Stories of some special senior Brittanys

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[Senior Page]


1) A little less of a "busy-as-a-bird-dog" and more of a "spend-a-little-time-smelling-the-roses-and-gopher-holes" type of dog. We do not need to cover 10 acres in 3 minutes or less to start our morning.

2) Much more willing to spend time snoozing at your feet or being a good-looking driveway dog.

3) Normally has learned a few manners (unlike those young whipper-snappers) and is much less inclined to jump on people or go tearing through the house knocking over lamps, bouncing on furniture, and demonstrating how kitchen counters are really not that high!!

4) Getting out of our backyard and playing "catch me" with our owner just isn't a much fun as it used to be.

5) Has already chewed all the socks, slippers, shoes, remote controls the dog cares to in its lifetime.

6) If the dog has been around small children, he or she knows better than to knock the small child down or lick them in the face until they start crying. (The smart ones know that just a little bump to the child is sufficient to jog loose that ice cream cone to the floor where its now yours without all that "bad dog!!" commotion.)

7) The older dogs can be an inspiration to the owners. Despite having some of the negatives that come with old age (arthritis, hard-of-hearing, weak legs), they seem to face each day with that same wagging tale and great attitude. They still want to check out what's new in the neighborhood, sample the latest cuisine, and please, please, please, go for a car ride!!!

And, thank goodness, they still think that you are wonderful.


Many of you may remember when I was first getting involved with ABR; I submitted my adoption application long before I provided foster care for the organization. A local ABR volunteer called me and asked if I would be interested in an older Brittany, Nellie Belle, whose 90 yr. old mom had passed away. The dog was still in the empty house and a daughter was dropping by to feed the dog once a day. I made an appointment to bring my whole family over. Her home environment was not a happy one and it was apparent she was no longer wanted. Nellie was also grieving the loss of her owner and experienced a significant weight loss in the process. However, the good news from this story is that precious old girl won our hearts and we came home with a happy new member to join our menagerie of four-legged kiddos at home, also Brittanys. I remember that first day; little Nellie Belle would not leave my side. I mowed the lawn that afternoon and she followed up and down each row with my lawnmower leading the way. She also had been traumatized on stairs at some point in her life because it took us 2 months to convince her to go up them. (Yes, we carried her up and down each time…) Nellie Belle’s greatest joys in life is sleeping with one of our children and resting her head in our laps while watching television. Of course, Nellie isn’t perfect! That little stinker has also learned to beg from the table, something that my human kiddos cannot resist unless Mom catches them in the act! But she’s also smart enough to know that the chances are good that our 8 yr. old son will drop something from his plate at the dinner table and she’s ready to pounce on it in record time! We call her the canine vacuum cleaner!

I am very thankful to Nellie Belle’s first mom. I never knew her, of course, but it’s apparent that she must have loved Nellie so deeply and disciplined her with positive reinforcement. In turn, Nellie has given our family such unconditional love! She’ll be 12 soon. She has been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease (something quite rare in the Brittany breed) and is experiencing some arthritis in her hips, which limits her mobility. I don’t know how much longer Nellie will be with us, but I treasure the time we have her and will never regret inviting an older dog to share our lives.

The Gust Family


Dear Betty;
Please pass this on to those who are looking to adopt a Brittany from you. First of all I want to commend you for your warm heart and hard work....To those concerned, I adopted Davey from Betty and Lee Hedquist of Brittany Rescue just little over a year ago. Just one look and I knew Davey was for us. At first I was a little concerned that Davey was 7 years old and may be too set in his ways and would be hard to manage. Well, to my most pleasant surprise, Davey, hunter trained and probably kennel kept was gentle and well mannered, even with my CAT.

We have 5 acres and plenty of room for Davey to run and play. There are deer, turkey and lots of rabbits which Davey loves to chase, sometimes for hours. I praise the work Betty and Lee have done especially for Davey. When Davey was brought to them he was near death with a bad case of heart worms and other intestinal parasites and who knows how Davey was treated before. Betty and Lee brought Davey back to health and with love and a little training Davey was ready for a new home.

We now have 2 rescue dogs and both are approximately 8 years old and healthy, active and great to have around. I recommend adopting an older dog and just think, no puppy training. All it takes is a little love and they will love you back. Good luck finding a dog that's looking for you, we did.

Don and Jean


Our ABR sweetie Lady as been with us a little over four years. When Betty Hedquist brought her to us she was a scared, had separation anxiety, and was shaped like a pineapple. Four years later we have a very self assured, svelte, cutie who is a joy to know. She and our "first born" Griffin, a male big Brit, are the best of buds. She is a loving soul who, everyone dogs and humans, likes.

We had a difficult 2 years managing her separation anxiety. Medication was not effective, crating Lady was an ordeal for her and us. We would come back to a completely soaked doggy, she had either drooled or wet herself. During a construction project last year, workers were at our house and Lady was left out. She did wonderfully!! The turning point was talking to our friend who was providing Lady and Griffin doggy day care. Lady would sleep through people leaving and would still be asleep when they returned. It was as if a switch turned in her head, we were not going to leave her.

One of her most enduring habits is what we have dubbed the "Brittany Dinner/Love You" dance. She will bounce her on her front legs so vigorously that at times she has flipped herself over. She also is an infamous "back scritcher" and will roll on her back until that last itch is satisfied. And of course, she and Griffin have perfected the "Brittany Brain Meld". They will sit in front of you and just stare!!!! They seem to be saying...........Hey, I know you are smarter than you are acting right now............let me out/feed me/love me...........make yourself useful. This trait seems to be passed to any foster dog or visiting dog. Imagine a line of six dogs giving you "The Look".

As you can see from her pictures, Lady has her share of geriatric issues. Given her estimated age of 12, she does really well. She is active, alert and extremely loving. She also takes no nonsense from anyone. We walk with a group of doggies every night and Lady holds her own very nicely, thank you so much.

The point of this story, is consider "older dogs" when adopting. Their love and loyalty will come back to you tenfold. Just ask Lady Giesler!


About 2 years ago, I noticed that my female Brittany (Britt) was beginning to slow down. She had just turned 11 and had put on some weight, stopped playing with her toys, and didn't seem to be interested in chasing the rabbits out of the yard. I asked my vet if there was anything I could do to turn the clock back. He suggested that I get her a companion, a playmate of the 4-legged variety. So, I contacted American Brittany Rescue looking to adopt another Brittany. They put me into contact with Betty Hedquist. Betty notified me that she had just got a call from a family who was turning over a dog named Benji and would I be interested. My answer was: of course! Betty then informed me that there were a couple of potential obstacles. First, Benji was raised as a hunting dog and had never been inside a house. I was interested in a housedog. Second, Benji was 9 years old. I really had no preconceived idea about the age of the dog. 9 years old did seem older than what I wanted. But, I kept an open mind and was willing to give it a try; at the very least I wanted to meet the dog. Betty arranged for a 1-week trial while she went on vacation. To be honest, that 1-week was filled with lots of trauma. If Benji was on the other side of the coffee table and wanted to come to me, he came over the table instead of around it. There were lots of examples of this type of behavior from a dog that was not used to being inside a house. However, nothing was ruined, nothing was broke and as trying as it was, I was beginning to fall in love with this dog. There was something very cute about him. Betty and I conferred and agreed that Benji needed help above and beyond what I could give him. Betty had worked with a trainer before and had great success. Once again, I was willing to give it a try. The trainer worked wonders with Benji - almost overnight this dog began to round into shape. He was learning new commands such as sit, lay, down, and off. He was learning to communicate when he needed to go outside for his nature calls. Within a short time, this wild untamed dog had become a very loveable sweet housedog, not only a companion to me, but to Britt as well. Benji was a diamond in the rough. Now over a year later, Benji is just like a 10-year-old puppy. People who meet Benji for the first time cannot believe that he is 10 years old and had never been in a house before last year. He loves to go for his daily walk, loves to run in the back yard, and loves to chase the rabbits and birds. Every day Benji gives me thanks, appreciation, and love for giving him a second chance. He is a bundle of love and joy - giving and taking. And I also saw the benefits that Benji provided to my other dog, Britt. She is more alert, has begun to play with her toys, and enjoys Benji's company. Benji is definitely proof that older dogs have a lot to contribute, and can make a difference in peoples (and other pets) lives. This has been a very rewarding experience and as I look back on it, I am grateful that Benji has come into my life and can live out his natural life as a happy contented dog, surrounded by people who can provide him with the love that he deserves.


Hi All,
Thought you would like to read about one of our recent adoptions. Chance looks very much like me old boy Beau. Brian and Jennifer Graves fostered Chance. They named him for a second chance. We were told he was much younger. He appears to be at least 12. Physically, he was a real mess. Hair all matted, fleas, kennel cough etc. After a great deal of cleaning him up and nursing him back to health, we discovered that he has a heart condition. Jennifer and Brian said that was all right, he could spend his days with them.

We stumbled into a lady that wanted an older dog to be a companion to her old dog. A heart condition was not a problem, her current dog had one also.

Here is what Chance's life is like now:

I thought I would give you an update, I lost my 13 yr old dog, Murphy on June 25th. He went on his own terms at home, so I was there for him and grateful for that. It was rough for a few days but I brought him back to Kansas City and buried him at home. My employment ended abruptly in Kentucky the following week so Chance and I stayed in Kansas City after the fourth of July. It was great having Chance after my loss, it really helped. He actually grieved for about a week, I was surprised because they had only been together about 3 weeks.

"Chancey Man" Update: Chance has been great! We have had quite a bit of vet care and the vet has been impressed with him, he is so loving and sweet. He will let you do anything to him. We had the tumors removed from his left eye too, we weren't going to bother with them but it worked out well. I had scheduled a Friday to have wax removed from his ears-they were completely plugged-and the evening before he scratched one of the tumors on his eye and it was bleeding, so since he was to be sedated for his ears anyway, they went ahead and removed the tumors with a laser, so that worked out well-only one anesthesia fee! The eye has healed beautifully and you can't even tell the tumors were ever there! He hears a bit better with the wax gone too! For his heart murmur we have him on lasix (PRN) and enalapril. He still coughs, but we took x-rays and his heart is pressing up against his bronchial passage, so that is why he coughs when he is excited.

He hasn't had any accidents in the house since we moved back to Kansas City, but I am working from home too, so when I start traveling again I have advised my roommate to crate him while she is at work. Right now we are having a bit of a skin problem, he scratches constantly, no fleas (frontline), but he is miserable. We can't get to the vet until Saturday, so I am hoping I can just adjust his diet or try a new shampoo and that he doesn't have a yeast infection-because I know those can get nasty. He is funny though, the cat was a new experience for him, he would just stare at her for hours (literally!) at a time. He never did anything, just stared! Now that they have been together for a while Chance could care less about the cat, she will try to get Chance to chase her, but he isn't really interested in her any longer. Evidently he was never allowed on the furniture before (I know it is a bad habit, but I am a softy), and he would never get on the furniture while I was at home, but I knew he was on my bed because of all the hair he left as evidence! So now he has tried it a couple of times in front of me to get up on the furniture, it appears to be a test to see if he will get in trouble, and he started out just sitting there for a minute or two and then he would get down-he finally caught on that I would not scold him-so it appears now I have created a couch potato!

He has just been a joy, I have been giving lots of PR on behalf of the ABR! All of my friends and neighbors have fallen in love with him. He hangs out with me in the front yard while I do my chores and doesn't wander from the yard-unless he sees a rabbit- but as soon as I call him he stops in his tracks. I feel very LUCKY to have another great dog, Murphy was loved and is very much missed but all of my friends have been saying that Murphy thought I would be okay because he knew I had another great companion and a little part of me thinks that might be true!

Thanks again!