This Year at SeniorPooch: 2012

Get on your party hat. It's time to celebrate.
Today wraps up a remarkable first full calendar year for

It was the year that this very site got me back in touch with the rescue that saved The Mighty Boo Boo.

Our chief product reviewer, Rusty, got his paws on a variety of products this year. Even for those products that did not get a shining review, we tried to provide enough information to help you all understand if it was just a matter of taste or something else. We're looking forward to doing more of these in the new year so if you have a product that is senior dog friendly, bark back at us.

Over 3,400 different people visited the site at least once in this past year for an average visit of over one minute forty seconds. About half of those folks also became return viewers. This coming year I'm going to continue to work on reaching more folks, but also giving all of you a reason to come back again and again. What was your favorite post or feature? Was it easy to find stuff? How would you feel about a newsletter or better ways of subscribing to updates?

Merry Christmas to You and Your Senior Pooches

Rusty wishes you a Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our friends all over the world.

If you're looking for a new canine companion this year you can search online for your local animal services shelter or rescue.

Thanks again for your support. We've been blessed to have found so many of you who share our convictions in 2012. Let's keep moving forward the cause of senior dogs in 2013.

Peace, love, and wagging tails,
Rusty and Jeff

Bark Out Loud and Wag Your Happy Tail

Maple, a senior pitbull, and an admirer

There was plenty of great news last week's Bark Out Loud with four senior dogs going to their forever homes. Now Maple gets to go home.

Maple was one of San Diego Animal Services longest held residence. After over a year, an agreement was made with the Prairie Pit Bull Rescue to send Maple to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In true, Maple spirit, she went along happily where some lucky family adopted her.

The picture above was taken and really shows the Maple that many San Diego rescue volunteers know and love. Check out more of Maple's story from the folks that help to get her that new home.


Best of Senior Pooch 2012 - Part 2

And now for the thrilling conclusion of:

The Best of Senior Pooch 2012

Rusty and foster dad, Larry

July 2012 - Take the Long Shot - Adopt the Unadoptable Dog
I took on the topic of unadoptable (or less adoptable as they're also known) pets and all of the challenges that make them unique as part of a blog hop. This includes plenty of links to other articles from other pet bloggers on all manner of rescue related topics.

Two senior dachshunds enjoying some cuddle time
August 2012 - A Small Breed Rescue Making A Big Difference: Furever Dachshund Rescue
Laura Coulombe knows rescue and with a growing organization of over 200 volunteers, it's worth your time to hear from her first hand on how she got where she is today. She also covers the benefits of adopting senior dachshunds.

September 2012 - When Saying Goodbye is the Right Thing to Do
This isn't the easiest topic to talk about, but we cover how to reduce the stress during this very difficult time, including several other resources that may help.

Ann Pollock of Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego (Center) with new doggie parents
October 2012 - What Makes a Great Doggie Foster Parent with Rescue Powerhouse, Ann Pollock
Fostering and small dogs seemed to take center stage this year, with superstar, Ann Pollock taking center stage for this interview. If you're going to read only one article on fostering on this site, this is the one.

November 2012 - Bark Out Loud for Your People
We went deep on interviews this year and hope to do the same in 2013. Check out some of my favorites in this post.

December 2012 - Give Homeless Pets a Place to Rest Their Heads by Fostering this Holiday Season
The holiday season brings unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to pets. In this article we give voice to homeless pets and what you can do to make their lives a little easier during this stressful time of the year.

That's it for now. Whether you're new to or only an occasional reader, I'd encourage you to check these out, as well as those from Part 1 and let me know what you think.

Happy Holidays and Belly Rubs to you all!

--Rusty and Jeff


Best of Senior Pooch 2012 - Part 1

It's been an amazing ride so far here at The posts that follow cover just some of my favorites from the first half of the year and span interviews, events, calls to action, heartwarming stories of rescue, and even a recipe thrown in for good measure.

Teaching your senior dogs the joys of training is key to a happy life for both of you. The Canine Coach, Eugenia Vogel, shares some of her knowledge on the topic. It's no surprise that this remains one of our most read posts.

Boo Boo, my first senior pup on day 1 of our adventures
February 2012 - An Inconvenient Dog
There are a million reasons why you could throw out that faithful dog of yours when the burden of age wears them down. This post covers my personal take on the subject and how to do right by your senior in the face of challenges.

The elusive Tigger-Dog of Southern California stalks his prey
March 2012 - The Good, The Old, and the Ugly - The 17th Annual Ugly Dog Contest
Out the door I went to cover the 17th Annual Ugly Dog Contest in Del Mar, CA. There were really only a couple of dogs that were contenders for the aforementioned prize in this long standing contest. I was happy to see such a strong showing by the senior dog population putting their best paw forward.

Bark Out Loud for Your Pet Foster Families

Woody, a senior hound mix was adopted by his foster mom

Why foster a senior dog?

Fosters keep hope alive for homeless pets who would otherwise languish in the stressful environment of shelters. Sometimes it's that very break from the shelter chaos that allows the dog to regain enough of their former sparkle so that others, looking for a great dog, can recognize their brilliance.

Keep in mind the very special nature of the adopters of each of these senior dogs.

Foster parents all over San Diego are choosing senior dogs

Woody, likely over ten years old, is not one of those cases. Despite being a long time shelter resident, Woody always put his best paw forward when meeting new people and animals. After a long time in the San Diego North County Shelter, he got a foster mom who spoiled him rotten and was ultimately adopted by a long time animal lover who all of the folks in my rescue know. I walked Woody several times at adoption events and he's the perfect type of senior dog: relaxed and reclined much of  the time, but ready to spring into action whenever called into action.

Sasha, a senior red shepherd mix, finds a home
There are worse things than failing being a "failed foster" to an animal, when failing means deciding to adopt that animal permanently.

Our girl Sasha, over ten, is the victim of a "failed foster", but don't worry, it's not a fatal as it sounds. A "failed foster" is a situation where the animal's foster parent decides to keep the animal. Sasha has been living in a great home, going to the park every day, and getting to play with her  new furry sister on a regular basis.

In regards to that furry sister, I've seen them both playing together, and despite having at least seven years on her younger sibling, Sasha is almost always the instigator of their play sessions.

Just ask Brogan. It doesn't get any better than being rescued, cured, and adopted.
Brogan, seven years old, was pulled by The Dog Squad Rescue several months ago after being dumped weak and suffering from a massive skin infection by his former owner.

The rescue reached out to the Corgi Meetup group, where a foster with another Corgi was found. Brogan turned into another failed foster and everyone involved couldn't be happier.

Although Brogan and his brother, Chunk couldn't be more different, they bonded immediately. Brogan is steadily regaining his strength and spends plenty of time chasing his brother around the house these days when he isn't lounging in his favorite chair.

Star (sorry, no picture yet), seven years old, was fostered after meeting her at an adoption event. This is an important one, because people see "adoption" at events and don't think to ask other ways that they can help. Stars parents have a great home and she now lives with them and her furry brother, also in the six to seven year old range.

There are so many great folks throughout the world that are doing the right things by our senior dog population that I'd like to say, "Thank you" on behalf of our canine companions. This site was started to bring people like us together, so I'm interested in hearing your own stories of older dogs whether they be fosters, adoptees, or just long time family members whose silver chins great you as you walk through the door everyday. Check out the Contact Us page for this site to share your own tales of senior dogs. All of the readers here would love to hear more.


Chasing Away the Lonely Dog Separation Anxiety Blues

What does separation anxiety look like?

You're late for work again.

Dog walked. Briefcase packed. Iron off.

With a jangle of your keys and a "See ya later, pal" to your favorite mutt, you are out the door.

Ten steps later, it begins...

The howling.

Separation anxiety can creep back into your dog's life even as they enter their older years if you are not thoughtful about your "walking out the door" habits.

What are some strategies to address separation anxiety in dogs?

You may wish to set up a wireless camera to determine the serious of the issue first. This helps in particular if your living arrangements are in close proximity to others like a condo or apartment, where you can confirm if complaints of "your dog has been barking all day" are valid or have been addressed by the steps below.

The most effective way to combat separation anxiety is to not spend too much time on rituals that telegraph that you're leaving:

  • Jingling your keys 
  • Saying "good bye"
  • Running out the door in a hurry
All of these may not be in a big deal, but to a dog that just wants to be by your side and/or is nervous about being alone, they can very well trigger that "don't leave me!" response that you're trying to avoid. 

Next, don't change the conditions of the house, just because they're home alone. Leaving a radio or TV on doesn't replace human contact, but it does make a difference over a house that is dead silent all day. Some experts recommend not feeding your dog right before you leave, which goes towards the previous point on not changing conditions, however, I've had a lot of success using a Kong Wobbler (a food dispensing toy) to feed my older dog when I'm gone. He can spend a half hour chasing the ball around the living room, and by the time he's done, he's ready for a nap.

Finally, don't make too big a deal about coming home. This was a game changer for me. Originally I'd get down and embrace my dog as he ran up to me and wept at my coming home. It turns out that I was just reinforcing exactly what he was thinking according to some experts in that I'm better off (and safer) with him than on my own. Establishing that you're capable of getting things done without your dog gives them comfort to understand that you are the boss. I find that waiting a few minutes before greeting my dog after a long day helps to dial back the anxiety while still giving him 100% of the hugs that he's earned for being a good boy all day albeit a few minutes later.

The video that follows covers other tips and thoughts on the topic that may be helpful:


Keep It Simple Treats: Blue Buffalo Chicken Jerky

Rusty goes in for the kill on a Blue Buffalo Chicken Jerky Treat
I always prefer simple to complex when it comes to what I eat. If I can't digest the words that describe the ingredients of a product, why should I expect my stomach to do so?

Same thing for my elder pup, Rusty. Rusty loves treats in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few that he goes nuts over. Note Exhibit A: the picture to the left.

I'd apologize for the blurry nature of the picture, except that the technology hasn't been invented that capture the speed of the predator when it's about to fall upon its quarry.

The quarry in this case is Blue Buffalo Trail Treats All Natural Grain-Free Chicken Jerky. Note how his eyes never leave his prey even when it's in his grasp. No fingers were lost during this experiment, but we're professionals. Don't try this at home. (OK... you can try it at home, but we can't be responsible for the wagging tails that follow.)

The great news is the reduced number of ingredients are easy to digest. Chicken, Dried Cane Molasses, and Salt. That's it.

Like all reviews for food that we do, we wait to make sure that everything was digested properly. Taste is one thing. The health and well being of your canine pal is another. We take both seriously here. Like people, your pooch's stomach may vary from mine, so start off slow with the treats. They're not a replacement for food or affection no matter what Rusty says.

One out of one dogs named Rusty agree: Give me another chicken jerky treat!

These treats are made and packaged in the United States.

Disclaimer: We received a free sample of these from our friends at, formerly Mr. Chewy. The results are strictly my and Rusty's honest opinion. When we don't give a positive review I try to explain why. In this case, I think we found a new training treat for the old man.

Give Homeless Pets a Place to Rest Their Head by Fostering This Holiday Season

Suri was a foster for a while before finding her forever home.
I'm not an advocate of giving pets as gifts over the holidays, however fostering is a different story.

Taking in a homeless pet over the holidays gives a homeless animal a chance at a semi-normal life during a season when the shelters are most strained from live "gifts" of dogs and cats are coming in from owners who didn't understand what they were getting themselves into.

That's not you though.

You're different. Animals with a bow around their necks are not the same as a football, toaster, or new set of slippers under the tree. They're a responsibility.

Unlike using an animal for a gift that you aren't sure if the receiver is going to like or even be willing or able to take care of the day after Christmas, as a foster, you can make sure that your new charge has everything that they need.

You're probably asking yourself: How to get started?

The best thing that you can do is check in with your local rescues. They have experience working with foster parents and can let you know if there is one that you can help out and for how long. Keep in mind that not all rescues do temporary foster programs, however you can always ask. My advice would be to look at your living situation and see what you can live with and if you are OK with taking in a homeless animal that would otherwise spend its holidays sleeping on a cold cement floor.

Shelters are another source of education on the subject, but in my experience, they're looking solely for long term placement of animals, so keep that in mind. A rescue professional might spend a bit more time with you if they think you're a good foster candidate and are really looking to help.

My friend, Sabrina Wilkerson, whose former foster, Suri is pictured above is a guru when it comes to fostering homeless animals. She's part of the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego where she's responsible for their foster program. Although she was only a friend of a friend at the time when Peppy (pictured below) needed a new home after her owner passed, it was Sabrina who made the connections to get Peppy fostered.

Peppy, a 14 year old chi-weenie

If you read her stuff over at her new Facebook Page, Foster Mamas, you'll probably see how fostering has changed her life. Her photo journal of her adventures in fostering represents all the good that can come when one person (actually two, her boyfriend Jonathan is also very into fostering) stands up to make a difference. If you need an extra smile today, check out her page when you get a chance.

Photo credits: Sabrina Wilkerson