Old Dogs Find Furever Homes

Liz Conway
March 18, 2021
A black and white sign for the sanctuary stands outside their storefront facility.
Photo by
Don Gregory
Cleveland, OH

2020 was arguably the best year in many dogs' lives. Their owners were home non-stop giving belly scratches at a moments notice. Dogs got long and luxurious walks around the neighborhood on a daily basis. And most importantly, dogs across the country were cleared out of shelters and pounds in record-shattering numbers and were welcomed with open paws into their fur-ever homes. 

The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs saw the same intense demand for dog adoption and fostering, but their offerings are a bit different than the average shelter. 

The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, adoption, and lifelong care of senior dogs abandoned in shelters and pounds. The Sanctuary rescues dogs that are on average about 10 years old and places them into foster homes across Northeast Ohio, saving them from being overlooked in average shelters by the more desirable puppies and young dogs.  

Finding fur-ever homes

Rather than placing their rescues in another uncomfortable shelter or boarding facility to wait for adoption, their senior dogs go directly to sanctuary-approved foster homes. Foster parents go through a thorough screening process to ensure they can provide a safe and comfortable home for the dogs in need. 

In many cases the ‘foster parent’ simply becomes ‘the parent.’ As Deborah put it, “All that changes is their last name!” Only about a third of their rescues are eligible for adoption. Many dogs the Sanctuary rescues are too ill or emotionally unstable for traditional adoption, and in these cases they will stay in a sanctuary hospice foster for the rest of their lives - however long that might be. 

On a mission

Deborah Workman is changing the lives of old dogs. Growing up, she wasn’t allowed to have pets, so when she finally got a dog of her own, she was not expecting it to live to be an impressive 17 years old. Her pup showed her how “cool” older dogs can be. None of the puppy energy and destruction, but all of the love and affection. She adopted a few more old dogs and it snowballed to a whole houseful of senior dogs who needed love and support. 

With some guidance from the Best Friends Animal Society, in Utah, Deborah started the nonprofit organization in the early 2000’s. Her only other resources were simply “how-to” books from her local library. 

Furthering the mission 

Any dog that comes through their doors has the possibility of becoming a certified therapy dog. Old dogs typically have good manners and are well socialized. Their calm, cool, and collected, old dog energy makes them ideal therapy dogs. The Sanctuary really wants to show people how much life and love these old dogs still have in them, and what better way than giving them a meaningful job to do. 

Community connections

The Sanctuary typically connects with their supporters, potential fosters, and adopters through monthly adoption events and a big summer blow out called, Summer Scoop. Covid-19 restrictions have put these events on hold, but they are looking forward to the return of safe in-person events. 

The Sanctuary is built on their strong and lasting relationships with the shelters and pounds of Ohio with many of their first rescues coming directly from City dogs aka Cleveland Animal Care & Control. 

Unfortunately senior dogs have never been in short supply. Deborah noted that even when times are tough and resources are low, everyone always works hard to give all dogs a good life. 

Want to get involved? They are always looking for new fosters parents! Check out

Stay updated

Subscribe to our weekly mailing list and never miss an article!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Photo by

you may also like