dog listening with big ear


Barks from Starks,
Winter 2018-2019

As the coordinator for a Springer Spaniel rescue group,
I meet dogs of all ages who are relinquished for many different reasons. The puppies and young dogs are, of course, easy to adopt out. The seniors usually take a little longer.

I go in to each new relinquishment optimistically, confident that there will be a great new family waiting for each dog, and I look forward to being part of that process. 

But when I got the call about Emily and Fred, I took pause. 

Emily and Fred were adopted from our rescue as puppies. Their owner, a single woman, had adopted them in 2004 and 2005 in Florida and Tennessee, respectively. She moved to Wisconsin, where she died unexpectedly in 2018, leaving Emily and Fred in need of a new home. Because we are a national rescue that commits to our dogs through their lives, we took them in to foster care without question.

But not only were they now 13 and 14 years old, Emily and Fred were bonded, and we certainly weren’t going to split them up after what they’d been through. We needed a special adopter to take not one senior but two. 

I prepared their foster family for a long haul, explained that it may take months or longer to find adopters, and that an adoption may not happen at all. 

Six days after the dogs were posted as available, we received an email from a former adopter who had lost their dog to cancer. “We would be willing to adopt Emily and Fred,” it said.
“We know they’re old, but that’s what you gotta do sometimes.”

Emily and Fred are doing well in their new home, enjoying a houseful of grandkids during holidays and taking it all in stride. 

Their story, both heartbreaking and heartwarming, is not uncommon. Pets are often orphaned when owners die or enter nursing homes. Sometimes owners experience a financial or medical crisis that requires them to relinquish their pets. 

It happened in Rochester a few weeks ago, when Kari Koens, 47, died after being struck by a car when walking to work. She left three beloved cats, one of which is still looking for a new home. Adopting this senior would be a way to add a family member and honor the memory of
a special woman. See p.30.

This issue features senior dogs—the benefits of adopting them and suggestions for caring for them as they age.  

On p. 20, Jennifer Gangloff describes her aging lab, Sophie. Her family’s process of adapting their home and lifestyle to ensure Sophie’s comfort is a lesson in commitment. This, I believe,
is the least we can do for the animals who give us their lifetime of loyalty and love.

If you have a special senior pet in your life, we’d love to hear their story. We hope you have
a winter full of cozy moments with them!