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‘My Old Dog’ makes case for adopting older animals

By Carol Wright

It’s incredible how a dog like ‘Stacie’ has such a strong will to survive.

Stacie, now 10, had been in trouble before being rescued. Bravely facing complicated surgery, the tan cocker spaniel almost died had it not been for quick and compassionate action from those running an assisted-living facility for older canines, and for the miracle performed by veterinary surgeons. Stacie is just one of more than 19 senior dogs featured in ‘My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts.’ Authors Laura T. Coffey and Lori Fusaro write about the joys of having a senior pet in their lives. Others can benefit from these tender rescue stories as they come to accept the animals’ value, courage and desire to please people.

Though Stacie (who graces the book’s cover and within the pages) wears wrinkles and her eyes appear tired, she greets visitors, grinning while showing off her favorite sweater, her tail almost in constant wag-motion. When people meet her, they can’t help falling head over heels for the lovable, older dog. Many up-close and personal photographs of multiple breeds of senior dogs taken by Fusaro will likely melt your heart. Even if you’re not particularly fond of dogs, you might have a change of heart as you read and turn the pages, admiring their spunk, beauty and wise nature, in spite of some of these dogs having to cope with poor eyesight or wobbly, arthritic limbs. Just because dogs and cats get older doesn’t mean they are already doomed. Many have lots of gifts to offer their humans, to disabled children and war veterans, nursing home residents, those who protect our neighborhoods and even the lonely individuals who tend to contemplate their unhappiness all too often.

While puppies and kittens may be energetic and bouncy, snuggly and adorable, it’s the senior four-footed companions that should never be forgotten, according to the authors.

There also is an urgent need for senior pets to be adopted. Coffey and Fusaro encourage people to read about and celebrate successful senior dog rescue stories, yet, along with the exuberance, is a very sad truth. The authors explain: ‘At shelters across the United States where nearly four million dogs and cats are put down each year, senior animals often represent the highest risk population.’

An old-habit-dieshard attitude fostered by some people is one of the reasons why humans hesitate to adopt older pets. They might say, ‘Old Yeller will die in a few years anyway, so what’s the point?’ That old dog might have a much longer life span than what some people assume. Sure, older pets can chase and catch balls, or bring out some inner puppy-like behavior every now and then. They have so much love to give. The book also provides additional information including a list of ways someone can help senior dogs. A thorough resource guide toward the end of the book offers a great number of organizations and programs in the United States and other countries geared toward senior dogs, such as Old Dog Haven, PAWS of War, Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary and many more.

Coffey, a writer, producer and an editor of NBC’s Today Show website, cares for two senior dogs, ‘Frida’ (featured in the book), and ‘Manay,’ plus an enormous, 14-year-old cat, ‘Diego.’

Fusaro has been a staff photographer at Best Friends Animal Society, in Los Angeles. Some of her clients include BAD RAP, Guide Dogs for the Blind, K9 Connection, Angel City Pit Bulls and different animal rescue organizations.

In addition, the authors include celebrities who own or have cared for older pets, such as Tiny Fey, James Franco, Betty White and George Clooney. ‘My Old Dog’ is bound to impress anyone who has had the pleasure of spending not only time, but their entire life together with their kind old furry pals. Carol A. W right is a former Manhattan resident who currently works as a freelance writer .

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