Senior Dog Spends Final Days in Foster Home

Thirteen-year-old Delilah (11228) was adopted from us back in 2011. February of this year, we found her at animal control. She was scrawny and smelled as if she had been sprayed by skunks. After rescuing her back into our care, Delilah endured health issue after health issue. 😢 

Delilah resting at her foster home.

From a chronic ear infection that left her off balance and bad arthritis that made it difficult for her to move around, she was on medications and treatments to help alleviate her pain and symptoms. As a senior with health complications, Delilah received little serious adoption interest. As the months passed by, her health continued to decline along with her quality of life. After serious considerations from our staff and vets, we made the difficult decision to say goodbye.

We asked a volunteer and foster family of ours to foster Delilah, to give her one last memory of the joys of a home. Midway through the foster week, Delilah suffered from a series of unexpected seizures, so it was important that we assist her in crossing the rainbow bridge earlier than expected. Delilah’s foster family decided to gift her a peaceful passing held in the comfort of her final home. We continue to be grateful for this gift of theirs. You can read their full foster story below.

Senior Dogs

Senior dogs and cats often have the odds stacked against them in a shelter setting. As we see an increase in surrender rates, we’re also seeing an increase in families surrendering pets adopted as kittens/puppies who are now seniors. A shelter setting is no place for our animals to grow old in. As our funds and resources dwindle, we ask that you please donate in Delilah’s memory and to support our animal shelter in the face of financial difficulty. 

Donations made contribute toward the operations and care of our dogs and cats, both young and old. Donate HERE.


Fostering Delilah

Who Were Delilah’s Fosters?

When Laurel and her husband Tom moved to Prather in 2005, they had three dogs. At one point in their lives, they had as many as five dogs in their family and soon realized five was one too many for them. Over the years, they’ve had many senior dogs, most of them living to 13-16 years of age.

“Senior dogs certainly come with their quirks and baggage,” said Laurel. “Family and friends will lament to you that it’s too sad to adopt or foster an old dog. That isn’t true. It’s a joy. You do have to come to terms that your time with them may be limited, but know that you’re giving them their best life for whatever time they have left. Being sad when they leave is a sign that you did it right.”

Laurel and Tom adopt senior dogs precisely because seniors are often overlooked in the shelter. When they first began volunteering at Valley Animal Center in November of 2021, they only had one dog, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever.

Adopting Valley Animal Center’s Senior Dogs

“At the shelter,” said Laurel, “I was immediately taken with Eeyore, a Cattle Dog mix, who was nine years old, painfully shy, and recovering from surgery that removed a tumor from his side. I hoped to win him over with treats and pets, but he was still hesitant. One morning, I scratched underneath his Cone of Shame and he groaned in ecstasy. The bond was forged.”

Senior Eeyore came home with Laurel and Tom in December 2021. In May 2022, eight-year-old German Shepherd Smiley, later renamed Remy, also joined their family.

“We plan to foster and adopt only older dogs,” said Laurel. “They are a special breed. Their energy matches ours at this time in our lives and their demands, for the most part, are easily met. We love them and they love us, a beautiful exchange. I think that’s the most rewarding aspect of fostering or adopting a senior dog; they give so much back to us for doing the humblest of things.”

Laurel and Tom with their pack.

Meeting Delilah

Towards the end of July, our animal care adoption supervisor, Ruben Cantu, approached Laurel during her volunteering hours, asking if she had spent anytime with Delilah.

“I started taking Delilah out on walks and she was a sweetie,” said Laurel, “but I told the staff July was going to be a horrible month for me and we couldn’t take her for a while.”

Late July, Delilah’s health deteriorated. Laurel brought Delilah home after being asked by staff if she would be willing to give Delilah time out of the shelter. “She acclimated quickly,” said Laurel. “By the next day, she relaxed and was happy being around us. Soon, she and Remy became napping buddies.”

Delilah shares a moment with her buddy.

They discovered Delilah wanted to be handfed and she didn’t like dog beds, preferring the carpet or tiled floor.

“Delilah was a joy to be around,” said Laurel. “Simple things made her happy. We wish we had been able to take her home sooner and were very sad when we had to say goodbye. She passed peacefully over the Rainbow Bridge in our home.”

On the day of Delilah’s peaceful passing, Valley Animal Center staff members, Mariah and Jessica, went to visit for final goodbyes. Laurel ordered Delilah her own “bone” as part of their Rainbow Bridge display to join the many dogs who have lived their happy days with the family.

Laurel and Tom’s rainbow bridge display.


Thank You

We can’t thank Laurel and Tom enough for their gracious kindness and hearts, both in adopting seniors and fostering Delilah in her last moments. If you are looking to adopt and are open to bringing home a senior pet, please talk to our staff to learn more about our senior dogs and cats!

Currently, Valley Animal Center is also facing financial difficulty and would appreciate any donation you can make to help support our animals. You can make a donation by clicking the button below. Thank you.


Valley Animal Center serves animal companions in the Central Valley and beyond. Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people. We believe every animal deserves a loving family and furever home. Donate to support our endless mission as we care for hundreds of homeless dogs and cats.

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