Best part of summer: Old Dog Haven’s adorable walk, pageant for senior dogs
I have a question. Why oh why can’t there be a Walk for Old Dogs every weekend of the year?
I had the chance to attend Old Dog Haven’s recent Walk for Old Dogs & Old Dog Pageant in Shoreline, Washington, and it was one of the happiest and most swoon-worthy events I’ve ever witnessed. So many adorable gray muzzles! So many smiling dogs in strollers! So many big-hearted people who care about the underdog (pun intended)!
Old Dog Haven is the largest senior dog rescue organization of its kind in the United States. It doesn’t have a facility; instead, it oversees a vast system of permanent foster homes in Washington state to care for the senior dogs it springs from shelters. To ensure that these dogs get the TLC they need, Old Dog Haven covers the costs of all their medical care and prescription diets. Foster families get to care for calm, content pets — sometimes for several years — without having to worry about a single vet bill.
“It can be very expensive to take care of an old dog — not always, but a lot of the time — so the idea is that we pay for all the vet visits to make this financially possible for people who are willing to do this,” Old Dog Haven co-founder Judith Piper explained in our book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts.”
That’s what makes the annual Walk for Old Dogs so special: All the money raised at the event goes toward caring for the more than 300 senior dogs in permanent foster homes. An event like this tends to draw some of the kindest people on the planet — and some of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet.
“You know what the event feels like to me?” wrote Ardeth De Vries, president of Old Dog Haven’s board of directors and author of the book “Old Dog Haven: Every Old Dog Has a Story to Tell.” “When I’m at the park surrounded by so many people who celebrate the value of senior dogs in our community, it feels like the positive energy is strong enough to create world peace — at the very least. The simplicity of the exchange between human and dog is a lesson to people everywhere because it’s real, positive and the energy is palpable.”
The “walk” part of the Walk for Old Dogs is a HOOT. It’s only one-third of a mile long, but humans and dogs get cheered on as if they were doing a full Ironman in Kona.
The event also includes an “Old Dog Pageant,” with categories like the “30-Yard Lollygag,” “Best Costume,” “Best Decorated Stroller” and “Best Trick — Because Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks.”
I was so honored to help judge this year’s pageant, and also to have “My Old Dog” books on hand at the event to benefit the work of Old Dog Haven. Can’t wait until next summer so we can do it again!!
Here are some more fun photos from the Walk for Old Dogs on July 17, 2016:
To donate to Old Dog Haven and help cover veterinary bills for senior dogs in permanent foster homes, click here.
Love stories and photos of sweet senior pooches? The bestselling book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts,” written by Laura T. Coffey and with photographs by Lori Fusaro, shows that adopting a senior can be even more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. In its pages, you’ll meet endearing elders like Marnie, the irresistible shih tzu who has posed for selfies with Tina Fey, James Franco, and Betty White; Remy, a soulful 9-year-old dog adopted by elderly nuns; and George Clooney’s cocker spaniel, Einstein. (Fun fact: Stacie, the unforgettable dog on the cover of “My Old Dog,” is an Old Dog Haven rescue!) They may be slower moving and a tad less exuberant than puppies, but these dogs prove that adopting a senior brings immeasurable joy, earnest devotion, and unconditional love.