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Old Dogs Teaching New Tricks

A Senior Dog Sanctuary retiree can be your new best friend

Maxx was rescued after being chained to a cement pad for over 10 years, leaving him with a limp. That does not slow him down when he runs up for hugs and kisses.

Parents assure their children that the old family dog was taken to a farm with lots of new friends and green grass. Most of us know how that really turned out. Now there really is a farm for senior dogs, a sanctuary at that.
    Val Lynch is a doctor and rescuer of dogs. In April 2015, the Lynch family mission expanded to old dogs in need. Now battered, beaten and abandoned elders have a special place at the ­Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland.
    In need of more care than their families can give, many of these dogs would otherwise be euthanized. Dogs are also found in abandoned homes often left without food or water for weeks on end.
    “We don’t focus on what people have done, we focus on what we can do to help,” says Lynch.
    The sanctuary has state-of-the-art comforts. Special flooring gives the dogs more traction and is free of harmful chemicals, saving paws. Outside a special grass called Canine AstroTurf adds extra protection for the paws and is easier to clean than grass.
    Inside the kennel — a renovated three-story garage with air-conditioning, heat and running water — the dogs are responding to love. Greeting visitors, each calmly raises its head and comes up to say hello.
    Maxx — the extra X in token of his having maxed out two of the sanctuary’s credit cards within his first month — is a tough old dog. He’ been through several intense surgeries and is deaf.
    “It is not uncommon for us to spend at least a grand on a single dog,” Lynch explains.
    Maxx was rescued after being chained to a 10-square-foot cement pad for over 10 years. These circumstances have left him with an odd walk resembling a limp. That does not slow him down when he runs up for hugs and kisses.
    The Sanctuary helps people as well as dogs.
    People going to a nursing home who dread leaving their best friend behind can enroll in the Seniors for Seniors program, visiting at the sanctuary. Alternately, a volunteer will drive the dog for a visit.
    Kids eight and over can volunteer with mom and dad or read to the dogs as a form of therapy.
    Donations help the family-funded sanctuary in Severn care for up to 23 dogs at a time. Thirty-two volunteers help nine part-time and two full-time staff keep sanctuary hours from 6am to 10pm.
    The Senior Dog Sanctuary is not only a safe place for pets but also an adoption resource. Older dogs, the Lynches will tell you, are instant companions, learn quickly and are laid back. They also don’t come teething like excited puppies do. These mellowed-out old timers focus well and have extra affection and love to offer.
    See for yourself at the shelter open house Sunday, June 5: 11:30am-2pm, 8336 West Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Severn; www.seniordogsanctuary.com.