Why You Should Care About Senior Dogs

There are few pleasant places left on the internet, save for the Facebook page belonging to Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary (OFSDS). I first discovered OFSDS sometime last year, after seeing the organization mentioned in one of the many dog-friendly Facebook groups I’m a part of. After finding their Facebook page, the rest was history. I became enamored with the organization and the dogs it takes care of. As the name of OFSDS might suggest, they absolutely create a sanctuary for senior dogs. While senior dogs are often abandoned or euthanized, OFSDS provides them a second chance. Besides the fact that the dogs are cute, the good that they do is the real reason you should be supporting them on social media.

Old friends get into a traffic jam at the Sanctuary.

Humble Beginnings:

OFSDS began as a small senior dog rescue based out of two homes in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. After becoming active on social media, however, the organization soon obtained internet stardom. Through its popularity online, OFSDS advocates for senior pets and helps to find forever homes for many of its foster dogs. They were recently forced to move the Sanctuary to a commercial (rather than residential) location, which will help them accommodate more visitors and volunteers in the long run. If you’d like to visit Old Friends someday, make sure to keep checking their website for details as they become available.

About the Dogs:

Leo the dog in action.

Some of the dogs in the care of OFSDS have become internet celebrities in their own right. My personal favorite is Leo, who is a mystery mix of a few different dog breeds. There’s also Captain Ron, who has one eye and thus, looks like a very rugged, seafaring captain. Another famous face is Mildred, a black pug who ran an unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign. Zina Goodin, one of the founders of OFSDS said that Mildred “is the perfect choice for a presidential campaign due to her confident, in-control attitude, wisdom and ability to spread the word that senior dogs rule.” I have to agree; senior dogs obviously deserve a representative in US politics.

On their website, OFSDS offers some choice merchandise featuring many of their wonderful dogs. All proceeds go to support their organization, so a mug with Leo’s face on it is definitely a justifiable purchase.

Why It Matters:

Old Friends states on their website that: “senior dogs, especially those with medical problems or disabilities, face a much greater chance of euthanasia at shelters than younger dogs because it is difficult to find adopters for them due to their shorter additional life expectancy and unknown veterinary costs.” With senior dogs, people fear the unknown and they fear attaching themselves to an animal whose time with them might be short. But with so many dogs in need of a home, something has to be done.

I’ve had two senior dogs in my life, so senior pets definitely hold a special place in my heart. The first was Patches, a dog my grandmother adopted from a kill shelter in South Carolina. Though a small dog, Patches’ age was already in the double digits when my grandmother adopted him. Not to mention, he had a bit of a temper. Still, she took him home and saved him from what likely would have been a death sentence. After my grandmother moved in with my family, Patches effectively became my dog. I held him during thunder storms (he was terrified of them) and gave him belly rubs when he asked. Sadly, Patches passed away the summer before I started college, but having him as a pet cemented my understanding of senior dogs and their needs.

My other dog Sara is still with us, but she’s about to turn fourteen in April. I have had

My dog Sara, who’s looking a little gray these days.

Sara since I was six years old. She’s grown up with me and has been a constant for my entire childhood. Sara was my family’s first pet and I admit she wasn’t adopted. But, as she’s grown older and developed a few medical problems, I’ve realized that if Sara didn’t have us, there’s no saying what her life would be like. As dogs grow older, some owners find themselves overwhelmed by mounting medical costs and the dog’s apparent age.  According to NPR, about a million of the four million dogs surrendered each year are abandoned due to their age. Their age, however, also means they’re far less likely to be adopted.

What You Can Do:

If you don’t already, make an effort to adopt your pets. And when you do look at adopting, don’t count out senior dogs, cats, etc. There are some benefits of adopting a senior dog, just as there are benefits with adopting a puppy. Senior dogs are calmer and usually already trained. Not to mention, with your help, they can live a happy and fulfilling life. If given the chance, senior dogs can make the perfect pets.

There’s also the option of fostering senior pets. For example, OFSDS will actually pay for any costs related to a dog’s basic needs or veterinary care, if they think your home would make a good foster environment for a dog. Be sure to check out local rescues near you to see what animals are looking for foster families.

Are you still interested in how you can help, even if you’re not able to foster or adopt a senior dog? Then supporting rescue organizations like OFSDS is a way to do that. Make sure to support no-kill shelters, which focus on rehoming abandoned pets, rather than euthanizing them.

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