You’re Never Too Old to Love a Dog

You’re Never Too Old to Love a Dog

I live in a big neighborhood and like so many other people who live in the suburbs, I know neighbors by their dogs. Lately, I’d noticed the absence of an older retired Army veteran and his Lhasa Apso while out walking Bitsy.  I would always see them a couple of streets over.

At first I assumed it was the heat since this summer has been a scorcher. Then I thought perhaps the gentleman was on vacation. But when I saw him last weekend he was walking a different dog, a little mixed fluffy breed, and I asked him about his Lhasa. I was sorry to hear the little dog had passed away earlier in the summer. What surprised me was his response when I asked about his new dog.

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Charlie is the fluffy little new dog. The gentleman does not know Charlie’s breed or age. He was paired with the little guy by an organization that matches senior rescue dogs with senior people.

After the loss of his previous dog my neighbor had started to sink into depression. He lives alone and his social life pivots around walking his dog. I’ve seen him at all times of morning, afternoon, and evening. He can usually be spotted on the side of the road, dog in toe, talking with one neighbor or another…anyone who has the time to chat!

After the loss of his Lhasa, another neighbor recommended the gentleman adopt a senior dog. Older shelter dogs are not as easy to place as puppies. But for an older adult, a calm, trained dog is the perfect companion.

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I’ve passed Charlie and his new owner 20 times since last weekend. Most of the time Bitsy and I keep walking. We’re out to get our exercise. But Charlie is out with his Army Vet to meet and greet, providing companionship and a reason to get out of the house to someone who thrives on the socialization.

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It makes me smile every time Bitsy and I pass them. I am adding a few links to organizations which pair senior dogs with seniors. I hope you’ll share the story with your elders. Who knows, maybe one of these organizations can provide a happy ending to someone else’s story!

Senior Dogs 4 Seniors
Paws Seniors for Seniors
Senior Pets for Senior People
The Senior Dogs Project
The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation
Pets for Seniors

If you know of other similar organizations and would like them added, please leave a comment below!

Note: None of these images are of my neighbor or Charlie. I want to respect their privacy.

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Can Social Media Help Save More Dogs?

Can Social Media Help Save More Dogs?

I happened across an older blog post recently that sparked some controversy over how people should or should not use Facebook for pet rescue. Heather, of Dog Hair & Bourbon, shared some very valid points in her article, The Love/Hate Relationship of Social Media and Rescue.  The article was picked up on Petful and garnered an equal response of opposing views arguing for and against the points Heather made.

Will Anyone Act on Your Social Plea?

The comments made me remember a really interesting interview I heard a couple years ago on NPR with social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam on supporting a cause. Research by psychologist Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon showed that people reduce giving when they feel like their contribution would not make any difference in the long run. According to the research, you are more likely to help one starving child rather than contribute toward feeding a much larger population.

Understanding how the brain responds to giving, pet rescuers can use social media to paint a picture that illustrates their cause, but doing it one dog or cat at a time. Those same rescue organizations can harness social media best practices to help boost their visibility, but in a way that supports their end goal and does not dilute efforts.

Craft Social Messages that Prompt Action

Individual stories about each foster pet could include suggestions on how the general social population can help. For example, “Fido is a 5 year old lab/chihuahua mix who is in Omaha. We cannot afford to transport Fido, but if you have connections in Omaha, please share this post.” Fido is heartworm positive, but will live a long, healthy life with heartworm treatment. The treatment cost is only $xx. If you cannot adopt Fido, please pay for his treatment. Email …”

Social media is a powerful tool, but you need to tailor it to meet your goals. That said, if you are using social media as a rescue organization, make sure you establish your goals, define your target audiences, and create your social plan accordingly. And remember, research shows we humans are more likely to contribute if we think it will make an actual difference, so don’t overwhelm us with huge statistics or seemingly unsolvable problems.

Boost Your Health and Happiness – Adopt a Dog

Overcrowded animal shelters kill about 1.2 million dogs a year in the U.S. That’s roughly 60 percent of all dogs that enter a shelter. Why?

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Don’t even get me started. Just read the news any day of the week and you will see why. Humans are irresponsible to say the least. If we as a species practiced the same unconditional love as dogs do, the news would be filled with happy stories.

You can read more sickening statistics about unwanted dogs and cats on the ASPCA website. I just wanted to get your attention with a doozy opener.

There are millions of unwanted dogs across the nation representing every breed, age, size, health, and temperament. If you already own a dog, you already know the benefits of dog ownership. If you are holding back, let me share with you a few compelling reasons to find yourself a dog today!

Dog Ownership Improves Physical and Mental Health

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I am not a doctor or scientist. But there are plenty of smart people out there who have been studying the relationship between dog ownership and its health benefits.

Did you know:

  • Babies who grow up with dogs are less likely to develop allergies.
  • Dogs help people meet other people more easily. They help you socialize. They can even improve your chances of getting a date!
  • Dog owners tend to exercise more often and more rigorously than non dog owners.
  • Dogs provide companionship for the elderly and give them a reason to stay active.
  • The calm and steady presence of a dog can help reduce stress.
  • Dogs are good for the heart. In fact, the National Institute of health funded a study that looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. One year later, they discovered dog owners were more likely to still be alive than the non dog owners, regardless of the severity of the heart attack. You can read more about the study here.

Find Your Perfect Dog

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The right dog for me may not be the right dog for you. I chose Bitsy because the personality and traits of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was a great match for my lifestyle. Every family has its own set of circumstances. There was a time when adopting a shelter dog was like shooting dice – you had no idea what you were getting. But so many shelters in the U.S. today take the time to really evaluate each dog, that you can find exactly what you are looking for. Even better, most no-kill shelters use a network of foster families to help these unwanted dogs adjust to family life before they go to a forever home. And unlike buying a pet from a breeder, you can adopt a dog on a trial basis to make sure it is the right fit.

There are a number of online resources for finding a shelter dog. I’ve listed three of the main ones. List your location and preferences, then patiently wait for your ideal dog to show up in search! Or you can attend a local pet adoption event and see adoptable dogs in person.

https://www.petfinder.com/
http://www.adoptapet.com/
http://bestfriends.org/

If you want to support a local no kill shelter in your area, you can find it here. http://www.nokillnetwork.org/

Still not sure you are ready to commit to a dog? You can always apply to be a foster family. This provides temporary homes to unwanted dogs and gives you a taste of ownership.

Please leave a comment below if you have a heart-warming dog adoption story to share. Make sure you include a photo of your new best pal!

Bradley Nierenberg’s New Years Resolutions

So, I’ve been delinquent in committing to anything for New Years until today. I was reading through my facebook feed and came across a very touching article about a woman who reads to shelter dogs.

I always think to myself, “wouldn’t it be nice to have another dog” – but then I realize that it would be a lot harder to give Bitsy the time she deserves if I have to share it. So I don’t think a new dog is in my future.

However, my new years resolution is to spend more time volunteering at animal shelters. A friend of mine in PA told me they have dog play rooms at her local shelter. I think I need to do some research to see what fits with my schedule.

I know you’re probably going to think I’m nuts, but… should I be worried about getting Bitsy sick? Like, if one of the dogs there has a cold, could I transfer it to Bitsy? I hate to sound like a germphobe… but, she’s my world… I’d hate myself for getting her sick. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Mix’n it up – Cross-breeds

So, I have friends who know I’m obsessed with cavaliers. It’s good to have friends… but friends who feed my obsession are even better friends. So, a friend sent me a link on cavalier cross-breeds.

While I’m not really a designer pooch kind of guy, I have to admit, if I saw these two faces at a shelter, I’d be sunk…

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It’s something about the ears. Plus, I think that a cross breed might shed less. I swear, since Bitsy came into my life, no shirt or pants are safe. Black, tan and white… I’ve given up trying to not look like a crazy dog dad.

Anyhow. That’s what’s on my mind. Oh! Another thing… Bitsy is not nearly as excited for the reindeer costume my sister bought for her as my sister is… I may have to try to get a picture of her in it. It’s better than the cone of shame… right?

P.S. the link for all the cross breeds was http://pinsit.com/10-unreal-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-cross-breeds-you-have-to-see-to-believe/ in case you wanted to have a look too.