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Does Anybody Want an Old Dog?

An Article by Sandi Folta

One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of Airedale Rescue is trying to place an older Airedale. When the phone rings and an owner tells us he wants to surrender a 9 year old, or a 10 year old, our hearts sink. Those of us who have been lucky enough to share our lives with an older Airedale know their value, but most of our applicants want a "2-3 year old, or younger." And that’s fine, that’s what they want and we strive to make the best match we can. But who will take a chance on an older dog? Who will step forward and offer a home to an older dog? Who will offer to love that old dog, for as long as he’s around, no matter how long, or short, that time is?

We in Rescue know we have AireAngels watching over us. So we get busy and we take that older Airedale because we know someone else will understand the value of an older dog, someone else will recognize that old dog still has a lot of living to do, and a lot of love to give.

Such is the case with Connor, a 10 ½ year old we had in Rescue in Houston. Below is Connor’s story, written by his adoptive mom, Carol Walker of Edmond, OK. We in Rescue hope, after reading Carol’s story, more people will consider adopting an older Airedale.


By Carol Walker

My husband and I adopted Connor in May. He's about 10 1/2 yrs. old. We knew the chances of someone adopting this sweet old boy were slim. We debated long and hard whether he could adjust to a busy dog and people household and decided that we had to try. We've never regretted it. Connor has been a dog like no other and this is coming from people who've always had dogs in their lives. He is unique.

We had the advantage of his foster mother, Ellana Livermore in Houston, who was wonderful. She was completely open about him and didn't try to "push" us into anything. She supported our decision either way and I always felt that Connor's needs were of 100% concern to her at all times. Honestly, I hadn't had that kind of positive experience with other rescue people in other breeds.

We met Ellana halfsies in Dallas. (We're from Edmond, Oklahoma and Ellana is in Houston, TX.) Connor was clean, sweet and a little frail. But the most striking thing about him was his expression. He has the most at peace and happy expression we've ever seen. And we weren't the only ones who thought so. When we stopped at the roadside rest area to exercise him, we had people pull over and ask us what kind of dog he is and comment about how happy he looked. And a happy dog he is.

We've never had a dog play as much or hard as Connor. He loves his toys. He jumps around, hard and high and flings his toys across the room. My others just stare at him. I don't think they still know what to make of this behavior, it's so explosive, spontaneous, and joyful. We love just watching him. He loves walks. I think we gave him his very first swimming lessons this summer and he did pretty well. He doesn't love the water yet but I think he will in time.

I have another Airedale who is three years old that I do search, rescue, and obedience with but Connor's real love of his life here is my Chow Chow, Schubert. The first night that Connor was here, he howled and made the most terrible mournful sounds, crying and staying pressed up to Schubert. We were really worried about him and ended up sleeping on the couch with all three dogs together. To make a long story short, Connor is madly in love with Schubert. They sleep together. When they're let out in the back to potty, Connor is with Schubert throughout the perimeter check. Here I thought that my other Airedale, Trevor, would be Connor's best bud because he was an Airedale. Well, Connor had other ideas.

He's very gentle. My mother was hit by a drunk driver when she was 16 years old. It killed her best friend and everyone else in the other car. She was in the hospital for about 8 months and has had a lifetime of orthopedic surgeries and pain problems as a result of this. Consequently, she's very afraid of being jumped on since she's not the steadiest anyway and she's now nearing 71 years old. Connor would just sit by her side, no jumping, no barking, just pure contentment that she was there. She fell in love with him, petting him almost constantly and talking to him like he was a child. The kids in my family chuckled at this because of all of us, Mom is the least dog oriented. She was always the hard sell when it came to animals. As a clean freak, her first priority was always eradicating dirt and, let's face it, she equated dirt with dogs. She was butter in Connor's paws. Since she's gone back to Colorado, when she calls, one of the first things out of her mouth is, "How's Connor?" She doesn't ask about my others very much. That says it all.


Is Connor complete perfection? No, but then nothing is. He steals Trevor's bed that I made. I went to Wal-Mart today and bought another egg crate mattress so I could make his bed like Trevor's. He poops knoodles sometimes and it's obvious that he doesn't realize it. Paper towels and my steam cleaner take care of that in no time. He wants me to be with him, like within inches of him, all the time. If I have to work in another part of the house, he's howling at the baby gate. When I let them out "to do their thing," he's started not going out with the others but howls at the patio door until I come out with them. He then trots out after Schubert, giving me backward glances as he goes. If he loses sight of me, he returns to the patio door and begins howling. I may be in the back part of the yard and not inside at all. I then have to go up to him, let him know where I am, and then he's off with Schubert again. If I'm in the pool enclosure, he still howls pitifully even though he can easily see me through the widely spaced fence pickets. Frankly, this can get pretty irritating but, in the overall scheme of things, it is a small thing. So what if he needs more assurance. We give it to him. And in return, he makes us think about the world in a different way, through his eyes of discovery and he blesses us and our dogs with his gentleness, his frenetic joy, and love. It can't get any better than that.