"We're going to grow old whether we have a dog or not" were the wise words of my dear friend Bob Goldenberg when I introduced him and his wife, Peggy to my foster dog Darcy.
I had taken Darcy to their home several months after they had lost their beloved dog "Bo" for a "meet and greet," as we call it in the rescue world. If you know Bob, then you knew Bo, as he was a fixture at Bob's side. Whether at his law office or the golf course, Bo was ever-present. And while heartbroken at the loss of Bo last spring, even Bob knew that some day he'd be ready for a new friend.
And when that day came, it took me little time to find just the right dog for him. Albeit difficult to fill Bo's paws, fatefully, I had the perfect dog in my home already. Little did I know when I took Darcy and her puppy into my home to foster weeks earlier, that she would be just what the doctor ordered for curing the broken heart!
Darcy was a black Labrador who arrived at our shelter with a single new born puppy and a badly injured tail. Honestly, her tail was disgusting. It looked like it had been skinned so it wasn't shocking that the vet warned of amputation. Regardless and despite her hard luck, that tail never stopped wagging.
Why she only had one puppy when Labs are notorious for large litters is a mystery but only one was found. So I took them home knowing I'd foster them until the puppy was old enough to be weaned..at least eight weeks. But it didn't take me that long to figure out that Darcy might be the sweetest dog on the face of the earth.
So when Bob gave me the high sign to begin scouting for a new dog, I was loading Darcy in my car before we hung up the phone. And when we arrived and as if on cue, she hopped out of my car, trotted up the sidewalk to their kitchen door, sat down and waited to be let in as if she'd done so a hundred times before. Almost as if she knew she was home.
Things were going well with our visit until Peggy sensibly said "We're getting older Bob. Maybe we shouldn't get another dog." Bob and Peggy have been married for more than 60 years, so Bob was well prepared with his rebuttal. "We're going to grow old whether we have a dog or not. I'd rather have one."
I could have leapt across the couch and hugged Bob but there was no room for me as Darcy had her big Lab head already planted in his lap. And a few weeks later Darcy took up permanent residence in Bob's lap and the lap of luxury when her puppy was weaned and off to start his own life.
When the three of them stopped by my house for a visit recently, Darcy leapt from the car and ran to greet me, her big lush tail swishing the air. Yes, her tail was also saved! She ran around the yard like she was happy to be there but when Bob uttered her name, she came flying. She knows exactly who her family is and she adores them both! Best of all when they readied to return home Peggy whispered in my ear "Darcy is the sweetest dog we've ever had." I tried to hide my tears.
It's not unusual to hear people say that at some point it's unfair to bring a pet into your home as the future may be uncertain. And I couldn't agree more that factoring in time, energy and resources is a necessity in decision-making, regardless of your age.
I think our shelter statistics would support that most animals are relinquished because people are moving or "don't have time" for their pet. And while occasionally it results from an owner moving into a nursing home or into the hospital, these instances are far rarer than those that just don't have time for their pets anymore. Senior citizens have plenty of time and love to share.
Choosing the right pet is incredibly important regardless of your age. But as our hectic lives slow down and the demands on our time lessen we should actually have more time to share with a pet. And with the right pet, seniors are not only great caretakers but benefit immensely from their companionship.
The Humane Society of Parkersburg has a Seniors for Seniors program that includes discounted adoption fees and other perks to seniors who adopt senior animals (over 6 years of age), so please visit our shelter or our website (www.hsop.org ) to learn more about this program because we're never too old to fall in love! Just ask Bob.
Carrie Roe is president of the Humane Society of Parkersburg