Home for the Holidays: Althea's Seniors

written by Lynn O'Shaughnessy, February 2004

Not many of us can say they adopted four homeless senior Airedales this year – unless you happen to be Althea Smith.


Bud came into rescue as “Mud”, which stood for “Mike’s Ugly Dog”.  He lived his first 11 years in a chicken coop with little human contact.  Today, he just loves his human and canine family.  He and Barney have bonded and become “best buds” and when it comes to humans, he has to know where Althea is all the time.  Bud recently decided to chase and kill a rabbit that had wandered into “his” yard and wound up with the feet – which he ate before Althea knew what was happening.  The rest of the bunny had made it through the fence!  Yuk!  He doesn’t seem to know that he is 12 years old – and Althea is not about to tell him.  Bud is now at a good weight, is heartworm negative (he had heartworm when he came into rescue) and has earned the name of “Buffalo Bud” at the Smith household because of his somewhat ungraceful antics – but he is the “sweetest old goof”.


Barney is the newest addition to Althea’s home.  He was surrendered by his owner of 13 years and was feeling quite uncertain until he came to live with Althea.  He found lots of love and attention not only from his new human family, but from Bud in particular, who likes to keep Barney groomed and often rearranges his facial hair.  Barney is partially deaf and depends on Bud to let him know when it’s time to go somewhere.  Althea just tells Bud to “go get Barney” and off he goes to bring him over to the action.


Kay is the youngest of the four at about 9 years old.  She was a breeder’s dog who has having puppies up to around two years ago.  She also did not have much human contact and has been somewhat shy around both people and other dogs – except Kali, who is her mom.  It was lucky for her that Althea could take in the two of them and keep them together as Kay seems to be most comfortable around Kali.  Althea reports that Kay has begun to come out of her shell, though, and is coming to her more and more looking to be petted and scratched.  There are other times, though, when Kay slinks around the house as if to look for the serial killer who must be lurking somewhere around the next corner.  Other than Kali, Kay is most interested in the Smith household cats and likes to play bow with the cats.


Kali was also a breeder’s dog who was having litters of pups up until around age 11!  She is more than happy to be retired now and has earned the title of “Queen Bee” with the dog pack.  She has a favorite blanket that she lays on and watches the comings and goings from.  When she does get up, she likes to go to Althea and say “pet me before I go lay down again”.  She has a bit of arthritis and sometimes doesn’t do well on the stairs, but Althea patiently helps her up.

ATRA can’t thank you enough, Althea, for giving these four seniors a “home for the holidays”.

Update –
Since this story appeared in the December 2003 issue of Aire-Mail, Barney has passed away.  All we can say is that he had the time of his life for the short two months he was with Althea.

Althea didn’t have to wait long for the next senior needing a home.  The middle of January, ATRA was alerted of a 10-year old Airedale and Lakeland Terrier in the Chicago area in desperate need of rescue.  Their caretaker had fallen ill and needed to be hospitalized.  The dogs were being cared for by a neighbor, but no one was living in the apartment with them.  Althea would not hear of separating the two as they had been together since they were puppies – so they were taken right from their apartment home to Althea’s home by one of our volunteers, Harry Bryant. 


Dina is the Airedale.  She had dreadlocks and was in need of a bath and grooming when she arrived.  A vet check determined that she seemed to be in pretty good health, however, Althea found out later that Dina is deaf.  No wonder it didn’t seem to bother her when she went up to “Queen” Kali to sniff and introduce herself, since she could not hear Kali’s growls.  Dina is a loving girl and is the first Airedale Althea has had in quite a while that made herself at home on the bed with her at night.  The cats have their noses a little out of joint, but Althea and Dina just love it.


Sonny is the Little Lakeland Terrier.  What a saint Althea is for taking this little guy in along with Dina.  Poor Sonny had major dreadlocks, toenails that were curled up and around and had really bad arthritis.  He would not walk anywhere until his vet visit for obvious reasons.  Now, with a bath, groom, toenail cut teeth cleaning (and a few removed) and some Rimadyl he now gets around.  He can’t jump up or down from the couch or bed, but Althea makes sure he joins Dina on her bed at night.  The other Airedales don’t seen to mind this pint-sized terrier. 

An interesting side note to this last story.  ATRA found out about Dina and Sonny because of Dinah and Sonny's breeders.  Even though the dogs were 10 years old, both breeders wanted to make sure their dogs were safe and were able to find a new home.  They were ecstatic that ATRA was able to keep them together.  It was a pleasure working with them and knowing that there are breeders out there that really do care – no matter how old the dog is.


Make a Donation for Senior Airedales

To make a credit card donation, click here.
To make a paypal donation, use AML9848@comcast.net
To to make a donation by check, make your check out to "ATRA" and send it to
    1123 Vesper Road
    Ann Arbor, MI  48103