Look at this sweet old face. Sunny is an adoptable dog at Lily's Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary in Northern California. This is a rescue and sanctuary that we've been following for a couple years now. [Loving Old Dogs] Like San Francisco's Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, they help older dogs find new homes or have the chance to live out their days in a loving home environment rather than be discarded and forgotten in a shelter.
I believe both organizations are important to support because how we treat our aging population, this includes our companion animals, reflects back on us as a society.
I've been writing about the many valuable life lessons that my old dog has been teaching me over the years, and when I see that people continue to discard a dog just when they've matured into the best part, I'm grateful these two nonprofits exist.
Imagine sitting with your favorite grandparent, enjoying their steady support and love when you needed them. Now look at Sunny and imagine the love and quiet joy an older dog can bring to a family.
If our dog Cleo taught us anything, she showed us that old dogs are worth every moment of love and ounce of heartache...
If you haven't heard about Lily's Legacy before, read this from Kaitlin Magoon, their website manager:
The mission of Lily's Legacy is to provide a home for senior large breed dogs (50lbs + and 7 years +). It was founded by Alice Mayn, and was inspired by a stray Golden Retriever named Lily, who Alice rescued and cared for during her final months of life.
Alice started taking senior dogs into her own home in Marin in 2008, established Lily's Legacy as a nonprofit in 2009, and following a capital campaign, was able to move to a leased ranch in Petaluma in 2012. (Our landlord would like to sell us the property, so that is our next capital campaign!)
I found out about Lily's Legacy and started volunteering there a few months after it moved to Sonoma County.
Alice's original idea was that senior large breed dogs have a particularly difficult time getting adopted from shelters, but we've changed our message to how adoptable they are once you sow the idea in people's minds. I can't tell you how many people have said that it just never occurred to them to adopt a senior dog!
I'm not sure of the exact percentages, but we take both owner surrenders and dogs in immediate danger of euthanasia at municipal shelters throughout Northern California (and even from as far away as LA). Many of our shelter rescues were found as strays or were severely neglected by their previous owners.
My own girls came to us as owner surrenders (the husband died, they lost their home, and they had to move to a too-small apartment) - and I've got to say that I'm thankful that they never had to spend a day in a traditional shelter.
At any one time, Lily's Legacy usually has at least one hospice dog, and any dog that doesn't find a home within a reasonable period of time is welcome to stay for the rest of his or her life. A couple of our permanent "sanctuary residents" are dogs that just decided that they were already home.
The dogs live in a home environment with Alice, but we make accommodation for any dogs that can't be with other dogs for reasons of health or temperament by providing separate rooms and runs. I created a page that tells a bit more about our residents and the facility in general: https://www.lilyslegacy.org/sanctuary-residents.html.
Dog care at Lily's Legacy is top notch and we are fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers - about 30 who come in weekly to care for the dogs, and many others who do off-site work. (We are actually an all-volunteer organization.) I think our main goal now, besides expanding the facility, is to recruit more foster families. I'm sorry to say that I was a foster failure on the first try!
Meeting Kaitlin gives me hope that people are being changed by the positive influence of dogs, especially senior dogs, and together we can show everyone, especially kids that having an old dog in your life is like fast forwarding to the best part.
Click here to find out how you can adopt Sunny, Lulu or Sara.
Learn more how you can volunteer with Lily's Legacy or foster a dog.