Our Senior and Special Needs Sanctuary
It began simply enough – with a dream.
After operating our rescue for 10 years, our dream was to create a sanctuary for the special needs and senior greyhounds in our care. Those greyhounds who, in all likelihood, would never be adopted because of their advanced age or their extreme medical or behavioral issues. And for those younger greyhounds with treatable medical or behavioral issues who, once cured or corrected, could ultimately be adopted into carefully selected homes.
Why a Sanctuary? Because seniors and special needs dogs have always held our hearts in their paws. Because we learned early that they gave more to us than we could ever give back to them. Because they taught us about patience, kindness, and unconditional love. Because they taught us about grace and courage in the face of injury and illness, aging and agony. Because they taught us that no obstacle is insurmountable with applied effort and attitude adjustment, knowledge, insight and creativity.
In 2013, our dream came true. Thanks to retirement and savings accounts, a large, custom-designed home was built in the calm and seclusion of the countryside to accommodate both humans and dogs. Some of the unique features of the Sanctuary include non-slip rubber flooring (this is easy on the joints, waterproof, and warm during the winter), non-toxic paint and cleaning supplies, oversized bathing facilities, a reverse osmosis water purifier for the dogs’ water, orthopedic beds, blankets and pillows, few steps and ramps, and vast open spaces for freedom of movement.
Someone is with the dogs almost all day, every day, to tend to their varying needs. Most of them require extensive and costly veterinary care, including medications, and special diets, and the unadoptable dogs will spend the rest of their lives with us, in comfort and security, receiving all the love and attention they deserve.
As a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, our sole source of funding is through grants and private donations, all of which pay for the health and wellbeing of our dogs and for the general maintenance and upkeep of the Sanctuary itself.
Please view our Sanctuary dogs below. If you could contribute to their care, please consider making a donation in any amount. They, and we, would be most grateful.
Little Truman came into our Sanctuary in early August of 2017 at 22 months of age. Already showing signs of advanced Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), we knew that this boy needed to be in special care and took him into the Sanctuary as quickly as we could. What we didn’t know, at first, was that Truman also had sky high blood pressure. In his first 6 weeks at the Sanctuary, he has seen 3 different veterinarians – his general practice vet, the ophthalmology vet, and the cardiology vet.
There isn’t much we can do to reverse the effects of PRA, as it’s a genetic disorder. It hits most dog breeds in mid-age, but for greyhounds, it appears sometime around the age of one. PRA destroys the retina and night vision is the first to be lost, with total blindness coming within a year or two. There are some highly potent (and expensive) antioxidant supplements that may stave off the vision loss for a little while, and Truman is tolerating those supplements well.
Truman’s hypertension is more of a mystery. All traditional causes of high blood pressure in greyhounds have been ruled out but without his medications, his blood pressure was well into the high 200s. After six weeks of repeated testing, adjusting dosages and adding additional medications, Truman had his first normal reading since his arrival at the Sanctuary! We are keeping our fingers crossed that these medications will do the trick.
Interestingly, while hypertension can cause blindness, it’s not a cause of PRA and these two abnormalities are not related. Little Truman is truly a special guy, as sweet as can be, a true Velcro dog and wonderful companion.
In his first few weeks, he’s found his courage to explore, to love and to be loved. Everyday brings smiles as Truman adjusts to his handicap and thrives. He is truly an inspiration to us all.
As you can imagine, Truman’s vet and medication bills are quite high. If you would like to help contribute to his care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Sometimes, a retired racer just needs a little more time before he or she is ready to take the next step to find a forever home. Sometimes when a dog comes into our sanctuary, he or she is here to stay. It’s easier to tell with the very old ones as they usually come with a long list of medical issues and don’t have any other options for adoption. But, the young ones come with questions … What happened to them? Can they adjust to a regular home? Will they tell us when they are ready to move on? Will they want to stay forever? Such is the case with MacKenzie. Time will tell and we’ll give her all the time that she needs.
If you would like to help with MacKenzie’s day-to-day care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Brindled beauty, Granola, with her saucily tipped ears, is, like the cereal: “oh-so-good for you in oh-so-many ways.” Perhaps not as crunchy, but certainly as sweet. Elegant at eleven years old, this retired racer was once the doting momma to 28 (count them) pups. Docile as a doe, which she more than resembles, her favorite activity is soaking up the attention and affection she adores. Always on her best Greyhound behavior, she’s also on a grain-free diet and supplements for her joints and muscles to help combat the tremors she suffers when she stands or walks. Potentially caused by weak muscles (as tests have ruled out every other cause). Granola also has corns on her front feet and has a hard time walking. Frequent hulling and special footwear help. And quite simply put, to meet her and pet her is to love her.
If you would like to help with Momma Granola’s medical expenses, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Momma Lena came to us when she was 8 1/2 years old, after her racing and breeding career was over. We had every intention of adopting her out, as she was healthy and oh, so sweet. We nicknamed her “Little Butterball” because she was petite but a bit overweight and loved her treats. After many, many months on our adoptable list, and with no potential homes lined up that were right for her, we realized that Momma Lena was meant to stay. Her very high prey drive makes it difficult to bring her to most pet store meet and greets, as she’s quite reactive to small dogs, cats, and pocket pets. But, she’s such a hard worker at events where no little animals are present and she touches everyone with her charm and charisma. Now, at almost 10 1/2 years of age, Momma Lena is our constant companion, always at our side, ready for snuggles and affection.
To donate toward Momma Lena’s ongoing care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
With her winter white coat and caramel splashes, Momma CoCo is as loving as she is lovely. This elegant lady, who is now 10 1/2 years old, was a former racer turned marvelous mama to 3 litters of 10 exquisite CoCo lookalikes. Now freed of all mothering responsibilities, she’s free to lavish her sweetness and loving on everyone here at the Sanctuary. And we’re delighted to return her gentle affections in equal measure! Outgoing, friendly, and ever so happy, she’s blessed with an indomitable spirit and a pair of eyes that can melt hearts at a 100 yards. After breaking a leg that never properly healed in 2012, CoCo has a most distinctive way of walking. As a cross between a hop and a jump, she somehow manages to make something quite awkward, appear almost graceful. What a remarkable role model this feisty female is to the rest of us, with our own aches and pains! In November of 2015, we took Momma CoCo to the Orthopedic Department at Ohio State University for a full work-up on her bad leg. After a CAT scan, many, many radiographs, and a super-thorough physical evaluation, a 3D model was made of her the bones in her leg. Three weeks of careful study showed that nothing further can be done to repair CoCo’s leg. Fortunately, Momma CoCo is not in any pain and can get around just as good as any of the other seniors! Momma CoCo continues to brighten our days with her spunky hip-hopping and warms our souls with her especially tender loving.
Click here to read more about Momma Coco.
To donate toward Momma CoCo’s ongoing care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Turning six in July, Tracy of the soulful eyes and gleaming dark coat, entered our care in the spring of 2017 emotionally scarred and extremely sensitive, especially to touch. Whether it’s general grooming, nail clipping or teeth brushing, she finds the physical contact unbearable, and reacts by howling and cowering up against the nearest wall to prevent even our vet from approaching her. Although several anti-anxiety medications have helped reduce her stress slightly, she remains resistant to anyone’s well meaning advances. And yet, there are times when her true inner sweetness shines through as she works to come out of her shell and join our loving circle. While she’s still not fond of dogs being too close to her, with time and patience, hopefully, that too will change. Meanwhile, however, she’s growing stronger in the safety of her surroundings, with a healthy appetite and a true love of treats.
To donate toward Tracy’s ongoing care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Gentle eyes bright, mouth open in welcome, 5-year-old Tommyknocker is as famous for his ticking (white coat with brindle patches and small brown and black spots) as he is for his kookiness! Coming into our care in the spring of 2017, we quickly discovered that he’s incontinent, and despite various tests and numerous treatments, a belly band coupled with a thick pad works best, and he sports it at all times like the good sport he is. Oddly attracted to anything cloth and easily fixated by something he sees – be it a toy or a ball, a scarf or a piece of paper – he’ll gamely attempt to steal it. Not only that, but he stomps on his toys with unbridled gusto, determination and delight. Medications, the severity of his condition, coupled with the frequent changing of his soiled pads make traveling in the car difficult and adopting him virtually impossible at this point. But, on the bright side, and for tender Tommyknocker there is a bright side because he LOVES his food, treats and Nylabones, LOVES his crate, and best of all, he LOVES his solitude.
To donate toward Tommyknocker’s ongoing care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Jilly came to us with a resistant strain of heartworm in April of 2014. After a year of treatments, we finally were able to rid her of these horrible parasites. Jilly was our first heartworm positive dog and we learned so much from her. Her medical condition was challenging, but so was finding her the right forever home. Jilly is very shy and very particular about who she will approach and interact with. She also has a bit of a temper around other dogs, so that limited her possibilities quite a bit. After being on the adoptable list for over two years, we felt it best to keep Jilly in our Sanctuary and make her a permanent member of the pack. “Miss Beans” as she is affectionately called, is thriving here. We love her and she loves us, and that is really all that matters.
After almost three years, Jilly Beans is starting to show off her playful side, every once in a while. She’s a beauty, inside and out.
To donate toward Jilly Bean’s ongoing care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Seven-year-old Mulberry has been with us for over 5 years, and because of chronic incontinence she wears diapers at all times. This sweet and plucky miss doesn’t even seem to mind, and we’ve settled into a routine that seems as normal to us as dealing with a dog without this issue. We use human adult incontinence pads to line her panties (we have to sew them ourselves because commercial panties don’t fit her) and we buy cases of pads at a time. Mulberry has taught us that “poop happens”, but what matters is how you deal with it. Due to her condition, this amiable and affectionate dog will spend the rest of her life with us in the safety and comfort of the Sanctuary.
Click here to read more about Mulberry.
To donate toward Mulberry’s ongoing care, please use the DONATE button on the right side of this page.
Our Sanctuary Angels
Running a Sanctuary for the Old and Special Ones can be bittersweet. Being with these dogs through the good times and bad, day in and day out, leads to a very special bond. And, being with them at the end of their lives can rip our hearts out and at the same time, bring a sense of peace, knowing that the special ones did not die alone. We would like to remember, always, the Sanctuary dogs that have passed away.
Boo Boo was with us long before we officially opened the Sanctuary. He came in as an adoptable dog but was passed over 3 times for the most ridiculous of reasons. We knew then that he was meant to stay and he became a very important part of our work. He adored other dogs and often accompanied the new retirees on their first meet and greet. His gentle nature helped the new ones to find their courage. Although Boo Boo was healthy, we had a strange feeling that he would not live well into his senior years and he passed away at the age of 7 from cancer.
Spider came to us as an adoptable dog. He was gorgeous and adored people, was tolerant of cats but was a little protective of his back end around other dogs. He tried so hard to get “picked” by potential adopters, but was passed over time and time again. Spider also seemed to come down with the strangest of medical conditions every few months and we knew early on that he was probably going to have to stay with us. True to his unique nature, Spider passed away suddenly, sleeping in his favorite place in the sanctuary. He was almost 7 years old.
Andy Panda was only with us for a little over 7 months, but he had a huge impact on us. He was our first greyhound mix, the first we were able to pull from a county shelter, the first to help us learn about laser therapy and other types of treatments for the chronically ill. He taught us much about hospice care. We never really knew how old he was but we knew he was very old. We never knew anything about his background, where he was born, whether he ever took part in the field trials in the rural areas of Ohio, or whether he was ever loved in his former life. But, we were so fortunate that he spent his last days with us.
Cindy Bear was the sweetest of brood mommas with the thickest coat we’ve ever seen on a Greyhound. She was 12 1/2 years old when she came to our Sanctuary, very much in need of dental care. Her teeth were rotting, infected and causing a her a good deal of pain. We were so careful to run as many pre-surgical tests as possible and our vet was ultra careful during the entire procedure. Unfortunately, Cindy Bear did not survive. Her passing is a horrible reminder of the unique physiology of retired racing greyhounds and serves as a caution to all dogs undergoing anesthesia. We miss her dearly.
Momma Levity was our “first” in so many ways. She was the first retired brood momma to grace our lives, the first “super” senior that we took in, the first to be awarded a grant for her care, the first to live to the ripe old age of 13 1/2. We thought for sure she’d make it to 14, but that wasn’t in her cards when she suddenly couldn’t walk. We knew immediately it was a spinal stroke (FCE) and at her age and her already weak hind end and her kidney disease, we also knew that she would not survive. Momma Levity was such an integral part of the Sanctuary and our lives that it’s hard to realize that she’s gone. But, her spirit lives on in our hearts and we are better people for having had the opportunity to care for her.
Buttons was a mixed breed hunting dog who was severely abused in his past life and was never able to fully overcome the physical and mental effects of that abuse. We did everything we could to bring him peace and in the end, his symptoms became unbearable for him. We miss him dearly and wish that his abusers could know just how badly their actions toward him were.
Pepper lived to the ripe old age of 13 1/2. A cancer survivor and a survivor in many other ways, it appeared that Pepper would live forever. But, no one can escape death and we were powerless to save her. We miss her deeply, her doe-like eyes and her wide collection of facial expressions. Pepper was a staple at meet and greets and we always joked that she came to an event to show everyone just how easily a greyhound could fall asleep! Rest now, sweet one… You are forever in our hearts.
Stone was with us for many years before his 13 1/2 year old body just wore out in September of 2016. He was terribly shy and hated going anywhere. His senses started to fail in his last years and he was almost deaf when he passed. One of the big boys, Stone’s presence was a comfort, despite his separation anxiety and other eccentric behaviors, which limited our time away from him. Rest in peace, Old Man Stone. We miss you.
Roscoe, a senior greyhound mix, came to us in January of 2016. He had a spindle cell sarcoma on his right elbow that was malignant. He also had cataracts and was completely blind in his right eye and losing vision quickly in his left. His back was plagued with spondylosis, an age related wearing of the discs in his back. Later in 2016, he developed a heart murmur, high blood pressure, and was in the early stages of kidney disease. Roscoe was a trooper through all of the chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other treatments he was receiving from both our regular vet and a board certified internal medicine and oncology specialist. He took his twice daily handful of pills and supplements without complaint. But, in late January of 2017, Roscoe’s old body was failing, he was in pain and his tumor was overtaking his leg. It was time to let him fly free. Roscoe touched many hearts and he is dearly missed.
Smokey was never officially a Sanctuary dog, but we felt that he never wanted to leave and we were ready to make him an official member if he couldn’t find a home by the end of February. Sadly, Smokey was taken from us on Valentine’s Day, after emergency abdominal surgery the day before. He never recovered and passed away shortly before noon. His passing is a painful reminder that, no matter how young, a beloved pet can slip away with little warning. His passing is a constant reminder to love your beloved pets everyday and never, ever take anything for granted.
Momma Sissy was one of the best meet and greet dogs, ever. She came to us shortly after weaning her 4th litter of pups, with several bad teeth and chronic gum problems. We took care of her medical problems and she took care of our emotional needs. She was such a hard worker and loved to be present at any event. Her doe-like eyes and graying muzzle invited all to get closer to her. When her hind end got weak with age, she spent many hours on our laps, enjoying the view and attracting attention wherever she went. Bone caner took her too young, she was one month shy of her 12th birthday when we had to say goodbye. Always stoic, and never a complainer, Momma Sissy will always be in our hearts.
*** Special Thanks going out to Nomi Berger, who was instrumental in helping us put together a sponsorship program and writing the text and biographies on this page.