As an ACES foster home, my family loves when an adopter decides to make our foster pup a member of their own family. We dance around the dog, sharing the news and calling the dog with its new last name. Adoptions at our house are definitely cause for celebration!

One of the things that breaks my heart about rescue is when older dogs are passed by in favor of adopting a younger one. Several years ago, my family decided to keep a spot open in our foster home for an older setter that needs us. We’ve taken in many older setters and have danced with them when they were adopted!

One of our favorite seniors was ACES Tara. Tara was 13 years old when her adopter had to return her to ACES after having her for ten years. Even with her age and arthritis, Tara was an active girl who loved being out in the yard, running with her ears flapping back in the wind. Tara also had her own way of showing you she was happy. She would prance and dance around the floor, tapping her paws as fast as she could. You could see Tara smile when she was dancing and she made us smile too.

Tara was the oldest dog that we had ever fostered. We had our doubts about her chances of adoption. We know that adopting a 13 year old dog isn’t something that a lot of folks are willing to do. Even so, we were happy to keep Tara for as long as she needed us. Imagine our surprise when Tara’s family adopted her within six months. Tara danced when she heard that she was now “Stella Hughes!”

We recently heard from the Hughes family; Stella died suddenly in early June. They wanted us to know how loved she was. Although my heart hurt from their loss, their words made me smile. I’d like to share them with you:

Stella fit into our family from the first minute like she had lived with us her whole life. We have three other English Setters and everyone got along wonderfully. Stella was an early riser and loved her morning walks and trips to the dog park, all of which continued right up to the last week of her life. She didn’t have any interest in playing with toys but give her a dental chew and an orthopedic dog bed and she was in her glory.

Stella was a very social dog and loved to be around people and other dogs. We were very fortunate to be able to bring Stella to work every day where she shared an office with her brother Simon and looked forward to her lunch time walk and snack. We can honestly say, that in the entire time that we had Stel, she never spent a minute without a canine or human companion. She loved to go for trips in the car and was insistent that she come just about anywhere we went.

Her "happy dance" was a hallmark of her personality. When she wanted a drink, a snack, or a treat, to go outside or for something that eluded us, Stella would prance around the house until her needs were met. Once she was satisfied, Stella would head to the sofa or one of her favorite dog beds.

Stella was the first senior dog that we had adopted and we were unsure of what to expect, but every minute we shared with Stella was a joy. She did nothing but love us and we loved every minute with her. Even though she was only with us for less than 2 years, she has filled us with a lifetime of great memories with her.

We are so grateful to ACES for giving us the opportunity to give Stella a home, and we put a lot of effort into making sure that Stella had the best retirement she could have. Stella was a remarkable dog that is missed immensely, but because of her, we look forward to giving another senior a home in time.

We hope that Tara’s story inspires more families to adopt an older dog. Every family deserves to love a special dog like Tara and every dog deserves to feel that love.

ACES Young at Heart Setters