Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Memorium of a Blessed Beagle

It is with a mix of sorrow and pleasure that I reflect for a few moments on the life of Gilbert, a sweet little Beagle who passed away yesterday.

Gilbert lived with Karen, Ruby, Gus, and Fred the cat. He was not always so lucky. Much of Gilbert's life was spent in a wire dog pen suspended off the ground; he was a hunting Beagle who, when he became too old to hunt, was dumped at a shelter.

It was Gilbert's very good luck to end up being adopted by Kathy, who brought him home, provided much needed medical care, comfort, and a level of love and security that Gilbert had never previously known. He repaid her with devotion and a gentle presence that was delightful.

Gilbert learned the fun of playing with treat dispensing toys, sleeping inside on soft beds, having cat and dog friends, children and adults who admired him for his gentle personality. All of this was possible because one person took on the responsibility of adopting a senior dog who wasn't house broken. And because of that one person, Gilbert was given the gift of spending the final year of his life knowing a love and luxury that I think most of us think all dogs should have but that too many do not.

If this example can teach us one thing, it is that we can each make a critical difference if we take a chance on a senior animal in need of a final home where they can live, and die, with the dignity and comfort that they deserve. I wish everyone could know at least once in their life the special bond that can develop when an adopted senior companion is given this chance. The life you change for the better will not just be the life you adopt.


  1. Excellent post! We're tempted to purposefully adopt a senior dog and, in fact, discuss it frequently. But for now, our three feels like a comfortable number (especially because our queen bee, Lucy is approaching her 14th birthday.)

  2. Thanks for taking time to post Sue!
    I agree that each family needs to judge for themselves when the time is right for adding a new member. When the time is right for you I think you'll find that adopting a senior is an experience that makes a real impact.

    One of the dogs who really is unforgettable for me, despite the relatively short time he was with me, was a badly neglected senior Scottish Terrier I adopted for what turned out to be the final six months of his life. He had ear problems and was a pretty typical Scotty - stubborn and independent - but man did I end up loving that dog. We really hit it off and I feel privileged to have known his company and to have been able to give him a better quality of life then he'd been having. I felt like I'd done something worth doing by giving him safety, affection, and comfort so that he didn't end his life dying of old age in a shelter without any person of his own. I also felt we connected in a way that was just as strong as connections I've had after living with dogs for years. I highly recommend the experience of giving a home to one of these golden dogs when you are able :-)

  3. Hi Christy! I had not been on your blog for a few days, wow! Thank you so much. Your post has made me very tearful, in a good way. Thanks for your tribute to a sweet, sweet boy and for all your kinds words of support and recognition.

    These are such hard decisions in every way... Another friend tried to argue with me (a bit, not super long) about my decision. Not awful, but not helpful. Your support has been so, so great, driving me there, expressing exactly the right words of comfort and support, and now this post. Thank you!!! Kathy

    1. These are some of the hardest decisions in my opinion...when is it time to assist a beloved pet in having a dignified release from their pain and suffering?

      I once had a well intentioned vet tech question my decision to have my little old, senile cat and beloved companion of 17 years euthanized. It can be very painful to have to endure other people's good intentions under such circumstances. Generally speaking, when someone has dedicated time, money, love, and effort to caring for an animal, people can rest assured that such a decision has not been made lightly and really doesn't need questioning from outside sources.

  4. In response to Sue, Gilbert was my third senior dog adoptee in four years--all with serious, untreated arthritis and other health problems. All have been fantastic dogs. I gain great joy from helping them (only one is still with us).

    BUT it has been very expensive as I believe in treating their pain and conditions aggressively. All have been a lot of work. All have needed a lot of patience. My carpets are permanently stained. So far, none have spent more than two years with so there is the pain of loss. As Christy said, this decision needs to be made with care and thought.

    BUT all three have been calm, loving dogs. No puppy jumping etc. All needed me and my help. And, unless I live forever, I cannot have unlimited dogs and cats, so there is great joy in having more chances to love new dogs for less time.

    Now I will take a break and will not adopt any more seniors for the foreseeable future. Some day down the road, but not now. I know my limits. Good luck with your tough decision. Kathy

  5. I already know I will not live long enough to enjoy the company of every breed of dog I would like to share extended time with. Adopting seniors is a wonderful way to both serve a deserving population of animals while also getting to meet more animals than you could if you insisted on always starting with young pups.

    Middle aged pets can also be harder to place - remember, pets with experiences have a lot to offer, including gratitude for having a human companion who treats them with the respect they deserve...for all those who don't already 'belong to the choir' :-)

  6. Thank you so much for this tribute to a noble cousin. A week, a day, a month, spent with such a gentle spirit is a reward far beyond the expense or difficulty. I'm a Catahoula rescued out of a bad startup, and my Pop says that I should share my hugs with all those who have passed over the bridge, so that the world can be saved. I think he's nuts, but here comes a whole bunch of hugs to Gilbert and all who knew him, or know of him. Aarroo!

    1. Wayman Wynn,

      Thank you so much for taking time to comment and send your hugs - it always helps to have support and kind words from others and I know that Gilbert's person will appreciate them when she sees them.

      Make sure you give your Pop lots of hugs too - he's a special person - hard to believe, since I bet you are a fantastic Catahoula, but some people would hesitate to give you the great home your Pops did. The world could use more people like your Pops.

      [Hope you don't mind, but since your comment posted twice, I removed the copy...thanks again for commenting.]