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Eddie’s Friends: A Campaign for Senior Dogs

Susan Faria, Director

A winning program in the 2007 Maddies Fund Marketing Competition submitted by Senior Dog Rescue of Oregon.

The Beginning

Senior Dog Rescue was born the day Teddy died. His death penalty offense? Like many nine-year-old Labs, Teddy needed expensive dental work. His owner brought him in to be euthanized. Sure, Teddy had been a good family dog, but now the kids were gone and the owner couldnt see shelling out for a dog that didnt have all that many years left.

It was 1997 and older pets were routinely euthanized if owners declined treatment of disorders such as chronic skin conditions, tooth and gum disease, allergies and ear infections. Even worse, many a faithful family dog was put down simply for age. Vet Assistant Susan Faria thought she was hardened to it. But that particular day had been especially difficult for Susan and saying goodbye to Teddy was the last straw. She had had enough and by the end of the day, Senior Dog Rescue of Oregon was launched a rescue group of one. Susan was certain a senior dog adoption group was just the ticket to locating homes for sad, old, cast-off dogs.

Beginning with the rescue of an eight-year-old Beagle and an eleven-year-old Cattle Dog, Susan worked alone to meet the medical needs of older dogs and place them in permanent homes. For four years, between 1997 and 2001, she struggled with finances, paying all the dogs expenses out of pocket. On weekends, she packed up her seniors and drove them to sites such as Oregon State Universitys Vet Day where if she got lucky one of the dogs might find an adoptive family. During those first frustrating years only 12 to 15 dogs were placed in permanent homes. Additional volunteers and foster homes were desperately needed.

In 2003, Susan discovered Petfinder. Not only did adoptions double that year, two volunteers called, offering to foster. One day while the volunteer group of three held an adoption day at the local Petco, the store manager mentioned that 501(c)3 status for SDRO could open the door to grants. Susan investigated and was told she needed an attorney — something she couldnt afford. Picking up the phone, she made repeated calls to the IRS until she located a sympathetic agent who spent weeks walking her through the paperwork. Petco staff had been correct. In 2005 with its nonprofit status completed, donations to SDRO soared from zero to almost $2000 — a heady amount for a group with overdue vet bills. Encouraged by the initial successes of SDRO, shelters began to call. Could Senior Dogs take one more? And one more? SDROs reputation grew, and by the beginning of 2006, Susan and her foster homes were bursting at the seams. A miracle was needed. It came in the form of Eddie, a small black-and-white terrier mix with the face to launch a thousand campaigns.

Eddie: A Star is Born!

In March 2006, local Humane Society authorities busted a puppy mill, confiscating over 90 dogs. SDRO received several dogs, including three-year-old Eddie, one of the breeding dogs. Not surprisingly in such cases, Eddie was in serious need of vet care. He had been caged his entire life, resulting in hind legs so bowed he could only crab his way along. The little dog was on the Humane Societys euthanasia list. However, when his turn came, the vet looked into his eyes, picked up the phone and begged SDRO to accept him.

There were so many reasons to say, No. He wasnt a senior. SDRO didnt have the money for such a seriously impaired dog. But Susan decided to take a look at him, and though the odds seemed against Eddies ever leading a normal life, the little dog was soon settled into Susans kitchen. Was it an impossible dream that one day Eddie would walk alongside his forever owner? Could an organization that, by that time, had eight core volunteers raise the money to repair Eddies legs?

It was exhilarating news when Eddie was evaluated and accepted as a patient at Oregon State Universitys Vet Hospital, right in town. Prognosis was excellent. Eddie would walk with the help of SDRO but they must raise the funds.

face of all abused and neglected dogs and, while other shelters and rescue groups pooh-poohed the notion that enough money could be raised for Eddies surgery, it was the jumpstart SDRO volunteers had prayed for. In the summer of 2006, SDROs volunteer roster jumped to 15. The new volunteers made room in their homes for senior dogs. Most took in more than one. These volunteers brought new energy and skills: graphic designer, artist, writer each with his or her own network of animal friends and contacts.

The community was alive with the news of Eddie. No one could miss the flyers, radio spots, and newspaper interviews with Susan and Eddie. A large banner featuring Eddies face was designed and hung. Donation boxes materialized on counters. Petco offered permanent space to showcase SDRO and its mission, and all over town, donors sported buttons with Eddies picture, proclaiming, I Helped Eddie Walk! Soon, in a community of over 50,000, Eddies Campaign was on all lips.

Eddies Garage Sale was held just as the University students returned to town in late August. At the end of the day, when sales receipts and outright donations were totaled, Eddies Campaign was declared successful

From Eddies Campaign came Eddies Friends, an effort to build upon the success of Eddies Campaign to meet the medical needs of not only Eddie, but all the dogs that would follow. This request to Maddies Fund is part of that effort.

The Eddies Friends Campaign

In the spring of 2007, the group launched Eddies Friends, building on Eddies celebrity and targeting the most difficult-to-place dogs. Eddies Friends features photos of Eddie and his friends all dogs in need of serious or on-going medical and dental aid prior to adoption. SDRO continues to focus on boosting community awareness of the need, in addition to broadening the scope of its fundraisers. To reach a wider audience, and in an effort to educate children and teens to the value of older dogs, the Corvallis-Benton County Library allotted its main display case to SDRO and Eddies Friends, as did the Footwise Birkenstock store in downtown Corvallis. 4-H youth were invited to walk dogs wearing Adopt Me jackets at local Farmers Markets. The Universitys students were recruited as volunteers.

Meanwhile, the original Eddies Campaign fundraisers continue and are improved upon. Eddies Celebrate Life Garage Sale & Adoptathon is now in its second year. Parking is hard to come by as people stop to visit the now fully recovered Eddie, check out available dogs, and maybe pick up an item or two. Volunteers know that sales and donations are about equal that day.

Each season has one or more fundraisers. Eddies Friends booths are crowded at the Corvallis Fall Festival, da Vinci Days, and Christmas Gifts for a Better World. On sale are striking handmade collars, leashes and dog sweaters, bunches of sweet-smelling lavender, Rescue Rascals greeting cards with photos of our adopted dogs, and original handicrafts and art work all donated by caring people who support our cause.

Eddies presence at these events has evolved from a cameo appearance with his little leg casts to full days frisking around making new friends. Everyone wants to know, Is Eddie here today?

On the third Saturday of each month, SDRO arrives at Petco with a load of Eddies Friends in search of permanent homes. Newspaper ads are now routinely discounted for the group and potential families come from a range of 50 miles. It is common to take applications for seven or eight dogs at each adoptathon. Dogs dont even have to be on site. A thumb through Eddies Friends photo albums or perusing will do as well. For safety, SDRO requires written applications, home visits and a two-week trial before placing a dog so those getting swept up in the moment have a chance to make a thoughtful decision.

Eddie is SDROs public face, but we honor Teddy as the true catalyst. Since that day ten years ago when Teddy died, hundreds of senior dogs have been spared and are in permanent homes. Through continuous efforts at partnering, Eddies Friends receive discounted or at-cost supplies and services from vets, pet shops, and Oregon State Universitys Vet Hospital. Heartland Humane Society regularly shares its allotted spay/neuter slots with SDRO. The number of volunteers now stands at about 20. Although SDRO is proud of its accomplishments there are many senior and medically-needy dogs waiting. For some its already too late. For others time is running out.

With a Maddies Fund grant SDRO will be able to:

  1. Create a video to be shown to businesses interested in sponsoring a senior dogs medical expenses.
  2. Expand our adoption network area to accept senior dogs from shelters outside the community,
  3. Show dogs at retirement facilities around Oregon to promote SDROs Seniors for Seniors program,
  4. Increase the number of foster homes by helping foster families with expenses. 

Support Information

Quantifiable results for hard to place dogs:
For the most part the dogs that come to Senior Dog Rescue have one strike against them, their age. With that said, we have to look at the big picture. A small dog that is twelve and has no health issues is not hard for us to place. The challenges are some of the dogs listed below.

Notes: Sweet little Belle is a spayed female toy poodle whose owner passed away. She is a shy little girl until she gets to know you but quite affectionate with people she trusts. Belle is blind but, like most sightless dogs, she compensates very well for this and gets around as well as any sighted dog. She loves to go for walks or for rides in the car but her favorite activity is sitting on your lap.

Today Belle lives happily with a couple who just happened to have owned a blind poodle in the past. They have provided major dental work for her.

Notes: Frankie is 11 years old and came into rescue as a divorce victim. Her owner travelled a lot and, although he was very fond of her, did not have the time to deal with a lot of problems this little Jack Russell had developed because of an insecure life. She had a weak bladder and very itchy skin.

Frankie went to live with a young pharmacy student who had recently lost her elderly Jack Russell. Her prior experience with this breed diet indicated that Frankies food needed to be changed to a food that was less demanding on her kidneys. Soon no more accidents inside and very soon her skin allergies cleared up. Frankie lives the good life with her adoring owner, and can be found most weekends at the horse barn.

Notes: Pete, an eight-year-old neutered male Shih-Tzu/mix has an eye condition known as dry eye, which simply means he will require daily eye drops, but it certainly doesnt stop him from enjoying life. He is an ideal companion for an older couple or a retired person as he loves to ride in the car and go for short walks.

Pete was placed with a couple who had a similar dog who had lost his buddy. The added medical care for his eyes was not an issue for them. They liked SDRO so much they became volunteers!

Notes: Zeus is a 10-year-old black Standard Poodle. He is a neutered male, housetrained, leash and crate trained with some obedience training. Zeus is an excellent health having been given a thorough vet exam and dental cleaning prior to coming into rescue. Zeus is best suited for a home where he will be the only pet with an experienced owner. He is not good with cats and due to his size is quite strong.

Zeus went to California, transported by willing rescue volunteers. He went to an experienced Standard Poodle owner who has worked tirelessly, training him to overcome the aggressive streak that became apparent once he came into rescue. This is a particularly happy story!

Notes: This charming older girl is Blanca, a nine-year-old German Shepherd mix spayed female. She is housetrained, gets along well with other dogs and with cats, and loves children. Blancas previous family almost killed her with kindness–they gave her treats constantly and fed her from the table. By the time she came to us Blanca was obese and the excess weight had nearly ruined her back legs. Both rear legs have been surgically repaired and Blanca has lost almost 20 pounds! Blanca has developed arthritis and will need arthritis medication for the remainder of her life.

It sounded like a lot to take on, and it did take quite awhile, but this is one of the sweetest, kindest dogs weve had in rescue. She is now giving her very special love to a lady in assisted living. Her new owner took one look at her and knew immediately they were right for each other.

Notes: Penucci is a 14-year-old neutered male Poodle mix. For most of his life, he has been on a chain in his owners backyard. Even though he spent most of my life outside he will need some help to learn what housetraining means. His hearing and eyesight arent what they used to be but he can see and hear well enough to get along independently and can certainly find his way to your lap. I have lots of life and love to give to the right person who will help me have a happy ending to my story.

Penucci did quickly learn the housetraining routine. Forget the chains and living outside, he lives with an older couple whose life revolves around keeping him happy. We hope he will have quite a few years of happiness. This boy earned it! 

Diary of a RescueGemma, Miniature Schnauzer

July 25, 2007

SRDO learns there is a 12-year-old female Miniature Schnauzer at Linn County Animal Control. A volunteer is sent to assess the situation.

July 30

Miniature Schnauzer comes into rescue. Complete vet check-up reveals that major dental work is needed. Her weight 10 lbs 3 ozs. Vet estimate $300-$800 We name her Gemma.

July 31

Volunteer grooms her. Photos are taken for a flyer to take to the Monaco Hotel presentation.

August 3

SDRO takes Gemma to Portland for a presentation at the Monaco Hotel. It is a pet-friendly hotel wanting to raise funds during the month of August for a smaller rescue group. Senior dogs appeal to them. They have their own rescue a large Lab with the title Director of Pet Relations who attends the meeting.

August 4

Back to Portland for the Schnauzer Walk. About 120 Schnauzers are present and Gemma is definitely the smallest. Whatever she has been through, she fits in with the crowd. This is a good opportunity to network.

August 16

Gemma has gained enough weight to have vaccinations and a microchip. She is fostering with two other minis and enjoying a normal life. She is completely housetrained, obedient, and loves children. Rides well in the car. Her abscessed teeth do not seem to bother her.

September 19

Gemma has gained over two lbs. and is ready for the dental extractions. The vet doubts she is 12 years old. Eleven teeth are removed, many badly abscessed. This is one of the worst cases they have seen at the vets office.

October 3

Final check up. All her teeth are gone but she is in great spirits and her mouth has healed without problems.


If our group had not stepped in when we did, Gemma would have almost certainly been euthanized. Through dedication and determination she has turned into a wonderful dog. She no longer has any health issues. Her blood work is excellent. She has all the right characteristics to make someone a very special companion.

Gemma is not unique ALL dogs placed by Senior Dog Rescue (SDRO) are spayed or neutered. Most are freshly groomed, brought up to date on vaccinations and have had any necessary dental work completed along with other medical issues addressed. When a dog comes to SDRO, the dog lives with one of our dedicated volunteers in a loving foster home, until the right people are found to adopt them. During their stay in foster care, the dogs behavior is assessed as well as its physical condition.

We are one of two senior dog rescue groups serving the Pacific Northwest. We have no paid personnel, neither do we operate out of a shelter. If it werent for our wonderful volunteers and their tireless creative support, SDRO would never have come this far. We are the small guys with the big hearts.

The Maddies Fund Marketing Competition was for members, and the purpose was to find effective marketing strategies for adopting hard to place dogs and cats.

The Maddie’s Fund mission and purpose is to help the nation’s most needy dogs and cats that, for one reason or another, have ended up in animal shelters. Established in 1999, the foundation awards millions of dollars through grants to animal welfare coalitions to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats.

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