How likely is it that a senior pet can adapt to ending up in a shelter, being pulled by a rescue group, placed into one or more foster homes, and finally adopted — with a few stops at adoption events long the way? Almost guaranteed, says Sherri Franklin, who’s definitely in a position to know.
Franklin founded San Francisco’s Muttville Senior Dog Rescue eight years ago to help dogs who discovered themselves in animal shelters during what should have been their golden years. Far from seeing those dogs struggle to make the transition into a loving new home, she says they almost always handle their new life easily.
The total number of senior dogs adopted out by Muttville has passed 3,000, and they’ve seen their adoption applications triple in the last three years, with large numbers of new adopters coming in as referrals from previous adopters. “The secret’s getting out,” Franklin said. “These older dogs are amazing. Our past adopters are coming back for the second, third, even a fourth time because they love these dogs so much.”
That wouldn’t be happening, she said, if living with these seniors wasn’t so rewarding. “If the dogs couldn’t adapt,” she said, “we wouldn’t be seeing all these successful and repeat adoptions.”
What’s more, other rescue groups and shelters are inspired by Muttville’s success to be more committed to finding homes for their seniors. “Shelters that have never adopted seniors before can say, if Muttville can do it, we can do it,” Franklin said.
Are there any tips for making sure your senior dog fits into your family with the least stress? “For any dog of any age, people need to have realistic expectations,” Franklin said. “It will take a few days for your dog to adjust. The first night can be hard, but that’s true for puppies, too. I think the older dogs easily fit into new families. I know that’s true because the number of dogs we get returned to us is very, very low.”
Don’t worry that your older dog won’t quickly give you his or her heart, either. “Some people think older dogs won’t bond with you like a puppy will,” she said. “I truly believe these older dogs have a greater ability to give love. Give them a warm blanket of love and wrap them up in it, and they’ll bond more quickly than many younger dogs. They know when someone loves them. They know when they’re home.”
Celebrate Adopt a Senior Pet Month with Maddie’s Fund® this month as we train our MaddieCam on the dogs of Muttville!