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Older Adoption

by on September 21, 2020

Older Adoption

by Marco M. Pardi

All comments are welcome and will receive a response. All previous posts are open for comment.

No, I’m not talking about adopting a senior citizen, or even another human of any age. In six weeks or so it will be one year since I asked our veterinarian to come to our home and perform the last procedure for my canine companion, Plato.

I was inclined to wait a few weeks and then go out to adopt another dog in need of a home. In my mind that was in no way derogatory toward Plato; it was, to me, doing what he would have wanted me to do. But domestic bliss sometimes skates on thin ice and I have waited this long, though I did attempt to examine other dogs.

But during these ten months I’ve had health issues which magnify the question of what would happen to a new adoption were I to become incapacitated or even expire. Of course, this was never not an issue, especially during the many years I lived as a sole human and had dogs, horses, and a cat. I traveled extensively but always had someone “live in”, sometimes for weeks at a stretch. And they had complete instructions covering whom to contact and what to do should they be notified I could not return. Now that I’m as retired as one can be, given my career history, I must consider this issue from a different perspective. Do I want my canine companion to outlive me, or do I want to go through another difficult transition as I outlive them? When it comes to non-humans, I’m not the Angel of Death.

As I watch my 78th year creep toward me over the horizon, why would I adopt another dog? Physician relatives are unanimous in insisting it would be hugely beneficial. It would get me out and walking several times a day, get my mind off the looming disaster descending on our country, and provide a concrete outlet for the feelings I have toward dogs in need. All good reasons, and I’m sure someone can think of more. I have supported numerous organizations dedicated to bettering the lives of practically all life on the planet. But of the reasons I cited above I tend strongly to gravitate toward the last. I don’t like the feeling that I’m using another living being as a tool. As a military dog handler decades ago I worked daily to develop a cooperative relationship with my dog, working with him, not on him. I got in trouble for it, but my methods proved correct in the end.

So, I’m actively looking for a breed I already have experience with and have learned their particular ways of communication. They do have them, you know. Medium sized dogs fit the bill. I’ve never really connected with little dogs, especially with their common yapping and screaming. and very large dogs could prove too difficult to handle especially if coming across another neighborhood dog.

Now comes the question of age. Another puppy is out of the picture. That old commercial, “Don’t leave us with the baby!!!” comes to mind. Unfortunately, they are too needy and too destructive for me at this time in life. I do have a soft spot for “senior” dogs, as they are the least likely to be adopted out of dog pounds and even no-kill shelters. But often there is no history on those dogs, either medical, social, or destructive. So, I’m gravitating toward younger dogs in certified foster care. This usually affords a chance to see a dog in a home setting, perhaps checking for damage around the house, healing wounds or missing fingers on the foster parents, etc.. I would also have the opportunity to find out if the dog is food-aggressive, paw-aggressive (some will rip your hand off if you touch their paws) or dog-aggressive, such as in wanting to fight another dog encountered on a walk. Of course, some breeds are simply out of the running because homeowner’s insurance can be lost the day the company finds out you have one. Years ago I was turned down by a company when they asked if I had a dog and I said, “Yes. A Chow”. End of conversation. Dealing with a fostering rescue group can be far more expensive than a county shelter but getting these questions answered is worth it.

Until three years ago small children would not have entered into the calculus. But then nieces and nephews started getting married like they just heard about it and babies started appearing. While it’s unlikely they would come all the way to Atlanta, it is likely we would have to at some point travel to their neighborhoods. I really dislike leaving my dog in a kennel, though we have relied on a pretty good one during out-of-country travels. When possible, I bring my K-9 companion with me. Hotels and motels along the way are getting more dog friendly. So, the issue of a toddler pulling a tail must be kept in mind.

And speaking of pulling a tail, there’s the issue of allergens and grooming. I’ve had Siberian Huskies and was often told by vets they are “hypo-allergenic”. True, but they can shed whole blankets. Fortunately, I have a large enclosed deck which allows me to groom to my heart’s content. I used to feel slightly guilty about the large tufts of fur drifting through the neighborhood until I found out that several species of birds like to grab it for nest material. Now I just keep quiet if I see a jogger with strange tufts stuck to his or her running suit. The birds will follow them home.

Well, here we are. I hope you’ve had some interesting thoughts while getting this far. When I can figure out how to enclose a picture in this blog you will be among the first to pass judgment on my selection. But please have patience. When I interview a dog I go first to the spirit, not just the nose. If the spirit does not agree we part ways then and there.

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  1. Mike Stamm permalink

    Aside from agreeing with those who say that adopting a dog would be a very good idea (since apparently you have no immediate health issues–I suspect you may outlive me), I have no advice to offer. You are being far more thoughtful about this than it ever occurred to me to be (although to be fair, all of my cats were foisted on me by well-meaning friends or necessity). My last cat died about a year ago, and I’ve been thinking more and more lately about getting another one; the issues are different than they would be for a dog, but such things do need to be considered. Thanks for bringing those to the fore.


    • Thank you, Mike. I know that, however they came into your life, your cats were and still are important to you. I do hope you settle on another one, or two. I have no doubt they would get the best possible home.


  2. William Boyd permalink

    Through the years, Diane and I have had only two pets. Igor and Autumn, the cats, were with us beginning a month or so after our 1971 marriage. Igor made it as an indoor animal until that fateful south Texas day when a norther blew the north-facing front-door open and Igor headed out to explore and gain exposure to a micro-organism that quickly sickened, then killed him. Autumn became diabetic during our south Florida stint, surviving between trips to the vet, some of an emergency nature. Said vet learning of our transfer to Atlanta recommended euthanizing so Autumn would not have to deal with the tortures of long-distance travel. I buried him near our papayas. For us the emotional strain ended our close relationship with domesticated animals. I empathize with you. My condolences.

    I have no experience in either “dog-sitting” or pet-sitting. Still I do wonder if you’ve considered being the temporary back-up for friends dogs–friends whom you trust and ideally dogs whom you already know. Would this fill a personal need, perhaps?


    • Thank you, Bill. I do understand how the emotional impact of pet loss can have lasting, even permanent effects. Your clear memory of both those cats speaks to that.

      Thank you for the suggestion of dog sitting. I think it is a good one for most people like me to consider. In my situation there are few if any people I know who would need or like such an arrangement. And, with such a high percentage of people either fully retired or working from home there aren’t many opportunities.

      I’ve long been curious about people who foster. I doubt I could do it without quickly taking the option to adopt. So, I guess I will persevere on the adoption track and see what develops. Thanks, Marco


  3. Dana permalink

    Marco, I don’t think I’ve known anyone who places more importance on reasons for selecting a non-human companion than you. I would fully trust you with any dog of mine. We can weigh all of the reasons you shouldn’t, but I think the reasons you should bring a dog home outweigh them.

    And while I also don’t think they should be used as tools, I know that dogs do enjoy human companionship. You’ll be saving a life and enriching your own. I’m really happy that you’re getting closer to adoption day.


    • Thank you, Dana. Over the years I’ve watched your dedication to the dogs in your life, and I know that dedication made a huge difference for those dogs.

      Just now I can’t name a date when I will succeed in adopting, but I trust it will be reasonably soon.


  4. Steve permalink

    Good luck, Marco. I hope you find a great fit for you. You have always struck me as having a very a strong bond with your pet choices. I think bringing one another joy for as long as it lasts would be a good thing. Plus, we can all use positive respites from the state of things in whatever shape they come.


    • Thank you, Steve. Things are currently in process, and I’m anticipating a resolution some time soon. You will be among the first to know, as we will come by your house.


  5. Hi Marco,

    Are any of your nieces or nephews interested in picking up where you leave off (if this is what you’re worried about) – could you meet a dog that connects with both you and a family member?

    I appreciate the thought put into this – our other species friends are SUPER valuable.

    I have only had 2 dogs in my life, and I somewhat considered myself bad at dog training; my dogs have trained me more than I have trained them – but after meeting some of my friends’ dogs I now realize what I was up against: a siberian husky and a beagle/rottweiler/chow mix (quite the combination – smart, with the bark of a beagle, bulk of a rottweiler, and temper of a chow) – some other species friends are really meant to teach us, huh?


  6. Thanks, E. If something happens to me and my wife is unable or unwilling to continue caring for a dog my daughter will take the dog immediately.

    I well understand what you say about training. I feel I learned more from my dogs than they learned from me. I’m convinced most people do not even consider learning how their dog thinks and so miss most or all of their efforts to communicate with us. For some unknown reason, I seem best able to communicate with Huskies.


  7. I’m sorry it has taken this long to answer this offering, but I imagine you have figured it our for yourself by now. I’ve no doubt that your life would be enhanced by the addition of another non-human friend, or that their life would be enhanced by becoming a part of yours. I agree that an older dog would be the best option based solely on the energy that a younger one would require.

    How would this addition affect the level of “domestic bliss” in your home? and would it worth the trade off? That, only you can answer; looking forward to hearing what you decide, and what action you have taken to put that decision into action. Rose


    • Thank you, Rose. And I’m sorry to take so long in replying. I’ve just returned from a long trip on which I acquired a five year old female Siberian Husky. It has been quite hectic so far, but we are getting settled and she is a remarkable dog. I’ll be posting about her soon.


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