Over the weekend, I toured the new digs for one of my all-time favorite animal organizations. Muttville, a rescue created expressly for senior dogs, is moving from the home of founder, Sherri Franklin, to its own facility near the San Francisco SPCA.
“I’m getting new floors,” Franklin quipped after she thanked the crowd Saturday night, and I thought back to my first Muttville visit nearly five years ago. I do remember noticing a distinct aroma, and being struck by the fact that this woman had literally given her living space to “create better lives for older dogs through rescue, foster, adoption, and hospice.” Standing now among supporters, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate November — Adopt a Senior Dog month. More pumpkin punch, please!
The next morning, a friend and Muttville volunteer sent me a list to pass along to readers: Top 10 reasons to consider an older dog as your next family pet.
I scanned the list and I saw some good incentives, including “very likely to be housetrained” and “will let you get a good night’s sleep.” But I didn’t see what I thought was the most important reason to adopt a senior: Leslie Smith is not having kids.
Sure, it may seem a tenuous connection to the untrained eye, but it boils down to this. I don’t know who will care for me in my old age, and truth be told, that scares the Depends off me. But by adopting a senior (it somehow made sense), you can help to assure me that society’s elders are not simply forgotten cast-offs. Open your home to an elderly dog? That’s practically a guarantee I’ll be living the good life in Palm Beach 30 years from now.
However as I scrolled through Muttville’s listings, it hit me: That’s not the way it works at all. Having kids doesn’t mean I’m set for old age any more than being a loyal, loving companion animal ensures Rex will spend his golden years in a familiar, comfortable setting. I have to plan for a happy old age myself. Fortunately, as a human, I can.
So I guess I don’t belong on that Top 10 list after all.
But Baby, an 11-year-old Poodle with no teeth and failing eyesight does. As does Larry, a portly Min Pin with a penchant for walks and an easygoing smile. And Baxter, an abandoned Flat-Coated Retriever who is slowly learning to trust again. In fact, the Muttville site features page after page of animals of every breed, size, energy level, and health status. Heck, if selfless rescue isn’t your main concern, adopt a senior because it’ll be fun and rewarding for you.
Gee. It’s almost as if my own kid-free existence doesn’t figure into the equation at all… So then why should a dog’s age? What does it matter if she has five good days left or five good years? I’ve had Maybe less than that — just four years. If she died tomorrow it wouldn’t have made her adoption less worth it.
Of course that’s assuming she’ll come around when I’m 80 to spoon-feed me my applesauce.