Woman Enjoy’s Golden Years with Adopted Senior Dog

At 83, Irene didn’t think she’d fall in love again. Then she met Donald.

Irene + Donald

83-year-old Irene got a new start when she moved to South Carolina. Then she gave a senior dog a second chance at a happy life.

"As a senior lady, I highly recommend adopting a senior animal. No furniture chewing and as I’ve learned, you can teach an old dog new tricks."

At 83 years young, if anyone had told me I would be in love for the second time in my life, I would have disagreed. After I moved to Charleston in June 2017 as a widow in order to be closer to family, I knew I needed to find a companion; I found myself talking to myself most of the time. I told all of my friends that I was looking for a dog. My criteria were pretty simple — I didn’t want a small dog that I might trip over, and also not a huge dog that could pull me over when leash walking. But I knew I wanted an adult dog.

Adopted Dog Donald

Late last Spring, I was playing bridge and had just eaten lunch when my daughter called me about a dog she thought would be perfect for me. She was at Charleston Animal Society and had met “Stormy.” He was a medium-sized senior poodle with a patch of grey here and there, an incredibly friendly personality, and he was completely blind. I got so excited I left my credit card at the restaurant and took off in the pouring rain to go meet Stormy at the shelter.

Adopted Dog Donald

When I arrived, I knew it was meant to be. Here was this timid black dog who had been found out in the rain several days before. His microchip wasn’t registered but he was neutered. And on top of the blindness, he was heartworm positive and way too skinny. The shelter said he was about 10 years old. I fell in love instantly and knew this would be my buddy. But the name Stormy just didn’t fit — so I renamed him Donald.

Going through the adoption process could not have been easier. It took only a couple days for Donald to walk around the furniture in my home and not bump into anything. He has great hearing and a terrific sense of smell, and knows where I am by sound. He walks well on a leash and needs very little guidance not to bump into trees or benches on walks.

Adopted Dog Donald

All my life my dogs have been family dogs, shared with husband and children, but this time Donald is mine — all mine! As a senior lady, I highly recommend adopting a senior animal. No furniture chewing and as I’ve learned, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Donald learned to sit, stay and stop (when I find him heading toward a danger while leash walking).

Adopted Dog Donald

Thanks to Charleston Animal Society for saving senior, disabled dogs like Donald. I may have been alone before, but Donald has filled the hole I had in my heart and even though he doesn’t answer back I now have someone to talk to, anytime I want.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Irene won Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston, South Carolina a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.