‘Tis The Season For Giving Thanks For Rescuers, Grants, And Second Chances At Golden Years

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Abby and her wooby, a stuffed elephant, on her head
In March 2007, Abby was one of 60 dogs living in chains on a North Carolina property. For shelter, Abby crept into a nearby barrel. The senior Beagle/Blue Heeler blend's coat was “as brittle and sparse as an ancient brush,” wrote one of her rescuers, Ellen Ellick. “Abby has soulful eyes, pleading eyes. She’s quiet; housebroken; undemanding. Whatever anyone gives her is more than she's ever had before.” A dream come true would be a home where Abby could “soak up all the love, for it's love she's missed all her life.”

The networking that was the key to moving Abby out of the squalid conditions and into her new life could serve as an exemplary model for cooperation. The first link was Community Partnership for Pets (CPPI) in Flat Rock, North Carolina. With the help of local veterinarians, CPPI provided initial vet care for the dogs.

In addition to the dogs, there were 44 cats and one horse on three-and-a-half acres. About one third of the dogs were seniors. The family, who had taken in more animals than they could care for, agreed to relinquish all the animals.  

In her search for help to rescue the animals, CPPI's Mary Cervini contacted a newspaper. The resulting article came to the attention of The Grey Muzzle Organization, which provided funding for the senior dogs’ care and connected CPPI with other nonprofit rescue organizations that receive Grey Muzzle grants for senior dog aid programs.  

Grey Muzzle grantee St. Louis Senior Dog Project (SLSDP) agreed to take three of the older dogs: Abby, Sara and Mooter. Ordinarily SLSDP would not have taken in dogs from so far away, but SLSDP Founder and President Ellen Ellick was impressed by Mary Cervini’s work to care for the dogs and find new homes for all of them. 

Sara and Mooter were quickly adopted, but Abby needed time to recover emotionally and physically. Due to allergies, the senior girl had hair missing from her back. Plus, she didn’t get along with cats and wasn’t always friendly with other dogs. After being in SLSDP’s care for more than a year, Abby found her forever home with Kerri and Brad McCrorey.

Abby’s circle of friends now extends beyond her family to fans she has acquired through her own Facebook page. Abby is a busy old girl! Her Facebook page chronicles her walks and visits with other dogs at the park; adventures with her dad; her “uneasy truce” with the family cat, Duncan; occasional naps in her mom’s chair; snuggles with her “wooby” toy, and her humorous musings on her new life like this recent post: “I’ve learned a lot about fashion since moving here. I have a fancy new Martha Stewart collar and personalized name tag with my mum’s cell number on it. They don’t want to lose me.  Like I’m ever going to leave! Hah.”

You may also recognize Abby from the cover of Grey Muzzle’s brochure. Grey Muzzle President Julie Dudley says Abby was a natural choice to represent senior dogs in need. 

“Abby’s story is such a great example of not giving up on an old dog, and the joy that results. I personally really appreciate that St. Louis Senior Dog Project didn’t let her down even when that was the easy answer.”

It took a time and a determined village of compassionate rescuers, but now Abby has celebrated her one-year anniversary with her forever family. Brad McCrorey says that while he finds there are some people who will ignore Abby because of her age (around 14 years old), one of the great aspects of having Abby as family is watching others be amazed by her energy and zest for life. “She’s very ‘bouncy’ for lack of a better word. I think she’s a very happy animal.”

And then there’s her sweetness. “You have this lovely animal, who is chilled out—just a wonderful companion who asks for very little more than a kind word and a scratch behind the ears. You can’t look at that happy face and not want her in your life.” 

Sara, a senior black lab

As told to Grey Muzzle by Tom Myler, who adopted Sara in November 2009 and gave her all the love and security she deserved, and more. Sara passed away in October. 

I had just lost a dog to cancer and wanted to adopt another one. I went to the Petco where the St. Louis Senior Dog Project shows their dogs. I had adopted from them several times over the years. Sara looked so sweet and loving. She was standing there on a leash, so polite and nice. My friend noticed her before I did and said, “What do you think of this girl?” I thought about it for a second and said, “I think so!” 

What was really neat was this was Sara’s first adoption event. Ellen Ellick, who runs the St. Louis Senior Dog Project, was surprised that Sara got adopted so quickly, with her being both older and black (i.e., two “strikes”).

Sara was an old, wise dog—period. At the time, I had two younger dogs, and she was just the ticket to balance things out. She would get excited when it was time to be fed or to go for walks. Otherwise, she was content to lie in her favorite chair or roam the backyard and keep a watch on the passersby.

Sara wagged her tail a lot! All I had to do was talk to her, and she’d wag her tail. I think she really felt comfortable and settled living here. Occasionally, when company would come over, she’d go to the far back corner of the house and get in a dog crate. I think she may have thought that the visitors were here to take her away. So she would “hide” from them.

I take a lot of photos, so my dogs can’t help but get used to it! This photo of her is one of my very favorites. I took it one weekend when she and I were out on a walk. It was springtime and the flowers were in bloom. I remember how pretty an afternoon it was and how Sara loved to go on long walks. I take a lot of photos on walks using my smart phone. What makes it so nice is that I always have my “camera” with me whenever the situation calls for it, including this particular dog walk. It helps in remembering the little things that, especially now, are so special.