Jerry Green

Adopting an older dog...

20/02/2015 16:15

Adopting an older dog can be a rewarding and joyful experience as Liz Gilbey and her
late husband Pete found when they gave a home to Jack, the elderly Shetland sheepdog.
Liz and Pete were both active supporters of our East Yorkshire centre.

“When Jack came to Jerry Green Dog Rescue’s care, he was in a bad way. He had a flea infested coat that had not been brushed for years, bad breath and teeth so green with tartar he could neither close his mouth nor eat properly. Plus he walked with a limp. 

I was a dogless volunteer dog walker. We had owned Shelties before and had joked that if a Sheltie
ever came into Jerry Green Dog Rescue it would come home with us.

A broken demoralised dog, who had passed through so many hands in his life no-one had any idea who or how old he really was, was not the kind of dog we expected to rehome. But Jack had beautiful eyes, a winning smile, and a tail that wagged in response to the smallest kindness.

The plan was to give an old dog warmth and security for his last few weeks or months. But
Jack was not a dog to be written off as easily as that.

Jerry Green Dog Rescue sorted out his physical health and his teeth: the vet removed many,
the worst neglected mouth she had ever seen, she said. It didn’t affect his appetite, even though food was soaked to baby pulp for many weeks. Eventually Jack taught himself to tackle bones again, which he did with relish. He was a dour battler, our old dog, and he thrived.

The limp, thought to be arthritis, turned out to be the result of some massive accident years earlier, which had chipped a shoulder and broken his front legs.

Because of that injury Jack had not exercised for years. Tiny walks built up muscles, fitness, and his confidence. Soon he was walking miles and eagerly scampering on Filey beach. Eventually the shoulder stopped falling painfully out of its socket several times a day, to every week or so, to finally no-one remembering the last time it did.

Many older dogs end up being rehomed through simple circumstance - death or divorce, allergy or illness. Most are settled characters that have always been loved, a steady and known quantity.

People say: “I can’t take on an old dog. Losing it would break my heart.”  But you can’t break a heart if you haven’t got one, and you can’t break it if you don’t use it. We thought losing Jack
would break our hearts, and it did. But he enriched life so much. That’s the way life is. I would make the same choice again.

Throughout his 39 months with us Jack proved in so many ways that rehoming an older dog is
uniquely rewarding, especially an older dog fallen on hard times that needs, and deserves, lifting up again. Because it’s not where you start that counts, it’s where you finish.

Jack died having recovered completely from a minor stroke a year earlier. He died quickly and with dignity, with his new family close around him. Almost three years later than expected. Years in which he grasped life between his paws with relish, making up for lost time, but most importantly, learning to be a happy dog again.

So if an older dog catches your eye (and believe me, there are thousands out there looking for
hearth and home and a second chance) then let it. Don’t turn your back, put him out of your mind, and leave his fate to someone else.

Every lost soul that is a rescue dog has the potential to both bring and to receive as much joy as my Jack. And if only one older dog is rescued and loved as theresult of hearing Jack’s tale, then my old boy is still out there fighting and winning other hearts as well as mine.

Thanks, Jack. And thank you, Jerry Green Dog Rescue, for giving such a hopeless looking case
a second chance, and making the world a richer place. For that is what dog rescue is all about.”

Liz Gilbey 

Registered with Fundraising Regulator

The Jerry Green Dog Rescue is registered under The Charities Act 1960 No 1155042

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