Humane Society makes its case for older pets

Published on Sunday, 15 July 2018 21:16
Written by Kristina Vakhman

Special to the Herald

NEWINGTON - Buddy has a halo over her head.

It’s not a ring of light that hovers above the 8-year-old Labrador retriever as if she’s an angel, but, rather, a harness with a loop in front of her face that keeps her from bumping into things. Appropriately, it has white wings attached.

Buddy is blind. When she came to the Connecticut Humane Society’s Newington location, she was in terrible pain from glaucoma, so much so that she’d refuse to rise from her doggy bed.

To relieve her agony, veterinarians removed one eye. They tried to save the second, only to have to take it out as well.

The procedures brought Buddy back to being a “regular dog,” according to Susan Wollschlager, marketing and communications manager for the society.

Buddy is now up for adoption.

“She gets up to greet people when she hears them coming by,” Wollschlager described in a cheery voice befitting someone who works with animals. “She just needs a family that’ll understand her challenges and that’ll be extra patient with her.”

For Wollschlager and the staff at the Newington shelter, getting pets such as Buddy adopted can be challenging.

Aside from Buddy’s obvious medical problems, older animals are seen as an issue to potential owners who don’t see a reason to invest in a pet that might not live much longer.

“I’ve had people say to me, ‘I want to have (a pet) for the longest time possible. It’s too heartbreaking if they don’t live many, many years.’ But I try to remind them that [they can] give that animal the best retirement home and make those last years the best of its life,” Wollschlager said.

Laurie Boske lives by that mindset.

A retired principal, her life of caring for older pets started with fostering Gizmo, a 10-year-old Shih Tzu mix who blinded by cataracts. Boske “couldn’t let anyone else have him” and adopted him.

Seven-year-old coon hound-hetriever mix Brewster and Shih Tzu mixes Nena and Chencha, 14 and 15, respectively, came soon after from the Newington shelter, along with 5-year-old stray Shih Tzu mix Einstein and 7-year-old cats Thelma and Louise.

Now a volunteer in the Newington shelter’s medical department, Boske is determined to make her animals’ remaining days as wonderful as possible.

“Senior pets are appreciative. They seem to know that they got saved. It makes you feel good that you saved them,” Boske explained.

As she was speaking, she said Nena, who is deaf and whose tongue permanently hangs out because she only has two teeth, was at her feet, following her around the house.

Boske encourages those seeking a pet not to be discouraged by their age but rather to think of the “joy” they bring to their owners’ lives.

She cited the ease of caring for them as a bonus, saying that since older pets have already gone through socialization, training and their biting and chewing stages, “a lot of the difficult work’s been done already, so all you need to do is feed them and love them.”

“They’re really not difficult to take care of. It can get a bit expensive, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the love and affection they give you in return,” Boske said.

To view pet listings at the Newington Humane Society, visit the shelter in person at 701 Russell Road or check online at . or additional information, call 800-452-0114.

Kristina Vakhman can be reached at

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, Newington on Sunday, 15 July 2018 21:16. Updated: Sunday, 15 July 2018 21:19.