Readers of Unsilent Generation know that I have a soft spot for old dogs, including but not limited to my own 15-year-old, Jenny. Every old dog deserves a safe home, a warm spot to lie in, and plenty of love and attention–in other words, pretty much the same things that old people need. But old dogs who end up homeless have an even harder time than other dogs, since they are often passed over for adoption; in some shelters, they are euthanized as soon as they arrive unless someone intervenes.
While there are hundreds of animal welfare organizations and rescue groups around the country, only a handful of groups have devoted themselves specifically to the needs of older dogs. As far as I can tell, all of them are staffed entirely by volunteers and survive on a shoestring, depending on small donations from ordinary people. If you love old dogs, too, you might want to keep this in mind if you’re planning on making some charitable contributions before the end of the year.
One group is the Sanctuary for Senior Dogs in Ohio, which rescues old dogs from shelters, finds adoptive homes, and keeps the ones they can’t place. They also train therapy dogs that visit old people. Last year a friend gave me their annual calendar, called Graying Muzzles: A Celebration of Old Dogs, with a canine geezer for every month of the year. These make great holiday gifts and support the Sanctuary’s work. (You can also enter your old dog in their photo contest for next year.) Or you can sponsor one of their permanent residents, like the ones pictured in this post, or just make a donation.
Other old dogs around the country who need adoption or foster homes, and organizations that rescue and support aging dogs, can be found at the Senior Dogs Project, which serves as a kind of information clearinghouse on old dogs.
“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” –Pearl S. Buck
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” –Mahatma Gandhi