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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: The paw of an old friend

January 26, 2017
By ANNOEL KRIDER , Lake Placid News

(Editor's note: This column originally ran in the Lake Placid News in 2003.)

It wasn't long after our cat, Sir Kitty, died that my husband and I started considering the possibility of introducing another animal into our household.

Perhaps a cute and cuddly little puppy that, when a little older, would be the perfect playmate for our dog Laddie.

Article Photos

Beamer, Oct. 14, 1991 - Nov. 16, 2003
(Photo provided)

The phone ringing at that moment was serendipitous, although I didn't realize it at the time. A friend was calling because she had taken in a Shetland Sheepdog that was in need of a home. Although she was planning on fostering him, she was going on vacation that week and hoped I would watch him until her return, maybe finding him a home in the meantime. Well, I found him a home - with us.

Beamer was a proud, old guy and was turning 11 years old in another week. He was missing a front leg, and his beautiful eyes were a combination of sadness and yearning. Looking for a pet has always meant looking for a puppy or kitten, never taking into account the possibility of an old companion.

"Too much baggage," I thought, "you never know."

But after the presence of Beamer in our lives, I'm amazed more people don't consider it. Beamer definitely had baggage, and some of it was traumatic, but when he came into our home and felt the love, care and safety surrounding him, he knew his tumultuous past was behind him. I told him he had nothing to worry about, that he would spend the rest of his life with us in shear splendor. He took walks in the woods, played tug of war, had many soft beds to lie on and watched over the home front along with Laddie.

Laddie is our Australian Shepherd/Border Collie, and he often makes us feel like, no matter what we do for him, it just isn't enough. Not the two long runs a day, not the ball and Frisbee playing and being taken everywhere with us.

Our sweet three-legged Beam, on the other hand, was grateful for everything we did, and the love he gave in return was immense. Laddie preferred chasing a low-flying airplane across the golf course or a Frisbee flying at the speed of light, rather than having his tummy rubbed. Beamer relished in our constant affection and willingly gave us copious amounts of doggie kisses to show his gratitude. Laddie loves us, just in an Aussie/Border Collie kind of way.

The animal shelters are loaded with senior dogs and cats that, after a long and perhaps puzzling life, are wondering why they are now sitting in a kennel on a cement floor and not nestled up against the warmth of a human family member. These sensitive, intuitive, loyal creatures deserve more.

I can assure you that the joys and ease of a senior animal are enormous. They're already house trained, probably know a variety of commands and don't need hours of walking each day and they will love you, love you and love you. There are some simple truths ... and the animals know what they are. They are that you saved them and gave them a home.

Consider adopting a senior dog or cat and giving them a home. Provide them a soft bed to sleep on, feed them good food, play with them, love and care for them and be rewarded with eternal gratefulness and long, loving gazes into your eyes.

Beamer's recent death at age 12 took our hearts by surprise. When he died in our arms, we apologized for the suffering he endured in his life and continued to wrap him in our love, knowing that he was leaving this world surrounded by it. Thoughts of adopting another old guy were difficult at first with the realization that life together would be

short; however, I know the joy from this aged presence lasts forever. After all, how good it feels, the paw of an old friend.

(This column is written in cooperation with the North Country ASPCA in Elizabethtown.)



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