With their non-stop cuteness and sense of play, it’s easy to fall in love with a puppy. At shelters and adoption events, puppies invariably grab the attention and the hearts of many potential adopters.
But, just as needy of loving homes, are senior dogs. When they find their way into the shelter system, many have a difficult time ever stepping out again. “Once a senior dog arrives at an animal shelter, its chances of being adopted are not good,” explains Sherri Franklin, founder and executive director of Muttville senior dog rescue. “Shelters won't put a dog up for adoption that may have health issues, or a dog that the shelter doesn't think is adoptable. Many senior dogs fall into that category. They are one of the first to get euthanized when there is no space.”
Fortunately for many senior dogs, special rescues such as Muttville lend a helping paw. This San Francisco-based rescue was founded in 2007 by Franklin who explains, “Years ago while I was volunteering at SFSPCA, I noticed the older dogs always getting passed over while younger dogs were adopted. Many older dogs were euthanized back then, and it broke my heart. I started taking them to my home, one at a time, finding homes for them, but knew that I couldn't do all the work alone - and to affect more dogs and spread the word, a non-profit organization was needed, hence Muttville!”
Adopting a senior dog rather than a puppy has distinct advantages starting with “what you see is what you get,” freeing families from wondering how large a puppy might get as he grows. Issues from housetraining to chewing are generally not a problem and the energy level of an older dog makes the transition easier for many families. Calmer and without the high-energy exercise demands of a younger pup, senior dogs can become an excellent companion for senior citizens or for families with a busy schedule. In addition, Muttville’s founder notes, “senior dogs are really special and have many lessons to teach us about aging. They are grateful and soulful and they have so much to teach us about patience and living in the moment.”
Muttville alone receives about 200 requests per week to take senior dogs both from shelters and from private homes. Whether no longer wanted by families or tragically homeless after their guardians pass away or move to senior living facilities, dogs that find themselves at Muttville are placed in foster homes as they await a permanent placement with a loving family.
Juggling a network of devoted fosters and a full calendar of adoption events is a lot of work but Franklin notes, “it is so rewarding to see these older dogs get a second chance at love and life. The families that adopt our dogs send letters and emails thanking Muttville for saving their dogs - and how much joy they get from having them in their family!
photo by Kira Stackhouse