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Oldies but Goodies

Laura Beil

Tri-City Tales Issue No. 11

Milo and Cricket recently arrived at Tri-City shelter, both picked up as strays. They’re the kind of dog that will walk obediently on a leash and lean in for a scratch behind the ears —habits that are normally instant crowd pleasers. But one thing makes these guys hard to adopt. Neither of them are young.


Most people come to the shelter seeking puppies or youthful, sprightly dogs who will romp around for years-- not old dogs with gray muzzles and slow-motion tail wags. At the same time, senior pets are often the ones in most desperate need of new homes. After all, they have known other lives. “It’s like being abducted by aliens,” says Shelly Meeks, who was once assistant director at Tri-City. “I can’t explain to them why they are there.” They grieve the life they have lost, waiting for their previous owners to return for them.


So Meeks started taking them home herself: Dogs like Casey, a crop-eared pit bull who was eight years old, with failing hips. Casey was brought in for euthanasia after her owner passed away. But Meeks didn’t think it was Casey’s time. “She still had light in her eyes,” Meeks recalls, and she was not in pain. Casey lived another few months. In the end, she passed peacefully knowing she was not alone, and she was cared for. Meeks still has her ashes.


Meeks now lives in Denton, but she and her fiancé Corey Thompson are still drawn to the old ones, who are often the best pets because they come as house-trained veterans. Thompson gave a home to Archie, a black lab who was ill and stiff, but not yet ready to let go. She took Archie in as a foster parent; he got a soft bed and belly rubs. A couple of months later, when Archie’s time was near, she quickly processed adoption papers so Archie wouldn’t pass without being an official part of a family.


The old-dog adopters almost feel a calling to help seniors. Linda Ross of Desoto, along with her husband Floyd, have taken in seven older dogs over the past decade, starting with a 13-year-old border collie named YoMo. There was also Bella (she called her Bella Bean), a lab who was severely overweight with a disfiguring skin condition. Ross nursed her back to health, but Bella soon died from cancer. As hard as it is to say goodbye so soon, Ross feels honored to bring comfort and dignity at the end of life. Her only regret, she says, is not having known her elderly companions when they were young.


No one knows the lives Milo and Cricket had before they got to the shelter—what kind of families they lived with, or how they lost the homes they once had. All we can know for sure is that they still have life, and love, to give. 

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