When it comes to adoption, older dogs usually get left behind as everyone wants the puppies. And while puppies are undoubtedly adorable, we can’t forget about those four-legged senior citizens who’ve got just as much love to give as the younger generations.
And that is exactly what one San Francisco-based rescue, Muttville, is aiming to do. Sherri Franklin founded the nonprofit organization in 2007 – and since then, has rescued senior dogs aged 7 and up from all across California. The goal is to then pair them with people who will love them for the rest of their days.
The organization is also doing more than just giving senior dogs a second chance in life. In 2013, Muttvilled launched the Cuddle Club which is a subsidiary of their Seniors for Seniors adoption program. Two to four times a month through Cuddle Club, senior citizens can visit the shelter’s handicap-accessible Community Cuddle Room, and enjoy some quality doggie-love with the elderly dogs. The event has been so successful, that there are some senior citizen organizations that have had to be put on a waiting list!
As Franklin explains to MentalFloss, “This program is a win-win. Our senior dogs get love and attention while our senior citizens, some isolated, have created a community where they get out and socialize and get lots of unconditional love.”
While the senior citizens attending Cuddle Club may not be in a position to adopt a dog of their own, they certainly can reap the benefits of spending time with the dogs. During the visits, the seniors can take the dogs for walks, and some even let the small ones ride on their walkers.
Beth Hofer, a volunteer for Muttville, told Today, “I think the dogs are giving some of our guests a sense of value, because sometimes a dog will come down and they’re nervous, and they start shaking, and over the course of 15 or 20 minutes, the dog quits shaking and has fallen asleep on that person’s lap. You can just see how happy and fulfilled that person is that they were able to help that dog.”
On the other hand, Seniors for Seniors aims to help elderly people adopt older dogs. Besides waiving the $200 adoption fee for adopters over the age of 62, Muttville sends their elderly dogs to their new homes complete with an adoption kit that consists of a harness and collar, a leash, dog bowls, a starter supply of food and medication, a bed, and, if necessary, a doggy gate and stairs. As of October 2018, Muttville has rescued 6,000 senior dogs – some of which were actually adopted by Cuddle Club attendees.
Besides Seniors for Seniors and Cuddle Club, Muttville also entirely funds the cost of a hospice program, where senior dogs who are near the end of their days get palliative care in someone’s home.
And there are plenty of proven health benefits to be had from spending time with a dog as Franklin points out, “Studies have shown that holding and petting a dog lowers cortisol [a stress hormone] in your body and lowers blood pressure, and we see stress eased from both the dogs and our visiting humans at our Cuddle Club events.”
In addition, taking care of a pet can also increase physical activity, lower depression, and overall give a sense of well-being.
If you are interested in giving a senior dog a forever home, you can check out Muttville’s dogs who are up for adoption. Of course, you don’t have to be a senior to adopt a senior dog – people of all ages are welcomed to bring home an elderly canine companion. And Muttville also offers options to foster if you want to get involved that way as well!