Homeless, senior dogs, particularly the large breeds, are perceived to be the least likely to be adopted and therefore are in the most peril when they find themselves homeless. The reality is that these wonderful souls have so much to give and if saved, given necessary medical care, healthy food and lots of TLC, they are, in most cases, highly adoptable. There are a lot of wonderful people among us who have a real heart for these deserving seniors.
Lily's Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary, a 100% volunteer organization, came into being after I fostered a beautiful 14-year-old Golden Retriever named, of course, Lily. Lily came with a host of serious health issues and was only with me for four short months before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge. In reality, she was an angel with a message for me, "We big old pups need someone to take care of us when we are homeless and in trouble. You can be that someone!" So now here I am the executive director and resident sanctuary dog mom at Lily's Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary, supported by an incredible team of dedicated volunteers.
I began taking in senior large breed dogs, seven years and older and 50 pounds and heavier, in 2010. My mission -- to be sure that old pups, who come from both shelters and owners surrendering their dogs, have a safe and loving home until they are adopted, either at the sanctuary or in one of our carefully chosen foster homes. If not adopted, Lily's dogs remain at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives. Every day, I am blessed with their smiling faces and wagging tails. The order of each day is lots of TLC, exercise, play, yummy food and more TLC. When the time comes, hospice care is provided, supported by our extraordinary team of veterinarians who love these dogs as much as I do.
Last year we were blessed to find a wonderful rural property in Petaluma, CA, that we were able to lease long-term. Now our old pups have room to roam, a loving home and around-the-clock care. They may arrive scared, confused and many times sick and in pain, but fast-forward several weeks. You will find happy old pups lying on the grass in the fields, being tended to by our wonderful volunteers or hanging out on the sofas and the many dog beds in the house. I tell visitors, "If you don't want dog hair on your clothes, don't sit down
Our beautiful Addie's story is a sample of what we are all about at Lily's Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary. In February, Addie, our dear sweet 13-year-old German Shepherd, came to us with a list of health issues. Addie was picked up as a stray in horrific condition. Her fur was matted and dirty, she was 15 lbs underweight, was covered with fleas and ticks, could barely walk and she had a nasty, silver dollar size sore on her leg. She was also genuinely depressed.
I began treatment for her leg wound, her severe arthritis and her malnutrition right away. With hand feeding of a special diet three times a day, she gained the 15 lbs she needed, and with medication for her arthritis, she started moving around better and was much more comfortable.
Addie's leg wound was another matter. Even after a couple of months of loving and meticulous care and the watchful eyes of all of us, the sore on her leg would not heal. Throughout it all, Addie was patient and tolerant and seemed truly grateful for the care and affection she received. Due to her age and frail condition, surgery was risky but finally it became clear that this was the only option for her well being and health. Our veterinarian is nothing short of amazing. I still marvel at the job he did and wonder, "How did he do that?"
Addie pulled through with flying colors and immediately felt better. Right away, she brightened up and became more active. Her coat is gorgeous, she is steadier on her feet and she is no longer depressed. She loves to be outdoors on the grass in her garden and gently bossing the other dogs around "her yard," but at night she sleeps inside on her bed right next to mine -- just an arm's length away for nighttime pats.
We need your help on #GivingTuesday to care for these wonderful old pups in their golden years!
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in celebration of #GivingTuesday, which will take place this year (2013) on December 3. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. We'll feature at least one post from a #GivingTuesday partner every weekday in November. To see all the posts in the series, click here; follow the conversation via #GivingTuesday and learn more here.
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