Senior Dog Supports and Guides Adopted Family
From teaching a baby to walk, to being there for every meaningful moment, Josie is a key part of the pack.
Stacey + Josie
A senior Labrador turned out to be the perfect family dog: patient, loyal and lovable. In her golden years, Josie gives back to her family (and foster dogs) with her gentle guidance and support.
"Josie has taught me, better than anyone else, to stop and breathe. Her big soft head on my feet makes me want to sit a little bit longer, and her steady breathing calms me."
Sometimes you don’t know what you need until it’s right in front of you. In December 2018, we adopted Josie, a 10-year-old Chocolate Lab from Peace of Mind Dog Rescue in Pacific Grove, California. We knew we had found the perfect family dog. What we didn’t know at the time was that Josie had the gift of intuition, a special talent for knowing when and how to offer guidance, comfort and support to both humans and animals.
Josie immediately understands what is needed moment-to-moment with each person in our family, and offers either comfort or space, depending on what she knows is best. She listens patiently as our daughters read books to her, use her as a pillow, or tell her their most important secrets. Josie has taught me, better than anyone else, to stop and breathe. Her big soft head on my feet makes me want to sit a little bit longer, and her steady breathing calms me. I don’t think she is simply sleeping with her head on my feet… I believe she is doing this intentionally.
She is a leader and teacher but in the most gentle way. One day our toddler was struggling to learn to walk. I held her hand as she stood, walked and fell. Josie jumped up, hurried over and expertly inserted herself between us. I let go of her hand, and she grabbed the fur on Josie’s back. Josie stood very still while she re-balanced then very slowly took small steps as she walked along with her. She looked up at me as if to say, “It’s ok, I’ve got it.”
Josie’s current job is mentoring a younger chocolate lab that we are fostering in our home, a male who is twice her size but just as gentle. She tells him when and where to nap, reassures him when we leave the house and shows him all the best spots to sniff and explore.
What we know of Josie’s previous life is that she had an important job taking care of her family. She moved on to her new life with us with gentleness, trust and the goofiness of a Labrador. She quickly took on the same role in our family as caretaker and mentor. She gives so much to us, yet asks for little in return. We want to do all that we can to make the rest of her life as comfortable, peaceful and enjoyable as possible.
Each year, there are millions of animals in shelters and rescues across the country waiting for adoption. Many are young puppies and kittens, born to unspayed cats and dogs. However, a large number are also senior pets — wise, gentle, well-trained, experienced animals that ask only for a safe home and good care in exchange for a lifetime of loyalty and companionship. Love has no age limit — adopting a senior animal is life-changing!
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 Stacey won Peace of Mind Dog Rescue in Pacific Grove, California a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.