by Ardeth DeVries
192 pages, paperback. $19.95.
Reviewed by Debra J. White
Buy this book. I could not stop reading it. Each dog’s story captures the reader’s heart and never lets go.
Founded in 2005 by Judith and Lee Piper, Old Dog Haven is a dog fostering network serving western Washington. A 501(c)( 3) charity, Old Dog Haven provides home to unwanted, abandoned and abused senior dogs. The dogs come mostly from shelters or rescues, but a few are strays found by kind-hearted people or surrendered by owners who are unwilling or unable to care for them.
Judith Piper in 2004 was a shelter volunteer who took in two homeless senior dogs from a colleague. Piper then learned about the plight of senior dogs at shelters. Judith and Lee Piper originally planned to provide hospice care to old dogs, one at a time. As word of their work spread through the animal rescue community, requests to help more senior dogs poured in.
Unable to say no, the Pipers expanded their capacity to help by starting the Old Dog Haven network. Local and national publicity brought in donations to care for special needs dogs.
Neighbors rallied around Old Dog Haven too and volunteered or donated services to help dogs like Emily, who was adopted from nearby shelter, but was returned by the same family ten years later because, they said, they were too busy to keep a dog. Emily found a home on a farm where she lived for two more years.
“We were blessed and honored to call her our dog and will never forget her,” said the couple who took her in. After Emily died, they returned to Old Dog Haven to bring home another senior.
Another memorably Old Dog Haven story is that of Jordan, an emaciated German shepherd who had been rescued by animal control. The old dog lived most of 15 years outside with little or no affection, improper veterinary care, and inadequate food and water. The animal control shelter personnel wanted Jordan to experience a good life before she died, even if it was for just a few months.
Jordan’s first few days in her new home were shaky. For hours at a time, she paced, eating and drinking little. It was obvious she was not used to indoor living. Finally, Jordan settled down and learned to enjoy human companionship. She played with neighborhood dogs. She enjoyed regular food, gaining weight. At her three-month veterinary check up, no one in the office believed she was the same dog. She looked fantastic. Crippling arthritis, however, brought pain and discomfort. Jordan died after a year with her adoptive family. Her owner said that even years later she misses Jordan and still grieves for her.
There are 31 more stories in Ardeth DeVries’ book Old Dog Haven like the ones I mentioned. Old dogs remind us about the power of forgiveness. As abused and/or neglected as many of these dogs were, they carried no bitterness or animosity. If only humans shared those same qualities! I give a well deserved “thumbs up” to Old Dog Haven and highly recommend it. Have a tissue box handy when you read it, though, because some of the stories are tear-jerkers.
Old Dog Haven has now helped more than 3,400 dogs. Those not adopted lived out their lives with the Old Dog Haven volunteers.