Its true I am an old dog

Its true I’m nearly deaf

My eye sight it is failing

Along with all the rest

I’ve ended up in rescue

My life is such a mess

Everyone they want a puppy

When they choose to get a pet

What hope’s there for an old dog

All I hope is that today

Is that an angel they will find me

And that that angel just will stay

As… I still know how to love

And I still know how to care

I’ll protect and love forever

Just take me home – I’ll do the rest!!!

Ann DueIt is very true that some people shy away from taking on the burden of an older dog when they make that life changing decision to welcome a German Shepherd (or any other) dog into their home and heart.  There are also fewer applications that come through that have owners who are willing to take them than younger dogs – but German Shepherd Rescue treats all of our dogs with the same respect, regardless of age, colour or size.  And the truth is there are Angels out there that are willing to take them.  So today, I would like to introduce to you one of these Angels who took an older dog into her heart and home.  His name was Buddy, and she gave him the most amazing home where he was able to live out the rest of his senior years.

Buddy – A Love Story

Daniela Affolter, 2016 ©

To this day I still don’t have a clue as to how I ended up at the SPCA on this miserable Saturday afternoon.  It had only been about six weeks since I said goodbye to my faithful dog Pronto, my best friend of thirteen years.

Here I was though, walking around the dog adoption area, just for a look – honestly.  I loved seeing the hyped up young dogs, full of life. There were lots of other people looking for a new companion. None of the dogs seemed overly fussed with me or me with them, which suited me fine.  Then I rounded a corner and saw HIM. An old boy, lying in his basket, ignoring the hype and activity. I stepped closer to the window. He was alone, curled up as tight as can be. The info sheet told me this was “Buddy – German Shepherd/Labrador cross – aged 11 years and 8 month”.

I asked the staff to meet him. Buddy showed absolutely no interest in me when the attendant brought him out. His eyes were dull and empty. My heart bled for him. On my way out, I called my friend Della and asked her to meet me at the shelter the next day. I wanted a second opinion. As we sat in the “meet and greet” area, there was flicker of recognition in Buddy’s eyes when he saw me and he came over to check me and Della out.  I squeezed a squeaky toy and threw it. Suddenly the light in his eyes came on; he trotted after the toy and brought it back to me… I picked him up the following Saturday, after all the paperwork and the property inspection had been completed.

Buddy was meant to stay outside during the day, as the existing dog door was for a small/medium size dog, not a German Shepherd. On the back porch I put a comfy bed in a sheltered kennel. There was also a three-seater sofa he could use on sunny days.

I learnt quickly that old dogs have their own ideas about what they want…. When I arrived home from work on that first day, I opened the ranch slider to let Buddy in. He was gone. Panicked, I checked the fence for any holes and checked the gate, all was secure. My heart was beating wildly. I went inside, wondering how to explain this to the SPCA. I entered my bedroom and there he was – fast asleep on my bed, snoring his head off! He still had not realised I was home. I called his name and he lifted his head, looking very pleased to see me. I had no idea how he got into the house, but he showed me shortly after, contorting and squeezing himself through the pint-sized dog door. It looked painful but Buddy seemed pleased with himself.

After that I gave up trying to confine him to any particular places; Buddy had very clear ideas on what he wanted. He chose the sofa bed in the lounge and happily shared it with the kitten.

Buddy had an existing medical condition called “Laryngeal Paralysis” which causes breathing difficulties, especially at times of excitement. But excitement was exactly what he was craving. I could not afford the expensive surgery to fix this nor did I want to put him through it at his age. I decided to give him the best time I can, for however short a time.

After seven months together, his condition worsened rapidly and he sadly had to be put to sleep. Let me tell you, these seven months were worth the heartache of letting him go so soon. He was so grateful for the love, food, warm bed, fun and activity I provided him with. We bonded quickly and he became fiercely protective of me early on. He treasured his toys, playing, despite his arthritic joints. He was like a puppy trapped in an old dog’s body.

We went for walks every day either to dog parks or the beach. He loved visiting friend’s places too.

Despite our short time together, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Taking on an older dog has its challenges; they are, just like us, set in their own ways. Buddy had an attitude problem with large male dogs, but he was the sweetest and most loyal dog in every other way.

Seeing Buddy change from being so detached from people to having a sparkle in his eyes, his love for all that life had to offer, well, it was priceless.

If it wasn’t for me visiting the SPCA on that miserable Saturday afternoon… this Love Story would never have happened.

So ….. Ignore the myths about “I wont be able to bond”, or “All I’m going to get stuck with is expensive vet bills”.  Old or young – that dog is still going to Love you and be pleased to see you at the end of every day.  You may have heard the saying “The older the Violin – the sweeter the music”, or “You cant teach an old dog new tricks”.  While my favourite is “You think training an old dog new tricks is hard – try teaching a cat to fetch your newspaper”.

Thank you to everyone who puts that special sparkle back into an old dogs eyes!!!