Bringing senior dogs and people
Diane and David Pierce
David and I have grown up loving man's best friend. As our daughters grew up, we always had a dog (or two) in the house to make the family complete. As our daughters left home, we started rescuing dogs and found it to be very gratifying. The dogs that we rescued were wonderful dogs who just needed a chance at a better life.
The past several years we have been very involved in working for rescues and have fostered over sixty dogs. It became clear to us that it is very important that the dogs be fostered in a home environment where you can witness the dog's behavior and see if they have any issues before they go to their new homes. We have witnessed the fact that it is very difficult to find adopting homes for senior dogs. It is understandable that the family doesn't want to fall in love with the dog and then lose them and be heartbroken.
We have found that these senior dogs are the best behaved dogs - as they are potty trained and not demanding for exercise. All they want is someone to love them and to be with them.
We also have therapy dogs that we take to hospitals and nursing homes. We are continually amazed at the positive reaction these dogs have on the patients. Their faces light up when a dog walks into their room. We know the positive force that these dogs have in our lives and put the two things together to come up with the idea of Senior Dogs 4 Seniors. It came to us that it would be a WIN WIN situation if we could place these older dogs in the homes of older folks who still live in their houses.
It seemed clear that we should start a new tax exempt rescue for these senior dogs and place them in the homes of seniors. Then we thought about the fact it may be difficult for some older folks to take care of the veterinary care, grooming needs and even getting the dog food and heartworm preventative. Therefore, we developed our new charity with three different programs to accommodate the different needs out there.
In December, 2007, we received our approval from the IRS for a 501(c)(3) as a tax exempt non-profit. We plan to promote our rescue at senior centers around the St Louis area. We hope to finance our rescue with grants and gifts and the help of volunteers in the area. Please considering helping us on this journey!
I can’t remember not having a dog in the family – as a youngster we had mostly Labs and Lab crosses. I was active in training dogs, primarily for 4H shows, and learned the value of a well-mannered dog very early. When I started college, I knew that I wanted to do something with animals, so I started in an Animal Science program. In those days (not to date myself), that was code for production agriculture and that’s where my interests drifted to as I thought about careers. I tried Vet School briefly, but found that my true love was animal nutrition, and that is where my career with Purina Animal Nutrition and Land O’Lakes has taken me.
After college and to the present, my family has always had dogs. We’ve owned German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Goldens, Border Collies, Beagles and mutts, attended dog training classes, brought home puppies for my kids and helped them to train dogs, as well. During one particularly difficult time for me personally, my Border Collie, Lad, was a constant companion and provided me interaction and support like very few of my human friends did or could. He was beside my bed when I woke in the night and always available for a sympathetic “ear” when tears took over. Now that I am through that stressful time, and look back, I realize just how much comfort I took in his presence. That made me realize that, when I retire, I would like to train and own therapy dogs. I also realized, however, that though I know the technical aspects of “dogs”, I could learn more about the “soft” part – what makes them tick, are there signs that you can read early about how dogs will respond to different situations, how do they handle stress and are there breeds that are more resilient than others? When I was offered the chance to foster at Senior Dogs 4 Seniors, I knew it was a great chance to give back to these wonderful creatures, and also to learn more about them.
My spouse, Paul, and I have enjoyed fostering the dogs and getting to know each of our temporary guests as they settle into a household routine. For some, it’s the first time they’ve experienced a home, for others, its old news. One of the greatest gifts is watching one of these dogs that is uprooted and scared become confident and playful. When I watch my two dogs accept yet another “newbie” into the pack, I realize that they, too, are teachers, and that they are welcoming. The dogs can teach us much, if we’re observant.