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Posted By Ann

   'But you won't get your money's worth out of an old dog.' I stared blankly at the speaker, getting value for money was the last thing on my mind when I decided to adopt another dog. I am no chicken myself and have empathy for the old, be they people or dogs. It must be terrible to be homeless and unloved and unwanted, considered fit only for the scrapheap as so many dogs are. It was six months now since my much loved Maltese died at the age of fifteen. She was five when I had her, not young but certainly not old. She had proved to me that dogs' hearts are big enough to give love and devotion to more than one person in a lifetime. I visualised a little dog, another Maltese perhaps, about seven years old, and thought that, given a bit of luck, I might see such a dog out. I let my mouse wander the Web and found ten year old Gus, I looked into his eyes and knew this was the dog for me. If I needed confirmation I got it when I discovered he was only half an hour away from me at the BAWCS shelter which I knew and admired for its caring attitude to animals and people. They did not know how he behaved with cats so he came to me on trial for a fortnight. The story of how 20 yr.old Marigold greeted him on arrival is told in the April 2011 blog.
    I have been so lucky; he is kind and gentle, to me, my human visitors, other dogs and my cats who knew at once that he was no threat to them. As for getting my money's worth, most certainly I have. There are other things to consider besides length of years together. At some point he has been well educated, he walks nicely on a lead and of course is house-trained. At ten years old he was well past the destructive stage. Over the years he has gathered a deal of wisdom and acquired a fairly extensive vocabulary. He has lived with me for eighteen months now and I have never regretted a minute of them.
    There are so many 'reasons' people give to dispose of a dog, usually not the dogs’ fault. Moving interstate is one, when we moved from England to Australia the family dog came too, so I find this excuse hard to swallow. Given the multiplicity of reasons cited for disposing of a dog one that has reached middle age must have something going for it. If a dog has behavioural problems they can often be dealt with by patience and understanding. Often they are caused by lack of these qualities in humans. they are  living sentient beings; not to be discarded like possessions no longer needed, and taken to a shelter in the same way as inanimate belongings go to the Op Shop. One does have to be aware that an older dog will carry baggage, loves, hurts and betrayals inevitably leave their mark in the memory with dogs just the same as they do with us. Sometimes when I am reading in bed at night Gus will get up out of his bed and stand looking at me with an anxious expression, I stroke his head and tell him it's O.K. - I am still here and he sighs and goes back to bed. Has he, I wonder, been disturbed by a memory of another loved one who vanished?
    If you are thinking about an older dog the pros far outweigh the cons and don't listen to those who say you will be unable to form a bond with an older dog who has already loved. Dogs hearts are limitless. Even when abandoned, betrayed, treated cruelly, they can love again. It is people who sometimes say they could never love another dog and close their hearts when a much loved canine friend passes on.

Gus

 

 

 
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Ann
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Australia

 
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