On June 8, Dooney turned a ripe old age of eight.
Just looking at him prancing around, eagerly participating in his favourite game of fetch, one would never guess this sprightly springer spaniel is anything beyond four.
Dooney is the perfect candidate for adoption. He has a beautiful coat of black and white, floppy ears and the brightest eyes. He is good natured, extremely intelligent and loyal to the core. He loves outings to the beach and the dog run. He is docile, eager to please and good with the young and old alike.
But when one gets wind that this otherwise active, healthy and happy dog is already eight... one lets out a startled "oh"... which is swiftly followed by an awkward silence.
I am not condemning such a response. In fact, I believe responding in such a manner is perfectly normal. I do understand that when looking for a dog, one of the criterion of the average adopter is to be able to spend as much time as possible with the dog.
Nobody likes to fall in love with a dog and lose it soon after. The process of grieving can be heart-wrenching and intolerable.
But if we all think this way, what's going to happen to all the senior dogs in the world without a home? Wouldn't they then be forever condemned?
As it is, senior dogs (typically dogs over the age of seven) are first to be put down in overcrowded shelters around the world. These dogs are deemed over the hill and unadoptable by virtue of their age alone, regardless of their personality, their temperament or their appearance.
It's so easy to sigh and remark that that is the reality of our world.
I feel like there is a need to break this cycle, this growing acceptance that older dogs found in shelters are better off euthanised.
Imagine you are fifty, you just got retrenched and no matter how desperately you look for another job, you simply can't get one. The work force is saturated with hoards of eager, young graduates hungry to make their mark in the world and content with a smaller starting pay. In the face of such stiff competition, your years of experience in the industry and loyalty to the company now count for absolutely nothing.
By virtue of your age, you are eliminated. It's as simple as that.
You have outlived your usefulness. Your competence and your efficiency attained through years of toil are now easily overlooked. Companies no longer find it worthwhile to take a chance on you.
Should someone not step in to help you out? Should the world give up on you as a result of your age? Do you not still have a life to live, perhaps a family to feed or a mortgage to pay?
More importantly, are you less of a person because of your age?
And this brings me to my point... senior dogs aren't any less of a dog because they are seniors. They, like any other dog, are no less deserving of a loving owner or a place to call home.
Dooney is a retired working dog who was rescued the very day he was meant to be put to sleep. Despite having just turned eight, he is otherwise active and healthy and a suitable candidate for adoption.
Perhaps senior dogs aren't the most appropriate for first time dog owners. But what about those with one dog and seeking another for companionship? What about seasoned adopters with a better understanding of a dogs' needs?
If you find in your home - and heart - enough room for one more dog, we urge you to take a chance on our Dooney. You may be the very person to give this old dog the best years of his life. Knowing that you have changed his life may very well be more poignant and precious than the pain of eventual separation.
Don't they always say that love knows no age? A dog will love you whole-heartedly regardless whether you're old, wrinkly, white-haired or wheelchair-bound. It is high time we, too, look past a dog's age and love him for the dog that he is.
By adopting Dooney, you'll change his life forever. But we're sure that in more ways than one, he'll change yours as well.
We'll be very happy to entertain adoption enquiries and other questions on Dooney at firstname.lastname@example.org.