Catching Up, Giving Thanks, and Pet Blogging

View Post

Get Out Of Anything (Because Pets) Excuse List

View Post

Why Rabbits and Easter Don’t Mix

View Post

Shasta’s California Dreamin’ Senior Dog Bucket List

Whether we need comfort, laughter, or a light in the dark, the right dog has a way of finding us at the right time. They help us forgive, feel compassion, experience joy, and sometimes heal our broken parts. I am a big believer in perfect fit moments when an animal enters our lives, often in unexpected ways, and changes everything.

Shasta was a perfect fit, once-in-a-lifetime, change everything, rewrite the story, and make the ending happy kind of dog.

Shasta is the first feature in our yearlong focus on adopting senior dogs. Throughout 2018, we will be sharing one happily-ever-after senior adoption story per month. Each post will be full of feel-good inspiration, bucket lists, and second chances.

adopting senior dogs

Adopting Senior Dogs: Finding the Right Dog at the Right Time

Denise and Denton lost their dog Harley in April 2013. Six months later they suffered a miscarriage at seven weeks, marking a heartbreaking end to their second attempt at in vitro fertilization.

About a week later, Denise found Shasta, named Stan at the time, on Looking back, she says there was just something about his eyes – part street scrapper, part old soul – that drew her in.

Shasta, a Yorkie-Schnauzer mix was found wandering the streets alone in Stockton, CA. He was in rough shape, hungry, dehydrated yet still spirited. Denise says he was a scrapper at heart, determined, resilient, and always good at figuring things out. Clearly, his natural spunk and smarts helped him survive life on the streets.

The joys of adopting senior dogs

Denise and Denton adopted Shasta on November 9, 2013, a day after Denise’s 40th birthday. The rescue group aged him at six or seven, but based on his teeth and other health issues, their vet believed he was closer to ten or twelve. In addition to finding a forever home, Shasta also received lifesaving care for a variety of health issues including Cushing’s Disease, arthritis, and allergies (his senior years would have been painful on the street or in a shelter).

No one knows where Shasta came from, what his life was like prior to rescue, or how he found himself wandering the streets alone. Like most dogs, Shasta naturally lived in the now and forgave the past.

Adopting senior dogs because second chances are amazing

Sadly, Shasta passed away in July 2017. Their time together was brief, but packed with adventure, perfect fit moments, and over-the-moon fun. Whether Denise and Denton rescued Shasta or Shasta rescued them, doesn’t much matter – they were clearly meant to find and heal each other.  Here are ten of their very favorite Shasta memories.

Shasta’s California Dreamin’ Senior Dog Bucket List

1. Backpacking (AKA shoulder-riding) in Sequoia National Forrest.

2. Snowshoeing at Royal Gorge Soda Springs.

3. Learning to play nicely with others. From reactive dog to loyal friend to other canines in the family.

4. Paddle-boarding and kayaking at Lake Oroville, CA. Always a good sport, even though he wasn’t crazy about water.

5. Becoming a certified therapy dog. All dogs are therapy dogs, but Shasta actually took a class!

adopting senior dogs is amazing

6. Beach time. Living the California dream and then some.

7. Attending not one, but three BlogPaws conferences in Nashville, Phoenix, and Myrtle Beach. Socializing with celebrity canines from around the digital world.

8. Driving cross country from northern California to Myrtle Beach with stops at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and Noah’s Ark in Kentucky.

9. Serving as blog muse for Shasta’s Yorkie Yap and picking up where Harley left off.

10. Providing Denise and Denton with 3.5 years of comfort, support, and smiles when they needed it most. Because dogs.

From throwaway dog to a much loved, world-traveling, social media star and adventure dog. None of these things would have been possible had Shasta not been rescued and adopted. There are thousands of amazing midlife and senior dogs like Shasta in shelters RIGHT NOW with a whole lot of life and love left to share.

Adopting senior dogs rocks because second chances are amazing whether you are on the receiving or giving side

2018 Year of the Senior Dog: How Can You Help

What can you do to help senior dogs and cats? Adopt, foster, volunteer and donate (AFVD). If you have adopted or fostered a senior dog, please share your story to help inspire others!

While sharing a long life with an animal is a wonderful thing, adopting a senior dog (or cat) that may never have known kindness or love is just as amazing. Please help make another senior dog’s happily-ever-after bucket list come true!


  1. Kinley Westie
    February 2, 2018 / 7:05 am

    What a great idea to celebrate senior dogs all year!

  2. Mark Muller
    February 2, 2018 / 7:09 am

    that was a touching story… and we are sad that Shasta had to go… but there was love everywhere and love can move mountains and it is the essential thing we all need to make the time together to a unforgettable memory…

  3. Yamini MacLean
    February 2, 2018 / 8:16 am

    Hari OMWTG Shasta!!! What a wonderfurs life to have shared for those remaining years. Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  4. Sheltie Times
    February 2, 2018 / 12:12 pm

    What a great life they shared

  5. Molly the AireGirl
    February 2, 2018 / 12:39 pm

    Shasta was so cute. I wish they could have had more time together.

  6. Julie
    February 2, 2018 / 12:56 pm

    What great pawrents giving Shasta a wonderful happy time, thank you fur sharing such a heartwarming storyLoves and licky kissesPrincess Leah xxx

  7. Three Chatty Cats
    February 2, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    Looks like Shasta found his perfect humans in the end. I'm glad they had the three and a half years together.

  8. ♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥
    February 2, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    Shasta was the perfect pup for February, the month of LOVE. He certainly brought a lot of love to that family when they needed it so badly. AND they were able to fill his remaining days with love as they gave him a wonderful home and a path to working on that bucket list. Soft woos and gentle hugs to his family.Woos – Lightning, Misty, and Timber

  9. Casey
    February 2, 2018 / 2:47 pm

    What a grreat story. Senior dogs are the best!

  10. Millie and Walter
    February 2, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    What a great story. Shasta sure found a great home.

  11. Brian
    February 2, 2018 / 3:16 pm

    Such a sweetie. I'm so glad she found her happy in time to enjoy it all.

  12. Denise Gruzensky
    February 2, 2018 / 3:59 pm

    Kristin, as always your writing draws me in! Of course this time in a different way. Our family is so honored to have our precious fur kid Shasta's story told by you. We will treasure this ALWAYS!!

  13. Laura Henneker
    February 2, 2018 / 4:26 pm

    Beautiful tribute to a cool dog and even cooler parents. RIP sweet Shasta!

  14. Madi and Mom
    February 2, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    Shasta…OMCs the first day of the best years of your life was when you adopted Denise and Denton as your people. What an amazing story of 3 1/2 years of pure joy.Kristin this is beautifully writtenHugs Cecilia

  15. Bella Roxy & Macdui
    February 2, 2018 / 7:14 pm

    That was the perfect fit! So much happiness packed into a short time.

  16. da tabbies o trout towne
    February 2, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    Shasta; ewe R one total lee kewl pup; handsum two. we R sorree ya dinna get mor time with mom N dad but R buzzed happee ya acomplished yur buckit list AND had a soooper awesum three pluz yeerz…♥♥♥

  17. Eastside Cats
    February 2, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    Angel Shasta, what a legacy you've left!

  18. Idaho PugRanch
    February 2, 2018 / 9:45 pm

    What a lovely story about ShastahugsHazel & Mabel

  19. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat
    February 2, 2018 / 11:48 pm

    What a beautiful story! Shasta was adorable! We're glad he had a happy ending and knew love and security. Our furbabies are never with us as long as we'd like.

  20. Jan K
    February 4, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    It sounds like they packed in a lot of love and life into the short time they had together. ♥

  21. Marv Marvelous
    February 4, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    What a great dog Shasta was! Seniors ROCK!PurrsMarv

  22. The Adventures of The Bell Fur Zoo
    February 4, 2018 / 7:40 pm

    What a lovely story. So glad Shasta lived a life of true happiness in his senior years and provided his parents with great comfort. xoxo,Bell Fur Zoo

  23. Tails Around the Ranch
    February 4, 2018 / 7:46 pm

    Aww, little Shasta looked like he scored the doggie lotto even if just for a short time. Good for him. We are particularly fond of senior pups. Sadly they never stay long enough for us.

  24. Elizabeth Keene
    February 5, 2018 / 1:01 am

    Love reading Shasta's story here (especially since Denise is a good friend and I never knew the story of how she and Denton got him until now). I am fortunate to have been able to meet Shasta at multiple Blogpaws; such a sweet boy, and I know he is sorely missed. Thank you, Kristin, for doing this series on senior dogs. What a great way to encourage people to look more closely at older dogs in shelters! As the person of a senior rescue dog, I can attest they are wonderful pets!

  25. KB Bear
    February 6, 2018 / 12:10 am

    I love Shasta's story. I can see how much Shasta taught his humans, and how much his humans gave him. What a wonderful relationship they had. I wish that they'd had longer together but I'm glad that Shasta spent those last years with such love showered upon him (and vice versa).

  26. Cathy Armato
    February 9, 2018 / 12:45 am

    Wow, Shasta may have only had a short time with his adoptive parents but he sure lived his new life to the fullest! What a beautiful adoption story.Love & biscuits, Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

We love comments! Thank you!