Stepping Out into His Golden Years

Shadow is a perfect example of why we do what we do at Old Dog Haven. This 14-year old Sheltie spent the last several years living outside on an uncovered porch: unloved, un-cared for, and alone.

When his person developed dementia, they were no longer able to care for him and kept him crated and out of sight. When that owner died, things didn’t get any better for Shadow.  A family member took over, but he lived on the deck outside. With no access to a yard or shelter, this sweet boy spent the next several years alone living in very poor conditions. Because Shadow doesn’t bark, when the second owner was institutionalized, no one even knew Shadow existed and was in need of help. When he was discovered, his rescuers contacted ODH and he was taken to his permanent ODH foster family a day later.

Shadow arrived at his ODH foster home a polite but shut-down dog. He’d lay in the far corners of the house, facing the wall. He knew no basic commands, though he was perfectly housebroken. His eyes were dull and sad, and he appeared mostly night blind. Years of rough living left his fur severely matted and his joints arthritic. Shadow didn’t even know his own name. He’d had no veterinary care in at least 10 years and had been suffering with rotten teeth  and a severely infected mouth. So, after Shadow settled into his new home and began to regain his health, ODH arranged for dental surgery and he had 20 rotten teeth extracted.  What happened next was that this long-suffering dog stepped out of the ‘shadows’ and rebounded!

Shadow has been in his ODH forever home for three months now, and he is essentially a new dog. He’s now on proper medication for his arthritis and his teeth and mouth don’t hurt anymore…and with his remaining teeth he’s discovered that he loves food, especially chicken. He’s even decided he’d like to learn what to do with these things called “toys”! After five obedience classes,  Shadow knows his name, walks on a leash like a champ, and gets along well with his fellow ODH FR dog, Stanley (the Lil’ Gremlin) – see picture below.

His foster mom says he’s an absolute dream on his leash, and he knows to heel, sit, stay, and even turn around! And he loves, loves, loves walks with this foster dad, with whom he has especially bonded. Shadow now eagerly solicits full-belly rubs, and along with his demeanor, his eyes and fur have just brightened. And he loves children! Is there anything this marvelous old gentleman can’t do? Shadow recently made his ODH event debut and met all the visiting dogs and people with aplomb and a wagging tail. He was a wonderful ambassador with all.

Shadow’s still wary of big, open spaces and doesn’t like loud, sudden noises, but he is brave with the trusted help of his people who adore him and are so proud of him for how far he has come. He doesn’t like stairs (who does?) but this is a dog who has proved himself kind and resilient and willing to learn new things. Despite long-term abuse, neglect and illness, with the help of ODH and its supporters like you, this former shadow of himself is a brand-new dog!

Update:  After a wonderful time with his new family, dear Shadow suddenly became very ill.  Tests revealed a large tumor on his liver,  so his loving family said a very sad good-bye.  He was ‘Daddy’s Boy’ and will be greatly missed.


Shadow with his foster brother Stanley

Shadow – his profile pose!

Now he smiles all the time!