This month’s Dog Tails Dog of the Month goes to a distinguished older gentleman who recently joined the DogWatch family. Carmen is a 9 year-old Shih Tzu who was rescued from a hoarding situation and adopted by Trixie and Keith Bailey of DogWatch of Southeastern Ontario last July. Carmen is a survivor, and his story shines a light on the many wonderful senior dogs in need who are looking for forever homes to live out their golden years.

Carmen (then known as “Carny”) was seized from a breeder/hoarder along with 16 other Shih Tzu’s last spring in Southern Ontario. The animal control officer concluded that the 9 year-old dog had spent most of his life in a cage in unhealthy conditions. After he was rescued, Carmen went to live at Sheba’s Haven Rescue, a palliative care home for dogs with life-limiting non-curative illnesses. Due to the absence of medical care throughout his life, Carmen had some health issues that needed addressing right away. The tough pup had 11 teeth extracted, and 7 of his teeth fell out on their own. Carmen also suffers from periodic seizures, some of which require medication.

The Baileys found out about Carmen last July, when DogWatch of Southeastern Ontario participated in an event supporting Sheba’s Haven Rescue. Carmen was one of the Sheba’s Haven dogs who attended the event in search of an adoptive family, as he had been cleared by the vet to be re-homed. Trixie spotted the cute blond Shih Tzu, saw his “Adopt Me” leash and asked to meet him. “The rescue let him stay the day with us in our booth,” says Trixie. “We filled out the paperwork to adopt him that night.”

Trixie and Keith weren’t initially sure how their two other little dogs – Spike, a Yorkshire Terrier, and Joey, a Shih Tzu – would get along with their new adopted brother. Spike especially had a history of not being “overly excited about meeting other dogs,” so Trixie was surprised when her Yorkie “all but held the door open for Carmen when he came for his first overnight meet and greet. He liked him from the minute he came in.”

The dog brothers now “all get along famously,” and enjoy roaming their yard in their Sydenham, ON home. Trixie reports that Carmen was the easiest to train on their DogWatch Hidden Fence. “He is on the DogWatch system, not that he goes very far, because he would rather be laying in the sun than getting into mischief.”

Perhaps the sweetest part about Carmen’s story is that he is now finally able to be a dog and live his life fully. “Watching Carmen discover toys for the first time made me cry,” said Trixie. Toys and treats and playtime were not a part of his life for many years, so seeing him enjoy these simple things is truly touching.  “We swore when we adopted him, that his last years will be his best years,” adds Trixie. “He deserves it.”

Now that Carmen is part of her family, Trixie encourages everyone interested in adopting a pet to consider an older or senior pet. “Seniors have so much love to give and deserve to receive it in return,” she says. “These guys are often the ones left behind or forgotten about. I encourage anyone to give an older dog the chance to live out their lives in a happy and loving home.”

If you’re looking to adopt a senior pet, websites like Petfinder can be a great help. You can sort your search by age to find senior pets in need in your area. We also encourage you to follow Susie’s Senior Dogs on Facebook and Instagram to see photos and read stories of adoptable senior dogs from across the country.

Thanks to Trixie Bailey of DogWatch of Southeastern Ontario for helping us with this article, and for the Bailey family for giving a needy dog a wonderful, loving home. And of course, thanks to Carmen – your indomitable spirit is an inspiration!

Carmen says "Senior Dogs Rule!"