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)!