Out With the New, In With the Old: Changing the Perception of Senior Shelter Dogs One Photo At a Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’ve ever visited your local SPCA, you may have noticed that the vast majority of unadopted dogs at shelters are the older animals. More often than not, people who are looking to adopt a new addition to the family are hoping to bring home puppies and younger dogs, swayed by their cute factor and operating under the misguided belief that old dogs must be ‘damaged’ in some way to have ended up in a shelter, and are, therefore, less worthy of adoption.

The sad truth is, many of the elderly animals that end up in shelters are there because of circumstances that have nothing to do with their behavior – their owners’ declining health or death, perhaps, or their displacement due to their owner moving to a place that is not pet-friendly. Sometimes, people surrender their pets simply because they can no longer afford to care for them. And still, senior pups have a bad reputation and are constantly overlooked by potential rescuers, all because of their age.

Laura Coffey, a former journalist for The Tampa Bay Times, and photographer Lori Fusaro are looking to challenge this widespread perception of older dogs with the release of their book, My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts. After initially working together when Coffey read about Fusaro’s work taking photographs of elderly shelter dogs to erase the stigma surrounding them, with this new book, the two have joined forces to tell the stories of 19 dogs rescued from shelters in their twilight years and the joy that they have brought to their new owners’ lives. With Coffey’s words and Fusaro’s poignant photos, Old Dog sweetly demonstrates the power of compassion, reminding us that, age, indeed, ain’t nothing but a number, and that everyone deserves a second chance.

If the thought of adopting a senior dog in need strikes a chord in you, check out My Old Dog on Amazon and research organizations like The Grey Muzzle Organization before you take your next trip to one of Tampa’s local animal shelters (The Humane Society of Tampa and SPCA of Tampa, to name two). After all, the saying “dog is man’s best friend” doesn’t just apply to puppies (who will chew on everything you own, anyway)!

Fourth Annual #GivingTuesday A Success


A new movement called #GivingTuesday has experienced massive success since its first year. Launched in 2012, the online campaign is held on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It is a 24-hour online campaign emphasizing altruism in response to commercial days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In its first year, #GivingTuesday raised $10.1 million. The fourth year has seen charitable donations increase 10-fold, raising $116.7 million. This is double the amount raised last year, which was nearly $46 million. These numbers don’t include the volunteer efforts, acts of kindness, or donations of good of people participating around the world.

The movement started as a collaborative initiative between New York City’s 92Y and the United Nations Foundation. The first #GivingTuesday was hosted in 2012, with support from large organizations like Google, Microsoft and UNICEF. In its first year, #GivingTuesday was a campaign focused on a national scale. By 2014 the campaign extended itself globally and included participation from organizations within 68 countries.

#GivingTuesday embraces the power of social media and encourages participants to share their story with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. This year, the online community shared more than 1.3 million tweets mentioning the tag. This is an 86% increase in activity since last year. Participation includes mentions from high profile people like Susan Sarandon, Melinda Gates, and Bette Midler. The #GivingTuesday team encourages participants to share #unselfies and explain how they support the movement. The #MyGivingStory tag was used on Twitter to gather the stories of participants.

Participation isn’t limited to monetary donations. You can partake by donating things you longer use, like warm clothing or blankets. Find your local food bank and give non-perishables like canned foods and dry goods. Volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, or a hospital. If you want to stay close to home, ask your neighbors if they need any help. The goal of #GivingTuesday is to spread generosity, and spending your time on others counts. While this campaign focuses on one day, be sure to spread kindness throughout the year.