Adopting a Senior
by Joe & Nancy Bison
If asked, "as a senior dog, how do
you feel about bonding with a new family?" Cyrus
would likely reply "who you callin’ a dog?"
We adopted Cyrus on a perfect June day,
with the whole weekend ahead of us. He was in obvious
discomfort, brandishing fresh sutures both fore and aft.
Between a vet visit and our adoption, Poor Cy had just
lost among other things; his loving foster parents, Gail
and Bruce, several abscessed teeth and a nasty facial
lesion. Through all this, he still managed to show his
Although understandably aloof at first,
Cyrus stayed near to our newly adopted gal, Nila, another
GSR-SP sweetheart, and us. After his first few days in our
home and despite our constant pestering, Cyrus wasn’t
merely tolerating us, he wanted to belong, and was
exploring to see just how things are. In a week or so, he
had willingly accepted most household rules. In less than
a month he found his place within the family. That’s
when he began to truly relax. Could it be that at about 10
years of age, and after terrible times that lead him to
GSR-SP, Cyrus needed to have someone else be the boss? Bet
Cy has played with a lot of rocks
through the years; his terribly worn down teeth are proof
of that. We started working with him diligently to try to
replace his near obsessive fixation with “hiking”
rocks for sport. We gave him a Cyrus sized football,
thinking what a hoot it would be to see him hike that
around. Nila got the most out of this attempt, and
reminded us why one should not expect an inflatable ball
to last long around a GSD with nice, sharp teeth. Cy spent
his last several football sessions rendering the ball down
to its separate component parts. So we moved on to
catching and fetching balls. Wow! Did we ever make
friends! It was then that Cyrus began to show us true
In the past, we’ve had Shepherds that
were absolutely nuts about sticks, balls, or frisbees.
It’s awesome to see the raw athleticism of youth! A pure
speeding missile of sinew, fur, and desire, wholly
consumed by purpose, leaps, captures, and returns again
and again. I was a little sad, knowing that our new guy
had left this day behind, but that was silly. Cyrus may
have traded in speed for finesse, recklessness for
caution, and altitude for attitude, but so what? This guy
has great fun! Fetch means that he trots off, and we lob
the ball over his head so he can get it on a hop. (One
hop: preferred, still moving: good, dead stop: OK too, but
be prepared for a little scowl, and do try harder next
time.) We play frisbee like adults; we play catch, not
"run and catch". For good throws, we are awarded
with a big Cyrus grin. We also play Buddy Glow Ball
hockey. The Flyers could use a goalie as good as Cyrus.
Do we miss this kind of play when Cyrus
is not up to it? No. Play helped us to bond, but it’s
far beyond that now. The devotion we get from our senior
is constant, regardless of how he may feel physically.
Ever vigilant, Cyrus-buddy always wants to know exactly
where we are around the house, and he comes looking for us
if we've been out of his sight too long. Sometimes he just
lies on his sofa and watches our cats most of the day.
Always the gent, he never moves any smaller critter off
his bed. It seems that at his age, confrontation just
isn't worth the effort. A deep sigh, his wonderful manners
and gentle approach ensure that he’ll get his way.
Sometimes he needs gentle coaxing, but
Cyrus never refuses to do my bidding, even when we have to
use the outdoor paw wash. "At the paw wash,
whoa-uh-whoa-uh, talkin’ ‘bout the paw wash-yeah.
C’mon y’all now bark it to me …". Being a
little deaf, the Cy-guy hasn't yet complained about my
singing. He is my constant companion, and wants to be
wherever I am. We go for car rides and walks.
Occasionally, we go to work together on weekends. We've
been to picnics and ball games, and everyone wants to be
his friend. In any situation, he looks to me for guidance
if he’s unsure.
This guy is our protector, and tells
every stranger so, in a clear, loud voice. Fortunately,
Cyrus likes everyone we do, and wants to meet everyone
else. His sure, unhurried manner gets him places no young
whipper-snapper is welcome.
We know Cyrus must be really happy,
because he wears a big ‘ole smile around all the time.
Ever since we’ve been together, we all smile more. Adopt
a senior? You bet. And we wouldn’t trade him for all the
puppies in Pennsylvania.
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