Did you watch the above video? Are you done crying? Well, if you haven’t — we’ll fill you in here real quick….
Sid wasa senior dog who came into the rescue system through Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, a nonprofit based in San Francisco. Their mission: rescuing dogs that are 7 years or older, providing them with medical care and finding them loving forever homes.
Sid came into rescue and was diagnosed with kidney failure. He was put into what they call the “fospice” program (foster-hospice) and adopted by a wonderful couple: Maggie and Brent (and their chocolate Lab, Rosie — another rescue dog).
The short version is that Sid spent the last year of his life very happy, loving and being loved. The longer story is why more people should consider senior-dog adoption.
Maggie Amiano is the Manager of Humane Education for the San Francisco SPCA. It was her work here, in the organization’s youth programs in particular, that connected her with Muttville.
“Its volunteers graciously offered to do a guest speaker series each week — for 11 weeks! — during animal camp. They brought senior pooches for the kids to meet and taught youngsters why senior dogs make amazing companions.”
Eventually, through her affiliation with Muttville, Amiano realized she wanted to foster again (she had fospiced two senior dogs while in college). Her husband was less enthused by the idea of adding another dog to their busy household, but when left town for six weeks to help his brother with a business in Indiana, he returned to find a fluffy, little, pink-mohawked poodle sitting in his spot on the couch.
“He fell in love in about the first 45 seconds and we’ve been a two-dog household ever since, with Rosie, our big, brown lady and a rotating fospice dog,” she says.
Senior dogs, Amiano says, often get the short end of the stick in a shelter situation, passed up for younger dogs because adopters, in part, believe that spending more time with an animal will lead to a stronger bond. She adamantly disagrees with the theory.
“Throughout all of my rescues, and the witnessing of other adoptions, the bond between an adoptive family and a dog is as strong as it can be. I didn’t spend the first three years of Rosie’s life with her, but she and I couldn’t have a stronger bond and she is infinitely loyal to me. She stares at me all day and follows me everywhere…. I mean, everywhere!”
Sherri Franklin would agree absolutely. She founded Muttville after time spent volunteering at her local animal shelter.
“I realized that the older dogs would come in and spend their last days waiting for someone to adopt them, then end up getting euthanized due to their age, many not even making it onto the adoption floor! I knew something had to change.”
At first, Franklin began bringing the older dogs home, one at a time, and finding them great, new homes. The practice grew until Muttville was founded. That was seven years ago.
“Senior dogs have so much love left to five and many are so grateful, asking for so little,” says Franklin. “Every bit of love and attention means the world to them!”
Many, she notes, come from loving homes where their owner has sadly passed away. Others come from neglectful situations. “Both are equally worthy of a second chance.”
Amiano’s rotating roster of fospice dogs say that she’s on board with the joys senior dogs bring to people’s lives.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people think seniors are harder to train and less lovable than puppies, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Most senior dogs come with all their manners and because they already know how to learn, teaching them new things is super easy and fun! Senior pooches, even those with a lifetime of neglect, learn very quickly the good of humans and have been known to love their new families in a super short amount of time.”
The memories made, unquestionably, are priceless. Amiano has so many of Sid, whom she fondly refers to as a “snuggle bug who preferred to be living on
a person or at least next to one, always touching them” to share.
She says he was “bomb-proof, and could be in any situation with any person, happy as a clam.” This made him an ideal humane education ambassador dog. Throughout the summer of 2015 and part of 2016, he would visit classrooms, thrilled with every new face that showed up to pet him. The kids loved him so much that when one class found out he had passed away, one young boy dressed up as Sid for dress-up day — pink mohawk included.
“Sid thought he could fly,” she says. “No height was a challenge for him…he thought. He would see the couch, start running across the living room and leap through the air about eight feet from it, only to either completely miss — which we admirably called an ‘air ball’ — or he’d bounce off,” she laughs. “In either circumstance, he recovered with no shame in about two seconds and made the second leap onto the couch as though nothing happened.”
In the time since his passing, she and her husband still feel like he’s with them.
“Because of his love of flying, we now know that when we see a little white butterfly fluttering about, that’s Sid saying ‘hello.'”