You want to do an extreme sport? Try being over 50. Like Bette Davis said, “Getting old is not for sissies.”
I remember looking at the brightly colored bank of jars of eye creams that my Mom had laid out on her counter thinking, “All I will ever need is baby oil to grease up before I lay out in the sun all day.” Now, limited only by the fact that I will not purchase something tested on animals, I have amassed my own collection of jars brimming with hopes of dermatological alchemy. I wonder aloud who took my head off and stuck it on an old person neck as I smear some new moisturizer combo to reel back all those summers on the lake in the sun. (Though I know in my heart, I’d need a DeLorean and a flux capacitor to do that.)
However, at the ripe old age of 52, I had a milestone. I got married.
Someone Bet. On. Me.
One Story, Two Old, Very Good, Very Patient Dogs
This is not an article about old age or on the general principle of adopting senior dogs. Broad philosophical arguments and empirical data are for another day.
I want to share one story. I want you to consider betting on one pair of seniors.
Today, we are laser focused on one pair of 13-year-old dachshunds.
The Backstory and The Team
They arrived at their former home as puppies 13 years ago. In February, their human parent called to turn them in. Though they had been with her their whole lives, she was going to have a baby and wouldn’t have time for their care. How much care do they really need? Let’s break it down.
These two nap quietly all day like it was their job. Yet, if asked to go on a walk, they are delighted and grateful for the time! They get more walks than they even need on the weekends because all the volunteers want a chance to hang out with them. They have been described as “cats in dog suits” and in some ways even better because they are exquisitely housebroken (no litter boxes here.) They are perfectly healthy except that Hopper is blind and Aggie just has one eye. Aggie is Hopper’s seeing eye dog. So with their one good eye between them, Aggie and Hopper are a team!
Years Go By
The human owner told us that Aggie and Hopper had lived for years in a small gated off space by the kitchen with a dog door to the outside. They just “existed” there she said. They didn’t bark or ever mess anything up. They just lived there together on the outskirts of a very busy family. She did not shed a tear when she dropped them off. I usually avoid telling backstories like this but here’s the point: Aggie and Hopper have paid their dues. They have waited patiently. They have lived quietly in the laundry room for years. They have eaten the food given them and they’ve never expected treats. They heard family dinners, holiday gatherings and movie nights but never dreamed of knowing them any way but through the gate. These little old, round dogs have been the best dogs they know how to be –which as it turns out, are very, very good dogs.
I Know You Are There
I believe someone reading this will be a bridge to giving them more than they ever hoped to have—a home where they are loved and cherished.
If it is you, this has stirred something in you. Maybe it’s just a fleeting thought of short weiner legs waddling through the yard on a sunny day or the image of the three of you catching some Netflix time. You may be thinking, heck, cats in dog suits, short hair, quiet…I could hang with that. Or you, like me, may be looking past your bank of jars at a spouse, friend or family who loves you no matter what. You might wonder, how can I pay forward my gratitude and joy? If you are thinking that maybe I’m writing to you–maybe I am. Go with it. Fill out a no-obligation dog application: http://form.jotform.com/form/10590153844 or come meet this little team. Everybody from ABBA to Brene Brown has advised us to take a chance on love. I’m just sayin’.
If you are reading this but you know you don’t want two very short, very tidy roommates who will adore you, then share this. If you have a facebook account, post it. If you think for just a moment that you’d consider making a space in your heart and your home for these two, come meet them.
I know there is someone reading this who will be able to say to them, “You have waited long enough. Let’s go home now.”
Aggie and Hopper will be at the shelter full time starting Sunday the 29th. Any time that we are open, you can come see them. No appointment required. They would love to meet you.
If good things come to those who wait, Aggie and Hopper are in for some wondrous days. We’ve told them they can bet on that.
UPDATE • August 2, 2016
Let’s Go Home Now, Girls.
I knew it. I knew the “shelter experts” who told us that shelters cannot possibly adopt out seniors, blind seniors and a bonded pair of them to boot–were wrong.
I knew that the faith of this No Kill program in the community partnership is justified. If we as a shelter make space and time for the ones who are discarded by other shelters, people step up. Aggie and Hopper are now living in their forever home and knowing what it feels like to be loved.
“We are so happy to be their forever parents! We love them very much. They really are very lovely.” There are no disposable lives.
UPDATE • November 17, 2017
Update on Aggie and Hopper, Seniors
“I’m not sure if/who reads these emails but I felt compelled to send a note on our precious senior babies. Maybe this will impact someone coming in the door looking for that “perfect” pet as a reminder that many times the imperfects are the greatest blessing.
Abby (I think she was Aggie there 🙂 ) and Hopper were adopted as older seniors. Abby has one eye and Hopper is blind. We still cannot understand how someone can give up a pet after having them more than 14 years but that is what it is – we are the beneficiaries of whatever motivated that decision. They are here with us – forever – and they are loved deeply. You’ve done an update of Abby and Hopper, I think it was around January. Since then they have aged of course, but are doing well and they are happy.
My Wife Knew It
They were perhaps initially considered difficult to adopt, but when my wife first saw their picture on your website, she knew they belonged with us. I say this because perhaps many people may come in to look at the younger dogs and cats and overlook the older or impaired pets sitting quietly waiting for that new life.
We are imperfect as people, yet we often expect perfection from things around us.
We are imperfect as people, yet we often expect perfection from things around us that does not answer any calling within us. I urge anyone to move out of their comfort zone and make that effort to extend themselves into care for the quiet ones that have limited choices. They will find that not only do they grow spiritually, but the blessing and unfailing love they receive from those babies far outweigh any extra care they may be worried about. Our lives are not just about ourselves, they include stopping and going back for those that cannot help themselves.
Abby and Hopper will be together in our home for the rest of their lives and we at grateful for every day with them. We could not imagine being without these two characters and the devoted love they give back. And our thanks to you for taking them in the first place when it would have been easy to say no.”
UPDATE • June 28, 2018
Abby (fka Aggie) and Hopper found their incredible forever family almost 2 years ago. Today, their family sent us this update:
“A couple of days ago, Hopper finally succumbed to age and kidney disease. His last moments were with us holding and loving on him, as we have done almost constantly since he came to be with us. He loved to be held, always snuggling in close, letting us know how he felt about us. He and Abby were (and are) front and center in our daily lives and our schedule revolved around their needs.
Our grief is still intense and piercing, yet we are so grateful that we were blessed with this little man, full of love and personality. We are especially holding Abby close, as Hopper was her sole companion for all of her life. Our sadness is also for her, knowing that she does not have her boy around any longer. They were always a pair of characters, together.
Sometimes the thought about rescues is what we can do for them, giving them a safe and loving home away from fear, abuse, and loneliness. But we have found that thinking is totally eclipsed by how much they actually do for us. They teach us what selfless love is, they strengthen our character, they make us vulnerable to laugh and cry, and above all, they restore our faith in something beyond the everyday. We have been blessed to have had a large number of rescue babies over the years. Hopper, we fought the good fight together, but we finally had no choice but to say goodbye for now. We believe that we will be restored together again someday and we will take the very best care of your girl. You will never be forgotten and you are so loved. Always and forever.
For those on the fence about rescues, especially the older ones, stop thinking about it and do it. Your life will be touched and enriched far beyond your expectations.”
— Nick & Rhonda
UPDATE • September 10, 2019
“To our friends at Friends For Life, you have been so kind to include my past notes in Abbie and Hopper’s blog – I’m asking for your indulgence to please include this last one as well.
You may notice that I have changed the spelling of Abby to Abbie – I have done this to recognize how my wife wanted her name spelled. This was important, as they both were entirely devoted to each other from the very first day they met.
It’s been a wonderful journey with Abbie and Hopper, but the final chapter has now come for this little girl. A couple of days ago, at the age of 16, she passed away from congestive heart failure. She was held in our arms and loved on until her very last breath left her body. As with all of our babies, we grieve without their presence but we are so grateful and blessed that we had the chance to share our lives with them.
Abbie and Hopper came to be with us on July 29, 2016. Both were seniors with health problems, and we loved them from the very first moment we saw them. Hopper loved us both, but Abbie had an immediate and “forever” bond with my wife, Rhonda. You can read about such things, but to see it expressed daily is remarkable and very special. I would certainly hold Abbie and fuss over her, but when Rhonda had her, you could see that all was right in Abbie’s world.
Abbie lasted a little over a year after Hopper died, and we fulfilled our promise that we would take the very best care of her. Towards her last months, her care was virtually on a 24/7 basis, yet we were happy to do it. She was never alone and we were always monitoring her to ensure that she was comfortable as possible until those last moments came. This was not a chore, this was knowing that she depended on us to do whatever was needed for her. We were truly blessed to be able to extend both hers and Hoppers’ lives as far as possible and that they were able to live in a solid and loving environment that was truly a forever home.
It feels very different here now as you would expect, without Abbie and Hopper. But it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the days and months and years we shared with them. So much joy, so many smiles – we received so much back, far beyond what we were able to do for them. FFL pages are filled with many pets that need a home or have received a home, yet the final story is that these babies are really given that long lasting second chance to be safe, secure, and loved always.
Abbie and Hopper, we had wonderful years with you and we miss you so much. But we are happy that you each knew and felt how much we loved you.
You will never be forgotten.
Thank you FFL for changing lives. We urge anyone reading this to please open your heart and your home to a pet that needs you.”
— Nick & Rhonda