MoMo is a quirky, fun-loving little dog with just two teeth. The Pomeranian mix loves smiling, snuggling and playing like a wild man with his squeaky duck toy.
As cool as he is, MoMo would have had a difficult time finding a home not that long ago. He has weak back legs, needed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on his stomach, and on top of all that, he’s 14 years old — an age that would have kept many would-be adopters away.
But these days, senior dogs with sweet, calm demeanors are getting snatched up, and even sought out, by dog lovers of every age and income level. MoMo is just one of thousands of these lucky dogs; he recently moved in with a young Manhattan couple who met him at an adoption event and swooned.
“I saw MoMo and he was just a lump in my arms,” Jordan McDowell, 23, recalled of the day she met the white fluffball and fell in love. “I liked that he wasn’t hyper.”
McDowell and her husband, William Bjork, 24, have joined the ranks of people who have come to this realization: Puppies are hard, but dogs over the age of about 6 or 7 are not — and, as an added bonus, they’re usually already house-trained.
“Back in the late 1990s, it was very rare for anyone to seek out an older shelter dog,” said Laura Coffey, a writer and editor for TODAY.com and author of the new book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts.” “But over the past decade or so, and especially in the past couple of years, older dogs have been getting a major public-opinion makeover. People are realizing how great these dogs are and how wonderful it feels to help them out.”
Veterinarian, author and TV personality Dr. Marty Becker agreed. He credits social media for changing people’s attitudes toward senior dog adoption. “I think a lot of people have shared those stories ... of how rich that adoption experience was,” said Becker, who has three senior dogs of his own.
“With a puppy, you never know what behaviors are going to manifest themselves,” Becker added. “When you get an adult, those things have already manifested themselves ... so you can figure out one that matches your lifestyle.”
McDowell, a university student at The New School in New York City, and Bjork, an audio engineer, had been discussing the idea of getting a dog for about a year. Then one day in June, McDowell stumbled upon an adoption event “for senior dogs only” that was happening on the corner where she lives.
She wandered into the Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND 7+ Clubhouse and began checking out the senior dogs up for adoption from Animal Haven. That’s when McDowell saw MoMo — and paused. She picked him up. He relaxed in her arms and smiled up at her.
McDowell grabbed her phone.
“She texted me while I was at work and basically said she found a dog that she wanted,” her husband said. “I was like, ‘Absolutely not! We don’t have the time or the funding!’ But then she convinced me to at least come see him at the event — and basically, as soon as I picked him up and held him for a little bit, I fell in love.”
Animal Haven workers filled the couple in on MoMo’s health issues. “They told us that he had a cancerous tumor, but he had surgery and they removed the tumor,” McDowell explained. “They told us that there is a small chance of it returning. We decided we’ll cross that bridge if it ever arises.”
McDowell and Bjork filled out an adoption application on the spot, and they were able to bring MoMo home the next day. In the two or so months that have passed since then, their love for the dog has intensified.
It took a tiny bit of time for MoMo to get acclimated to his new home, but before long his unique, peculiar personality began to shine through.
“I’ve had, like, six different dogs and none of my dogs have had quirks like MoMo,” McDowell said. “He doesn’t even look like a dog half the time. He looks like a cross between a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a gremlin and a bat. He’s hilarious!”
“He usually just sits around the house all day, but he gets these spurts of energy where he’ll run around,” Bjork said. “He lays on his back and wiggles around and he’ll do that stuff for about five minutes and then he’ll just lay around again. ...
“We still discover things about him. It’s like getting to know a person.”
The couple started an Instagram account called oldmanmomo to share his moments and spread the word about how awesome adopting senior dogs can be.
“I really like having someone love you that much when you come home,” McDowell said. “It’s nice caring for an animal, and MoMo is just so chill.”