories. If you are outside of Georgia, find a rescue group near you by visiting Petfinder, www.petfinder.com. Rescues all over the country depend on our support to continue their mission of rescuing animals in need just like Zeb.

Please consider sharing with us stories about a special senior pet in your life. Nothing makes me smile more than hearing about these special friends!

Hug your pups!


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