A middle-aged woman peeks into his kennel. She smiles. He wags his tail. Maybe she will adopt him, he’s thinking.
Then she walks away.
Par for the course. Everyone who peeks into his kennel usually walks away. Nobody wants an old dog. At this shelter, everyone adopts young dogs who can’t control their bladders. Humans want puppies. Not geriatrics.
If only humans could understand canine language, he would’ve told the lady all about himself and what a good boy he is. It’s a shame that humans don’t speak Dog.
He’s not sure how he ended up in this place. Once he had a family. But they didn’t want him. So they left him here. He waited for them to come back, staring out his kennel door. But his owners were done with him.
That was a lifetime ago. Since then, he’s been stuck in this loud room of kennels with dogs who cry all day long.
He’s overheard the humans’ remarks about him. “How old is that dog?” they ask, pointing at him. “He looks kind of gray.” “Mommy, I don’t want an old dog.” “Poor old guy, nobody’s gonna want an elderly dog.”
Elderly. Who would want an elderly dog? The worst part is, it’s been so long since he’s been touched. When you’re a puppy everyone showers you with affection. They’re always touching you. But when you’re an old dog, they just ignore you.
He wishes he could tell the humans what a good dog he is, tell them about all his skills. Being old has its advantages. For starters, he can hold his bladder, he knows how to watch TV, he knows how to cuddle, how to be patient, he knows how to fend off dangerous UPS men.
But it doesn’t matter. This kennel is life now. He knows that one day he will be led to the back room with the doctor, like all the other old dogs. And that will be the end.
The door to his cellblock opens. The place comes unglued with barking dogs.
He can see a little girl. She’s cute. She looks around for a few minutes. Surprisingly, she stops in front of his cage.
She says, “What’s this one’s name?”
“We don’t know,” says the woman employee.
“You don’t know his name?”
“We get a lotta dogs without names, honey.”
The girl approaches his kennel. He doesn’t bother standing. Why waste his energy? You see one kid, you’ve seen them all. She’s not going to adopt him. She’ll end up adopting a rambunctious Labrador-mix.
The child reaches through the bars. “Come here, boy,” she says.
He doesn’t move. She seems sweet enough, sure, but he’s no dummy. This is the same old song and dance. They pet you. Then they figure out you’re an elderly dog, and they keep moving.
“Let’s go, sweetie,” says the girl’s mother. “Let’s go look at the puppies.”
“But I want to pet him.”
A long pause. The woman says, “But don’t you wanna see the younger dogs?”
The cage door opens. This gets his attention. Namely, because his cage door NEVER opens.
The little girl steps in. He’s on his feet now. He’s nervous. Panting. Heart beating fast. Who is this child and what does she want?
She reaches her hand outward. She comes close. She rests her palm on his forehead. The child rubs his fur. And she doesn’t just rub him, she hugs him.
“You’re not too old,” the girl whispers.
Before he realizes what’s happening, the employee places a leash on him and leads him out of the kennel. They are parading him down the aisle. He’s leaving this dreadful place.
Can it be? Is this for real? Or is this a cruel joke?
All the dogs are screaming as he walks by.
In a few minutes, it’s official. The little girl signs a stack of papers then takes him home. She names him Jackson. She gives him a brand new world. She even lets him sleep in her bed.
It all happens so fast that it still seems like some kind of elaborate fantasy. Yesterday; death row. Today; Buckingham Palace.
Sometimes, late at night, when he sleeps beside her, he still can’t get over how beautiful his rescuer is. This girl who makes waking up each morning worthwhile.
This 10-year-old child, who makes him feel as though he had a purpose in the world. Who taught him how to appreciate being alive. Oh, if this kid only knew what she had done by choosing him. If only she knew that she had saved his life. If she knew the devotion he felt. If she only knew how much he loved her.
It really is a shame humans don’t speak Dog.
Lisa spivey - January 29, 2023 10:13 am
🐶 now you made me cry
Carla Robertson - January 29, 2023 12:45 pm
LINDA POUNCEY - January 30, 2023 12:16 am
Donna Boatright - February 3, 2023 4:46 pm
Virginia Russell - January 29, 2023 12:34 pm
mccutchen52 - January 29, 2023 1:44 pm
One of these days when when my wife and I are long gone someone will wonder why all the dogs and cats are buried in my back yard. I will tell them they had a great life and they gave us a life worth living. Now we are older with an older cat and dog we have had forever and they will be with us till they are gone or we are gone.
Geirgia - January 29, 2023 2:09 pm
Lovely… just lovely!
Julia - January 29, 2023 2:14 pm
For every “old” dog or cat. All the Love. Thank you Sean.
Dutchman2 - January 29, 2023 2:15 pm
Darn it, Sean. You have my eyes leaking again.
Connie - January 29, 2023 2:20 pm
Dang it Sean. Must be allergies but my eyes are leaking. I love my little old man that I rescued from the shelter. He was only about 4 (estimate from the vet) and he had heart worms and had been shot and still has a bullet under his skin. It took a year to get him healthy. But he’s been my baby for 8 years. I can’t imagine being without him.
Tambra Howard - January 29, 2023 3:13 pm
You speak/write “human” in a way that moves many. With your words you are bringing an awareness to “dog” language. May one never look at an elderly dog without thinking of this story.
Toni G - January 29, 2023 3:29 pm
It always overwhelms me when I start to think of all the dogs in all the shelters around the country. I know we can’t possibly save them all. But this girl saved this dog and that is a start! ♥️
Patricia Gibson - January 29, 2023 3:50 pm
You are so right! Crying right now! I wish I could rescue them all!!
susanmac123 - January 29, 2023 4:04 pm
I’m watching the film “The Art of Racing in the Rain” which also focuses on the dog’s point of view. I highly recommend it. The book is great too.
Peggy M. Windham - January 29, 2023 5:49 pm
I sure wish I could speak Dog but I’ve always known how to communicate with my pets become we share the language of love!💜
Pubert Earle Bozeman - January 29, 2023 6:27 pm
Pone, you’re fighting dirty now! Just so much heartbreak a guy can take. These dog stories are tough. I hope the story is true but great story anyway. I saw a very similar one yesterday on Quora where the old man had the old dog in his lap on the couch- with a big smile on his face. Same circumstance.
MAM - January 29, 2023 6:58 pm
Bawling from happiness for this dog and his little girl rescuer. We’ve always preferred getting adult dogs from the shelter rather than having to deal with raising a puppy. Our last three were adults, and loving dogs they were. We are without a dog right now sadly, because of mobility issues. But I pet every neighbor dog I see when they are out walking with their “parents.”
Cynthia Kamstra - January 29, 2023 7:26 pm
You made me cry.
Maybe it’s because I’m an d dog, too.
Susan - January 29, 2023 8:00 pm
Love this! ❤️
Steve Winfield (lifer) - January 30, 2023 12:06 am
I rarely, if ever cry but this one got me good. Really good.
Jan - January 30, 2023 2:14 am
Holly Moore - January 30, 2023 2:53 am
Oh how much I love dogs! We definitely don’t deserve dogs, but I thank God that we have them. They give us so much more than than we could ever give them!
Christy Okie - January 30, 2023 6:12 pm
My nine-year-old daughter sat on my lap, with our hound dog in her lap, and read this together. And cried. Thank you for this beautiful story, Sean. Well done.
Paula - January 30, 2023 10:58 pm
For some reason I didn’t get an email from you for this date. I missed having a story to read so I went to the website to find a posting and found…this. I was almost afraid to read to the end but thank the Lord, it had a happy ending. My beloved fur child is named Jackson. His eyes tell me what his voice can’t articulate. I try to be worthy of that love every day.
Grace - January 30, 2023 11:10 pm
Makes me want to get an old
dog. But I don’t feel I am capable of caring for a dog.
Guy Brickman - January 31, 2023 11:30 am
That is sooooo Beautiful
Bob - January 31, 2023 7:23 pm
Onions! I speak fluent dog… They have a lot to say if ya listen.
Nancy Noble - February 1, 2023 10:59 pm
I’m sitting in the food court of a resort at Walt Disney World, tears running down my face. A cast member asks if I’m OK. I told her I was just happy that an older dog was adopted. She smiled.