Finding a family to take on an older animal can be a challenge. Older cats and dogs often come with health challenges and folks who foster or adopt understand that, unlike with young pets, they will have to face the inevitable goodbye before too long.
So it is a special type of person who steps up to care for elders, like George. The German shepherd-bull terrier cross will be 15 in December and he came three years ago to his moms Kelsy Orpen and Heather Rich.
At the time, with George’s health challenges, which include a heart condition, Kelsy thought she might be caring for him only for a few months. George had been hit by a car, had nerve damage in one leg, was undernourished and just didn’t look too good, she says. That’s all changed. About 60 pounds when he came to their home, he’s a healthy 80 pounds now.
And after a month of regular walking – at least three a day – his limp was gone. For an old guy, he’s doing pretty well almost three years later.
Kelsy and Heather needed to find a special dog, because their other dog, Sophia, is totally blind. There’s no place for a puppy or a rambunctious dog in the house. George and Sophia instantly developed a sweet and respectful relationship. They sniff each other and mostly give each other space.
Sophia tends to perch on the couch, because as gentle a giant as George is, he’s still, Kelsy says, “a big doofus” who would likely inadvertently step on little Sophia.
George is a sweetheart with everyone he meets.
“He gets along with anyone who comes in the house, kids, puppies, cats, rabbits,” Kelsy says. “He doesn’t pull or bark or try to get at them.”
The only time she’s ever heard him bark is when he had diarrhea and desperately needed to go out.
“He’s not a barker,” she said. He is ball-obsessed. That was how the new moms bonded with him in the first place. He was nervous around other people who came to see him, but when they showed up with a ball he took right to them. Later, at the beach, George spotted a soccer game and was infatuated.
Kelsy and Heather got him a soccer ball – well, many soccer balls, because he gnaws right through them. His enormous head and gaping maw means he can mouth a full soccer ball.
George is living the live at home with Sophia, Heather and Kelsy. His older years are filled with attention, love and care. And he returns the love like mad.
“It’s just crazy how nice he is,” Kelsy says.