“It was quiet and sad, and then Gucci brought joy into the house.”
As a child growing up in a war-torn orphanage in Germany, Johanna Carrington never had the opportunity to own a dog.
Since then, she has been making up for lost time.
She and her late husband had eight Pekingese at one time, which was both lovely and chaotic, and she recently adopted a Chihuahua-mix named Gucci, who is 11 years old.
“I simply adore him,” Carrington stated to TODAY.
After her previous dog, Rocky, passed away, Carrington’s residence was quite quiet. When she told her 64-year-old daughter Debbie Carrington that she intended to get another puppy, they were concerned that a shelter would not permit an elderly woman to adopt a pet.
Fortunately, one of their Moss Beach neighbors is a volunteer with Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and believed the group could assist. Indeed, Gucci (previously known as Gnocchi) was just rescued from a hoarding scenario with twenty-two canines. The small dog seems eager to be the lone pet in a household that would lavish him with affection.
Eddie Martinez, Johanna Carrington’s carer, volunteered to take Gucci on regular walks and assist with his care as part of the adoption process. Therefore, on September 2, Gucci’s foster parent drove him to meet Carrington, where he immediately made himself at home.
“He arrived at the residence as though he had been here before. “It was extraordinary,” Carrington stated. “When he saw me seated in my chair, he jumped up and sat on my lap.” He made himself extremely at ease. He was immediately our baby.”
She has supplied her new partner “oodles and oodles” of fetching toys, and she massages his back as they watch television together. Gucci enjoys making a comfortable nest out of blankets on their bed at night.
This December, Carrington hopes to do something enjoyable with Gucci to commemorate her 101st birthday. Though she attributes her longevity to a healthy lifestyle — she’s never smoked or had even a drink of alcohol – she believes that spending time with dogs is one of the keys to a long, happy life.
She stated, “Animals bring so much joy into our home.” “It’s unbelievable.”
Studies support her position. The database of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, a non-profit organization, contains various scientific papers on the benefits of pets for elderly.
One study indicated that pet ownership has a good effect on the mental health of older individuals living in the community by offering companionship, reducing loneliness, improving socializing, and creating a feeling of purpose and meaning. Companion animals also give psychological health advantages following a social loss, such as the death of a spouse, and contribute to healthy aging by lowering stress, encouraging physical activity, and even assisting with pain management.
Steven Feldman, head of the Human Animal Link Research Institute, told TODAY via email, “The human-animal bond can have a favorable effect on people of all ages, especially elderly folks.” “Research indicates that pet ownership and human-animal connection can provide crucial types of social and emotional support for older persons, which can increase daily living routines, minimize feelings of isolation, and enhance overall quality of life.”
According to Alice Ensor, adoptions coordinator at Muttville Elderly Dog Rescue, senior humans adopting senior pets — such as dogs aged 7 and older — can be beneficial for all parties involved. This is why Muttville offers a program called Seniors for Seniors. If a senior adopts a dog but is unable to care for it due to death or hospitalization, Muttville promises to take the dog back and will remain in contact with the adopter in case they need anything, such as temporary fostering.
Ensor, 62, told TODAY, “We want them to still enjoy that time together and experience the full delight of their senior years together.” “As a dog lover, I know that if I live that long, I hope someone will adopt me since I can’t fathom my home without a pet. “Life is better with a dog, no matter your age.”
In August, Muttville rescued its 10,000th puppy to commemorate its 15th anniversary. Annually, the Seniors for Seniors program accounts for around 32% of adoptions. Ensor stated that the team searches for the ideal match, such as a small dog that can be carried but isn’t so small that it poses a fall hazard by scampering underfoot, or a dog who is comfortable around walkers and wheelchairs.
Of the instance of Gucci, he was well-behaved and active enough to navigate the stairs in Carrington’s home without difficulty. He appeared to be a dog who would enjoy being an only pet.
Ensor stated, “He’s a very soulful little man.” It is in fact a matchmaking procedure.
Ensor highlighted that family, friends, and carers can assist seniors in adopting pets by navigating technology during the adoption procedure. Particularly during the epidemic, some rescue organizations have used social media to connect adoptable pets with potential adopters through FaceTime and Zoom home inspections and video meet-and-greets.
She stated that assisting the prospective senior adopter with the technology might be the first step.
Through the Seniors for Seniors program, Debbie Carrington’s assistance in her mother’s adoption of Gucci from Muttville has proven to be quite beneficial. The elderly dog was already housetrained, so there is no need to worry about messes, and he is toothless, so there is no need to budget for future dental surgery.
Nevertheless, it is “heartwarming” to observe the pair’s affectionate relationship.
Debbie Carrington told TODAY, “After she lost her second dog, it was quite sad here.” “The house was quiet and sad until Gucci injected happiness into it. Laughing at him running around and doing funny things, as well as him lying on her lap while she is in her recliner or bed, makes her quite happy.”