Pawsitively living their best lives: Senior dogs spend golden years at Old Paws Rescue Ranch | | #hospice | #elderly | #seniors
Teddi, Radar, Casper, Bentley, and Little Tater.
These seniors are celebrating their golden years by cheering fellow seniors in Garfield County.
Their parents, Bob Archer and Wendy Adams, chauffeur them from their home at Old Paws Rescue Ranch, located outside of Breckinridge, to local nursing homes and hospice rooms to spread happiness.
“They’re in tune with human emotions,” Archer said of his therapy dogs. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, these four-legged seniors—along with fellow therapy pup Huey—made 450 visits in 10 months.
“They love people,” Archer said. The ace junior therapy dog, Huey, is by far the youngest of the bunch at 2 years old, but “little old ladies just eat him up.” The others range in age from 13 to 16.
Archer and Adams—who met at the Enid Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) where he worked and she volunteered, married seven years ago—founded Old Paws Rescue Ranch after they noticed older dogs were being underserved in Garfield County.
“We strive to give abandoned senior dogs the life they deserve through rescue, rehab, and hospice care,” Archer said.
According to the ASPCA, senior dogs have a 25 percent adoption rate compared to the 60 percent adoption rate of younger dogs or puppies.
Senior dogs are usually the last to be adopted, if at all. They’re more likely to be abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters because their owners are often senior adults who have either died, are no longer able-bodied to care for their dogs, or have moved into housing that doesn’t allow pets.
And while senior dogs mature and outgrow destructive habits a puppy has not, their age puts them at risk for health issues that require medication or health care that may not be affordable to a financially strapped senior adult.
At Old Paws, the No. 1 expense is doggie dental care, followed closely by doggie medications. They pay 100 percent out of pocket for food and funeral arrangements.
“I treat them like I would my own dogs,” Archer said.
Per the City of Enid’s website, Enid Animal Welfare (also known as Enid Animal Shelter; formerly Enid Animal Control) has committed to improve animal lives and save 90 percent of its animals through adoption and rehoming practices. However, that means 10 percent are likely to be euthanized—which nationwide usually means the old and the sick since they are considered the non-adoptable ones.
That’s where Old Paws comes in.
“We try to take those they’d euthanize,” Archer said. “If we had our way, no dog would spend its last days in a cold, dark shelter.”
Old Paws officially became a 501c3 nonprofit organization in November 2017, shortly after the couple purchased a three-story home to continue fostering dogs from the Enid SPCA.
“We started out with 12 dogs,” Adams said. “In no time, we had 25 dogs.”
They’ve had up to 33 dogs at one time, which definitely stretches their limits in more ways than one, Archer said.
“We would love to take every dog that comes our way, but we just can’t,” he added. It’s just the two of them, and it’s expensive no matter how cheap they purchase supplies to care for their greying brood.
Their goal is to have no more than 25 small dogs at any given time; however, at present, they have 29. (They had 30 last month, but their beloved Duchess passed over the Rainbow Bridge on May 24.)
Most of the dogs Old Paws rescues and rehabilitates, if possible, are senior dogs, which means they’re age 8 or older. Currently the oldest resident is Lucky at 19 years old.
Not all of the dogs who come to Archer and Adams live with them long term. Old Paws serves as a hospice too.
“We take the ones 5 minutes from death,” Archer said. Some may live only days or even hours after arriving.
According to the American Kennel Club, the goal of hospice is to provide dogs with a dignified death that’s as peaceful, humane, and pain-free as possible. That might mean managing pain and making the senior dog comfortable during a natural death or providing relief for unmanageable suffering via euthanasia.
“Our rescue is a caring home-based rescue where seniors can live their lives in comfort and love with proper vet care provided,” Archer said.
While many of the senior dog sanctuaries across the U.S. focus on rescuing them and then adopting them out, as seen on GreyMuzzle.org, Old Paws rescues and keeps them.
“We are the little guy rescue where they come to live out their final days,” Archer commented.
That’s where the therapy training comes into play. Senior dogs are naturals when it comes to sitting around and doing nothing but watch, so it seemed like a good fit to pair them with senior adults. Archer and Adams regularly volunteer at Hospice Circle of Love as well as area nursing homes.
Teddi, who is 13 and has been Archer’s dog nearly all her life, “has never met a stranger.” She serves as the lead Old Paws therapy dog.
Fellow 13-year-old Radar, who is the end of life specialist, often joins Teddi—he patiently will lie next to a human or dog as they are dying. Casper, also 13, is the up and coming therapy dog, but his training was temporarily halted when the pandemic struck.
Little Tater, 16, and Bentley, 15, both are semi-retired therapy dogs, but they do enjoy being carted around for a visit.
Bentley also serves as Old Paws spokesperson. He enjoys getting dressed up—hats in particular—and poses like an old method actor. He owns several outfits and rides around in several vehicles, as many witnessed at the 2021 Enid Home Show this past April at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center.
And just like parents know the names and birthdates of all their kids, Archer and Adams know all their dogs’ names and when they were rescued. Every rescued dog gets a birthday party each year too.
Because Adams is a professional pet groomer at The Brass Poodle, she grooms all of their dogs. The Brass Poodle graciously allows Old Paws to use its facility on Saturdays free of charge.
“We rely on support from our kindhearted constituents to continue caring for our senior dogs,” Archer said.
You can check out Old Paws Rescue Ranch online at their Facebook page @OldPawsRR, where you can read daily updates about any of the current residents at the ranch, comment or ask questions, and even donate through Facebook fundraisers. You can also email them at email@example.com or private message via Facebook Messenger.
If you’d like to donate to Old Paws Rescue Ranch, they accept financial tax-deductible contributions, and they have a wish list on the “donate to a rescue” under the “give back” tab on Chewy.com. You can also consider supporting them after you’re gone through your will or in lieu of flowers at your funeral.