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Since I currently have several senior Akitas, it occurred to me how special they are as they age and how much I enjoy our “oldies.” As with any aging animal, they may have unique needs or adjustments with advancing age, but they are truly as vibrant as ever, with loads of personality, infinite patience for our “mere human” ineptness, and fully developed and infamous Akita intelligence!

This brought me to thinking about those who are faced with the possibility of not being able to keep their senior Akita. Economic conditions in recent years have caused a shift in owner surrender of aging Akitas at what should be a secure and relaxing time in the dogs’ lives. What do families do if they can’t afford to care for their aging Akita and are facing the horrifying possibility of surrendering the dog because their budget is stretched to its limit? Maybe they simply need some advice on how to take care of their aging Akita and his special needs?

This was the problem facing the wonderful volunteers at Akita Rescue of Western New York (ARWNY) as the economy shifted and calls started escalating about aging Akitas requiring rescue. ARWNY members asked themselves how they could help, and with a proactive response, they created Save Our Seniors (SOS). To put it bluntly, this program is genius!

In part, the mission statement at SOS reads: “We believe that every senior Akita should be able to live out their life in the home they have occupied all their lives. They should not have to die alone and frightened in a shelter or at the hands of strangers.”

SOS helps with the special needs of seniors, such as emergency veterinary costs, special foods, supplements or medications, and even orthopedic needs for those families who cannot afford to do these things for their dog due to economic uncertainty and who might otherwise face the possibility of surrendering their beloved and faithful senior Akita.

This program offers advice for owners of aging pets and follow-up support to ensure that things are well and the aging Akita’s needs are met. After all, these Akitas have given their families unconditional love and companionship for their whole lives—they deserve to stay home during their final years, cared for in familiar surroundings and by those they know!

ARWNY and SOS deserve the applause and support of the entire Akita community. Since the program is nationwide, you can help by talking to your veterinarian and those in the pet industry in your area, asking them to get involved.

Please visit the SOS website and read their entire mission statement, support their fundraisers and events, and consider contacting SOS to see how you can help keep these senior Akitas in their homes. Then, scratch your senior Akita’s tummy and cherish their time with you, knowing you’ve helped another family do the same!

—J.S.M., Akita Club of America (October 2012 AKC Gazette)