RASKC commends Old Dog Haven, an absolutely remarkable organization that ensures care for dogs in their twilight years who are at profound risk of homelessness.

Since November is “National Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” this is a great time to encourage everyone to appreciate the work of Old Dog Haven.

Since 2004, Old Dog Haven has helped over 7,200 senior dogs. Most of these dogs were unadoptable due to advanced age or medical conditions. Old Dog Haven (ODH) was their last hope. Due to ODH’s work, these dogs lived, or continue to live, in loving, safe homes for the remainder of their lives. When placed in a permanent foster home, ODH pays for all of the dogs’ medications and all needed veterinary care.

With only eight staff (five full-time and three part-time), Old Dog Haven facilitates and grows a foster network of 175 permanent “final refuge” foster homes, primarily in western Washington with a few homes in Portland and eastern Washington. Currently, 295 dogs are in permanent care.  

Old Dog Haven has inspired the formation of organizations like Retired Retrievers and the Grey Muzzle Organization.

RASKC recently interviewed Old Dog Haven’s Director of Development Paula Moreschi.

Please tell us about Old Dog Haven. Judith and Lee Piper founded Old Dog Haven in 2004. A friend of a friend of a friend asked if they would take senior lab mix Liza whose owner was moving into assisted living. They were told that Liza had trouble walking and could not do stairs. After being adopted by Judith and Lee, this dog went from not being able to walk, to being a dog that ran around their five acres. Liza was not with them long, but her time with them was full of love and happiness. Judith and Lee then adopted two more senior dogs. By doing this Judith and Lee recognized the huge need to help senior dogs that have little, if any, chance of being adopted.  They looked at each other and said, “This is something we could do.” Old Dog Haven was founded.

How would you describe the mission of your organization? The mission of Old Dog Haven is to provide loving safe homes for senior dogs, age eight and up, who have been abandoned or will become homeless at this stage of their lives. This may include:

  • Taking the older dogs into our homes and caring for them as members of the family as long as they have good quality of life, with preference to the oldest dogs including hospice situations;
  • Taking dogs with a reasonable life-expectancy into temporary foster homes and placing them in a permanent home with people who will devote themselves to the dog;
  • Assisting owners in placing their senior dog into an appropriate new home, without asking for compensation.

We intend to keep these dogs as healthy and comfortable as possible by providing excellent veterinary care, without heroic measures intended only to extend life.

We are committed to helping these dogs find peace in their last years, regardless of our judgment of the humans who have left them.

Please describe your volunteer program. Old Dog Haven relies on foster volunteers. We also rely on volunteers to transport our dogs from shelters to their new permanent final refuge home. These volunteers are very dedicated and often need to drive many hours to transport a dog. We also have a core group of volunteers who write personal thank you cards to all of our generous donors.

What kind of help would Old Dog Haven most like from the public? Follow us on social media and share our social media posts:

Consider becoming an Old Dog Haven foster home: https://olddoghaven.org/how-to-help/fostering/

How has COVID affected Old Dog Haven? When COVID started, the shelters were closed. This made it impossible for us to take senior dogs into our care. Placement assistance suffered as well, because potential adopters were unable to visit a dog that needed to be rehomed. The veterinary clinics were also able to see only a limited number of dogs, and the emergency clinics were always- and still are- at full capacity. The senior dogs in our care often need urgent, emergency veterinary services and it was- and still is- difficult for us to get an appointment in a timely matter.

How do RASKC and Old Dog Haven work together? We work with RASKC to help them find homes for older dogs. Old Dog Haven has taken in unadoptable senior dogs from RASKC and placed them in our permanent foster homes. We have also been helpful by posting senior, adoptable dogs at RASKC on our website and Facebook page.

Both RASKC and ODH are both committed to helping senior dogs find safe, loving homes for the remainder of their lives making their golden years, happy years.

Fun facts? Laura Coffey features Old Dog Haven in her book “My Old Dog.” Stacie, who was one of our permanent refuge dogs, is the book’s cover model. http://www.myolddogbook.com/

Old Dog Haven was featured on NBC’s Today Show in 2016.

Find out more about Old Dog Haven at https://olddoghaven.org/