News & Events

Adopting Seniors

By: Dr. Page Wages

Some people might call me crazy, but when I look into the weathered eyes of a dog or cat in need of a home, I melt; Especially the older ones.  Every dog has a story to tell, of a previous life, good or bad, of owners they knew, and experiences had.  Every cat also has a story to tell, of how they were treated, and who they could trust.  Every rescue animal has a story and a history and unwrapping those stories toward the end of their lives can be rewarding.  Just look into their eyes and you can see all they want is a warm, soft bed, someone to love on them, and food in their bellies.  That’s all.  No matter what their life was like before, for me, I want them to end well.

            The first senior pet I adopted was Paddy, a 7 year old bulldog who was 30 pounds underweight and had chronic bloody diarrhea.  With a little love and care, Paddy lived another 7 years, and yes, the diarrhea got a little better.  Sir Nicholas, a 13 year old English Cocker Spaniel was in kidney failure and abandoned because his family couldn’t decide whether or not to let him go and didn’t want to pay for any medical expenses.  That “Plunker” as he was nicknamed, trudged along with our little pack for 9 months, getting fluids daily and special food.  But, he had a warm bed and a number of sweaters he loved to wear.  He went to the beach and was carried up a mountain.  He lived a lifetime of comfort in those 9 months.  By then, I was hooked. 


Then along came Pierre.  He was 3 pounds, could barely walk, had no teeth, but had a little spunk about him.  He was being used for an ultrasound class (they used shelter dogs and then they were sent back to be euthanized if no one could home them).  So…I flew little 13 year old Pierre home with me, thinking this pathetic little dog with no hair wouldn’t live another 2 weeks.  Boy did he prove me wrong!  He gained a pound, slowly starting walking around more, loved to wear sweaters, and even wore sunglasses outside because his eyes were so bad.  He lived another 3 years, battled mouth cancer, and kidney disease, but I am sure those 3 years were the best years of his life!


Ruthie, a Great Pyrenees, came to me by accident.  She was an older breeding dog that was no longer needed, she was living with a pile of other Pyrenees dogs.  After seeing the conditions she was in and how badly she wanted to go, I loaded her in the van and brought her home.  Of course we needed a few goats to keep her mind going, so I adopted a few males that were going to be raised for meat and one with a crooked jaw, and we were set.  Except, I quickly discovered Ruthie had a massive ear infection, a crooked jaw, serious heart disease, and kidney disease.  Now that she is on the right medication and food, she is enjoying retirement with her goats and younger Pyrenees that she is training to take her place.  While she prefers to be outside, on hot summer days, she enjoys the air conditioning and a huge comfortable bed to take a nap on.


Terk came in through a local rescue, needing a spay and dental cleaning.  She was 2 pounds at that time and had the biggest eyes I have ever seen.  (I have a soft spot for the tiny dogs)  She was probably 13 or 14 years old and already showing signs of kidney disease.  We did her spay and found when we did her teeth that they had rotted through her bottom jaw to the point there was no bone left.  No wonder she was so skinny….she couldn’t eat!  She was deemed not adoptable because of her inability to eat on her own….but I looked in those big eyes and melted…little Terk was coming home!  She is now hand fed (with my finger) a milkshake meal 4 times a day and has gained a pound!  She is happy just to be held or snuggled in a warm bed with a sweater or two on.  It has been 2 years since she came to the Funny Farm, and we hope she will continue to thrive.


Wobbles, another 14 year old, Pekinese, was found wandering the streets and taken to a shelter.  He was covered in fleas, his eyes were caked with gunk, and he wobbled badly when he walked.  His teeth were rotting.  We cleaned him up, started treating his eyes, pulled most of his teeth and let him recover in the hospital.  But, Wobbles never really ate well so we ran test after test but everything came back normal.  I gave him a bed, and noticed he was happier.  It was time to take him home to see if he needed a family.  The day he came to the Funny Farm, his tail went up and he started eating.  While he isn’t perfectly potty trained, he loves to wander around outside (he doesn’t see well), and can be found sleeping on his bed most days.  Wobbles may not live much longer, but at least he will be comfortable and loved.*


Tantor, an older Yorkie, with a crooked leg from a previous fracture came to us for a dental from a rescue.  Only 4 pounds, he was skin and bones.  His dental was done, but he started regurgitating and not able to hold down any food.  Testing was done to determine the cause of his symptoms.  He was found to have a megaesophagus, a chronic disease that affects Yorkies called PLE that doesn’t allow him to absorb his food, and a liver shunt.  Feeding him was going to be a challenge and he was going to need medication long term.  Another challenge for the Funny Farm!  Tantor came home and has been enjoying snuggling in warm blankets and being carried around in a sack.

Mr. Cat

Mr. Cat came to a local rescue after being found with his sibling cat in a home with a person that had passed away.  His name was Miss Kitty according to his records.  We examined him and found him to be a male….so his name was changed to Mr. Cat.  His sibling cat had records showing him to be 18 years old and was in kidney failure and sick, so was opted to be euthanized.  Mr. Cat, apparently an outdoor cat, was stuck.  How were we going to be able to find him a home at his age (guessing about 14 or 15)?  Oh!  And he can’t see.  But, he wanted to be outside.  So…Mr. Cat came home to the Funny Farm and a giant screened in porch with a  heated dog house, a giant dog bed, and enough stuff to climb and sit on, that he was happy once again. 

While my life has been blessed over the years and will continue to be blessed by the furry souls that touch it, I have found that adoption of the senior pets to be the most rewarding, for both of us.  I love trying to unwrap their histories, while providing whatever comforts they need (both physical and medical) to make their one life count.  Won’t you be willing to let an old friend into your home?  Most of the pets I have adopted have come from the Wake County SPCA or Second Chance, but there are a number of rescues out there just looking to put some of these guys in a forever home.  Even if forever is a few months to years. 

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