Local dog rescue believes in second chances

Jo Barrow with her two rescue dogs, miniature poodle, Rizzo (left) and maltese, Niko (right) February, 2022

Briahna LeFave

Jo Barrow with her two rescue dogs, miniature poodle, Rizzo (left) and maltese, Niko (right) February, 2022

Briahna LeFave, Business & Technology Editor

Whitewater based dog rescue, Albert’s Dog Lounge, specializes in senior, special needs and hospice dogs looking for their forever home. While people often gravitate towards younger dogs and dogs with a clean bill of health, this rescue hopes people may keep an open mind and consider what senior, special needs and hospice dogs have to offer. 

According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.1 million dogs enter the shelter system in the United States each year. Of those entering the system, approximately 390,000 are euthanized. Senior dogs and dogs with special needs often have much longer shelter stays and are at far greater risk for euthanasiea than their younger, healthier sheltermates. Senior, hospice and special needs dogs are frequently euthanized to make room for dogs deemed “more adoptable.”

Albert’s Dog Lounge volunteer and foster mom Kyleigh Robinson explained the founders of Albert’s noticed shelters undervaluing the lives of these K-9s, mixed with inspiration from their own senior, rescue dog, a miniature dachshund named Albert, started a 100% foster based, 501c(3) non-profit dog rescue in his name.

“Our rescue came to be, because there was nothing specific for seniors. We saw a need and made it our reality.” Robinson said. “We serve our community as a resource and an option. Life happens and sometimes dogs need a new chance. We have helped community members when they fell on tough times, which allowed them to ultimately keep their dog. We advocate for dogs, because they can’t,” said Robinson.

There are many ways you can help Albert’s mission continue to make such an immense impact in these vulnerable animals’ lives. From simple things such as sharing posts for dogs up for adoption on Albert’s social media pages, to financial contributions made through donating money or purchasing merchandise on their website. But, if you feel inspired to be a little more hands on, there are various volunteer opportunities as well as fostering opportunities. 

Albert’s takes in dogs from a wide variety of situations and places them in foster families to find their forever home.  Robinson, a foster parent herself, says that fostering is bittersweet, but largely rewarding and helpful in the adoption process. Adopting from a foster based rescue can be very advantageous for potential adoptive families.

“We learn their behaviors, routine, health needs and ultimately what would be best for them. As fosters, you pour so much time and love into them and it can be so hard to let them go. But getting updates and seeing them so happy and safe-nothing compares. Our hearts break for a bit to heal their hearts forever,” said Robinson.

If all of those options still don’t feel like quite enough, you may consider the possibility of adoption, one of the most obvious yet most impactful ways you can help. Dog lover, Jo Barrow, fell in love and adopted from Albert’s not once, but twice and makes a plea for people to give senior, hospice and special needs dogs a second chance at life. 

“It kills me that seniors are overlooked at shelters! If you think about it, they’re the same wonderful dogs that they were when they were younger but somehow, just because they’re a little older, they’re less valuable? I don’t think so! Senior dogs have had an especially hard time by the time they become available to adopt. If they came from loving homes, they don’t understand why their owner doesn’t come back to get them. And if they were wandering around as strays before they were rescued, they are very scared from being lost too. They may be in pain, have endured bad weather and cold, and they probably lacked food. These precious dogs need us! They can make the best companions if people would just see them for the treasures they are. Because they’ve lost so much, they are so grateful for any love and care they get,” said Barrow.

Barrow doesn’t sugar coat the challenges of adopting these unique dogs, noting that health issues, whether pre-existing or those that may develop over time can be difficult, varying from dog to dog. She explains that while these dogs may present challenges, with a little perseverance and creativity, solutions can be found. She acknowledged the age factor, and understands that not knowing how much time a dog may have left can be hard for potential adopters, but encourages people to find it within themselves to take that chance and make a difference in the lives of these deserving dogs. 

“The truth is that the biggest con to adopting a senior dog is that they have a way of stealing your heart so it’s hard to say goodbye. But for me, it’s worth it. I am willing to put myself through that pain if it means that these precious little guys can feel loved and protected and enjoy the rest of their lives. That sure beats having them put down because they’re not wanted or valued anymore,” said Barrow.

Barrow wants people to know that while there are some difficult aspects of adopting senior, special needs and hospice dogs, people have an often melancholy misconception of what these dogs really have to offer. Whether dogs are in their golden years or living with special needs, they have so much life and love left to give. These special dogs are in no shortage of quirks, funny mannerisms and charm. Barrow describes how much her two adopted dogs, Rizzo and Niko, contribute to their adoptive family.

“They make me laugh all the time! They wake up in the morning groaning and making old man sounds that crack me up! They play together for brief periods of time, especially after I pick them both up and give them some love. I set them down and they are so excited that they instantly play with each other! Rizzo especially is in love with me. If I kiss him on the nose before I send him outside, he’ll tear around the yard all giddy! It’s the best! The unconditional love they give me is truly amazing. If I leave even for a short time, they are SO happy when I return. I have become their world and they fill my home with cuteness and love,” said Barrow.

For more information on adoptable dogs, ways you can help, and financial contribution opportunities, please visit www.albertsdoglounge.org or find them on Facebook (Albert’s Dog Lounge) and Instagram @albertsdoglounge.