We often get requests to take-in old dogs to the shelter. People figure that the animals they look after in the street will feel better with us, but they are wrong. Although we have our “Old dogs club”, we only admit old animals that have no other option – either abandoned old pets, or homeless animals, needing life-long treatment.
The truth is that the routine, the familiar environment are of great importance for the life longevity of old animals. Getting used to the shelter life – caged, noisy and restless – is especially difficult for the oldies. And it can simply lead to a much shorter life expectancy of an old dog.
That’s why, when the dog is not in immediate danger, we offer treatment (most often these are tumor surgeries, skin illness caused by lowered immunity and car-trauma), and then ask the care-takers to continue looking after their homeless friends at the place, they have gotten used to in the years before.
We had quite a few dogs with us for treatment in the last few weeks, and will introduce you to the two most typical cases, dogs with code names “Baba” – or Granny, and “Dedi” – or Granddad.
Baba came in with a large tumor on her back leg and a small one on the lower eyelid as well. Both were removed successfully. We had some disagreements with her, whether or not she was a young horse that should stomp about the shelter grounds, after feeling relief from her pains. So we were forced to perform some medieval tying techniques to keep her immobilized while her surgery heals. She is all well and back in her familiar life, we can predict long years to come for her, she still has life in her, the old girl.
Dedi is also a “classic example” – bitten severely by an owned dog that was set loose on purpose. That is, if you do not know, a popular local dog “sport”. All you need is an aggressive strong dog, and to have a great fun you need to find a homeless dog for it to destroy. Fun, right… And the fun multiplies if that dog is helpless or old. Yeah.
And our Dedi is such a soft dog, so kind, so gentle and good. A long time ago he must have had a home, but he managed to adapt to homeless life, and still keep on loving people. His wounds were so severely infected that the clinic smelled irresistibly of “Eau de Dedi” for a few days before the antibiotics kicked in. He too is now healthy and back where he belongs. We want to say that he is now retired from “sports” activities, but as the current situation with the Animal Protection Act, that is just wishful thinking.
You can always count on us to help old dogs – all you need is to contact the shelter and make an arrangement for a check-up and maybe admittance for treatment. But don’t forget – the shelter is not a quiet nice place for an old animal and it is a huge stress to them getting used to this new life. We do not do it, because we are heartless or lazy. Old dogs are easy to care for. But for them, it is much better to continue living life as they know it. Just like it is with old people. Only without speech nor understanding what’s happening. Thank you for caring!
Regarding the old dogs that remain in the shelter, we try to provide them maximum comfort at the end of their lives. They live in cages with dogs alike, they have more comfortable beds. And when it is apparent that the time to go is near, we move them to our improvised “office”, where we have a burning stove and people all day long. This way we have said our goodbyes with many loved oldies. Now it is the time for a boy we call Tiulena. The name means “Seal” – he used to be a great fan of food, but is now losing weight rapidly, on his way to the Other side.
Above you can see Tiulena enjoying his last days spoiled by volunteer Martha – the old dogs’ biggest friend, ever since we were in the old shelter. There is so much peace, such an acceptance in the eyes of the old dogs when they sense the time has come. And yet… it doesn’t make parting easier… it still hurts, you still tell yourself: I couldn’t provide you the home you craved, old friend… I can only hope the love we gave you was enough for you…
P.S. We had many questions on behalf of the nearly-blind old granny Svetlio pulled out of the Horror shaft. The good old lady was adopted by the people who cared for her near their home. She now lives with them, safe and sound from now on.