This is magnificent Toby. He was turned in to a shelter where I volunteered when he was six months old. The young soldier who owned him was called overseas and he knew his petite wife could not manage this boy. That very day, I received a call from the shelter director, telling me, 'your dog is here.' I walked in and we walked out together.
Several years ago, my son and I moved 2,000 miles away from our friends and family so I could start a PhD program in Florida. It didn't take long for us to realize our house wasn't a home without an animal in it, so we signed up to foster senior Weimaraners through a local rescue. Our first placement was a petite, nervous 7 year old named Gabby.
My hero, Pokey, celebrated his 15th birthday on June 1, 2015. With him, I have fostered new born pups, very sickly rescues, hospice status dogs, and many others. He has never met a dog or human he didn't like. Meeting people and other dogs still energizes his days. How very lucky I am to have my own "social director."
Buster was foisted on me when he was eight months old. I didn’t want a dog. I was still grieving for my 17-year-old Collie who had disappeared the previous year. “Then he’s going to the pound,” said my 'friend' (who had been unable to housebreak him).
By mid afternoon my daughter had shown Buster how to open the back door. Instantly housebroken!
Our love story began at our local animal shelter where I was paired with Kymmie to be her "mentor." Months went by as I spent time with her every week, and got to know her better. I saw that she was special. She was tough. And she chose me to be her mommy.
In time, she came to live with me, my husband, and cats. Little did I know, that in her years with us, she taught me as much as I taught her.
We adopted Lucky at age 4, right after he retired from racing. He is now 14. I knew the moment we met him that he had chosen to adopt us. His foster mom said he had been friendly but reserved with everyone else he met, but he greeted us with amazing enthusiasm and wouldn't stop kissing me.
Roxie came to me as a stray. She had been living under an abandoned porch in Claremont, NH with 8 puppies. While she was out scavenging for food (I can only assume this), police personnel came in and took the puppies to the ASPCA in Springfield, VT. Roxie was then frightened and angry and had to be noosed in order to be brought into Staples Veterinary where we found her for adoption. I am told it took many days for the vet techs to win her trust and be able to pet and bath her.
Photo and story submitted by Richard Lema
In May of 2009, I adopted Divinity, a 9-1/2 year old Cairn Terrier. Divinity had spent the first nine years of her life inside a cage in a commercial breeding facility. The Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network rescued Divinity in late November 2008. Shortly after gaining her freedom, Col. Potter transported Divinity from Southern Missouri, to her foster home in Minnesota.
Trinity, my 15-year-old chow-spaniel mix, is lying a few inches behind my desk chair right now, as she has nearly every day at the office for 15 years. (Save for a year when I was at home with my newborn kids.) Trinity has put up with a lot from me -- going from just the two of us who would go to the dog park or equestrian center every day to having a commute, having a husband, having one kid and then the other who loved to try and ride her, (but who at least gives her treats and hand feeds her food.) She has remained by my feet or by my chair for years.
I had been wanting a dog for a very long time. I had grown up with wonderful dogs and knew the love they bring. I was holding back until I knew I had a career that would allow me the time and resources to make a good home for my new best friend. I had a sense that something was missing in my home. Out of the blue I saw Cooper's picture and I knew I had found my buddy without even really looking. I adopted him on a Saturday and was laid off from my job on Monday. I had never been laid off, never faced unemployment. I was in shock. But, I could not wallow in self pity, couldn't hide under the covers, I had someone who needed me, depended on me and loved me.
I was born in Alaska and grew up following the Iditarod Sled Dog Race and studying it in school. My elementary school librarian was Dee Dee Jonrowe's mom and we sewed booties for Dee Dee's dogs. As an adult, I did a little bit of dog handling for a couple of mushers and worked on the Iditarod Trail during the race producing video content for the Iditarod Insider. I've had a love for Husky dogs my whole life.
Today was Herschel’s last day. He came to us in a giant cloud of orange fur, all nervous energy. He was the last dog at the shelter two days before Christmas. We have called him our early Christmas present since. He left us on our back porch (thankfully country vets make house calls), watching his domain, the yard he had protected for twelve years. No mouse, cat, fox, coyote, deer or bear passed by our backyard without a good talking to by our Herschel.
I adopted Jake from an animal control facility in September 2014. He was on the urgent list and had run out of time. He was at least 10 years old. I had visited Jake a few times. When he was taken out of his cage, he just wiggled with happiness–his stubby tail wagging away–and melted into me. He knew basic commands. I could tell from his appearance (pot belly, hair loss) that he probably had Cushing's disease, something I was very familiar with from my previous dog. I told myself after losing two dogs to cancer recently, I should be looking at healthier dogs to give myself a break emotionally and financially. My heart overruled my common sense, though, as I could not get Jake off my mind. I could not let this sweet soul die alone in a shelter. He deserved to live out his life in a happy, safe, home. So, on September 18, 2014, he came home with me.
Last summer, someone spotted a little dog in a dirty abandoned car. After passing the car for 3 days, that person alerted a local cat rescue and immediately the volunteers were out there and removed the little dog. She was dehydrated, disoriented, and hungry, but with medical care and attention, she improved each day. Her age was estimated to be 18-19 yrs. Granma was toothless and her one eye had to be removed due to severe glaucoma. After a month of hanging out at the cat rescue, Granma was ready to go into a fospice home. We happily added her to our pack.
My little terrier cross is called Little Miss Tula. On the day that I was adopted by her, the San Francisco S.P.C.A. volunteer told me that she was fearful of anyone who tried to adopt her. I asked them to put me in a private room. I immediately sat on the floor before they brought her in the room. So that I was closer to her level. (She only weighs 8 lbs.) When she was brought in, I asked the volunteer to set her on the floor. And then I told her to come back in 15 minutes. I whispered to Little Miss Tula and offered her treats. After 15 minutes she was asleep in my lap.
She came into our lives somewhat unexpectedly yet fueled by a force of destiny surrounding the moment, choosing, and immediate attraction that grew quickly to love. She has spent almost the entirety of her fifteen-and-a-half years secured in our collective hearts. Impulse, our toy Poodle, is tiny at eleven pounds; all spiral curls and heart. We thought she would be a perfect companion for our disabled, Zen-like, somewhat sedentary dog, Legacy, and though she was that in many of their years together, she became my touchstone. In times of sadness or fear she has helped quiet the tears, her soft affability evidenced by kisses offered freely, and patience beyond compare. She has been cradled, coddled and snuggled- this familial, unfettered, teddy-bear-like mascot of sweetness.
This is Sandy, resting by my feet, as I write this. She is an old dog now, going on 11 or 12, we don't know for sure. We had rescued her as an abandoned dog when she was estimated to be 2 or 3 years old. She appears to be a Shepard - Golden mix. A loyal dog that has never left my side. Several years ago we were walking in a local state park, I had just gotten over pneumonia the week before, it was an early January Sunday, I had gone about a 1/4 mile from the car, a bitter cold day only in the low teens, I went into respiratory distress, my cell phone? was back at the car, my albuterol was at home! This was dumb!
Story and photo submitted by Julie Busa, Fitchburg, MA
Phinney's Friends is a local organization that helps people with their pets. Charlie's owner was in the hospital, so Phinney's Friends connected with the doggy daycare I was working at and had him stay there while the owner recovered. After the owner was home a couple of us went to the home to see if he was able to take care of him after concerns from the daughter. We had some concerns, but he agreed to letting Charlie come to daycare every day (no charge to him) and I would pick him up and drop him off. The owner loved Charlie very much, but needed support to care for himself and just wasn't able to give Charlie the proper attention necessary. It was a difficult situation, but with some gentle prodding, Charlie's owner was able to see that the most loving thing he could do would be to let him go.
Project Unconditional has inspired many people to send in their stories. We will be using this blog space to feature those stories.
Simply send a story and photo of your senior dog to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos will be used for the banner and should be landscape-oriented (horizontal) and as large as possible (at least 1440px).
We look forward to seeing how the journey continues to unfold.
Thank you for your continued interest in Project Unconditional.