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Event pairs people with pets

The Brittany Foundation matches seniors with dogs available for adoption

Posted: September 27, 2009 10:10 p.m.
Updated: September 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Friendly Valley resident Bert Vollmer interacts with Buddy, one of nine senior dogs available during the Seniors for Seniors event. The Brittany Foundation adoption event aimed at matching senior dogs with potential homes. Friendly Valley resident Bert Vollmer interacts with Buddy, one of nine senior dogs available during the Seniors for Seniors event. The Brittany Foundation adoption event aimed at matching senior dogs with potential homes.
Friendly Valley resident Bert Vollmer interacts with Buddy, one of nine senior dogs available during the Seniors for Seniors event. The Brittany Foundation adoption event aimed at matching senior dogs with potential homes.

It was a golden opportunity for making forever friends as The Brittany Foundation launched its first Seniors for Seniors adoption event.

The Friendly Valley Retirement Center in Saugus recently opened its doors to the nonprofit, no-kill dog rescue in order to give residents a chance to mingle with elders of the four-legged variety.

From Pomeranians to poodles, The Brittany Foundation seniors were happy to shake paws with potential new family members.

"Pairing this age group together creates such a great connection," said Karen Kennedy, Brittany Foundation volunteer. "You can see how they will take care of each other in a lot of special ways. It's a perfect match."

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents met the adoptable pets and four adoption applications were received within the first hour.

"It was really moving to watch some of the instant bonds that formed today," Kennedy said. "I felt like I was seeing soul mates come together."

Doris Minkler cuddled for more than an hour with Dixie, a 10-year old female Shih Tzu with a sweet disposition who was searching for a warm lap to call her own.

"Everything just clicked," said Minkler's friend and neighbor, Rosemarie Walrath. "They need each other and it was plain to see that they were supposed to come together. It's as if they were both waiting to meet all these years."

After a home check and application review, Dixie was delivered to Minkler the following Monday.

It was just the kind of connection Brittany Foundation endeavored to make during the event.

"Senior citizens have lived full lives and know what is important," Kennedy said. "They are less inclined to get a dog because it looks cute, like an accessory. They value the experience and responsibility of having a dog and respect what the decision to have one really means."

Dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of homeless dogs, The Brittany Foundation has rescued countless canines from mistreatment and abandonment from past owners, puppy mills or euthanasia after being dumped at an animal shelter.

Of the nearly 100 dogs currently residing on the foundation's three-acre ranch in Ague Dulce, approximately half are seniors.

"Some people get rid of their dogs because they've gotten old or they don't want to take care of them anymore," said volunteer April Lund. "But these dogs are all so great - they just want someone to love who will love them in return."

The Seniors for Seniors idea sprang from a desire to bring greater awareness of The Brittany Foundation's senior dogs available for adoption, while also creating easier access for elder adopters.

The adoption event gave new hope to Miley Cyrus, a 9-year-old Yorkshire Terrier surrendered by her owners to a shelter two years ago. She has been waiting at The Brittany Foundation for a new home ever since.

At Seniors for Seniors, the Yorkie found an admirer.

"I love her little face," said resident Joann Kapin. "She's just what I've been looking for."

Kapin was in the market for a mild-tempered dog to sit with and cuddle, so hugging the teddy-bear likeness of Miley was a good test run.

"We have dogs for each level of athletic ability and lifestyle," said Lund. "Some people want a friend to take a brisk walk with, while others just need a quiet companion. These dogs are the best friends you'll ever have, no matter what you're looking for."

Buddy, a 12-year old male blonde Pomeranian whom volunteers call a "mellow Casanova" because of his sweet charm and radiant good looks, was left at the shelter a year ago by owners due to his age.

"There is just no resisting this dog," said volunteer Gina Tucci. "He loves everyone and everyone loves him. He's very trusting and has an amazing personality that just jumps right out at you."

Patty, a 9-year-old female Maltese who was used by puppy mills to repeatedly breed throughout her youth, wagged her tail whenever someone came over to pet her.

Like many breeding dogs, Patty was discarded after reaching a certain age considered worthless by breeders.

In May of this year, The Brittany Foundation joined forces with Cesar Millan ("The Dog Whisperer") in conjunction with the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals to successfully rescue 11 puppy mill dogs, including Patty.

"So many dogs like Patty are abused by breeders all for the sake of puppies for people to buy. They use them up and throw them away like dirty tissues," said Kennedy. "Now here she is, sweet as can be and looking for a nice place to live out the rest of her life."

Finding the right homes for the senior dogs had to start with finding the right community.

Friendly Valley resident and board member Robert McMeekin was approached by his volunteer daughter Tucci about Seniors for Seniors.

"I presented the idea for senior adoptions to the board and they loved it," said Robert Mcmeekin. "I have a little rescued dog at home and I don't know what I'd do without him. I wanted to help other people have this too."

Resident Paulette Capuras received a flier for the event, which was attached to the center's monthly newsletter.

"I didn't even know about the Brittany Foundation and all the dogs they rescue until just now," said Capuras. "I've been interested in getting another dog and now I know where to look."

The retirement center was the first of many senior-living communities that The Brittany Foundation hopes to visit in the future.

Volunteers know that making a big difference will happen one connection at a time.

"It would be wonderful to give all of our dogs the homes they deserve," said Lund. "But it makes our day to know we've placed even one in good, loving care."

To inquire about adopting, volunteering or donating to The Brittany Foundation, call (661) 713-5240 or e-mail The Brittany Foundation opens its doors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday so families can meet rescued dogs for adoption. The Foundation can also make appointments during the week. For more information, visit Application, home check and fee required for adoption.


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