The well-being of senior dogs isn’t at the top of a lot of prospective pet owners’ minds, but the sad fact remains that older animals are often overlooked in shelters. Kristen and Marc Peralta, owners of the nonprofit animal retirement and hospice home Vintage Pet Rescue in North Kingstown, are doing their part to change that.
“A few years ago, we took in a little Maltese as a hospice dog,” Kristen recounts. “She was a little old lady that we named Rue. We only expected her to live for a few months, but she really started thriving in our house. We had her for a year and a half and when she passed we adopted another senior in her memory.”
Since then, the pair has worked closely with shelters across the state and throughout New England to offer a comfortable life for dogs in their twilight years. The dogs are given a full checkup from a vet to address any health concerns, plenty of cage-free space in a loving home to wander, and stylish new sweaters: “Our elderly pups need to be cozy!” They also get kitschy beds made from flea market finds like old TVs and suitcases that the Peraltas have repurposed. “We love finding old items and turning them into something that can still be used, so I try to repurpose items as much as possible.”
Not all of the residents of Vintage Pet Rescue come from shelters. Some come from loving homes that, for one reason or another, can no longer give them the special care and attention they need.
“It is a very difficult decision for owners to make, but we try to help them through the process as much as possible,” Kristen says. “Sometimes we can offer suggestions that will allow them to keep their dogs. For the dogs that do end up coming to Vintage Pet Rescue, we allow the previous owners to come visit.”
It’s hard work, but for the Peraltas the joy of having these animals in their lives is worth the pain of losing them. And for the owners and shelters who give their dogs over to Vintage Pet Rescue, there’s an immeasurable comfort in knowing that they’ll be cared for.
“We just want to make sure that their last months or years are comfortable and filled with love,” says Kristen.