Some 40 years ago, Jenny W. and a couple of her friends found a stray kitten on the street. The kitten was hungry, alone and couldn’t have been more than eight weeks old. Just nine years old at the time, Jenny and her friends were supposed to leave for a school field trip, but instead begged their teacher to let them take the stray cat to the ASPCA first, knowing it would be safe, get the care it needed and could find a loving home. Their teacher agreed and they brought the kitten to the ASPCA.
Decades later, still thinking about that day, Jenny knew just where she would adopt from when she decided she was ready for a pet.
In February 2022, Jenny went onto the ASPCA website looking for the next love of her life. She was specifically looking for a senior pet.
“I always adopt senior pets,” Jenny says. “Older dogs usually get looked over, which is really sad to me because they have so much love to give.”
Jenny quickly found Ella, a 10-year-old pit bull mix. She filled out the adoption application and a day later our Matchmakers reached out inviting Jenny to come meet Ella.
After speaking with staff members and Ella’s foster—who has since become a great friend of Jenny’s—and learning all about Ella, Jenny finally went to the ASPCA Adoption Center to meet her new BFF.
“The reason the process took so long is because my building discriminates against certain breeds,” explains Jenny. “I had some very heated discussions with the management between the first time I spoke with the ASPCA and the time I was able to bring her home. I refused to let my building prohibit me from adopting her and wasn’t going to stop fighting until I got to bring Ella home.”
Thanks to Jenny’s hard work advocating for Ella, two weeks later, this golden girl was on her way to her new home.
From Overlooked to Overjoyed
Being discriminated against for her breed wasn’t the first time Ella faced hurdles. Due to her age and some health issues, Ella spent almost nine months in our care, overlooked by potential adopters. Though just as happy and in need of love as her younger counterparts, it wasn’t until Jenny came along that Ella finally found someone to see her for the loving dog she is.
Though it took nine months to find, Ella adjusted to her new home immediately. She slept curled up next to Jenny the very first night and has slept in the same place ever since.
“It’s always that moment when you bring an older pet home—it may take a day, it may take a month, it may take longer—when they finally realize they’re safe and loved and finally home. That’s the best moment in the world,” says Jenny.
Within a week, Ella and Jenny had a routine down and within two weeks, Ella knew every neighbor and doorman on the block.
“Especially the ones who keep treats behind the desk,” Jenny adds.
Managing Ella’s Medical Conditions
While in our care, Ella was diagnosed with chronic regurgitation due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and was put on medication and a prescription diet to help manage her symptoms. In addition, due to multiple mammary gland tumors, Ella had mastectomies on both sides of her mammary glands. Ella’s test results showed that most masses came back as benign and while one came back as cancerous, it was a grade one and completely removed. This meant that Ella would likely not develop any more tumors, but she should still be monitored for growths.
“Ella’s health conditions—while they sound bad on paper—haven’t had any impact on our ability to live a happy life together,” explains Jenny.
Jenny feeds Ella prescription food and monitors the treats she’s given based on the ingredients, but Jenny has found it to be very easy to manage. Jenny also always keeps an eye out for lumps or growths, so she regularly feels around Ella’s body—especially on her chest of stomach.
“To Ella, it’s just more belly rubs and massages!” says Jenny.
Living Her Best Life
With her medical conditions under control and living in loving home with a doting adopter, Ella now spends her days being one happy pup! She has learned the joys of playing in the sprinkler, running along the beach and hanging out with her BFF Sparky.
While it’s clear that Ella’s life has changed dramatically, Ella has helped change Jenny’s life too.
“I’ve never been a morning person, but now I look forward to waking up early just so I can spend time with her,” Jenny tells us. “She makes me smile for no reason. She reminds me how important it is to appreciate all the little things—things that would normally be ignored or taken for granted. The first time a firefly lit up in front of her face, I wish I had a picture of her reaction! It was surprise, delight, curiosity and wonder all rolled into one. That’s how she lives her life and that’s how I’m learning to live mine.”
Giving Senior Pets a Second Chance
Like Ella, many animals in shelters face discrimination based on their age and can spend months waiting for someone to love them for who they are. There are so many advantages to adopting a senior pet and this November during Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we encourage you to leave your expectations behind and open your heart and home to an animal with a few extra birthday candles.
Having quite a bit of experience in adopting senior pets, Jenny offers some advice to those considering adoption.
“Be patient with them. Some older dogs have lived hard lives. They know the difference between a shelter and a home. They know what they’ve lost. They understand loneliness and abandonment. And still, they hold a lifetime of love inside of them, just waiting for someone to accept it. Senior dogs will love you so purely, so wholly and so completely, that you’ll understand the true meaning of joy.”
If you’re ready to dive into the joys of adopting a senior pet, check out our adoptable animals in New York City, Los Angeles, Asheville, North Carolina or your local shelter!
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