Every so often you read or hear something that makes you think that maybe this isn’t such a bad old world after all.

We certainly had that thought this week after hearing about a couple in Winthrop that adopts old dogs.

Anyone who has loved a dog, and been loved by one, knows the life cycle of pets is a speeded-up version of our own. Where human beings take seven or eight decades to go from infancy to adulthood to old age, our pets do it in many fewer years.

Last year’s frisky puppy is this year’s gangly young adult, and next year’s full-grown hound. Healthy adulthood lasts for several years, of course, but the signs of aging — gray hairs around the muzzle, more hours spent asleep in front of the fire, less need to put the neighbor’s cat in its place — show up sooner or later.

And no matter how many dogs you’ve had, it never gets easier to watch them age, until that dread day arrives when the inevitable can no longer be postponed.

But before that sad day arrives, dogs (and other pets) deserve twilight years basking in the care of those who appreciate them.

But sometimes that doesn’t happen, and these canine senior citizens end up at an animal shelter. Sometimes they outlive their owners. Sometimes their owners just can’t care for them anymore.

And if they end up in a shelter, their prospects are bleak. All too often older dogs, or ones in less than perfect health, are passed by for puppies and younger dogs.

That’s understandable — people want to keep their pets around as long as possible. But for Stephen Smith and Nancy Lever, the plight of the older shelter dog touched their hearts in ways that cried out for a response.

So now, they open their 43-acre farm to shelter dogs that are otherwise unadoptable, offering them love and comfort in old age.

The story touches us because anyone who has loved dogs, and been loved by them, doesn’t have to ask why Smith and Lever do this.

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