This is the story of a sweet girl named Angel. Born and raised in rural Texas, her days were spent rolling in the grass, limbs outstretched as far as they would go, letting each cool blade brush against her fur. It was her favorite pastime during the sweltering summers of South, Texas. A farm dog, she lived under the front porch of her humans’ home; in the evenings, you’d see her silhouette cast against a setting sun as she chased the roadrunners that would find themselves between her and the fence.
For the most part, Angel had a good life. She slept upon a cool patch of sod, nestled quietly beneath the front porch. She had food in her belly and humans who’d pat her gently atop her head each day. At almost thirteen years old she’d never known another life… this was home.
And then, without warning… her life changed forever. Angel lost both of her humans very tragically within a short span of time. Her mom passed away from stage four, breast cancer. By the time it had been discovered, the cancer had already spread. She was gone within three weeks of diagnosis. Two weeks later, Angel’s dad suffered a massive stroke that left him in a vegetative state. With a flip of a page, the fate of Angel's story was now unknown.
If you know anything about rural Texas, you know it can be miles before you stumble upon a neighboring farm or town. For Angel, that was ten miles away. After losing her family, no one came for her. She scavenged for food through the trash just to stay alive and it would be weeks before anyone came to her rescue.
A neighbor from the adjacent farm happened to be cruising past in his pickup truck. Small town gossip had made its way into his ears, “It’s a damn shame what happened over there… Good folks, they were.”
He hadn’t given much thought about what had become of the dog, assuming the couple’s children had come to her aid. But as he drove past the deserted farm, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye at the edge of the property. Was that a rotting sack of potatoes? And then he spotted a brief and tired tail wag. She had almost no strength left, but gleefully lifted her head as the kind man approached.
A senior himself, he mustered every ounce of energy to lift her into his truck. Once home, he fed and bathed her. And gave her a warm bed to rest in while he discussed with his wife on what would come next. They already had four dogs themselves; could they really take on this sweet, senior dog as well?
But what other option did they have? If they looked the other way she’d either starve to death or she’d end up in a county shelter where she’d most likely spend the rest of her days. Without another thought, Angel was home. And for the first time in her life she was an inside dog with a bed to call her own, and humans to snuggle with.
Angel passed away a couple of years later. The moral of the story however, is Angel knew true love and had a real home in the final days of her life because someone decided to give an old girl a chance. She was luckier than a lot of dogs in the world. She was never truly without a home and yet, it wasn’t until her senior years that she knew what it felt like to be a part of a real family. Had she found her way into a county shelter somewhere, her story could have taken a very different turn.
Did you know that senior dogs are among the least likely to be adopted from shelters and rescue organizations? Many people walk into a shelter hoping to adopt a new puppy or kitten and completely overlook the perfectly adoptable older dogs and cats residing in the kennels and cages around them. Statistics prove that senior pets spend the longest amount of time in shelters and as a result, also have the highest euthanasia rates.
But adopting a senior pet comes with its own benefits and advantages. For one, a senior pet is fully grown. No surprises when you end up with a 100 pound dog, when you thought he’d cap out at 60. Older dogs and cats are beyond the destructive puppy and kitten phase, many are already housebroken, calmer, and even come with basic manners and obedience. Above all else however, their hearts are as big as any others. They have endless love to give and are deserving of loving homes just like everyone else.
Imagine if that man had kept on driving; how different Angel’s story would have ended. November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Why not give a senior dog, like Angel, a chance? Not only would you be welcoming a lifetime of love into your home no matter how much time they have left, you’d also be saving a precious life.