Is a Lab ever too old to be adopted? You may have wondered, who are the families willing to adopt and love these old guys. This is the story of 13-year-old Lenny. SHLR Volunteer, Debbie, was asked if she would like to foster him. She already knew he would need a special family to adopt him and that he might be her house guest for quite a while. Lenny was a bit of a curmudgeon and a loner, and he didn’t seem to care about anything except hiding and saving every bit of food that he couldn’t eat at the moment. But Debbie said yes to fostering this senior, and she shares with us Lenny’s amazing transformation and how he became the star of his very own New Beginnings story!
I am a foster for SHLR, and I have fostered many Labs in the last 4 or 5 years. When I was asked if I would foster a 13-year-old yellow male Lab named Lenny, I was a little hesitant because I thought most Labs live up to about 12 years. I thought the most he has is a year. I was thinking what a huge emotional commitment for only a year with him. Who would adopt him?
When I first met Lenny the Lab, here was a tall lanky skinny old guy. His face was nearly white and he had several large warts on his face and on one of his eyelids. He was not very sociable and, in fact, he mostly ignored me. I took him home to meet Drake, my huge 6-year-old male black Lab. Drake was used to me bringing home new doggies, so he introduced himself to Lenny and that was that. I settled in for the long-haul thinking, “No one is going to adopt this old guy.” I was going to have him for a while. Drake and I noticed over the next few days that Lenny was a loner — Lenny the Loner Lab. He would take treats and try to bury them in a corner or under a magazine or wherever he could leave it for later.
If he was outside with a bone, he would dig in my petunias, too. He would growl at Drake if poor Drake got too close to his food, or if he was getting affection from me he would growl and nip at Drake if he came close to me. Again, the thought in my head was, “Who would adopt this dog?”
Over the next days and then weeks, we had several people want to meet Lenny. He was polite enough. He mostly ignored everyone. When I shared that he would dig and was protective of his food and toys, I could see that it was going to become even more difficult for Mr. Lenny to get adopted.
Finally, I had an applicant that met Lenny and was not discouraged when I explained about the bad habits that Lenny had acquired. Nor was she put off by his age. WONDERFUL! FINALLY! A forever home for Lenny the Loner Lab at last! But, alas, it was not meant to be. I will never forget as she sat on my couch and watched Lenny with Drake and she pointed out something I had not noticed happening. Lenny and Drake lay down on the same dog bed and fell asleep together. How long had this been happening? The applicant observed that Lenny was really attached to Drake and Drake to him. I hadn’t noticed! It had happened so slowly. Lenny was becoming part of our family. With tears in her eyes she said she could not take Lenny away from Drake. The applicant left.
There were other things happening, too. Over the next weeks, Lenny stopped being so rude about his food and toys. He totally stopped trying to hide his treats. He became affectionate to me and Drake! He became a confident, lovable and funny Lab. Aaah, it dawned on me — I was catching glimpses of the way Lenny used to be; youthful, playful, puppy brain! What do I mean used to be? Lenny the Loner Lab had become Lenny the Lovable Lab! This was the perfect illustration of the power of love! Lenny had changed to a lovable, confident, funny, wonderful Lab.
Love and care had changed him completely! He was learning it was safe to love again! He was giving Drake and me the precious gift of his trust. I quit hoping for someone to accept this old guy and give him a forever home. He had his forever home right here with me and Drake!
Congratulations Debbie and Drake (her gorgeous black lab). Three is company and makes for a very happy family!