Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I have to admit, it puzzles me a bit when I see older dogs and cats being brought into the animal shelter. Don't get me wrong; I know why a lot of people do it, and I understand their reasoning.

I've seen a 14-year-old Cocker Spaniel at the shelter. In human terms, that's close to being a centenarian. Failing eyesight, dental problems, and a tumor about the size of a tennis ball on one shoulder. Not easy to look at and remember that it was once a bouncing puppy just a few short years ago. Heartbreaking to realize that same bouncing puppy quite likely won't be around much longer. In our own household, it's been a rough 18 months; we've lost a cat to illness, a bird to old age, and we have another aged cat who will be lucky if he survives another few months. It's never easy on the pet owners.

But I'd think that it's harder for the pets themselves.

I'm pretty sure that Sarge has no idea what he's doing here. He's part German Shepherd, and looks like he might have a little Akita in him as well. He's strong for his age, and confident. He's good with other dogs most of the time, even the little puppies who just don't understand what respecting one's elders is all about. Sure, his eyes may not be what they were eight years ago, and he's got some patches of dry skin and shots of grey in his fur. You'd have a hard time convincing him that any of that triviata matters, though.

I like walking with good ol' Sarge. I'm a "big dog" kind of person anyway (as if dogs like Johann and Engel weren't a giveaway there), but there's a certain ineffible quality that a lot of older dogs bring with them that's as delightful as it is elusive. Dignified but not too stuffy; proud, yet strangely affable: Sarge tries to shoot for that narrow line between the contradictions. He sometimes even manages to pull it off without too many malaprops.

Don't get me wrong - Sarge is far from genteel at times. He doesn't really understand why you look at him crossly for marking that tree, or for "mounting" that uppity youngster up in his grill. I think he genuinely assumes that every other dog in the world admires him, and he's like some kind of "Awkward Uncle Albert" trying too hard to be groovy with the younger set. He doesn't argue or complain when you correct him, but it's really, really hard to be stern with him; Sarge just carries that much unabashed affection in him.

As I write this, I know that he's been at the shelter far too long. And I know he may well be gone forever (or gone to live with someone else) before I get a chance to see him again. Strange as it sounds, a part of me is perfectly fine with that. No matter what happens from this point on, I know that Sarge managed to figure out something really important. Something that a lot of people never even come close to realizing, with all their superior brainpower.

Sarge has found his happy place, and it's not a place at all. It's wherever he happens to be.


Tajana and Almir said...

Is someone going to step up and rescue Sarge? He looks like such a gentle and wise dog...doesn't deserve to go out like that. He needs love and to live out the remainder of his life in LOVE.

Rebecca said...

So how does someone go about meeting Sarge and determining if he is a dog that would fit in with our family?

Shelter Diaries said...


I am very sorry to have missed your comment for so long - I've corrected the problem with not getting notification of comments now, hopefully.

Any of the dogs that are currently available can be found in the links at the sidebar of the page - under "Adoptable Dogs" for Russel Posch's gallery of what's currently in the shelter. If you would like to contact the shelter, their website (with address and phone number) are linked up there, as well.

I do apologize again, but Sarge was adopted on the 27th. I will try to keep an eye out for a dog of similar personality if you'd like, or you can e-mail the shelter if there's a specific type of dog you're looking for. The Animal Services Manager was just commenting to me the other day that he can find just about any kind of dog, given a few days to send a shout-out to all of the myriad rescue groups he's in contact with.