In a cozy, warm living room Tala, a 9 year old hound dog snuggles on a couch with a large Flemish Giant Rabbit named Quinn. It’s a sweet sight, that you certainly don’t witness every day. Looking at these two, you would never guess that they are both rescue animals that had recently met and since, have both been adopted into the same loving family.
Tala had been sitting in a shelter in the southern U.S. for a very long time. Being a 9 year old dog, there wasn’t a line of people waiting to adopt her, like the puppies that she was surrendered with. In addition to being an an older dog, Tala also was battling some health conditions, including needing heart worm treatment and dental work. The shelter works with Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta, Maine. The southern shelter decided to send her up to Maine, to see if her fate would change. It sure did. Kennebec Valley Humane Society partners with Old Dogs New Digs, a non-profit volunteer based organization that dedicates finding foster and permanent homes for senior dogs. ODND quickly found a foster family for Tala in the Bar Harbor area. This foster family also has rescue bunnies and a blind rescue chicken named Ruby. One would wonder how an old hound dog would get along with a chicken and bunnies that have had rough pasts. Tala immediately fit right in with these other rescue animals. She has taken on the role as “mom” and is very loving and gentle with them. They often play together, snuggle, or just relish in being all together. Tala has since transitioned from foster, to permanently adopted into this family, and is absolutely thriving.
I recently sat down with the founder of Old Dogs New Digs, Mandy Fisher, and Old Dogs New Digs volunteer, Tammy Merrill to learn more about this local non-profit organization. The ODND staff is comprised of around 30 volunteers. This organization is dedicated to finding foster and permanent homes for senior dogs. In addition to senior dogs, they also help place special needs dogs, and cats as well. They partner with local shelters and vet offices, and work with them to help find homes for the animals.
Mandy started ODND in Maine about 5 years ago. She always had a passion for helping animals, specifically older dogs. She had been fostering older dogs for years and recognized the need to support them in getting placed in homes. Mandy explains, “ The puppies go quick, the old dogs sit for a very long time in the shelter. These older dogs are overlooked, and to be in the shelter, it’s very stressful for the dog.” She kept seeing the trend of more and more old dogs needing foster homes, with nowhere to go. She decided to start an organization that would help change the future of senior dogs in Maine. “ We started working with a couple shelters and vet clinics, and it grew from there. It was amazing to see the amount of people that wanted to follow the stories of these senior or hospice dogs.” ODND started in Maine, and since has an additional primary location in Colorado. They have orchestrated finding foster homes and adoptions for over 900 animals in the last five years. They work with shelters and vet clinics throughout New England, New Mexico, Florida, and Costa Rica. Mandy explains the process, “We don’t take ownership of the dogs, we partner with the shelters, they maintain ownership. We provide funding, sheltering, vet care, and promote the animal to find a foster and permanent home.”
Old Dogs New Digs also supports senior or special needs dogs and cats in other ways as well. They have a whole team that is dedicated to finding a home for an animal whose family doesn’t want to have to surrender their dog or cat to a shelter. “Individuals will reach out to us, who need to rehome their dog. Maybe they just had a baby, or they are going into Assisted Living, and they want to find a home for their dog, so they don’t have to spend any time in a shelter.” ODND will work with the current family, get all the information needed, and find a home for the dog, before the family needs to surrender him or her to a shelter.
ODND also has established a “Community Assist Program.” This is a program that helps families that may otherwise need to surrender their dog due to financial reasons. ODND will assist the family financially so that they are able to keep the dog. They have done a lot of this work since the Covid Pandemic started. Jack, a sweet beagle, was in a very loving home. One day he was in his yard, and a new neighbor dog came over and aggressively attacked him. He was severely injured and needed a lot of care from a vet clinic, but the family didn’t have the money to support that level of care. The owner contacted ODND and they were able to get Jack into an emergency clinic that same night. Jack needed a lot of support, and it was touch and go for a while, but today Jack is healed and thriving and his family is so grateful that ODND could help support the care that Jack needed.
Old Dogs New Digs fundraises so that they can continue to assist the senior and special needs dogs and cats in our community. They have partnered up with Island Dog Brewing and are having a special event this weekend. Island Dog Brewing is releasing a limited time special release of “SilverHound Pale Ale” in 4-packs. Each can displays a picture of a senior dog that is in need of fostering and/or adoption and also dogs that have already been successfully placed through ODND. For every 4-pack sold, $10.00 will go directly to support Old Dogs New Digs.
The 4-pack SilverHound Pale Ale will be released this weekend, March 20th, and 21st. Old Dogs New Digs will set up at a booth at Island Dog Brewing (125 John Roberts Road, South Portland) from 12-5pm on Saturday March 20th, and 12-3pm on Sunday March 21st. There will be raffles with prizes, and ODND will be on hand to promote senior dog adoption awareness. The SilverHound Pale Ale will also be available for curbside pickup.
We all have that special pet that is an important family member. Sometimes circumstances occur and older dogs and cats can no longer be part of their original families lives, but they still have so much love and friendship to give to the world, and they deserve to feel that love and friendship as they grow older.
You can help support senior dogs and cats by going to http://www.olddogsnewdigs.com to make a direct donation. They also participate in a Clynk program, and Amazon Smile. Follow on Facebook and Instagram for updates!
Photo Credit: Danielle Travers, Stray Duck Foto, http://www.strayduckfoto.com