So you've been thinking about expanding your family for a while. It's finally time ... to get a dog.
If you're like a lot of people, you might start your search with puppies. I mean, who can resist those adorable puppy-dog eyes? I'm a bunny person, and even I can't resist some pup pics (shhhhhh, don't tell my pet rabbit).
But one woman wants us to think twice before going the puppy route. And she's got some dang convincing (and heart-meltingly sweet) reasons.
Meet Laura T. Coffey. She's firmly on #TeamOldDog, and she wants you to be, too.
As a longtime member of the Today.com team, she's seen hundreds of stories cross her desk. But one story she wrote in 2013 — about overlooked pets in animal shelters — changed her life forever.
Sure, puppies might be cute, but so are these older (and wiser) senior dogs. They're also usually the calmest and easiest to handle. Think about it: They're already house trained! And since they have already been around the block, they know how to settle in and become a part of the family. And when you bring them home, they'll be so thankful and be instantly, fiercely loyal to you until the very end.
So Coffey teamed up with photographer Lori Fusaro, and they traveled the country collecting the amazing stories of owners who adopted old dogs in hopes of inspiring more folks to join #TeamOldDog. The end result is the beautiful book, "My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts." SO many great stories in there, folks!
Here are five outright heart-melting stories that'll make you want to go adopt a senior dog. Like, right now:
1. Chaney, a retired military dog, helps his veteran cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
2. Duval the pit bull is a certified therapy dog for elementary-school children.
3. This brilliant cocker spaniel named Einstein immediately stole George Clooney's heart.
4. Fiona entered a shelter unable to walk ... until she found an owner who showered her with love and was able to walk again.
5. Maddie the adorable shih tzu helped her owner overcome depression and anxiety after her husband's death.
So much cute! So much wise!
And these senior dogs need us more than ever. Right now, they're one of the highest risk population in shelters due to the complications that come from age.
These sweet dogs are often left behind because people can't afford their end-of-life care; owners move into nursing facilities that don't allow pets, or they go through major life-changing events like military deployment or home foreclosure.
Going from a comfy home life to a kennel can be particularly stressful for a senior pet. And that's why Coffey and Fusaro made this book.
They're spreading the good news about senior dogs because these dogs have so much love to give.
Some folks might be hesitant to adopt a senior dog. It does come with its special set of challenges (but that's the case no matter what the age of a new family member!). It might be scary to open your heart to someone in their last years, but people they talked to who took the chance say it's worth it.