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Rocky and Melvin are still available for adoption. I have attached their photos again so you can see their sweet faces.
Older dogs often take longer to get placed in new homes just because of their age – Keep in mind that even though
these boys are considered “Senior” – they are a young 11. Many Westies don’t even begin to slow down at this age!

Does adopting an older dog scare you? Why?
Here’s some things to think about ….

Won’t I be adopting someone else’s problems? If the dog was so wonderful, why is it up for adoption?
Older dogs lose their homes for many different reasons….most of them having nothing to do with problems the dog has, but rather with those of the person or family surrendering the dog. Many folks think dogs who end up at shelters or in rescue are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for very expensive, well-bred, well-trained dogs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility for them. 
Other reasons older dogs become homeless: death of a guardian….not enough time for the dog…… change in work schedule….. new baby…..need to move to a place where dogs are not allowed…. kids going off to college…. allergies…. change in “lifestyle”…. prospective spouse doesn’t like dogs


Isn’t it true that you can’t train an older dog the way you can train a puppy?
Dogs can be trained at any age. The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” just isn’t true.  Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking.


Don’t older dogs cost more in vet bills?
…… Answer: Veterinary attention and medication are needed at all ages and may or may not be more costly for an older dog.

Do older dogs have any “special needs”?
…… Answer:
With a health assessment of the dog, you will know whether any age-related conditions are present and you can take appropriate measures to address them. Otherwise, older dogs need all the things younger dogs do — good nutrition, exercise (although less intensive, usually, than for a younger dog), and regular visits to the vet.

What advantages do older dogs have over puppies or young dogs?

Older dogs have learned what “no” means and how to leave the furniture, carpets, shoes, and other “chewables” alone.

They have been “socialized” and learned what it takes to be part of a “pack” and to get along with humans and, in most cases, other dogs, and in some other cases, cats, as well. 
Older dogs, especially those who have once known it, appreciate love and attention and quickly learn what’s expected of them to gain and keep that love and attention.

Older dogs know how to let you finish the newspaper, sitting calmly next to you, while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers.

They are also instant companions, ready for hiking, riding in the car, walking on leash, fetching, etc. 

Finally, older dogs are a “known commodity.” They are easy to assess for behavior and temperament, and you also don’t have to guess how big they’ll grow!



Those of you who adopted Westies that are no longer puppies often share with us how devoted and grateful they are. It’s an instant bond that cannot be topped!


Consider adopting an older dog….you will never regret it.


Check out my new article in the Sept. 2011 edition of “Living with Loss” magazine:
When you get to the link type in:
user field: sept2011emag
password field: petloss

I was discussing the importance of the human-animal bond today with my PetPAC colleague, pet photographer Patrick Nau. We noted the current expansion plans for the business Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet, where Nau’s beautiful pet portraits are on display and for whom he does newsletter and advertising photography.

I wondered what might allow Chuck & Don’s to achieve success like this in the midst of the Great Recession, then I answered my own question. Studies have shown that pet-related businesses are one of the few recession-resistant ventures. Many people, myself included, will sacrifice their own comforts to provide for their animal companions. Why is this, when so many of us are losing sleep at night over our climbing levels of debt and dwindling incomes? It’s certainly not “rational.”

What I decided must be a motivating factor is the fact that our companion animals are our “anchors to sanity.” (Patrick really liked that phrase.) With them we find a relationship wherein we get out of it much more than we give, no matter how much we give. What work or interpersonal relationship can consistently boast that? Being around our animals lowers our blood pressure, reduces our stress, makes us feel unconditionally loved and accepted, gives us a sense of being necessary to another living being, etc. Is it any wonder we place such a high value on this relationship?

When the rest of our lives may appear to be spinning out of our control, we know we can still go for a walk with or play fetch with our dog, sit quietly in a rocking chair with our cat, talk to our birds, and so on. We are reminded by our animal companions of the simple pleasures, of the joy to be found in living in the moment. We may not be able just now to shell out money for expensive trips to Cancun, all the latest in techno-gadgetry, or visits to a high-priced psychiatrist to diminish our stress, but as long as we have our dearest four-legged (two-winged, etc.) friends with us, we just may not have as great a need for any of those things. —Sid

My husband, Anthony, with Blanche and Oliver

Hello all,

For quite a while, I’ve wanted to start a friendly contest for those who write pet-related literature and call it the “Petlitzer Prize” (kind of an all-companion-animal-focused Pulitzer Prize). I was recently a reader at the Dog Days of Stockholm in Stockholm, Wisconsin, and was very impressed by several of the pieces read by other authors there. In fact, I asked the evening’s emcee, Peter Hautman, to allow me to reproduce his charming poem “A Note from the Dog,” to get things started (posted below). For this first round, I will have entries be strictly pet-related poetry, but in the future, other forms of fiction and nonfiction will be the categories in turn—such as short stories, news articles, blogs, children’s lit, humor, bumper stickers phrases, etc.

Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:

1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!

2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations! 🙂

3. For Round 1, I must receive your entry by October 15, 2010. A winner will be chosen and posted by no later than Halloween. (In the future, there may be readers’ choice contests wherein readers may vote for their favorite pieces. For this first round, however, I will be the sole judge.)

4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.

5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the deadline is reached.

6. Winners (First, Second and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.

7. Winners may also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show “The Dog Doctor.” (Air dates will be announced in advance.)

8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.

9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with Petlitzer Prize Entry in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at <>. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.

Guidelines for Round 1—Pet-related Poetry:

You may submit any form of poem (rhyming, free verse, limerick, haiku, etc.) as long as it pertains to companion animals and/or the human-animal bond. Poems may be of humorous or serious nature. Please keep length to no more than two pages.

Tell all your animal-loving friends about this contest. I want to be flooded with wonderful submissions!—Sid

Here’s the inaugural Petlizer Prize submission:

A Note From the Dog

When the freezer died
And the meat had to be eaten quickly
I was happy.

When you lost your job
And stayed home all day
I was overjoyed.

When you had your cardiac event
And the doctor told you to go for a walk every single day
I was ecstatic.

How would you live without me?

– Pete Hautman

I went to the World Animal Day site and was totally floored by the hundreds of participating organizations from the world over! It really gives my heart a boost to know Americans are not the only people out there devoted to celebrating the human-animal bond. I am thinking of organizing an animal blessing event in Minneapolis this year. It will no doubt be very small scale, but it will be a start. More on this later…or, if someone reading this already knows of an organized event I can volunteer to speak at/perform a group blessing—I am an animal chaplain after all—in my area (or elsewhere if my travel expenses can be covered), I’d love to avoid reinventing the (hamster) wheel. 🙂

You can contact me directly at <> with ideas and/or suggestions.

A strong case can be made for keeping the elderly united with their pets. I had a dear (now deceased) friend who was forced to move into an assisted living facility and be parted from her beloved Pekingese Zeke. Clearly bereaved from losing not only her home but her pet, my friend’s emotional and physical health deteriorated swiftly, so much so that she was forced to move to an advanced care nursing home. The only good thing was this new nursing home allowed her to keep Zeke. He, in fact, became the “house dog” and enjoyed the run of the whole facility, frequently visiting other residents and beloved by all. My friend Mavis was able to die in her own room with Zeke by her side.

As I wrote in a story in my book “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” Zeke was so protective of/worried about leaving his human mama, he would growl (very uncharacteristically for this sweet dog) whenever we tried to get him off the bed to feed him or take him outside. He wouldn’t eat or drink for nearly two days. For Mavis’ part, though in hospice care at the time, she felt she couldn’t “let go” until all the details were taken care of regarding who would adopt Zeke when she died. She made arrangements with her foster daughter to take her dog, and you could feel the weight that had been lifted from Mavis’ shoulders.

Shortly thereafter, when Mavis did finally pass, Zeke immediately became chipper again and willingly leaped down from her bed, eager to eat, drink, and go for walks again. It was as though, once she was freed of her body, Mavis’ spirit was able to reassure Zeke that all was again well and he could stop watching over her.

This, to me, illustrates the depth of the human-animal bond and our ability to communicate with one another even after we’ve left this physical life. Imagine Mavis’ ongoing suffering, and Zeke’s as well, if they’d been forced to be apart at this crucial time of transition.

Mavis and Zeke

I hope someday all senior living centers will accept the benefits of pet ownership vastly outweigh any inconveniences and will allow their residents to remain united with their animal companions. The following article from K9 magazine illustrates my point still further.


Pressure Mounts For Older People To Keep Pets

Submitted by Jennifer White on April 23, 2010 

A survey of more than 4,000 members of the public by PFMA, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, reveals 90% of people think that separation from a pet is traumatic for older people entering residential care or sheltered accommodation.

The TNS research also found 83% agree pets make their owners happier and 54% think pet owners should be able to make the choice about entering care facilities after seeing the accommodation policy.

Pets provide significant benefits to elderly people; those who keep pets when entering care homes enjoy a smoother transition into residential care, as well as significant health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Other proven health benefits for older people with pets include: reduced blood pressure and cholesterol; improved recovery from heart attacks and strokes; better social interactions in people with dementia; and fewer GP visits.

Conducted in March 2010, the research helped shape the PFMA’s goal to ensure all leading UK housing providers implement responsible pet policies that enable older people to make an informed choice about their future. This commitment is part of the organisation’s 2020 vision to make a better world with pets, launched to mark its 40th anniversary.

The PFMA is working closely with SCAS (Society for Companion Animal Studies) and MPs taking the issue forward – including Ian Cawsey, Nick Palmer and Nigel Waterson – to strive for fairer treatment of the older pet-owning public.

Ian Cawsey, MP for Brigg and Goole, said: ‘Today we have more than 11 million elderly adults living in Britain, of whom approximately 25% are pet-owners. This figure is estimated to rise to 14 million by 2026 and the majority of these people will eventually require some form of residential care. Unfortunately growing older often involves inevitable heartache and loss but being separated from a pet when entering care facilities should not be part of it. This is why I welcome the PFMA’s 2020 goal to ensure care facilities implement responsible pet policies over the next decade.”

PFMA, Chief Executive, Michael Bellingham, explains: “Having analysed the research and consulted SCAS we are delighted to announce our 2020 ambition to ensure fairer treatment of the older pet-owning public. The importance of pets to people in care facilities cannot be under-estimated. Over the next ten years we want to make a big difference to the lives of older pet owners.”

This latest call to action follows the successful passing of shadow minister for older people, Nigel Waterson’s bill – Care Homes and Sheltered Accommodation (Domestic Pets) Bill -which aims for a more “enlightened and responsible” policy for allowing pet owners in residences to keep their beloved animals.


Wandsworth Borough Council operates a positive pet policy and has been permitting pets in sheltered schemes since 2001. Wandsworth’s executive member for housing Martin D Johnson said: “Pet ownership is an enriching part of many elderly people’s lives. As well as offering companionship, they keep their owners active and are a link to social activities that prevent isolation.
We’ve had pets in our sheltered schemes for nine years without a single significant problem. Our experience proves this type of housing can easily accommodate animals and there is no need to deny elderly people the pleasures and benefits of pet ownership.
We want other housing providers to rethink their attitudes to animals and realise the huge benefits they represent.”


Older people who are forced to part with a pet when moving into residential care can suffer feelings of bereavement that are similar to the loss of a family member. Severe reactions can lead to depression, disturbed sleep or eating patterns, and even physical illness (source: McNicholas, J. & Collis, G.M. (1995), ‘The end of a relationship: coping with pet loss.’).

· Pet ownership in older people is also associated with better coping with major life stresses, such as bereavement, which is more common in older people. Pet owners adjust to spousal bereavement better than non-owners (source: McNicholas et al 2005, BMJ).

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