A friend and neighbor of mine had just got a French Bulldog puppy. This puppy, one day, managed to escape the apartment and wander into the hallways of the large Manhattan building we resided in. As days went by, it was apparent that little Frankie had been stolen. Posters were put up around our neighborhood of Washington Heights in hopes to find him with the big reward offered.
I spoke with a number of people, what I could ascertain was that people knew that the Frenchie was an expensive dog, and it seemed, hope in finding him was slim because of this.
One day, my friend had a knock on his door. A neighbor had found Frankie in the hallways and had been keeping him in their apartment. Frankie didn't want any of it, however, and had spent days howling, pooping on the floor and chewing things up. With no questions asked, Frankie was handed over (apparently with much relief).
Shortly after this incident, I was walking my three dogs, Chippy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bunny a mini Dachshund and Oopla a Panamanian street dog. Chippy was the only Cavalier in the area. A man stopped me, pointed at Chippy and asked what breed he was. The first thing that came to my mind, was Frankie.
Knowing that dog thefts were on the rise in my neighborhood, I hesitated before I said "He's a Spaniel." "Espanol?" the man said. "No" I said, "he's a ...Spaniel." Again, "Espanol?" I could see that this wasn't going to be easy, I carefully said "A..........Spaniel." Sure enough, one more time "Espanol?". "No", I said "he's a Mutt."
Written by guest blogger Carly Arbitman who is getting featured, along with her dog Carl, in Oprah Winfrey's magazine! Congratulations Carly!
When one envisions getting a dog, it is usually the image of a puppy with large eyes, a soft nose and big paws that comes to mind. One expects to go to the vet for puppy shots, learn how to house train, have the occasional shoe or piece of furniture chewed on and, most of all, to have a loyal companion for 10+ years. Dogs are our best friends; giving everything to us unconditionally even when we do not realize we need or want it. That is why it is particularly heartbreaking when I see an older dog left in a shelter where they are disoriented, scared and have no understanding why they have been left, possibly to die, in a cold, unforgiving cage.
I understand that there are 'life events' that can render a human unable to care for an elderly pet. I think that it is difficult (not just financially) to watch a dog age and our society is designed to constantly want an upgrade when something gets old, worn out and needs maintenance. Face it, a new iPhone has barely been released before another version is being promoted. We have become a World where things are easily discarded and for some, dogs are included. This is where I decided to make a change, even if it is only significant to one dog at a time, I would adopt and care for an older dog for whatever amount of time they had left.
A few years ago, my sister rescued a 5lb chihuahua from a hoarder and brought here into my life. She was old, had only 4 rotten teeth in her mouth, a significant heart murmur and occasionally had seizures. She was also sweet, spunky and fearless. The moment I met her I realized we had a connection and knew she was supposed to be my dog. I named her Chiclet and had almost three wonderful years with her. It was incredibly hard when I had to let her go, but I do not regret adopting her, only that it was for such a short time. Even though she was tiny, Chiclet left a big impression on me and I now understand the love and gratitude that older dogs have for those who adopt them. These older dogs are thrown away and have to learn to live differently with no understanding of why. On the day Chiclet died I decided that I needed to adopt another older dog. Even though losing her hurt and I never wanted to feel pain like that again, I knew there was another little dog out there that was sad and in need of love and care and that I could help.
After Chiclet died, I (half jokingly) said to my sister that I would end up adopting an old, blind, deformed chihuahua. Two weeks later Carl, an 8lb Chihuahua mix who was blind from glaucoma and had a severely deformed front leg, showed up on the Animal Care and Control's Super Urgent list (the dogs on this list can be put on the euthanasia list at any time). He was everything I wanted and just like with Chiclet, I knew he needed to be my dog. Luckily, a great rescue group pulled him out of the shelter and he was transported (via The Mayor's Alliance) to me.
The first night Carl curled up in my bed with his head resting on my pillow and I could see that he knew he was where he belonged. Older dogs are grateful in ways that puppies can never be because an older dog has trusted and loved and been let down. Once they feel loved and safe again there is nothing more special then the look they get on their face (yes even the blind ones have the look!) and the peace that radiates around them. I will always see the value in an older dog and will honor Chiclet, Carl and all the others who will come after them by giving them a safe and happy place to live out their lives.
Please consider adopting an older dog. It may only be for a short time, but they will remain in your heart and add strength to your life forever.
Chiclet may she R.I.P. and Carl.