Recently I saw a cartoon in which a pair of dogs was discussing having to leave a problem human at the shelter.

I wish.

It’s been a rough week at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in terms of intake. There was the pitiful mama chihuahua cross dumped by her backyard breeder owners – after they ran over her foot and left her sitting around for a week with the bones exposed. There was a pair of schnauzers – supposedly “strays” but really obviously a breeding pair – and the mama had recently given birth. But the puppies weren’t with her.

This sort of thing wears on the volunteers and employees who have to try their best to save the damaged and broken animals thrown away by the crappier pseudo humans in the area. We can’t save them all, and every one we lose should have been special to someone who would have loved them and taken care of them.

But the ones that hurt me the most every single day are the older dogs. They’ve been someone’s pet. They’ve known what it was like to have a home, and food, and a bed, and then suddenly their world drops away and they end up alone and afraid in a cage, surrounded by bad smells, bright lights, and the constant noise generated by that many animals in a closed space. Others have been mistreated their whole lives, and are simultaneously grateful for any affection and afraid to accept it.

They are terrified (and justifiably so). And because their faces show some age, and their kennel cards say SENIOR, they are less adoptable. People don’t seem to realize that older dogs have a different kind of charm that young puppies. They’re calmer, easy-going, grateful to be loved and cared for, and endlessly loyal to the people who save them. They’re past all those puppy problems like book chewing and underwear stealing.  (Yes, Oliver, I mean you.) I always have an older dog in my crew – I just can’t resist.

Right now, we have several older dogs at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter who need someone to save them.  So I thought this might be the time to share their stories. The three I’ll tell you about here are all favorites of the volunteers and employees.

First is Nelson. He has been there for far too long, and eventually his time will run out. Nelson is middle aged, with gray on his face and an air of dignified calm – until you take him out to the dog park. Then he turns into a puppy and runs and plays with the younger dogs. He has nice manners and is attentive but unobtrusive. He will make someone a fantastic pet. ID # 181537

Then there is Penny. She’s a ten year old cocker spaniel. I don’t know her origins, but like Nelson, her kind face and sweet personality make her an easy dog to love. When I asked which seniors I should feature today, multiple people posted requests for Penny; they all love her. ID #185298

And finally there is Rocky, a ten year old rat terrier. The staff members are keeping him in the quietest room in the shelter to try to minimize his stress. We know where he came from – his owners have been contacted and refuse to come claim him. He is very sad to have been abandoned to this high stress environment, and is grateful for attention from anyone who will be kind to him. ID # 185745

We rarely know why these older dogs ended up needing help at this point in their lives. Were they once loved and then abandoned when someone had a baby, got a divorce, moved? Were they never loved at all? Did they spend their lives outside looking through windows at the humans who should have loved them?

Here’s what we do know. These three – and every other dog in any shelter – deserve better than to spend their last days in a kennel surrounded by the sounds and smells of literally hundreds of other dogs. Please don’t overlook them because they’re not young. Each of them still has years of life and love left in them – if someone will just come get them out of jail and into their new lives.

Each of these dogs – and hundreds of others – is available for adoption at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in Conroe, TX. It’s just east of I-45 on 242. They are open for adoptions 7 days a week. If you’re going north on 45, exit 242, turn right on 242, go over the bridge, and you will see the shelter on your left. Don’t wait! Save a life today.

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