The MAGSR Senior Dog Program

Think of it as Medicare for dogs.

It is the sad truth that senior dogs rarely are adopted out of shelters. Even more tragic, many senior dogs are surrendered to a shelter for the same reasons. Faithful and devoted family companions are left to be euthanized for no reason other than they became “old”.

(As the average life span of German Shepherds is about 11-12 years of age, for purposes of this MAGSR program, “senior dogs” will be defined as dogs over 7 years old.)

There are a variety of reasons for this. Heartbreaking situation... 

The reasons most commonly cited as the cause of the surrender or reluctance to adopt a senior dog is:

  • Adopters have suffered the loss of a senior dog are reluctant to be faced with that terrible pain so soon.
  • Senior dogs often have a variety of medical needs and the resulting extra veterinary costs
  • Senior dogs often have less mobility and/or special needs due to arthritic hips, displasia etc.
  • Senior dogs are thought to be “set” in their ways and unable to be “trained”.

MAGSR’s Senior Dog program is designed to resolve some or all of the above obstacles faced in the re-homing of a senior GSD.

MAGSR wants to help these wonderful and devoted  “Senior” dogs live out the “ winter” of their lives in a loving environment by placing them in suitable homes and overcoming the most common obstacles for taking a senior dog home.

The three main components of the program are:

  1. Identification of Candidates for the MAGSR Senior Dog Program.
    1. Dogs of either sex 7 years of age and older, without serious or terminal medical /orthopedic issues
    2. Dogs evaluated to be non aggressive with humans ( dogs to be placed in a home with the possibility of visitation by children under 18 will receive additional evaluation)

  2. Identification/Evaluation  of Potential Homes for a MAGSR Senior Dog
    1. Homes may be individual or group settings
    2. Homes will be subject to a home visit evaluation and approval by qualified MAGSR volunteers.
    3. Group homes must have written authority from the governing authority for placement of a dog in residence.
    4. Group home must have a designated Staff Member with overall responsibility for the welfare of the dog.
    5. Guidelines for placement will follow standard MAGSR guidelines including but not limited to the following:
      • Dogs will be housed inside
      • Dogs will never be left unattended in a vehicle or yard.
      • Dogs will wear a MAGSR tag and collar at all times.
      • Dogs will be returned to MAGSR if the dog can no longer be kept at the home.
  1. MAGSR Responsibilities:
    1. As needed , MAGSR will accept the following responsibilities:
      • A MAGSR volunteer will be assigned as the Coordinator for each dog.
      • MAGSR will, as necessary,  provide the transportation for veterinary services
      • MAGSR will, as necessary, accept the financial responsibility  veterinary services under prescribed circumstances:
        • MAGSR Coordinator agrees that veterinary care is necessary
        • Treatment is performed by a MAGSR Veterinary partner
      • MAGSR Coordinator will visit periodically to assess the placement and provide assistance in training as needed.
      • MAGSR will provide food as necessary.
      • MAGSR will place the dog in a suitable home only in a foster arrangement.

Funding provided to this program will be used to provide veterinary care, grooming care and food for the care Ravenand welfare of the dogs.

All MAGSR volunteers services are 100% donated and all monies provided for this program will be used for the direct expenses of the program.

There are never any guarantees about length of life with any loved one, human or canine. Quality of time together can matter a great deal more than quantity. Many of us love our pets so deeply that we think that if we get an older dog it will die soon and we will just have to grieve again. While there is some truth in this, remember the old saying that "it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all." If you turn your back on the senior dog he may not get another chance.. would you have wanted that to happen to the dog you just lost if the situation was reversed and it was you that passed away?

When you loose an older dog think about what you loved so much about them such as their calm disposition and quiet constant companionship, how they knew your routine and happily fitted into it, undemanding but always there for you, content to just hang out when you needed quiet time. They are always close by with a soft coat to pat and cuddle, liquid brown eyes filled with understanding, always ready to listen should the day be especially hard. 

Just was with your beloved dog, these qualities took time and developed with age. There are senior dogs out there right now with the exact qualities which were so very special to you. While your heart will always hold a very special place for the one that passed consider the special tribute you would pay them by adopting another senior dog. 

Puppies are adorable and are ready to explore the world with endless energy...can you keep up? Young adult dogs need time to establish their lives and you have the necessary time and energy ...if so go for it.

TamuSenior dogs already know what their people want, they don't have the need to chew, dig nor be exercised endlessly to burn off their extra energy. Seniors have been there and done that and now only ask for your love and companionship. They are available for leisurely walks which benefit you both and will happily nap during the day, storing up energy for those walks or just for keeping you company at night

Choosing a rescue dog over a purchased pup will not solve the pet overpopulation problem (only responsible pet owners and breeders can do that), but it does give many of them a chance they otherwise would not have. But, beyond doing a "good deed," adopting a rescue dog can be the best decision and addition to the family you ever made. Rescue a dog and get a devoted friend for life

Here at MAGSR, we are proud of our tradition of rescuing and placing senior dogs. Everyone loves a puppy, but wise people know that German Shepherds, like fine wine and fish-tales, just get better with age.

Older dogs have so much love to offer. We want to offer special thanks to our friends who adopt senior dogs from us. 

For two inspiring stories of senior dog adoption, please visit Samson's page and Daisy's page.

And be sure to visit the Senior Dog Project.

Adapted from material distributed by Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc. Our thanks to them for a great column.

Copyright 2009 Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue. All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on: 04/15/09