When Jacks Galore takes on the geriatric set we bring in the senior jacks that are no longer wanted, have outlived their usefulness, whose owners have passed before them, or life has just brought them some bad luck. We find this part of our rescue mission to be of utmost importance. The sanctuary offers hospice for the feeble, ill of health, or those unadoptable due to age, and care for them until they cross the infamous bridge. The elderly who come into our lives take on a very special meaning for Jacks Galore as we find the reward in showing them the kindness and gentle hand that they so need at this time in their life, so gratifying; the ones who no longer have a chance.
In the last few years it seems that the numbers of older dogs finding themselves homeless has greatly increased. More and more rescues and shelters are unable to take them in for lack of space or time. Sometimes these are the first to be put down because they do not get adopted, the health care needed was unaffordable, too invasive, or the recovery time too lengthy. One of our greatest expenses here at Jacks Galore is veterinary care for the seniors with poor health issues; this is where we do not feel we can hold back. Often it’s just a matter of making a senior dog comfortable with pain medication, or having a dental done that removes the infection and the pain disappears so they may eat a healthy diet. When a jack is still in reasonable health and surgery such as removing a tumor affecting them will give them more quality time, then we work together with our vet to come up with the best solution and offer a meaningful life. We don’t do heroics here at JG, for that we find we must use common sense when working together with our vet, and if we are not able to make the dog whole again then we make every effort to provide a happy, comfortable life, able to enjoy their remaining days.
Letting an old dog know that they may sleep as much as they want, be crabby if need be, lounge in your lap and be picky with their diet, at least offers them the end-of-life experience that they’ve deserved. We have seen many seniors pass through our doors in the last few years; some have given us a few days, a few months, some even 3, 4 or sometimes 5 more years of wonderful companionship. Two of our newest seniors currently up for adoption are Typhoon and Roxy, 12 and 14 years of age respectively. Full of incredible vigor and energy, ball playing fanatics, delightfully sweet and kind to all that they meet. They came from a family situation where they could no longer be cared for and were brought to us for rehoming. We do truly hope that we can find that safe haven as they are two of the most affectionate jacks, and they certainly still have an enormous amount of health and life in them. But if that proves unattainable, then we will welcome them into the sanctuary to spend their remaining years with us and the rest of the clan.
Two new seniors who came into the sanctuary most recently, Mary and Junior, both with limited time at JG, will probably be two jacks who have spent the shortest time with us in our home. Mary’s liver cancer and her inability to be physically comfortable is all making her time here very short. Junior who has prostate cancer, despite being neutered at a very early age, is starting to show signs of the inability to urinate fully, whose appetite has diminished greatly and whose health is deteriorating.
Even though the seniors’ time left on earth varies, we make a point of not waiting too long to let them go, and hoping that we can still take them to our vet for their final day with a wagging tail and a sparkle in their eyes. JG dad and JG mom always hold these creatures in our arms, and with the gentle and compassionate touch of our vet Dr. Reiners, we know that the end will be uneventful and pain-free. Probably the hardest part for us is going back when the ashes return and putting them back in the earth where all jacks have found their beginning.
I encourage everyone to consider adopting a senior or elder statesman at some point in their lives. The joy of giving them love, affection and time in their final months or years is certainly more rewarding for us humans then many other things we do in life. And those who have adopted a senior from us, one family in particular comes to mind, have said that even though their newly adopted geriatric Jack ended up having so little time with them, it was something they would never change. This dog was loved so deeply, and they are so happy that they gave him what he deserved. A life worth living.