Taylor. Photo by Bruce McElmurray
I recently wrote about Taylor, a shelter dog and the San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society where he has been a resident for almost one year. Taylor’s story was a sad one. We wanted to adopt him to give him a loving forever home. Taylor is now 11 years old and his back legs just would not work well enough for him to get up the numerous steps to our home. We were terribly disappointed that adopting him would not work. We did not want to leave him to spend his final days in the shelter, never knowing a loving home. It was highly unlikely that he would have another chance due to his age and disability.
Subsequent Shelter Visit:
I had visited the shelter and Taylor one other time after having him brought to our cabin. Taylor had followed me to the vehicle wanting to go home with me at that time. My heart was broken again as we still could not accommodate him due to those steps. The shelter staff had to lead him back so I could even leave. I could see the disappointment and rejection in his eyes, and again it broke my heart. We needed a plan of some kind to pursue the adoption of Taylor.
We Needed A Workable Plan:
Carol and I put our heads together about Taylor to determine if there was any way we could take Taylor into our home. We finally arrived at a plan that could work where he could get into our house without using those steps. Taylor weighs around 100 pounds and we couldn’t lift him up those stairs several times a day so we needed a really good alternative method.
We finally came up with a plan that we thought would work but it would require costly renovation to the back of our house. We decided to take a window out and install a door in its place. He could then walk right out the door onto level ground. We would have to do some additional framing but it looked like a possibility. The exterior of our cabin is faced with actual stone to protect us against wildfire.
Can A Senior Handle Heavy Renovation:
We would have to remove a large portion of that stone facia plus level off the backyard, at least enough where he could walk around and not trip over large rocks. We took out several large rocks that we had been reluctant to tackle earlier because of their size. Now was the time to get them removed and out of the yard. We could use the dirt and stones to build a long ramp along the side of the house where he would not have to navigate any steps.
Finally A Forever Home:
We are now excited for Taylor to have his forever home where the time he has left will be with people who will love, pamper and spoil him. There are many senior dogs like Taylor who spend their final days at shelters. They still have so much love, loyalty and entertainment to give it is a shame they don’t find forever homes. I find it very sad that more senior dogs in shelters aren’t adopted and just passed by.
As I studied Taylor’s situation I wondered if the situation were reversed and it was us humans in kennels and dogs like Taylor were the ones to visit to adopt us how that would go. Would we be dismissed because we are of mixed ancestry or from a certain ethnic group. Maybe we would be passed over due to our color or shape. Or our excitability, fearfulness or size. Maybe we would be rejected because of a disability or our senior status. Yes, this reversal is a pretty weird visualization but it points out the many reasons why shelter dogs are not adopted - especially seniors.
Adopting Senior Dogs - The Rewards:
In any case, we were able to put in some real imaginative brain power and arrived with a workable plan to benefit Taylor. All that brain power doesn’t come easy for us seniors. The sweat, bruises, aches and pain will be worth it for Taylor to have a forever home. We had previously adopted two other senior dogs and I must admit that even though we didn’t have them for their entire lifetime, giving them a forever loving home for their remaining years was such a reward for us. We found the pain of saying that final goodbye was no less than if we would have had them all their lives.
No Kill Shelters:
Our attitude is that if we can make a difference in a dog's life, even for just a few months or years, it is worth the opportunity. Thankfully there are ‘no kill’ shelters like the San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society where other dogs like Taylor can live out their lives when no one adopts them.
Dogs Make Us Better People:
I simply can’t imagine my life without having dogs in it. Dogs make my life more complete and in the process make me a better person; especially senior dogs who are so often hard to adopt due to their age. We now have Taylor home and everything is working as we had prepared for and he is constantly smiling and giving doggy kisses. We have made his life better and his happiness is our reward. He will realize soon that there is much more spoiling and attention to be given and then he will be happy beyond his wildest expectations; then we will have our big reward.
Bruce and Carol live in the mountains in S. Colorado with their canine family and take measures to protect them from the wild predators that are around. They lead a somewhat different lifestyle and for more on them and their canine family visit their blog site at: brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com/. You can read all of Bruce's Mother Earth News posts here.
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