In 2011 I had decided to add another dog to my family, and decided I wanted a rescue. I put in an application with Midwest for a young male lab that caught my eye on the website, and waited for the decision. Midwest then contacted me with a proposition: they had unexpectedly rescued an 8-year-old female black lab, she was in the area, and her foster family fell through Ė would I be interested in meeting her? Well, the next day, a chubby, wobbly, gray-faced black lab named Ryleigh waddled boldly through my front door, and I fell instantly in love. Ryleigh calmly sniffed my other three dogs, then plopped right down on the floor like sheíd been here her whole life. Ryleighís background was a little bit of a mystery, but we did learn that she lived on a farm in Iowa as a mostly outside dog, kept in a wire cage for a majority of the day. When she was allowed inside, she was kept out of bedrooms and off of beds and furniture. She was severely overweight from lack of exercise, and she had a bad hip from a past injury that gave her even more difficulty getting around. It broke my heart to learn that Ryleigh was surrendered because her owners were getting a divorce; I cannot understand how someone could abandon a member of their family like that, especially when thatís the only life sheís known for eight years. I had never really considered adopting a senior dog, as Iíd only ever had puppies, but Ryleighís sad tale and unbroken spirit won me over. As Ryleigh adjusted to her new home, it both overjoyed and saddened me to see her enjoy such simple pleasures as sleeping on a bed and relaxing at our feet in the living room, happy just to be around people. At first Ryleigh refused to eat anything but crispy bacon, so she conned us into spoiling her for a while, but she quickly proved to be one of the most easygoing, patient, obedient, affectionate dogs I have ever met, grateful just to be loved and impossible to resist.
Ryleigh was with us for almost four amazing years, not nearly long enough, but each one precious. It was inspiring that Ryleigh was willing to trust us to protect and love her after having been hurt before by people she trusted. She reminded us of dogsí amazing ability to forgive, to trust, to love unconditionally. You couldnít help but love everything about her, from her silly waddle of a walk to her accidental poops every time you walked her. It was so gratifying to know that we could take an older dog into our home so she could live out her golden years as she deserved, spoiled and treasured and unconditionally loved. Ryleigh passed away this past November at home in her sleep, peacefully and surrounded by the people who loved her most. Of course we lost her too soon, but I will be forever grateful for the time I was given with such a pure soul.
I know all sorts of dogs both young and old need homes, but Iím a sucker for the senior dogs now. They so often get passed up for puppies, or because they might be more of a challenge. Senior dogs do not belong in wire cages, ripped from the lives theyíve known, confused and lonely. These gentle old souls deserve to be pampered in their retirement, growing old peacefully and knowing nothing but love and companionship. Iíll take the geezers any day.
Hey MLRR! Itís been a while since Iíve written, but wanted to let you know whatís been happening in my life.
In February 2012, I made the long journey from Missouri to Chicago. My original owner surrendered me as a 2 year old, but lucky for me MLRR heard about my situation and took me in. I met my foster mom and dad my very first night in Chicago. They were only going to babysit me overnight, but when they learned I didnít have a foster family set up, they agreed to foster me. Well, that was GREAT news for me! Goodbye cold, lonely dog crates! Hello warm, loving home! I even had an MLRR sister (Fergie) at home, and a mom and dad lavishing love on me. What could be better?
Soon after, a nice young man adopted me. But, as sometimes happens, within a few weeks he realized he couldnít devote the time a young dog like me really deserved. With a heavy heart, he brought me back to my foster home. Once mom and dad and Fergie realized how much they had missed me, they decided to make it official and adopt me forever! Yay!!!
I am just LOVING life with my forever family! I go on long walks with mom, run and swim like crazy in the dog park, and play fight with my sister all day long. I even have an Oma and Opa across the street, and they walk us every day too! Dad taught me how to fish (which,ahem, as you can see, Iím pretty good at). Oh, and best of all: I recently passed my Canine Good Citizen training at Rainbow AAT. Thatís right, Iím on my way to becoming a Therapy Dog, and life is really, really good!
Our whole family is so grateful for all the kind, loving souls at MLRR. Thanks for giving me a second chance at the best life ever. Mom says youíre all angels and the world is a better place with you in it. THANK YOU, MLRR!!!!!!!!
Her name is officially changed to Bella ("beautiful" in Italian). Perfect dog. Loves everyone and everyone loves her.
She gets 24/7 attention with all the caregivers we have for Sandi. She is great with Sandi and Sandi has done much better with her Parkinsons since Bella. She has learned how to walk on a leash extremely well with just a little teaching by me. She has learned sit, come and stay fairly well so far. Bella has not barked once yet. Even when other dogs bark at her, she just looks at them and turns away. Plays well with other dogs.
So far she has been the most perfect dog I have ever had and is perfect for us. Very gentle and loving. Like to hug people (literally puts her front paws around us and then puts her head either on our shoulder or our lap).
Bella is 60 pounds now and in very good health. Her perfect weight should be 60-65 pounds so we are backing off to 1 1/2 cups of food twice a day. Thanks for letting us adopt her!
Life is good when you find a home. My temporary name was Hercules but now I am Field. Itís an unusual name, but the vet says I am a Field lab, unlike the old grandpa that I live with who is an English lab. My brother dog, that I lovingly call Grandpa, is an 11 year old chocolate Lab named Wrigley so, I am Field. Get it? Wrigley Field. My owners thought they were funny too.
I donít know where I came from, and really, I just donít care anymore. I am happy and loved! Did you know dogs arenít supposed to jump on furniture or steal food from counters? I didnít know either but now itís crystal clear to me. I really like my family, so I have decided to be very good. I went away to dog boot camp. It was a LONG three weeks, but I am a better dog for it. No crate for me I am so good, I get to be free all the time! I love it. Me and fireworks though, not so good. I think I have PTSD from trying to hunt..glad thatís over.
I have two little girls, a cat, a guinea pig, and old grandpa Wrigley to watch out for. I take my job seriously and am always prepared to alert you with my tail. I am excellent on a leash and love to go for runs with my parents. I also have the amazing dog ability to be off leash in the front yard and do not run away. I really like my house. My parents also have a Jeep, and there is nothing better than hanging my dog head out the window for everyone to see. I LOVE the car and sometimes refuse to get out. Did you know, at 95lbs I can still fit in the trunk of an Audi? My family learned very quickly to keep the trunk closed.
Iíll tell you a secret: my 9 year friend Ava lets me sleep on her bed each night. Shhh. We donít want anyone to know. She squeezes me and loves me and I just canít say no. I even let her use me as a pillow.
I have learned so much from Grandpa Wrigley. He has been a great example. It makes me sad to know he is winding down, so I leave him alone and donít mess with him. I only hope I can teach my next brother, who we promise to get from MLRR, the way Wrigley taught me.
Thank you foster families. Without you, I donít know where I would have ended up.
Hi, my name is Bella and it wasn't long ago that the good people of MLRR helped me find my forever home. I'm writing to say that I'm am very happy with my new mom. We took an obedience class together and we both learned a lot. We take walks twice a day and I am getting very good at walking on the leash. We go a lot of places in the car and I'm also getting better at that. My family thinks that I'm very smart and really a sweet girl because I love to cuddle. I was kind of wild when she took me home, but I've calmed down quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm only 2 years old so I still have lots of energy, so my mom has me enrolled in daycare twice a week so that I learn how to make dog friends. My mom also has a friend that has 3 Labs and they are very nice to me. And best of all, my mom is getting me started in dock diving!!! Isn't that great!!!! Lab dog + water + running and jumping = ONE VERY HAPPY DOG!!! Thanks again MLRR for finding me my forever home!!!
Bear came to us almost a year ago this month! He was very skittish and shy and wouldn't come out of his crate to save his life in the beginning only to go outside three times a day. Every week, Kevin was persistent in getting him to his "escape", swimming class, so he could be somewhere familiar. Kevin, Bear and our resident hound, Hudson would trek to Wood Dale and Hudson would walk Bear to the stairs, watch him go up and then wait for him at the bottom when he was done giving him a paws up for a job well done!
When summer rolled around, we still entertained as normal and had our families over and Bear quietly would come out to listen to all that was going on. He'd hang out with us on the patio and even take walks that were four houses long, or until he got tired. He never showed much enthusiasm outwardly, except for his minute tail-wag along the carpet. Once the weather cooled down, we'd have him run, yes run!, around the back yard to keep up his exercising in between swim trips. Hudson had a lot to do with his coming out of his shell and running around. It took him a long time to climb on the couch to sit by us. Now we can't get him off as it's Bear's Domain!
Now our walks are 10 houses long (NOTE: if our subdivision were fully built!!!), and he is more energetic and wants to chase and play, especially on Sunday mornings when we're trying to leave for church! He still has a few issues but his gain in strength and endurance isn't only physical, but also mental. He has come a long way from from last May, and an even longer way from when Anna and Ethan got him in 2010. Bear is a joy and always happy to see Kevin and me and his tail thumping against an immovable object is our indicator that he is very happy.
MLRR's work is so admirable, and the work of the fosters and countless volunteers is noble and such a blessing to dog lovers like us. If we could only adopt them all!
I thought I would give you an update on Payton's new life. He completed basic training with me well over a month ago. Since that time he has gotten over his fear of going in the car. I think a part of that may have always been a bad experience for him, another home, vet, etc. Now he comes over to me when I am leaving to find out if he is going with me. He is very, very protective when someone comes to the door. I appreciate him being a good watch dog and if they come in at first he is apprehensive about the person.
He doesn't sit on the couch anymore! A friend suggested putting a large piece of foil on the cushions and now he just prefers his bed that stays in the family room. He does try to sneak onto my bed when I am gone for some time if I forget to close the bedroom door. He loves all his toys and takes his "baby" to his bed in the bedroom and out into the family room in the am. It's a fuzzy squeaky bear type animal. I got him one of those yellow tennis footballs and he loves to chase it and retrieve it. One thing he does do is hides his rawhides. I never had a Lab that didn't want to devour it immediately, but Payton will try to hide it under the bed or under his blanket on his bed. He will eat the real small ones, usually right away or shortly after he does his run around the house trying to decide to hide it or not.
He still gets scared when he goes to the groomer, but is overjoyed when I come to get him. He also loves being outside and enjoys going for walks just about anywhere we can. He is so funny when I feed him because he just LOVES his raw diet. He walks around on 2 legs around me when I am getting it ready and races into the laundry room to eat it in seconds! He is amazingly FAST and loves to run around outdoors as fast as he can.
I just wanted to share our new life together with you. I can't imagine finding another dog as lovable and smart as Payton. Like so many dogs that need rescuing, they just need a chance to share how smart and loveable they can be.
Hi all, I just wanted to let you guys know how I am doing.
Well for starters I am now Milo. It seems to fit me. It is also funny because my cats name is Mel, two "m" names makes people laugh. I LOVE that cat! And he may love me, sometimes he sleeps in my bed when I am not there, and I let him.
The kids seem to love me too, but for some reason they leave me most days, but they come back and I jump all over them...I don't think they love that. Jack is happy because I am learning to fetch a ball, it is harder than it looks! Caroline likes to walk me with her friend who has a yellow Lab. We look so cute walking together.
My new parents took me to dog school! I was VERY happy to be there with all the dogs. I learned all sorts of things they think are important, but I still LOVE to jump, they call me Hopper sometimes. I did learn to do a trick they seem to like, I can roll over. I even got a certificate in the end. It says "Milo the Magnificent" on it! I hope we do that again.
I have made many dog friends, most importantly with the old chocolate Lab we spend time with. She is an old gal and grew up with the dog my family use to have. I treat her well because she is an in charge sort of gal. I hear we will spend the summer together at our lake on a boat. I cant wait!
It's all good here. Thank you for getting me into my forever home.
Lots of Licks,
I adopted Ozzie through Midwest Lab Rescue in November of this year. After growing up with Labs, and wanting a dog so badly for the last few years, it was finally time. On the MLRR site, there was just something about Ozzie's sweet face and story that held on to me and wouldn't let go.
After 3 months of having him around, I can't imagine my life without him. He's simply the sweetest dog I've ever met: so interested, so intuitive, beyond patient and hilariously expressive. At almost 4 years old, his boundless energy certainly rivals pure puppy joy. Every person that he's met can't help but to fall in love with him and marvels at his sweet and entertaining personality. He now spends his days with free reign of my apartment, loving people, romping around at the dog park, snoozing, trotting on his daily walks with his friends, cuddling on the couch and he is one of the happiest guys around. I couldn't possibly have imagined such an amazing companion, and can't imagine any day without him greeting me at the door, in full wiggle, ball in mouth, even if I was only gone for 5 minutes. His happiness is contagious and so wholehearted.
His past is a very sad story of abuse and abandonment and I thank Allison, Anna and everyone at MLRR with all of my heart for giving him a home and giving him a chance. I hate to think where he'd be had it not been for you. I look forward to many, many, more years and growing old with my dear friend Oz. Whatever the future holds for me: marriage, children, new homes, I look forward to doing all of it with him by my side.
I was a stray puppy in Peoria when the good folks at MLRR rescued me
in 2004. My parents call me the bionic dog because I actually have an
artificial hip. Before the age of 2 I had three surgeries to repair
my bad knee and hips. Since then I've been living an amazing life.
I'm now about 7 or 8 years old and enjoy many adventures with my
family. In the photo, I'm floating down a river in Montana. I have
been a foster sister to a number of rescued Labs. I love going
camping and traveling with my parents and my 13-year-old Lab sister.
I'm a living testament to the innovations of medical technology and
so very grateful to MLRR for finding me the perfect family, one that
took a chance on a what seemed like a broken-down pup. Kiko
After losing my last dog of 10 years, I really missed the companionship of a dog. I dreaded the idea of going through puppy-hood again, so I decided that I would adopt an older dog and save myself the hassle of house training and all of the other fun stuff that accompanies puppies...god love them. I'd always wanted a Lab, so searching the Internet, I came across MLRR and my new companion Kiko. When Kiko came to MLRR, he was heart worm positive and very thin. Luckily thanks to the treatment he received from MLRR and his caring foster mom Allison, Kiko is now a happy and healthy dog. I must say I was a little concerned about the fact that he was originally tested heart worm positive, but after doing some research I found that heart worm is definitely treatable and has a high success rate. In Kiko's case that's absolutely true as he was recently tested and found to be heart worm free. As for my choice to go with an older dog, I could not be happier with Kiko. From the first day he entered my home, he was a perfect dog. I could not have asked for a better companion. Kiko has also just recently completed his obedience training where he was a excellent student as you'll see from the attached picture. He's going to move on to advanced training were he will also be used and a demo dog for the class orientation. So...in short its safe to say that I could not be happier with MLRR and Kiko. I think its also safe to say that Kiko's pretty happy also, but I'll let you decide based on the attached picture. I will just close by saying anyone who has any concern about adopting a heart worm positive dog should not give it a second thought.
We were searching for an addition to our home for almost a year to be a companion for our 10 year old chocolate lab Rocky and Sebastian the cat, when we found MLRR online. After going through the application process and meeting a few good dogs, we were introduced to Maggie. We knew instantly this was our girl. Although we had a few bumps in the road at the start - Maggie barked at everything and even at times at nothing - we all adjusted very well. Maggie seemed to be constantly in fear that we would leave her every time we left the house or took her to the park, which broke our hearts. With lots of patience, lots of walks, and lots of love, Maggie is now very comfortable and confident.
Maggie is the social butterfly of the neighborhood. Every person and dog we encounter is greeted with a huge smile and sniff, followed by an uncontrollable butt wiggle. Some of Maggie's passions are rawhide bones, stealing Rocky's toys, sneaking into bed with us in the middle of the night, stealing little kisses when you'd least expect it, and FOOD!
We feel so lucky to have made Maggie a part of our family, and cannot imagine our lives without her!
A.J. Ward & Janeen, and Rocky & Sebastian
These next stories are part of our current series on the benefits of adopting middle-aged Labs. Midwest Lab Rescue is currently looking for home for several middle age Labs that have a lot to offer!Lindsey
I just wanted to send a quick e mail in response to the older lab adoptions. We adopted Lindsey, fka Tara, in May of 2003. She was between 3 and 4 and I honestly worried about adopting an older dog as I thought she might come with behavioral problems. Let me just say she has been the most perfect dog, and we love her very much! I would most certainly consider adopting a dog that was even older the next time! She came to us fully trained with basic commands, has never chewed anything, doesnít eat food that doesnít belong to her, doesnít jump on people, is super gentle with the kids. She is wonderful and now my geriatric dog :). She has arthritis, which we treat with pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drugs. She has had too many bladder infections in the last year, so she is going for an ultrasound next week. So, she is now much older and much slower, but I love her more than ever! Her eyes are still the sweetest eyes I have ever seen!
The stories you sent touched my heart, so I felt compelled to share mine. I think Lindsey is my guardian angel, sent here just for me (she loves everyone, but a bit partial to me and I would have it no other way). I will miss her dearly when the time comes to have to let her go. I am so glad we found each other!
Thanks for writing the article... sounds like others have had wonderful experiences as well.
Of the 5 labs we have had in our family over the years, the last two were adopted as older dogs. Emmitt was a guide dog that came into the vet clinic I worked for at the time with a blown ACL in his left knee. Because he was a working dog, his person could not afford to be without their eyes for the 6-8 week recovery period needed for the knee repair. Like to true lab lover that I am, I asked if I could have him. Well, nothing came of it for a few weeks, and just as I forgot about the black lab that I offered to take in, he appeared at the clinic for me one day when I went in to work. He was 6 at the time, but with the bum knee, that he proceeded to blow again a few weeks after the first surgery, and his old soul, he seemed more like 7 or 8. Either way, Emmitt was an amazing dog with such a calm presence and wise countenance. Emmitt passed away last September at home from old age - he was 13.
Jake was our most recent addition - for those of you thy follow the dogs in MLRR, Jake was the 11 year old yellow lab rescued from deplorable conditions at his breeder. Many of you may have seen the story already... A colleague of mine had asked me to look at a lab up for adopting on the website - I hadn't been on the site previously. While scrolling through the dogs, I noticed a dog that looked awfully familiar. His name was Jake, he was 11 and he had been rescued from a breeder in the western suburbs. I thought to myself "could it be him?". You see, my husband and I knew Jake well. He was related to our dogs - Casper's brother and Montana's dad! The folks at MLRR were kind enough to hear our story and agree that Jake belonged with us. This was in February or March. When he got to our house, it was as if everybody remembered each other. Instead of the normal doggie greetings, they all just looked at each other and went to lay down - my three senior citizens! We had Jake for only 2 months when he started falling over, not being able to keep food or water down or open his eyes. We made the tough decision that we are faced with at some point to not prolong his suffering - the diagnosis was a brain tumor, and the prognosis was bleak. We loved Jake like we had raised him, and we still miss his giant presence. But while the time we have with older dogs is shorter, the time we had with Emmitt and then with Jake was more rewarding than I can put into words.
There is something about the old dog's wisdom and quiet dignity that brings me a sense of calm and purpose. So while many people may overlook the 10 year old dog that needs a home in favor of a younger dog, I will always open my heart and my home to be in the presence of these animals. The older dog that needs a home has more often than not seen more than their fair share of hardships, and I feel that it is the least I cam do for them to give them a quiet, safe and loving retirement - no matter how short that may be.
Koko and Cookie
Hello! My name is Katie and Iím 10. That's me in front of the couch. I had some medical issues crop up that my vet indicated were caused by separation anxiety. (My ďboyĒ got married and moved out, and my cat, my Lab companion and my Dad all died within just a few months of each other.) Mom decided it was time to find me a new companion. Not having adequate time to devote to raising a puppy (they can be a lot of work!), she decided to adopt a dog closer to my own age. Best of all, she adopted two new Lab friends: KoKo (age 5) and Cookie, f/k/a ďBeanĒ (age 8-10). They came to MLRR as a team and the staff determined they should remain togetherólucky me! We hit it off famously! My new ďsistersĒ came with very nice manners, so it didnít take me long to teach them the ropes. The shelter and MLRR discovered KoKo had a thyroid issue. Due to their quick actions and Momís diligence in administering her meds, KoKoís missing fur has fully returned (except the tip of her tail). She will soon graduate from obedience school. (Cookie will be in the next class.) Because theyíre both so bright and already knew many of the basics, theyíre sure to graduate with honors. Cookie is very food focused, but she is quickly learning that she no longer has to worry about when sheíll see her next meal. The girls have been great on their leashes, they love it when we go on car rides and we all have to take turns cuddling with Mom. Thanks to MLRR and Mom, Iím now back to ďnormalĒ and acting much younger. The three of us ďLabbiesĒ are now inseparable, so this adoption was clearly win-win-win!