Don't we all dread being alone during our golden years? While all shelters are experiencing financial hardships because of the increased numbers of dogs awaiting adoption, Adopt-a-Dog in Armonk, N.Y., also has the Herculean task of finding homes for senior, but healthy, dogs. Many of these dogs have been in the shelter for more than four years and urgently need a home to call their own.

If you adopt one of the lovable dogs featured below, I will pay the adoption fee and the cost of having Tim Cook, Connecticut's own dog whisperer, come to your home and help your new friend adapt to his or her surroundings. I know personally that this is very important as many of animals dogs are traumatized because of the years they have spent in the shelter. When I brought my beautiful 12-year-old Borzoi home from the shelter, she was having a difficult time relating to my other four dogs. A few hours with Tim, and she was finally happy and enjoying her new status as a part of a pack.

What are the advantages of having a dog? Studies show that dog owners live longer, have lower cholesterol, get more exercise and generally have a more positive outlook -- not to mention the love and affection that typically come from "man's best friend." Rather than taking on the responsibility of a puppy, an older dog's personality has already been formed and he or she can easily blend into a family life -- even if that includes sharing attention with a cat or another dog.

Why not give these older canines a chance to live out their lives running and playing rather than hopelessly staring through the steel doors of a cage? Here are some of your choices and their special stories:

BELLA

I am an 8-year-old sprayed female Toy Fox Terrier. I would love to be carried around in a bag and have people say: "Oh, she is so cute!" I have never known the comforts of a real home because I grew up in a puppy mill. Because of this I am shy and get frightened easily. My dream is to be adopted by a family with another small dog, who could keep me company and show me how to interact with humans. I know that there is someone out there who would love a small dog with a big personality.

CLYDE

I have been in a shelter for three years now and every day I hope that someone will come to my cage and say: "That's my dog!" But it never happens. I am an 8-year-old neutered male Mastiff Mix. I need a special friend who likes large dogs and doesn't like cats because neither do I. Strangers make me skittish, but once I know they aren't going to hurt me, I make friends fast. Please give me a chance and take me home. You'll have a friend for life.

NOELLE

Do you love Labs? I am an 8-year old female Labrador/Aussie Mix. I have lived in a cage for four years. Ideally, I need an adult-only home because I can be overprotective. I dream of going on long walks and playing a game of fetch. I know that with a session with Tim Cook, I will be able to trust again and settle into my new home. I just need a chance to show you how lovable and friendly I am.

TROUBLES

Nobody knows the troubles I have seen. I never thought I would be in a cage at an adoption facility. For 12 years, I lived with a wonderful person. One day, I woke up and she had died and there was no place for me to go. A family took me in, but then they could not afford me and sent me back to the shelter. I am sweet, mellow and great with children. I am a handsome pure breed German Shepherd, who has fallen on bad times. Come and visit me and I will steal away your heart.

Questions about how to make one of these senior citizens a part of your life? Call 914-273-1674 or e-mail adoptions@adoptadog.org.

Don't forget to mention that you saw the future senior dog in your life in the Animal News Desk column and Adopt a Dog will waive the adoption fee as well as set up a free session with Tim Cook in your home. (tim@cookscanines.com)

If you can't adopt a dog, please consider sending a donation to Adopt a Dog, 849 Lake Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06831. Or you can donate online at www.adopt-a-dog.org.

We don't just need money at Adopt a Dog, you can also help by stopping by the shelter and donating food or volunteering your time. Every dog loves to be walked, played with and fussed over. You can help!

New Canaan resident Cathy Kangas is a member of the Humane Society of the United States' National Council. As the owner of PRAI, an international cosmetic corporation, she started Beauty with a Cause, and commits a percentage of her company's profits to help animal welfare organizations around the world.