No one wanted a 16-year-old, but his transformation gives all of us hope helping seniors in shelters

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There has been a heartbreaking influx of senior dogs at animal shelters across the country. Many of the dogs belonged to elderly people who have died or who have been transferred to assisted living facilities. Too often their families don’t want to assume the responsibility for the dog, and off the loyal pets go – to the nearest animal shelter.

Then there are the economic hardships when families lose their homes and their jobs. Although food banks are available to help families feed and care for their dogs, too often owners are left homeless or don’t have the ability nor wherewithal to find help for their pet.

And if that isn’t enough reasons why senior dogs are abandoned, let’s not forget the divorces where neither partner wants the dog, or children are born and families don’t want to take the time to help their pets accept new challenges in the household.

Maybe the story of a 16-year-old German shepherd mix named Bear will inspire more animal advocates to step forward and help these precious pets. Bear had been suffering from a severe case of dermatitis when he was rescued from a shelter; his down in the dumps luck changed when a kind foster mom took him in. She renamed him Norman and slowly helped him regain his strength through veterinarian care, love and patience.

Norman’s first day in foster care comprised of sleeping and then some more napping. Norman was nearly deaf, but he was safe, and he knew it. Good nutrition helped Bear gain back his strength and slowly, with medicated baths and medication, Norman’s coat began to grow back. And the best part of all perhaps is what his foster mom had to tell all of us:

“Fostering for a shelter is very tough, but I try and look at the positive and know that I am doing all I can. Norman has taught me a lot … I hope everyone can experience a senior dog’s love. I love my Norman/Bear.

The least I can do is give these abandoned guys a soft place to sleep, food and TLC. In return they give me a new appreciation and meaning in life.”

Former foster mom as told to DogHeirs

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