i have been meaning to write this one for some time..might as well do it now since i got up so early.
while it sounds so wonderfully soft, peaceful and special to give a home to a senior animal..there are a few things to consider...like...ongoing health issues which are likely to get worse...cardiac, kidney, arthritic disease etc..., incontinence, and other disabilities.... hearing, vision and mobility losses....and emotional issues that can go along with continued aging, like anxieties and dementia's.
not everyone is cut out to take on homeless seniors. the vision of the old dog peacefully finishing off his or her life laying by the fire is quite simply a warm and fuzzy fantasy. seniors are hard work. they do not suddenly become perfectly great dogs just because they got old..if they were jerks when they were younger, you can bet they will still be jerks when they get older..aging does not turn any of us into ancient angels.
but here is the thing about seniors...the older they get, the more vulnerable and frail they become...physically, emotionally and mentally. they absolutely need continuous 24/7 patience and loving support and they need it more and more of it as they continue to age. if we feel frustrated with them and their aging issues...we just mess them up even more.
i remember a little poodle coming in a few years go....i had said yes to her but she ended up with another rescuer closer to home. i got a call a couple of wesks later that she was demented and lost in her head. i believe this was true...change is really hard on the ancients. anyway...she eventually did end up here, it took some time but she settled in well and eventually she found a great home to finish her life in.
getting old sucks for everyone..it is freaking hard...but it is easier if those around us understand this.
the animals who do best are the ones who live in an atmosphere of complete and total acceptence. i have pulled aging foster dogs out of foster homes because as their care needs got greater, the stress levels grew higher. one simply doesn't know how difficult it can be to care for the aged until one experiences it first hand.
and sometimes, it is too much. too much for the foster family...and consequently too much for the animal..no one is having any fun any more.
what folks do with their own pets that have grown old with them is usually different..there is a shared lifetime of loyalty there..but for the homeless seniors..sometimes that really strong lifelong and committed forever bond...just isn't there.
this is why it is pretty much just our long term and senior volunteers who foster for saints. by the time they are so in love with an animal here that they really NEED to take them home..that unbreakable bond is already there.
i do have some advice for those considering seniors, either as fosters or adoptive new family members....
1. understand that they will at some point (probably sooner than later) become fully incontinent..peeing and pooping everywhere.
2. understand that as they suffer aging losses of health, cognition, senses and mobility..they are going to depend on you more and more and need more and more care.
3. at some point you are going to be a 24 hour a day nurse in addition to being their pillar of strength and trust AND the provider of their daily love and happiness...it IS a very heavy burden of caregiving to bear.
but aged animals (and humans) are helpless..they are victims of aging bodies and minds over which they have no control and they need someone with them who not only truly cares but who can accept and respect and embrace the aging process and help them to always feel well loved, safe, accepted, valued and special....it truly upsets and hurts them and makes them feel unsafe and unwanted if they suddenly feel like a continual pain in the ass.
not everyone can do this and that is really ok..better to recognise this and stay out of the ancient kitchen then to resent being trapped in there every day.
old animals need to be with people who feel blessed in being on an end of life journey with ancient and totally wrecked beings and in bringing joy and happiness to them every day.
it is never easy, and no one ever gets to be a super hero in the hardwork and heartache of this...but for those who really want to do this, that is ok.