Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Pitfall of Adopting a Senior Dog

We heard about Pepi, a senior guy in Australia, who was adopted by former Olympic Level Michele Brown. Pepi was 12 years old at the time. That was 6 years ago. He is now 18 years old and leads quite an active life.

The Pitfall: Adopt a senior dog and he might be around a little longer than you expect.

We wanted to find out more about Pepi from an adoption perspective so Ms. Brown was kind enough to share the following with us.

What compelled you to adopt Pepi?
Without any preconceived ideas, Pepi was chosen from more handsome dogs because of his eyes. He was in a shelter pen with five bouncy puppies and his eyes pleaded, "Help! There's been a mistake. I'm not supposed to be here." He knew the odds were against him. When I couldn't take him that day, he sighed, dropped his head, and with great sadness turned and shuffled away. He came home the next day. Pepi knows how to speak from his heart.

Do you know how Pepi ended up homeless and in the shelter?
We are told he lived his "first" life with an elderly couple who had to move to a nursing home. He was 12 years (84 dog years) when he was made "homeless." The only thing his bio said was that he did not like riding in cars. He actually loves the car!

Pepi with his adoptive "grandpa" and "mom"

How did Pepi adjust to his new home?
The three (human) weeks at the shelter saved his life. Separation from his first family ripped his world apart. He hadn't been trained to beg on the street. He couldn't have survived on his own. It was tough for him at the shelter but when we got him home, he was so grateful. True, for a couple of months he had sad memories and, though anxious to please us, nothing could console him. He took 6 months to make his first bark. We were stunned and happy to hear it. Pepi was coming out of his shell! Nowadays, he has a huge vocabulary. His rehabilitation included taking walks, playing together, grooming and socializing with other dogs. Slowly at first, he came around. Once he turned the corner, he never looked back. Pepi is in his "second" life.

Does Pepi have any special needs or health issues that require special care?
Love and respect: Pepi is a dog-person, not "just a dog." When we enter a room, Pepi greets us with a tail wag. We greet him with a pat. Pepi lives indoors, as befitting a gentleman of his age. A deep, comfy bed is appreciated.
Responsibilities: Certain tasks are assigned to Pepi - carry in the mail, assist with groceries, accompany the trash out, charm visitors.
Security: He can still hear the front door bell.
Medical: A yearly health check and teeth cleaning. Monthly flea and heart worm preventative. Pepi has NO arthritis! At age 12 Pepi had signs of eye cataracts. Now his vision is down to 5% but it doesn't hold him back. His hearing is also down to 5%. But his heart and vital organs are in great shape!
Food: A fussy eater, but a wide variety of tastes.

What does Pepi do for fun and exercise?
Every day Pepi and I do a 5 mile run. Pepi rides in a child's pram while I run behind and push the pram. He rides 1/4 mile, walks 50 yards, rides, walks...

Pepi sometimes picks up hitchhikers.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it, how many Pepis are overlooked in shelters everywhere just because they are in their golden years.

Pepi in the News:
"Plenty of Tricks in Pepi's Pram"

September 16, 2009
Earlier this month Pepi had gone to the vet for a routine dental cleaning. Immediately thereafter he started going into kidney failure, probably as a result of the anesthesia. Pepi was in and out of the hospital and was seeing a kidney specialist. Today Pepi was released from the hospital. After only 5 minutes at home he suffered a massive stroke. Pepi was rushed back to the hospital where he sadly had to be euthanized. Our deepest sympathy to Pepi's family. Rest in peace, little guy. You were one amazing dog!

Pepi's Memorial