Age discrimination is not just a human issue. If homeless senior dogs could talk, they would tell you that. Or maybe they wouldn’t. Canines don’t complain as much as humans when life doesn’t treat them right.
But ask the people who have made a conscious decision, or even taken on a mission, to see that a dog less likely to get adopted has a place in their homes and hearts.
Susan Hess says her husband now refers to their home as Camp Hess. Ring the doorbell, and five dogs appear at the door. Four of them are seniors: Zia, 16; Chaz, 12; Griff and Hallie, 10. And then there’s Hoover, the baby of the pack, at 7.
Hess did not start out on a mission to adopt senior canines. It just happened one day when the former Louisiana SPCA president was told of two senior dogs brought into the shelter when their owner died.
Hess knew the odds of these dogs finding a home were slim. She thought she might take one. But, of course, she took both of them. Snoopy and Kahlua came into her home seven years ago. They made the cover of a local magazine on the 125th anniversary of the LA-SPCA.
“They have since passed on, but they brought us great joy,” said Hess.
The Hess family has dealt with the sadness that comes with the loss of each member of their canine family.
“Old dogs don’t have an expectation of how long life should be. They live in the present, with no expectation of what tomorrow may bring,” says Hess, who says her senior pets have reinforced that perspective in her own life.
Senior dogs are often overlooked in animal shelters because those seeking pets want puppies and young adults. But those who adopt seniors say old dogs have a magic all their own.
Perhaps it was best worded in Gene Weingarten’s book “Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs”:
“Old dogs can be cloudy-eyed and grouchy, gray of muzzle, graceless of gait, eccentric of habit, hard of hearing, wheezy, lazy and lumpy. But to anyone who has ever loved an old dog, these things are of little consequence. Old dogs are sweetly vulnerable. They show exorbitant gratitude and limitless trust. They are funny in new and unexpected ways. But, above all, they seem at peace.”