Writer and photographer document the lives of senior dogs | Dogalize
A love for senior dogs brought photographer Lori Fusaro and writer Laura T. Coffey into one another's lives.
Together, they set out to create My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts, a book that shares the stories of senior pets living out their best years.
Fusaro's love for senior pets took hold when she adopted Sunny, an 18-year-old dog who was living in a Los Angeles shelter. Her experience so radically changed her views on senior shelter pets that she created a photography project focused on them. Coffey, a writer, editor and producer at TODAY.com and the proud owner of senior dogs herself, took notice of Fusaro's work.
"My love for my older dogs made me interested in Lori's photos in the first place," Coffey told Mashable in a phone interview. She profiled Fusaro and her work for TODAY.com, and soon after an agent approached the pair about a potential book.
In 2014, they set out on road trips across the country to find and photograph senior dogs and the owners who've taken them in.
"Wonderful, big-hearted, emotionally generous people who did this kind thing and they didn't necessarily expect anything in return, or any attention for it or anything," Coffey said.
In planning for the book, Coffey stressed that she and Fusaro looked for stories featuring dogs from a wide range of backgrounds, from retired military dogs to pets displaced by their owners' financial crises or life obstacles.
"The sad thing is that there's this perennial need for older shelter animals to find homes, because oftentimes these animals will end up in the shelter through no fault of their own," she said.
The good news is that there's a movement of organizations across the United States dedicated to helping senior shelter dogs. Coffey says she hopes the book can help "connect the dots" for people who want to help, but are unsure where to start.
The back of the book features a comprehensive guide to senior pet-specific groups. These include traditional shelters and organizations dedicated to supporting military service members and veterans.
There are also programs that allow families to foster pets without having to shoulder the burden of veterinary costs associated with owning an older dog. Even those unable to adopt or foster can help by volunteering photography, grooming or administrative skills to local organizations.
"If you're just willing to open your home and take in a really nice, usually more mellow, very sweet, already house-trained, ready-to-go great pet, and give that pet a nice home, you don't have to have the fear or worrying about any medical expenses," she said. "It's kind of exciting to see all these great things that are happening."
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