By: Selina Mohr
Uncertain times always means an influx of animals in rescues and shelters as people worry whether they can afford to keep their pets. At the same time, the quarantine is encouraging people to finally take the leap and foster or adopt. While puppies are irresistible, please don’t overlook the charms of a senior dog.
Roman Young, model agency director (and longtime friend of Maggie Q), is a senior dog champion. He talks to us about why it’s so wonderful to bring an older dog into your home.
How and why did you start fostering and adopting senior dogs?
About ten years ago, I got an English bulldog named Charlie. Because of bad breeding, he had a slew of health problems, notably grand mal seizures. He’d been discarded because he couldn’t get sold at the local pet store. Charlie eventually passed away from a seizure, but he taught me that I could happily love something other people so easily overlooked or thought of as “broken.” More importantly, it allowed me to understand that taking care of a dog with health issues wasn’t as tough as I thought it was going to be. The more I did it, the easier—and less daunting—it got.
When I moved to Miami three years ago, I quickly realized my local Miami Dade animal shelter was overrun with throwaway senior dogs. Puppies always get adopted, and the seniors are always left to die. Like many people, I assumed seniors had too many problems or medical issues. This is NOT true. There is a full spectrum of seniors to foster—from ones with boundless energy and zero health problems to those that are blind, deaf and paralyzed but need a home, too.
I decided to focus on the overlooked dogs and felt confident I could foster them in their golden years. I wasn’t afraid of them being old or possibly needing extra medical care. Thanks to Charlie, I jumped into fostering with no fear. Taking care of him in NY gave me the confidence to replicate it in Miami with seniors.
Fostering and adopting senior dogs has brought me more joy than I could have initially imagined. At the moment, I have five dogs! (Three of them, Taquito, Roxi, Nikki, are pictured, above. Aren’t they the sweetest?)
What’s most rewarding about fostering a senior?
I’m helping these dogs have the happiest times of their lives at the tail end of their time on earth. Knowing I’m here to love and care for a living creature that someone previously thought had zero value is incredibly rewarding.
Why do you think there are stigmas surrounding senior dogs?
Often it’s related to the way some seniors look—they’re not puppies—so people are surprised I’m fostering them. Many people are only interested in the way the dog or cat looks and aren’t initially concerned with the animal having something to offer outside of just “looks.” Some of my dogs are missing eyes, blind, deaf, or walk with a limp from previous abuse or congenital defects. I have to tell people I choose to take the dogs many people disregard. And not all senior dogs are disabled or handicapped. There are a lot of healthy, “beautiful” senior dogs in animal shelters nationwide!
People also think senior dogs die too soon, but even a few years is like an eternity when you fall in love with them. And for those who are concerned about falling in love with a senior that dies sooner than a puppy, remember these seniors truly appreciate the opportunity to be loved. Having a senior helps you cherish every moment and not take them for granted.
Do you encourage others to foster senior dogs? Are there any rescues you prefer?
I absolutely encourage people to foster senior dogs! They’re usually more mellow and laid-back and many of them are already housetrained. I find them much easier to foster than puppies and more easily adaptable to your lifestyle.
I volunteer at the Los Angeles Animal Services County shelter in West LA. There are 6 locations across LA county that need people like you to foster. There are also amazing rescue groups we partner with such as:
Feel free to reach out to any of these groups. If you’re not near any of these locations, contact them for references in your area. Many of these rescue groups have networks of reliable and reputable rescues across the country.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check out your local state, county or city animal shelters. They are always in need of people willing to foster or adopt.
It’s Free To Foster A Senior!
Right now, the rescue Susie’s Senior Dogs will cover the costs of fostering a senior dog during the Covid crisis.
They will cover the costs to foster a senior dog from any 501-C3 rescue or shelter during Covid. The dog must be 6 years and up and you must be living in the US and working from home with the time to devote to fostering.
Once you’re an approved foster, email Susie.firstname.lastname@example.org and include your rescue or shelter contact. SSD will mail supplies directly to you or will reimburse the rescue or shelter for supplies.
These are some currently available senior dogs from Susie’s Senior Dog Rescue Facebook Page:
Meet Georgia! She’s a Southern belle now looking for love in the great northern state of Wisconsin. Georgia is around 12-years-old but she is still very spry and athletic. She is hard of hearing and thus makes hilarious noises trying to communicate with you— she will keep you laughing, that’s for sure! If you’ve never adopted a senior, Georgia would be a great gal to show you just how wonderful the world of senior adoption is.
Seymour has two great loves in his life— people and toys! If you are a person (LOL), and can give him toys, then you are a perfect match for Seymour. Seymour is very smart and will quickly settle into a newly adopted life. He weighs a strong 80 pounds and would benefit from an owner who can handle his big body and big personality. Overall, he’s just a loving fella waiting to connect with an equally loving person.
Seven-year-old Ebenezer was let go by his owner when he became a senior or, likely, no longer “useful.” Ebby is a sweetie who is very good with young children! He is also good with other dogs, but can guard his food around other canines. He needs an owner who can safely manage this for him. Although it’s not known for certain, Ebby may not have been able to eat in peace in his previous life resulting in his fear that another dog will steal his food. But make no mistake, he is a good, good boy who simply needs a loving family that will show him the ropes of the good life!
Ten-year-old Beth is a happy girl who has been struggling with shelter life. Beth has been at the shelter for 7 months and it’s not getting any easier. She was surrendered with a mysterious old injury that has resulted in a wobbly gait and she will require some extra TLC for the rest of her life. The shelter has been able to treat her physical ailments, but what she really needs is a loving family to give her a routine, a sense of belonging and a comfortable home for all the rest of her years.