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Golden Oldies: Heartwarming Stories of Senior Dog Adoption

Golden Oldies: Heartwarming Stories of Senior Dog Adoption

The Rainbow Bridge Doesn’t Have to Be Sad

The Rainbow Bridge. That meadow in front of the pearly gates where our beloved four-legged friends wait for us, so they can escort us into heaven when our time comes. Whether you believe in the Rainbow Bridge or not, it does help pet owners cope with the loss of their furry companions. There’s no easy way to tackle the subject of grief and loss, but I believe focusing on the joy of the time we have together can make the goodbye a little easier.

I dread the day I have to say goodbye to my dog Bowie. The thought of losing him breaks my heart, but I’d rather cherish every moment we have than constantly worry about the inevitable. As Hilary Stanton Zunin said, “The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.”

That’s the sentiment shared by my friend Lisa Domeny, the founder of Team Golden Oldies. Lisa has adopted countless senior rescue dogs, each one teaching her valuable lessons about life, love, and loss. She’s experienced the heartbreak of saying goodbye more times than most, but her passion for giving these golden oldies a loving forever home never wavers.

Loving with Your Whole Heart

“When a senior dog enters your life, love is not measured in quantity but quality,” Lisa told me. “Yes, their time with you might be limited, but the unconditional love they give you is not.”

Lisa started her love affair with senior pups while fostering 13-year-old Maggie. Though they only had 9 months together, watching Maggie embrace life with such joy was truly transformative. That experience inspired Lisa to dedicate her life to rescuing and rehoming senior dogs.

In the last 5 years, Lisa has lost 12 dogs. “Every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them,” she shared. “It’s like a door closes to a room they occupied in my heart.” But Lisa doesn’t let that stop her. When a new dog arrives, “another door to another room seems to open in my heart. A heart is amazing like that – it has the capacity and capability to keep loving and to keep giving.”

The Gift of a Second Chance

I know many people are hesitant to adopt a senior dog because they’re afraid of the heartbreak. But Lisa sees it differently. “For me, I have always felt that it is better to have known a dog, to have loved a dog, for a few years, or even a few months, than to have never known them at all.”

The reality is, each senior dog adopted could have died as a ‘number’ in a shelter if not for the rescues who saved them and the families who decided to give an old dog a loving home. To have the privilege of providing a safe, comfortable place for a senior pup to spend their golden years is truly a gift.

As Lisa said, “If I didn’t, there is no way that I could continually open up my home but more importantly my heart for the inevitable loss that is ‘just around the corner’.” She may have to push down her own grief at times, but Lisa knows she’s giving these dogs the ultimate gift – a chance to be loved.

A Second Chance at Life

One senior dog who got that second chance is Hilda, a 12-13 year old Pekingese mix found abandoned in a foreclosed backyard. Animal control officer Shirley Zindler was drawn to Hilda’s sweet, hopeful gaze peering through the shelter kennel. Though people weren’t lining up to adopt the elderly pup, Shirley was determined to find her a loving home.

Luckily, Shirley’s friend Jann was looking to adopt an older dog. Jann didn’t even want to set foot in the shelter – she just asked Shirley to pick out the perfect senior pup for her. When Shirley brought Hilda to Jann’s beautiful country home, it was love at first sight.

Over the next several months, Hilda blossomed in her new environment. Her coat grew shiny, her muscles toned up, and she seemed to shed 5 years off her age. Jann raved about Hilda’s joyful personality and the special bond they shared. Though Hilda was recently diagnosed with an inoperable lung tumor, she’s spent the last few years in a home filled with love – something every dog deserves.

A Revolving Door of Love

Shirley has seen far too many senior dogs end up abandoned or overlooked in shelters. As an animal control officer, she’s made it her mission to find them the loving homes they deserve, even if it means her own heart gets broken in the process.

“I’ve had my heart broken a thousand times and dripped bitter, miserable tears over the ones I couldn’t save,” Shirley admitted. “But when I see an old dog finally get a loving home, the highs are so high, and the joy is so great as to make it worth the pain.”

That’s why Shirley’s friends, like Lisa, have committed themselves to adopting senior dogs exclusively. They may have to say goodbye sooner than they’d like, but the privilege of giving an old pup a comfortable place to live out their final days is worth it. As Lisa said, “their death has not affected me, how could it not. But I guess I push down many of my feelings in order to continue to do what I do.”

It’s a bittersweet journey, loving a senior dog. But for those of us with big hearts and a lot of love to give, it’s a journey worth taking. Because at the end of the day, we’re not just giving them a home – they’re giving us the greatest gift of all: the chance to love and be loved, however long that may last.

If you’re considering adopting a senior pup, I hope these stories have inspired you. Head to to learn more about the joys and rewards of giving an older dog their forever home.

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