My wife sitting on the floor with Coco, our rescue dog.

Rose and Coco enjoying a minute together on the floor.

Adopting a senior rescue dog was quite an experience for my wife and I.

We had been talking and planning on another dog for awhile. We were not in a rush as we have two cats, one very old, diabetic male and a 10-year old female.

Plus we were not sure what kind or size we wanted. Our first dog was a Norwegian Elkhound, which is categorized as a large dog. We also more recently had a miniature American Eskimo and Yorkshire Terrier. Both the Elkhound and Eskie were big shedders.

Then recently, the opportunity to adopt a senior rescue dog presented itself. A friend was a foster mother for mixed breed Pit Bull Terrier belonging to the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland.

My wife and I agreed to see the dog. So we set up a "meet and greet" with the foster mom and the dog.

The "meet and greet" was a great way to see how the dog behaved in a home environment. Plus, we could assess the dog's personality, socialization levels as well as take a short walk to see how the dog responds on a leash.

After a short visit with the foster mom, we took Coco for a short walk with the foster mom and her other dog. For the most part, she focused her attention on me when I talked to her. Coco did not walk as much as she moseyed along without tension on the leash. 

Being an older, adult dog, Coco has some health issues. She has arthritis in her rear legs and has had tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy surgery on her right, rear leg. TPLO is basically ACL surgery for dogs.

One of the main benefits of adopting from a not-for-profit animal shelter like Senior Dog Sanctuary is their evaluation of the dog's health and behavioral issues. Their reporting tends to be more honest that from some breeders who have a profit motive to move their inventory of dogs.

After a short discussion, my wife and I decided to submit an application to adopt Coco.

Close-up of Coco, our rescue dog

Coco is such a friendly dog!

Rescue Dog Adoption Process

The Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland has an online application form to simplify the application process. The application form is very detailed as they ask for lots of information. It's obvious from the nature of the questions, they want to make the best match between dog and prospective owner. This also minimizes the chances the adopted dog would be returned.

I am glad to see such a thorough process. It reflects the love and care the sanctuary has for it's senior dogs!

The questionnaire includes questions regarding:

  • housing status (#1 cause for dogs surrendered to shelters)
  • lifestyle
  • references
  • personality and home environment
  • expense estimates for food and care
  • what we would feed the dog
  • activities for dog as well as planned exercise times
  • time the dog would spend alone
  • type of dog personality and activity level desired
  • current pets, names and ages
  • veterinarian name and telephone number

I completed and submitted the application.

Rescue dog adoption form

This is the first page of three to the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland. It is typical of adoption forms as the rescue organizations want to find suitable homes for their rescue dogs.

Several days later, I received a telephone call from one of the Senior Dog Sanctuary volunteers who acknowledged receipt of the application. She also asked for additional information to clarify some of my answers. It was pretty routine stuff. 

Then we scheduled a home visit where one of their representatives would visit our home. I guess it was a way for them to validate some of my application responses.

It was during this time that I decided to find a new vet for Coco should our adoption application be approved. I reached out and reconnected with the vet who took care of our Norwegian Elkhound. I visited his clinic and spent a little time getting reacquainted and talk about the adoption.

The home visit went well. The Senior Dog Sanctuary spent about 45 minutes looking around our home and yard asking questions about the prospective dog's sleeping arrangements, exercise activities, meals, and other related questions. I assumed the visit was to validate the data I submitted on the application. 

And whether the house was big enough for a 65-pound dog. Pure speculation on my part!

The representative indicated at this point in the adoption process that they would reach a decision and let us know within 3-5 business days.

Hooray! They approved our adoption application!

We went into panic mode to get all the essential supplies for a new dog. Food, leashes, toys, dog bed, dog cushion, ID tag, and food bowls for starters.

Then we had to make arrangements for the foster mom to deliver our new dog to our house at noon. Middle of the day is a good time since few people are home to overwhelm the dog. 

On arrival day, the foster mom and I walked the dog around the house to help her become acquainted with our home and surroundings. Then we entered the house. I walked the dog through the first floor rooms ending in the kitchen to meet my wife. 

Glen Palo

Woodbridge, VA

Our senior rescue dog, Coco sticking her face between the stair railing.

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