For more than 10 years they played together, chased the ball together, slept together under the care of a single owner.
But now, Cosmo and Sam are homeless together.
Officials at Peoples Animal Welfare Society in Tinley Park are hopeful that if anyone gets to come home for Christmas, it’s these canine best friends.
This is typically the time of year when animal shelter workers remind people that gifting a dog or cat to someone on your list is not a good idea. Every new year, shelters brace for a rush of puppy and kitten give-ups as gift recipients decline the offer or simply change their minds.
Pet adoption should be a well thought out decision that everyone in the household is on board with, said Shelly Broniec, a PAWS director.
But in the case of Sam and Cosmo, who came to the rescue a week ago, the volunteers are hoping there is someone out there who has thought pet adoption through, someone who appreciates snuggling and tossing a ball, someone inclined to spend a little quality time with a pair of aging canines that can compensate for their lack of a future by bringing an abundance of the present.
Cosmo, a petite lab mix, and Sam, a pointer, have been together their entire lives, Broniec said. They are what animal caregivers call a “bonded pair,” which means they rely on each other for comfort and companionship.
They were brought to PAWS after spending the past six months boarded at BARC, Begin Again Rescue Company in Valparaiso, Ind. Officials at both shelters thought the move might up their chances of finding a forever home, Broniec said.
“The story I was told was that the owner got divorced. He got the dogs in the divorce but when he got a new girlfriend and was moving in with her, he brought the dogs to his vet to be euthanized,” Broniec said. “Since they’re friendly and healthy and there’s no reason to euthanize them, the vet refused. He contacted BARC to take them in.”
Unfortunately, she added, “things like that happen too often. We get a lot of animals relinquished no matter their age. But many pets given up are older. Not necessarily because of breakups but because people are moving, someone has allergies or now has kids.”
Abandonment can be rough on any dog, Broniec said, but it is especially hard on the older ones only that lived with a single owner or family.
“A lot of times older dogs that come in are scared and so they shut down. Some are petrified of going into the kennel room. Some of them have never even been in a cage,” she said. “You bring them here. They have dogs barking in their face. Strangers come to take them out. That can be stressful and scary for them.”
For some reason, perhaps because they have each other, Sam and Cosmo have taken it all in stride, she said.
“They always have a wag on their tail. They’re always happy,” she said.
And they’re always ready to play catch, which is why they come with their own Nerf gun pitcher.
Broniec said the staff at PAWS was buoyed when a recent posting announcing Sam and Cosmo’s arrival at the shelter garnered more than 250 comments and 3,000 shares.
Alas, she said, not one person has come in to look at them since the social media posting.
“A lot of people have posted about them and messaged us about them but no one has come to see them,” she said. “It’s sad.”
Many of the people who’ve commented on Facebook already are dog owners and can’t accommodate two more.
Michelle Paoletti Yohler, of New Lenox, is among them. She and her husband have three large rescues. She was so touched by the pair’s story, however, that she is offering to pay the adoption fees, $250 per dog.
“Honestly, these dogs tugged at my heart. I have a soft spot for the seniors because everyone wants a puppy,” she said.
Every dog, she said, deserves a warm home and a loving family.
“I saw someone ask about the adoption fee (on Facebook) and I thought if that’s what’s holding somebody back, I’ll take that out of the equation,” she said.
Broniec admits it’s twice as hard to adopt out a pair of dogs, even more so if the buddies are not small and have a few years under the collar. But, she said, there are advantages to choosing an older pet, or even a couple of them.
“You know what you’re getting,” she said. “With a puppy, you have to train it. You don’t know what it’s true personality will be. You have to go through that teething and potty training stage.
“With an adult dog, you get companionship and they’re thankful for it. When you adopt an adult dog, they’re just happy to be in a home again,” she added.
Sam and Cosmo have had good medical care, she said. And, like all of the animals available for adoption at PAWS, they are heartworm negative, have been neutered and have microchips.
“They come with all the supplies,” she said.
“These dogs have a ton of energy. If you go outside and throw a ball with them, you can throw it for a half hour and they still won’t drop,” she said. Both dogs can have several years left in them, she added.
A perfect home for Sam and Cosmo, who take joint supplements to help with movement, will not have a cat, she said.
They are friendly, Broniec added, although not recommended for families with small children who might try to climb on them.
Broniec said PAWS will only adopt out the dogs as a package deal.
“When you have dogs that have been together this long, 10 and a half years, and their lives have been turned upside down because they’re now in a shelter, they don’t know what’s going on, they look to each other for comfort,” she said.
Cosmo and Sam belong together, she said.
Besides, “it’s not their fault they ended up here.”