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Happy Tails: Seniors and Seniors
Sugarfoot dogs give comfort on trips to Summit Manor seniors in Columbia, KY. In this Happy Tail, Peg Schaeffer takes up the special relationship between seniors and dogs, the health benefits of having a pet companion, and the special bond between senior dogs and senior people. Click on headline for complete story with photo(s)
The next earlier Happy Tail: Happy Tails - Foxless fox hunting
By Peg Schaeffer
I often take the dogs to visit the residents at Summit Manor. Their faces light up when they are given a dog to hug and it licks their face. The funny thing is the dogs seem to know they're there to provide comfort and take their job very seriously. The most requested dog is Sugar, a tan Chihuahua, who is the Summit Manor foster child.
I received a phone call one day that there was a dog that was wandering in the parking lot and the staff had brought it in so it wouldn't get hit. They asked if I could come and get it. When I got there they told me the dog was in Joann Grant's room.
The first time I brought dogs to visit the nurses made sure that I visit Joann. She was so happy to see a dog and plopped it on her lap. She gave hugs and kisses and they were reciprocated by the dogs.
Whenever I would visit I always spent extra time with Joann knowing how much she loves the dogs. We've become friends and she often tells me about working on the farm and plowing the fields with mules. She always tells me about her dog "Apples" and how she wished she had known me sooner so she wouldn't have had to give up her dog. So when I came to get the dog it didn't surprise me that it was in Joann's room. Sitting on Joann's lap was a tiny Chihuahua who was very much at home. Joann told me she had named her "Sugar". That day I made up my mind that Sugar would be the official "Summit Manor dog" and even though I bring different dogs when we visit Sugar always goes.
Miniature Aussie mix Kelsey loves to visit Summit Manor
Kelsey, my miniature Aussie mix loves to visit. She trots up and down the halls and goes to visit each resident. Her main mission is to clean up any crumbs that may have fallen on the floor. Her other duty is to make sure the bed is fluffy enough. She will personally jump on the bed to make sure it's comfortable. The last time we went to visit Kelsey jumped on a resident's bed who was hidden below the covers. All you could see was her hands and her face. Kelsey jumped up on her chest (don't worry she's not a huge dog) and licked her face. The resident's eyes lit up like the sun and a broad smile covered her face. Something so simple brightened her day.
Thumbelina, aloof to strangers, opens up with seniors
Thumbelina, my spoiled girl, usually is very aloof to strangers but for some reason when we go to visit she opens up. She'll often lick someone's hand or lightly lick their face which is not her usual action around others. She'll look at me with a dignified look that tells me that she does have a heart.
I wish I had more time and could visit Summit Manor more often. The joy it brings when the dogs visit is such a good feeling and it costs nothing but time. If you have a pet - dog or cat - that you know would be good with the residents contact Summit Manor about bringing them when you visit. There are programs in some cities that dogs earn "Good Citizen" awards and go to hospitals to visit with the patients. I recently saw a picture of a miniature donkey visiting a hospital as well as miniature horses. I know that I'd never be able to function without the comfort of an animal and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Pets work wonders for cancer patients
I used to work at a Cancer Treatment Center and would bring my Beagle, Beamer, to work with me. He would go on the wards and visit with the patients. The nurses would bring in cats or kittens to sleep in the bed with them. It worked wonders for the patients' well being.
So it only makes sense that senior dogsc need the TLC our senior citizens need. Often these dogs are overlooked in shelters because of their age. There's nothing like an old dog. Nothing like the love of an old god. The forgiveness, the devotion. You see gratitude in their eyes. It's just words until you experience it.
People Make especially strong connections with senior dogs. There's a look you get from a dog that has lived a wonderful life and unfortunately found himself or herself here. Normally that wins them over. If they connect with that dog, age is really not going to matter. Very few people walk away once they have connected with a dog that has a grey muzzle.
We have several senior dogs here available for adoption. Although they have the gray muzzles there's still plenty of life inside. Here are just a few:
Lady Bug bounces up and down on floor like pogo stick "Lady Bug" is a Jack Russell/Beagle mix. She has her special bed in my bedroom but her radar is always on when it's time to eat. She'll hear the can opener and knows food's coming her way. She runs to the bedroom door and bounces up and down as if on a pogo stick and then spins and heads for her crate. I'll put her bowl in and close the door so she can eat in peace but that never happens. She takes a mouthful of food and drops in on the floor of the crate. Then she eats it one morsel at a time. It between bites she barks at the younger dogs lurking outside the door hoping to grab some. So it's Bite - Bark - Bite - Bark. It sometimes takes her almost an hour to eat the bowl of food. I don't open the crate door until she's done and then she seems to laugh at the other dogs as she gets out as if to say "Ha, ha, I didn't leave you any". The funny thing is when I go into the bedroom later, it doesn't matter how much later, she runs to me and barks as if to say "you forgot to feed me". I'll remind her that she already ate but she continues bouncing "you didn't feed me, you feed somebody else, you forgot to feed me". She can be very convincing but I know better.
Buck's tail is in constant motion "Buck" is a black Lab who is older than the hills. He has an almost white muzzle and is always wagging his tail so hard it's amazing he can stand. Every morning he comes to the bedroom door and barks "I'm still alive. It's another beautiful day and I'm still alive." No matter what time he comes it's always a pleasure to hear his robust bark. His favorite pastime is to bark at the birds. I recently put up a shepherd's hook with a bird on the top. Buck cannot understand why he can't get that bird to fly away. Every morning he's out there barking madly at the bird and it just sits there. Keith is usually working in the yard at that time and Buck complains to him about the stubborn bird. Even when he comes into the house we'll ask him about the bird and he'll start his scariest bird bark. "Someday" he tells us "I'll get that bird." I'm sure he will.
Dodger is of breed with admirable tenacity and devotion "Dodger" is a red merle Australian Cattle Dog. He came to us from Indiana. The Heelers are one of my favorite breeds. I love their tenacity and devotion. Every day I receive emails about dogs in shelters that need help. As much as I wish I could I realize that I can't save them all and sadly delete the emails. One day as I was looking at the never ending pictures of dogs in danger I saw Dodger's picture. His story - he was 8 years old and his owner had surrendered him at the shelter because he was "too old". That just broke my heart. Cattle dogs are known for their longevity and can live up to 16 years of age easily. So in Dodger's case he was only half way there. What made this dog so special I don't really know but I did know that he needed to be rescued. I called the shelter and made arrangements. Although he was in Indiana they had a transport going to Lexington on that weekend. We also had a trip to Lexington that weekend. So we made arrangements to meet and Dodger came to Sugarfoot Farm Rescue. Dodger is a very stoic dog and had a massive head. He can be cranky at times but he has found his way into my heart.
Just a few pluses of owning a senior dog:
A dog creates an invitation to talk. Walking a dog is a great way to meet one's neighbors and build community. For some reason, the wag of a tail has done more to break down social barriers and build friendships than anything we know.So don't feel you need to adopt a puppy or a young dog. A senor dog will be forever grateful that you've come to their rescue.
Age doesn't matter unless you're cheese.
Contact us if you would like to help.
Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue,
860 Sparksville Road
Columbia, KY 42728
Home telephone: 270-378-4521
Cell phone: 270-634-4675
This story was posted on 2013-04-21 02:15:14
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