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Those of us who love old dogs think of ourselves as a community of people—a village—connected by a common desire to help senior dogs in need. And, sometimes it really does take a village to do what needs to be done.

Old Dog Haven is constantly—and I do mean constantly—being asked to take in dogs from elderly people who can no longer care for them. Or, in many cases we’re asked if we can help people with their dogs’ medical care because they’re struggling financially. Most of the time these dogs are in terrible physical shape from unintentional neglect; the dogs suffer because their people can’t afford care for them. And, what’s even more devastating is that too often people have to give up their dogs because they can’t afford needed care. The dogs end up in shelters and then come to ODH with long-neglected medical issues or just “deferred maintenance” that makes them unadoptable and feeling miserable.

Our financial resources are stretched thin because our mission is to get old dogs out of shelters and to provide loving homes and medical attention for them once they are in our care and we’re really not in a position to pay veterinary expenses for dogs that live with people who are not ODH fosters. This is where you come in.

If you know of an elderly or financially challenged friend, neighbor or family member who needs help getting vet care for their dog, you can help. How about volunteering to take the dog to the vet? Seems like that would be a wonderful gift you could offer both the dog and the person. Perhaps the vet visit could be a birthday/holiday gift for a relative? Or maybe it would be just a gesture of kindness for a neighbor or friend. Or, your willingness to help might make it possible for an elderly person to still be able to keep his or her dog. If there are medications involved once the dog has seen the vet, perhaps you could ask someone else you know to step up and help with that part.

Perhaps some of you are thinking that people shouldn’t have dogs if they can’t afford to care for them, so why should you pay someone else’s vet bills? Or, why should you drive someone else’s dog to the vet? After all, the dog isn’t your responsibility. In theory your thinking might be accurate, but sometimes the realities of life don’t hold up to theories. More importantly, why not focus on helping the dog rather than judging the person? Dogs live their lives subject to the choices people make (or don’t make) about them and if helping dogs is something you want to do, what I’m suggesting is a perfect way to do that.

Remember that blog I wrote about the ripple effect? What I’m talking about here is a great example of how the ripple effect works. I’m thinking that if everyone reading this could help out one person they know who loves their dog but can’t afford important care, every one of you could make a huge difference in not only the life of a person but also a dog.

Claim your place in the village.