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Sully and Stump, my geezer heroes

February 23, 2009 |  3:28 pm


Even as companies across the nation are shedding their older, better-paid and I daresay wiser employees, we have two sterling examples before us about the virtues of age and experience:

The first is "Sully" Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who saved a whole planeload of people and who knows how many lives on the ground by setting his stricken aircraft  down in the Hudson River as tenderly as you'd put a baby down for a nap. It was eight days before his 58th birthday.

Sully_3 And then there's Stump, the Sussex spaniel, who put the hot young things in the shade and surprised the field by winning best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Stump is 10 years old, the oldest dog ever to win that prize.

The point is, there's life and vitality in the world's geezers yet -- not only the humans but the critters as well. During a visit to an L.A. city shelter, I couldn't help but think that great age can be a great age. There are so many dogs who have spent six, eight, 10 years living with families, and who are now being dumped as their families lose their homes and livelihoods.

These are savvy dogs who have grown up with people. They have good manners, wisdom and affection aplenty, not to mention years of potty-training. No late-night puppy yapping or training pads with these sweethearts.

Molly If you, for example, are looking for a Stump of your own, Molly the honey-colored spaniel just showed up at the North Central shelter [number A1012828], spayed, loads of energy, and she's one year younger than the champion Stump!

And there are loads of older German shepherds, too, like Lucky, the neutered 10-year-old with a big affectionate heart who's a great favorite with the shelter staff [A0639001], a couple of older gentlemen shepherds in nearby cages [A1011547 is 10 years old, and A1006474 is 12], and a dear old chocolate Labrador [A1009147, 10 years old] housed not far away.

Shelters, alas, aren't any dog's idea of a genteel retirement home, although dedicated shelter workers like Mona and Marisol and Tiffany and Sean do their best for them. But what I'm saying is, who needs retirement? Every one of these can be someone's Stump, someone's four-legged Sully. And whoever adopts one of these great canine guys and gals becomes their hero -- and mine too.

-- Patt Morrison

Photos: Stump, Peter Kramer/Associated Press; Charles B. "Sully" Sullenberger, Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times; Molly the Cocker spaniel available for adoption at the North Central shelter/Los Angeles Department of Animal Services.

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