13 Candles on the Cake!

Haiku is only one of two dogs I ever welcomed into the family as a puppy.  He was found wandering the Lancaster Desert at the age of only 4-weeks and taken in by the local animal control.  Fortunately, the nearby Akita Rescue bailed him out and since I was volunteering and had recently lost 3 senior dogs in an 11-month period, the Executive Director said, “You need to foster this puppy!” knowing I’d be a foster failure.

We already had Mr. Rico, a 10-year-old Black Labrador whom we had adopted a a few months before, so Haiku joined the family and got a big brother!

A few weeks later…he got a big sister as we adopted Bonsai (formerly Bonnie), a senior from the Akita rescue as well.  She had just lost her mate (or maybe her son) to a tragic accident and had been living in the desert rescue for 6 months.  She needed love, and we were able to provide it!  I think it did her good to take on a mothering role with Haiku, and did it ever help whip him into shape.  This weekend, my baby boy turns 13-years-young and has stories to account of a fun lifetime so far.  He’s vacationed at the beach in fancy hotels, visited a winery, been on television and had his face on the cover of books and magazines.  Haiku loves early morning walks, eating pupucinnos (and everything) and made a cross-country move with us last year.  He’s had both knees replaced, had a couple small cancer scares but biopsies removed the threats, yet I am always vigilant.  Still full of personality, he is moving gracefully into his seniorhood, so although most of my dogs in the past were adopted in their golden years…my puppy is now officially there as well.  I’m so glad I got to experience the joy of being Haiku’s mom for all but about the first 5 weeks of his life, but puppies are a LOT of work.  Paul’s (my husband of almost 28 years) and my experience adopting seniors has been truly amazing and life changing.

There was Sushi at 9 1/2, Rico at about the same age and Rexy at 10 to name a few. Even though our time with them was shorter, the bond created is unbreakable, and because we were in the moment with them…our time together seemed like a lifetime!

I have so many things I’d love each of you to consider regarding the joys of adopting a senior pet…


They already know their manners, have at least some house and obedience training, are more focused and therefore mellow instead of spastic.  They know what NO means and are happy to just be with you so you have an instant companion as well as time for yourself (including during the nighttime hours when they will sleep straight through).  With an older dog or cat who has already grown into his personality as well as his paws, you have a new best buddy who is oh so grateful for a second chance at a forever home.

Senior pets need homes just as badly as their younger counterparts but often get passed over at rescues for the cute puppies and kittens.  Many were once owned and loved by someone while others are waiting into their golden years to have that special human they can wag uncontrollably over.  Senior pets who find themselves in a shelter because of a death or other tragedy in their former human family usually go through a mourning period themselves – they must adjust to changes they don’t understand.  Once they are adopted however, they usually want nothing more than to please their new best friend, and it gives a terrific pet parent like YOU the opportunity to make sure a dog or cat’s later years are truly golden by having him spend them with you!

Don’t worry that you may only have a short time together.  Although that may be true, none of us knows how much time we have.  Some animals live to 6 while others live to 20+.  A pet could look old but be quite young.  Nothing is certain.  What is important is that you make the most of whatever time you have together.  You can really make those remaining days, weeks, months or years precious for an older animal.

While it’s true that medical ailments have a greater chance of manifesting once any of us get older, that too is not a given.  Some pets go through a plethora of medical treatments at an early age while others live their whole lives healthy and strong.

Before you adopt (and continue even once you are old pals), communicate heart to heart with the dog or cat. Ask him or her what he or she wants and needs from you to make their life whole.  If you’re having trouble tuning in, call on an Animal Communicator to help.  An older pet has a history, hopefully most good, but some not so much leaving the animal with trust, anxiety or other issues you may need to find a way around.  Any way that you can let him or her know you care and reach their heart, is a paw in the right direction!

Don’t be surprised if some of your new lady or fella’s antics remind you of a pet you have said your good-byes to.  Our furry best friends keep watching over us, and sometimes give your new canine or feline the scoop on how to be your very best boy or girl.

If you want to learn how to enhance the life of your senior, tune in to the AGING DOG SUMMIT!  I’m one of 16 speakers with GRReat tips!  https://petsafetycrusader–sizzle.thrivecart.com/aging-dog-summit–fast-action/

Also, catch my VLOG on this topic on Monday 6/18 11am Eastern at www.Facebook.com/Sunny-dogInk


For 20 years Denise Fleck’s Sunny-dog Ink motto has been “Helping people to help their pets,” and she has…teaching more than 15,000 pet lovers animal life-saving skills and millions more on “The Doctors,” CNN, “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life,” Animal Planet and other TV shows.  Denise is a frequent conference speaker, developed a line of pet first aid kits and now offers classes online.  

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