Life is tough for senior shelter dogs who, in addition to the general aches and pains of growing older, have to deal with being upstaged by younger dogs at the animal shelter. This constant indignity led one New Jersey couple to found a sanctuary for senior dogs in Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey, where dogs of at least 7 years of age can live together in a comfortable group setting and make the most of their golden years.
“The chances of an older dog being adopted and leaving a shelter is not as great as for a puppy so we decided we wanted to help senior dogs,” said Doreen Jakubcak, executive director of Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary, named for the late shelter dog who helped inspire this heartwarming mission.
Similar to the original Marty, whom Jakubcak saved from euthanasia, many of the sanctuary’s elderly residents would be risking their lives in local shelters, which don’t often have the capacity or resources to treat elderly animals. “It’s not that the dogs wouldn’t get medical care in a shelter,” one veterinarian, Dr. Kimberly Hammer, told NJ.com. “They could get euthanized in a shelter.”
Nowadays residents embody a wide range of backgrounds. Some dogs came from shelters and animal rescue organizations. Others had families who died, moved away, downsized into smaller homes, or experienced another change in circumstances that forced them to re-home their companion animal. One dog’s former owner moved into a nursing home that didn’t allow pets.
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Other resident pups are even available for adoption, but — unlike in a shelter, where senior dogs are often seen as a drain on shelter resources — Marty’s Place rescuers aren’t overly stressed if the dogs never leave. “When we commit to a dog that comes to Marty’s place they do have a forever home,” said Jakubcak. “That forever home can be here at the sanctuary and when we can we try to place a dog into a new adoptive home.”
We wouldn’t be surprised if Marty’s residents don’t even want to move on, because this sprawling safe haven has so much to offer senior dogs. The space includes a large living room area for sniffing and socializing, 25 acres of leafy walking trails, cozy spaces for snuggling and sleeping, an indoor saltwater pool for joint-friendly exercise, and lots of fellow pups (and human volunteers) to play with. Residents are also treated to regular veterinary, dental check-ups, and frequent grooming to help them live their best dog lives.
In addition to giving senior dogs a safe and comfy place to retire, Marty’s Place also hopes to encourage other people to consider adopting older dogs into their own families. “People don’t realize how rewarding it can be to adopt a senior dog,” said Rennie Rankin, a sanctuary volunteer. “They know and they will show you endless love until their dying day.”
You can help support this worthy mission by sponsoring one of Marty’s Place’s resident senior dogs!
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.