Guest Author: Karen Neilly

When you start looking on the SeBPRA site for your new dog, which albums do you go to first? To the breed you are hoping for, then to other breeds? Do you ever look at the albums for the oldies? This where the real treasures are found.

These dogs may have lived extra years, but they have rarely had any love in those years and are longing to find comfort and love, just as much if not more so than the younger dogs.  Some oldies have come from loving homes, but their owner has died or is so ill that they cannot look after the dog anymore.  These dogs will suffer greatly in shelters and need to find love again.  For the older hunters dogs, they have never had the chances in life that we all want for our dogs.  To be loved and cared for is a basic right of any dog.  Not to be used and abused.

When you look for a young dog, do you consider your own age and family circumstances when selecting a young dog?  Perhaps, like us you are retired?  Do you want all the work involved in training and exercising a young dog? Or are you looking to replace an older dog that you have lost?  You will find it quite a shock going from an older dog who knew your every word, to a young lively one who has never been taught to live in a home. Do you consider the age of the dog unimportant, as someone else will step in when you cannot manage?  Perhaps that is so and you have great family to look after your pet.  On the other hand if no one will look after your dog, he will end up in a shelter and pine constantly for the love he has lost.  Remember a lot of dogs will live to fourteen or fifteen years old.  We have been fortunate to have some of ours reach this age.

We have four rescued English Setters, three came to us through SeBPRA and are much loved dogs, enjoying life in England.  Adopting our girls was so easy with SeBPRA.  Our first girl Elsa was only young, our second, Kami was ten when we adopted her and our third Carla was seven.  When we were home checked for Elsa in 2015, the lady who came told us she only adopted older dogs and had up to six at any time.  I remember thinking of all the heartbreak she must feel by having to lose her dogs so often.  Now I realise how right she was to give the oldies a chance. Elsa settled in very well with Apple, our resident English Setter.  We followed all the dogs on the SeBPRA site, even though my husband had said two is enough!  In 2018 we fell in love with the photo of a ten year old, who had had a terrible life, being caged and having numerous litters and had been taken by the hunter to be put to sleep.  Luckily the wonderful vet saved her.  We felt we had to adopt this beautiful, but rather scruffy little dog.  We applied to Sarah and were allowed to adopt her. Everything was very straightforward with the adopting and in a few weeks, Kami arrived with us.  She had big sad eyes and a very tatty coat, but she oozed love and devotion from the start.  She seemed to know that she was going to be safe.  Elsa looked after her from the first day.   She bonded to us within days and seemed to know we would look after her.  Her coat, once very yellow from lying in urine, is now a brilliant white.  Her teeth which were black, are now as good as any eleven year olds.  She is very hard of hearing, but hand signals work brilliantly.  She loves life and every day she is the happiest little soul we could wish for.

I still kept looking at the SeBPRA dogs who needed a new home, even though my husband was now saying three is enough!  We saw Gala who was seven and had waited a while but had not touched anyone’s heart enough to take her. She was fortunate to be taken by her hunter to the same vet who saved Kami, to be put to sleep, and he saved her too.   Again, we could not resist and applied to Sarah to adopt her.  We were very fortunate that there was a space on the next transport over, so in about ten days this very small English Setter arrived in Somerset.  Now called Carla, she had suffered a lot in life.  She had had puppies, was missing several teeth, had a scar on her face and a chunk missing from her ear, but she is beautiful. She immediately bonded into our little group. I think the others told her that she had found a home with a right soft pair of humans! Every morning she greets us with a big grin showing all the gaps in her teeth!  Elsa was delighted to have a  dog to play with as Apple and Kami are now both eleven and do not want all the rough and tumble.  Carla is up for anything, she is not seven in her head!  She has been so easy to train and is full of love for humans and canines.  If we had looked at age only, we would have missed these two wonderful dogs, but more importantly, they could still be waiting for someone to love them, as their years tick by.  We feel we are so lucky to have our four girls and hope that we will be fortunate enough to have them until they are fifteen.     If the worst happens earlier,  we know they have had happy years with us, they will have known love and kindness for however long we have them.

Please consider an older dog, they are so easy to fit into your home, they just need a comfy sofa or bed and they are happy.  Lots of cuddles are important too, they have missed so much in their lives and now is the time to give them all the love can give them. All our girls are insured with Direct Line, who will cover dogs for life provided they are no older than ten years, eleven months at the start of the polidy. Adopting through SeBPRA is so easy and Pepe, Sarah and Tessa care so much about the dogs and finding them the right home. There is plenty of back up from other adopters too, if you have any queries.  

We would always adopt an older dog, and I still look at the dogs every day on the SeBPRA site, even though my husband now says four is the limit!!

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