Vol 4 No 2

Spring 2002

Front Page

Features in this Issue:

Operation Golden Bells at Christmas

Old Gold Shines Brightest

Happy News

Letters to GRRI

GRRI NEWS Archives

Old Gold Shines Brightest

From the second I would put my key in the lock, the commotion started on the other side of the door. The thumps that meant the dogs had woken and were hurriedly rising. The clicking as they ran across the wood floor towards the door. The tails thwacking in stereo against the jumble of things that lined the bookshelves in my entry way. These sounds were so reassuring and wonderful, I often stood there for a moment or two and just smiled.

Still, nothing outshined the actual greeting. Two Golden bodies in full wag, both jockeying for position to get the very first pets. Then Tyler would rush off and immediately run back bearing a gift some toy of his choosing as if to say "I'm so happy to see you, I just have to carry something!"

I was Tyler's second stop in rescue. His first stop was the veterinarian's office, where he was given an exam and neutered. A scant day and half later, I took him home with me as a foster dog.

It was obvious from the start that Tyler loved to eat, and that in addition to being overweight, age had begun to take its toll. He limped badly from hip dysplasia and his veterinary test results also suggested some type of kidney malfunction. But he was clearly a very sweet dog; a gentle soul with a vigorous tail wag and a broad and happy smile.

Even so, Tyler's first evening here was not without difficulties. Unsure of these new surroundings, he insisted on trying to dominate the situation by humping me every time I went to pet him. When I crated him for the night in my small office, he cried deep, sobbing wails all night long. By the next day, I'd decided he and I would both be better served if he slept outside the crate in that small room, and sure enough, we were. What's more, he somehow figured out that humping wasn't a good thing, and stopped even bothering to try.

Over the course of the next few days, Tyler would meet many new dogs and people in my little city, and greet them all in friendship. He settled into the new sights, sounds and smells of apartment and urban life remarkably well, taking them completely in stride. It took a full two days before I heard him bark, a deep baritone warning bark that he'd held in reserve until someone dropped a heavy box in the vestibule of my apartment building, and Tyler felt he ought to let me know about it.

The word on the street among friends and family who'd met him was that Tyler had already found a new home with me. And my own dog, Scout, did nothing to discourage this view. She'd accepted him immediately and without reservation. Within the first week, Tyler had full run of the apartment with Scout when I was home, and the two of them happily coexisted there, squabble free. I, on the other hand, was convinced I was simply Tyler's foster home, a helpful way station on his journey to a permanent home elsewhere.

Meanwhile, subsequent veterinary tests confirmed that Tyler did have kidney disease, and though he was not in total renal failure, further diagnostics and treatment would be necessary. With that news, this senior dog became a senior special needs dog and a much more challenging adoptive placement.

The weeks passed into months, and no potential adoptive families stepped forward. But Tyler was thriving he had slimmed down a bit and along with the help of daily glucosomine supplements, his hips were becoming less and less painful. I vividly remember the first time he actually RAN after a ball, and how extraordinarily happy I felt seeing him able to do this. Acknowledging that feeling cinched it for me. My head which had been focusing on his advanced age and the more serious aspects of his health had finally caught up with my heart. When I accepted the real truth that I'd fallen for Tyler hook, line, and sinker despite it all I  asked to adopt him myself.

Still, it's one thing to recognize and act on your own feelings what about the dog? You see that he's happy and doing well and yet you wonder: how deep is his bond to you, and how deep can it really be? After all, most of his life has been spent with other people.

Well, in subtle and not so subtle ways, Tyler made it plain: I was his family. It wasn't just the way he greeted me when I came home, or the way he followed me from room to room, or even the way he wagged his tail whenever I spoke his name. It's that in a world filled with wonderful distractions, this confident and friendly dog showed me over and over again that I was at the center of his universe.

One day, for example, I decided to play a little game of hide and seek with both of my dogs in the dog run at our local park, a favorite spot for both of them. Scout spotted me right away, and deciding she had better things to do, promptly went about ignoring me. Tyler, on the other hand, had a bit more trouble finding me. As I hid behind a big tree, peering around, I could see him scanning the landscape which was filled with dogs and people he knew not seeing me, and getting frantic. So I let out a little whistle. He jerked his head around, and upon spotting me, his whole demeanor changed in a flash and he came running.

And one morning, as I was taking Tyler off his leash there, a fellow dog owner we know opened the dog run door for me and called Tyler in. Tyler LOVED going in the dog run. It was filled with fun playmates and lots of great things to sniff in fact, I generally only needed to whisper the word "park" and he'd be ready to go. But at that moment, he refused to budge. Instead, he did something I'd never trained him or expected him to do: he stood there, turned, and looked straight at me, as if to ask, "Is it OK?"

All this from a 10 year old dog who, as of that day, had lived with me for just 10 weeks.

There are far too many dogs in shelters and rescue groups awaiting homes, and with all the dogs to choose from, it can be especially easy to say "no" to the idea of adopting a senior. I won't deny that those white faces have often tugged at my heartstrings, but adopting one myself much less one with a known medical problem well, I used to think that was something other people did.

But Tyler helped me know better: through him, I realized that those "other people" had the right idea all along.

Won't you enrich your own heart and home by adopting a senior Golden?
Old Gold Shines Brightest