Want a Dog this Christmas?

The December holidays are always a popular time to add a dog to your family. I can't walk down a street and pass any dog without stopping to pet its furry head. It annoys my friends, but to love me is to accept that I love the company of animals. I tell you this so that you won't misunderstand what I have to share. I love puppies but I want to advocate for older dogs.

See this Golden Retriever? His age was unknown, as he had been found on the street. He couldn't stand, and walking took great effort. His teeth were ground down probably from eating rocks to survive. He weighed 48 pounds. He was no one's idea of a great dog. The shelter was kind enough to call Golden Retriever Rescue in Los Angeles. A sainted woman went to look at him, and when she saw his condition, she wasn't sure anyone would ever adopt him. Golden Retriever Rescue asked if he was a purebred Golden and when she said “yes,” they said take him. That decision changed my life.

I was a volunteer at a monthly adoption event. This event was a test: would anybody want to adopt him? To update you, he had spent two weeks with an angelic woman who put him in her pool for daily swims and paid for acupuncture. Still, he was never destined to be called Prince Charming. When we met, I touched him and he fell to the ground rolling in joy and moaning so loudly we all laughed. I had just lost my Golden girl only eight weeks before and wasn't ready for a new dog much less a red Golden who looked like her brother. I took him into the crowd to try to find a family for him.

Two families were interested. Suddenly, I realized he would be driven away, and I would never know what would become of the dog who had made me laugh for the first time in almost two months. "I'm sorry. He's mine.” And with those words, I walked to the desk, paid the fee and loaded him into my car to begin our life together. When my vet examined him, she said he was probably 15. I almost fainted. What had I done? My female Golden made it to 13 and here I was with a new dog her senior. I gave him the name Spirit because there was something ethereal about him. This sweet old man lived with me for two years and seven and a half months. He was never sick. He cost me nothing but food. People told me how kind I was to adopt such an old dog. I told them it was I who was blessed. Living with Spirit was a privilege. I have no clue how anyone let him go. If it was intentional, I trust they have their karma coming due one day. With the hope it was an accident, I used to send them warm thoughts about his sweet life to let them know, in the only way I could, that he was fine.

Puppies are a huge amount of work. Give an older dog a chance. And, if you fancy a particular breed, give a rescue dedicated to that breed a call. You will be rewarded in ways you can't imagine. Life is about love, and love is not measured in time. It is simply an experience. Where ever he is, Spirit is rolling on the ground in joy at the very idea you might adopt a senior dog.

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