Adopting a Senior Rescue Dog
Our experience adopting a senior rescue dog began with high decibel howls and high stress, but these quickly gave way to all-day lounging, sun-beam hunting, and soft snores.
Sunday (fka Cinnamon) is an 11 year old pit-mix who we adopted in April, only a few days after we moved our family of four (2 humans, 2 dogs) from a 1-bedroom apartment into a larger home. We'd completed our application to adopt during our house-hunt, and kept an eye out specifically for senior dogs, something we both felt strongly about.
Sunday caught our attention with her sweet, sad eyes, and once we saw how much her foster mom emphasized her relaxed demeanor, we hoped that she might be a good fit for our family and could put up with our two lively boy pups who wrestle each other at least once a day. We reached out to Muddy Paws about her, and worked out a foster-to-adopt arrangement since we wouldn't be able to have an in person meet and greet due to the pandemic. After a virtual meeting with her foster mom, we made plans to pick her up. She cried the whole way home from the Bronx to Queens, understandably overwhelmed by being taken by two strangers, and was very anxious for the first 36 hours of her stay with us. Honestly, we felt overwhelmed during those first days as well. The reality of a third dog, the fact that she was almost inconsolably stressed to be in a foreign environment, and the uncertainty of whether our much smaller resident dogs would be able to accept her really had us feeling like unprepared new parents despite all of the training, videos, and articles we'd consulted ahead of time.
The training and research did come in very handy though. To introduce her to our resident dogs, we took them on many walks, logging about 4 miles a day for the first several days. It was distinctly noticeable that the pack was feeling more and more at ease together on every single outing, and so we anchored our days around them. With a routine of meals, walks, treats, and lots of soothing tones when talking to her, Sunday started to get more comfortable. Just a day and a half after picking her up, she found herself a spot in the sun, curled up in a too-small bed, and promptly dozed off and began snoring, letting her guard down for the first time around us. At that moment, we knew that she just wanted to be home so badly, and we knew she was here to stay. We only wondered how long it would take her to know it too.
8 months later, we can confirm that Sunday is indeed the most chill dog ever, especially when she's home in her comfort zone, where she naps about 90% of the day. When the weather was warm, she enjoyed off-leash time in our backyard every day, rolling around on the grass and playing tag with her brothers. She can absolutely keep up with them and they love being around her. It's still the cutest thing to watch them play, or to find one of them spontaneously cuddling her. She is incredibly patient with other dogs - never ever reactive when barked at on the street. She's decidedly less so when one of us is eating fruit, and uses little seal honks and pig oinks to ask for some until we remind her not to beg.
We love our golden girl so much, and are so happy that she is a part of our family. Her anxiety in new situations is something that we now know how to handle, and is only a minuscule part of her hugely gentle and loving personality. Those first days with a new dog are not indicative of who that dog really is, and even though Sunday got relatively more comfortable within only a few days, it probably took a few months for her to feel secure that she was truly home. Those signs of settling in are so rewarding, from the first time they fall asleep with their head in your lap to the one walk where you realize they know their way back home. She starts each night in one of her beds in the living room, and by morning she's made her way into her crate in our bedroom, and so we wake up to her soft snores every day: a familiar, happy, and loved sound.