Young at Heart Pet Rescue

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A Perfect Pair

Image and video hosting by TinyPicEvery single day, I wake up to voicemails and emails and facebook posts about senior dogs and cats that need help. And every day, the reality is that we have to say no more than we can say yes. This is one of the many reasons we work so hard towards a shelter just for seniors. There are just not enough places that will take in an older dog or cat. Sometimes, despite not having an open foster home, we say yes anyway. Molly & Chelsea were one of those cases.

Meet Molly, a 12-year-old yellow lab and Chelsea, a 9-year-old Australian Shepherd mix. Not long ago, this beautiful bonded pair of seniors was surrendered to a local shelter. At 9- and 12-years-old, they had spent 9 years together, never apart. But at the shelter, they were lead to separate cages, and for the first time in almost a decade, they were without each others’ company. Waiting in cold concrete cages, they were scared and utterly lost.

They sat far longer than a shelter that has to eutahnize for space normally allows – they were given 30 days to find a new home. But no one adopted them, and their time was up. Young at Heart was contacted to help them. We had no space, no open foster homes, and were already boarding too many at a cost that eats into our medical fund. But then the shelter told us something heartbreaking – another rescue was willing to take the younger one, Chelsea, but refused to take the older one – they would leave Molly there to die. Furious at the mentality of it, we were not willing to let that happen, nor were we willing to separate them ever again. And so Molly and Chelsea joined Young at Heart! And, their story was so heartbreaking that one of our long-time volunteers stepped up to foster for the very first time. If you’ve ever even Image and video hosting by TinyPicconsidered two dogs, know this – bonded pairs are so easy! These two girls adjusted to their foster home instantly, simply overjoyed with being together and in a home again. They fit into the pack seamlessly, and their foster family loved them to pieces.

We are incredibly delighted to let you all know that Chelsea and Molly are home for good! Their foster family made it official and joined the ranks of our beloved “foster failures”! These beautiful girls went from death row to heaven on earth! Thanks to the support of people like you who know that senior pets deserve a happy ending, Molly & Chelsea, and hundreds of other senior pets with similar stories have found theirs.

Thanks to Eve and family for giving these two a soft place to land when they needed it most, and the love of your family for the twilight of their lives! Congrats to all of you!

Dawn Kemper, Executive Director, Young at Heart

The Time is Now

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What if senior dogs and cats had a comfortable place to wait in the space of time between where their old lives ended and their new lives await? What if a there was a shelter designed just for old bones with heated floors, orthopedic beds, and lots of warm sunlight? What if there was a place where senior dogs and cats could meet those people looking to adopt an older pet, both the younger computer-savvy adopters and the older, traditional in-person adopters? A place with walking trails, a swimming pond, and secure porches for fresh air and relaxation? A place that is only a shelter by definition, but by measure is a home away from home? This place exists on paper, and we hope that sooner rather than later, this place will exist on our 8 acres in Woodstock.

That’s where we need YOUR help. If everyone pitched in just a little, we could start building in the spring of 2014. That’s right, SPRING! We already have the amazing Pro Bono help of John Lazzara and his team of engineers, and the Pro Bono help of Matthias Jans architects for design and project management, saving us thousand upon thousands of dollars up front. Yes, it’s a long shot. Yes, we are competing against the “big guys” in the Chicago area for funding. But we can’t help but think that there are enough like-minded pet-lovers that believe that senior pets deserve a place where they don’t have to compete with puppies and kittens, they don’t have to sit on concrete or in metal cages, where they have all the time in the world to find their special someone. We hope you can picture it, because we’ve been picturing it for years, but now we need to make it happen. And YOU are the one who can make it so.

We’ve been working towards this goalImage and video hosting by TinyPic since the moment Young at Heart was founded in 2005, and to us, it feels like we’re crawling towards the finish line. I had someone ask me this morning – why not just ask your board to write a few checks and get it done? I had to giggle a little. Our board of directors is not a board full of millionaires who can simply write a six-figure check to make it happen. Instead, our board members work just as hard as any volunteer, working fundraisers and events, transporting senior pets wherever they need to go, baking dog treats in their kitchens to sell at the vet’s office, etc. But there isn’t one who doesn’t donate what they can to make our organization successful. And there isn’t one that wouldn’t whip out a checkbook and write a check for a million dollars to Young at Heart if they could. I think we have a lot of people who would do that if they could, and we are so grateful for the sentiment. Because that means we are doing something so important, and so needed, that those same people who would give a million dollars if they could give what they can, when they can. And that means the world to us!!

We have the BEST supporters in the world. From our 8 year old donor, Alyssa, who sends us $2 from her allowance every month, to our donors who have us written into their wills, and to everyone in between – YOU are the reason we’ve saved 600 senior pets from an untimely death, and YOU are the reason we are one step closer to building a safe haven for them.

I’m asking today that you help us make this safe haven for senior pets a reality. On top of your donations, we have a chance to receive up to $75,000 in additional donations from Please donate if you can, and then create your own fundraising page, and ask your pet-loving friends to give a little, too. We got this far by being a grassroots organization that went against the grain for senior pets. They deserve a safe haven. We can do this if we do it together.

Thank you for taking the next step. Click here to donate or to join the fundraising team:
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#SrPetShelter #StartaRyot

Hershey is Home

“I just wanted to drop a note and let you know that Hershey is doing well. He is such a remarkable dog… he is so sweet, well behaved, and well mannered and has been nothing but a gentleman to Belle who did not exactly go out of her way to make him feel at home. He fell right into the family routine as if he has been here forever and appears to be happy and content especially when he is in Bruce’s lap. He is definitely Daddy’s boy.

There has also been a noticeable change in Belle now that Hershey is with us. She is eating better this past week and shocked me Tuesday when she greeted me at the door with her donkey and was ready to play. Belle has not touched her donkey (or any toy) since her brother Max died in July so I was thrilled beyond words to see this. And she no longer gets hysterical when we come home at night. She may give him a hard time at times but I think she really loves having Hershey here as much as we do. He has been good for all of us.

We can’t thank you enough for all you do and for saving Hershey for us.” ~Deb M

2012 Annual Report

Your donations make Young at Heart’s work possible. Please make a donation today so that we can continue to make a difference for senior pets in need of rescue! Thank you for your support!

A Hope Update

This past summer, a beautiful senior border collie mix was rescued by Young at Heart Pet Rescue. Her name was Hope, and she had been scooped off of a rural road after having been hit by a car. She suffered damage to her leg, which needed to be amputated. Hope was about 10-years-old, and the minute we learned about her, we knew that we needed to rescue her. You see, our very good friend Sue runs Trio Animal Foundation, named after her own beloved “tripawd”, Trio. And we knew that Hope would need an angel to find rescue, but at that moment, her angel was Trio herself. We answered the shelter’s plea to save Hope in Trio’s honor, and soon she was in our care, recovering from her amputation.

Hope was timid and a bit unsure after all the change in her life, but sweet and loving. We began water therapy with her, thanks to the generosity of the staff at Splash Dog, in an effort to help her gain strength. She really began to blossom, and we were all in love. Hope would make Trio proud.

A few weeks after we rescued Hope, we received an application from a wonderful lady, Arliss, interested in adopting her. Though we often get inquiries from all over the country in regards to certain seniors for adoption, we hardly ever see people follow through. Well, Hope’s soon-to-be-mom got in her car from North Carolina the very next morning after her application was approved, and drove through the night to meet Hope the very next day!! It was love at first sight, and it was official – Hope was going to spend half her time in North Carolina, and half her time in Florida. Hope was going home!

We receive regular updates about Hope from her mom (and sometimes Hope sneaks onto the computer to send us updates as well – she’s very talented with that one front paw!), and we wanted to share the latest photos of her. She’s absolutely stunning. The photo in the upper left hand corner is a few weeks after her surgery, the rest are from her new life with her mom. Hope looks absolutely fantastic, and we are so proud of the impact she is making in people’s lives where she lives. Her mom writes:

“I live in an Over 55 community and Hope has become the darling of the entire community. The true seniors (okay, I am one, but don’t feel like it) will stop and say “You know, I didn’t feel like going for my walk today and then I looked outside and I saw Hope and I thought: well, if she can do it with only three legs, then I better get out there with my two and get my walk in.” So she has become an inspiration.

She is a joy, Dawn. A total joy. She has so much love to give and gives it so freely and puts up with me even on days when I might not put up with myself. But she is healthy and happy, curious and devoted and I wanted you to know, and wanted to share how she is doing.

Another hit out of the ball park for Young at Heart. Thank you all.

Much love,

Arliss (and Hope)”

We love happy endings. Thanks to Arliss for giving Hope such a great home and for sharing her with all of us who love her, and thanks to Trio for making sure that Hope found us. ♥

Dorothy Joins Our Pack!

An update on Ms. Dorothy, the 10-year-old Rottie we rescued this past May. After many months of Dorothy being up for adoption, she is officially going to stay with her dad as a Young at Heart Sanctuary dog. And both he and Dorothy are overjoyed!

When we rescued Dorothy from CACC, the poor girl was a wreck! She had a large mass on her abdomen that we had removed, horrible teeth, and a broken leg that had healed incorrectly eons ago. When we met her, she was drenched in her own urine from laying on the concrete she had to potty on, but was so wiggly and happy to be out of her cage, we just couldn’t put her back. And so she came to Young at Heart, knowing she was a long shot to find a home for, but we knew we could give her the love and care she needed in her senior years regardless.

Since May, Dorothy’s arthritis has progressed, but she is on a holistic and traditional regimen to keep her comfortable. It doesn’t keep her from bunny hopping with excitement when she sees her daddy though! And though it was obvious that Dorothy had very little contact with other animals before coming to Young at Heart, Dorothy’s dad was so patient and willing to work with her, that just last month she was finally integrated completely into his pack (dogs and cats!). Dorothy wakes her dad every morning with kisses, and loves snuggling into bed after he lifts her up into it. Dorothy is home.

So, we joyously welcome Dorothy into Young at Heart’s permanent pack for the rest of her days. She will stay in the loving care of her foster dad, while Young at Heart pays for all of her medical expenses. We are so happy to have Dorothy as part of our permanent family. We ♥ you Dorothy!!

Mia is Adopted!

Mia would like to say “Woof You!” to everyone who supports Young at Heart! Because of you, this beautiful 10-year-old girl went from death row to Happily Ever After! Mia joined her forever family last night! Thank you to everyone who supports Young at Heart, and especially her foster mom, who is a new foster to Young at Heart and got to experience her very first adoption! Congratulations, Christine! And congrats to Mia and her new family!

Milhouse goes home!

7-year-old Milhouse, one of our “youngsters”, just wanted to say “LATER GATORS!” He went to his new home and will have lots of company in his new big family! Woohoo!

Lucky is One Lucky Dog!

We had to share this pic of 10-year-old Lucky (middle) and his new sisters. Lucky’s mom reports that Lucky has settled in with their family as if he was always there! We absolutely love seeing our senior pets enjoying their golden years as they were meant to be spent – with loving families! We ♥ you, Lucky!

Mia Says “We Need YOU”!

Mia isn’t too proud to beg for items for our upcoming silent auction because the funds raised at the event last year saved her life! If you, your friends or family love animals and can network for us, please let us know! Any new items, tools, crafts, events, autographed memorabilia, tickets, behind the scenes experiences, gift cards or services, etc. are welcome! The sky is the limit! Email Dani at if you can help us out so we can help more seniors like Mia! Thank you! Please share with your friends and check out the upcoming Wags to Wishes page!

Lator Gators!

Oh! Hey there! Just wanted to pop by and say LATER GATORS! Guess who went home after waiting 11 months for the perfect someone? That’s right, me, Rihanna! I’ll get to celebrate my 9th birthday in my new home! Woohoo! I’ll miss my volunteer friends, but I’m so happy I have a new family!

Did you say “Go Home”?

I can’t let the cat have all the fun, so I’m going to steal some of Rihanna’s thunder! I went home today, too! I’m soooooo excited! I get to try out new beds, and new couches, and new blankets, and new laps, and…. you get the idea. Yay, me! ~ love, Hershey, (age 9)

Reese Day 2

“Good morning friends! After sleeping on a comfy bed the first night in my foster home, I’m feeling very well-rested. I’m going to start meeting some nice people this week who are approved to adopt me, so cross your paws that I’ll be with my new family soon! Thanks for all the love! Woof!” ~ Love, Reese (age 13)


Yoshi, Young at Heart’s very sweet 10-year-old chihuahua mix was officially adopted today!

When we pulled him from the shelter he was at, our friends at Trio Animal Foundation had already sponsored his vaccines, dental, and neuter to help him find rescue. Sue had asked if we could help him, and once we met him, there was no way we were leaving him at the shelter! By the time we were able to rescue to him, he had developed a terrible upper respiratory infection typical to stressed shelter animals (especially seniors) that required a few weeks of hospitalization.

While at the vet, one of our previous foster homes and adopters met him and couldn’t stop thinking about him, and soon asked if she could foster him. She promised she would stay strong as a foster this time and would not be a foster failure (teehee – see where this is going?!).

On Monday, Yoshi had surgery to repair a cherry eye, and this morning, Yoshi’s foster mom officially became a foster failure. Yoshi is so spoiled, and he wiggled his way into their pack and acts if he has always been there. He loves to play and run, chase his four-legged brothers around the back yard, and snuggle up in bed with his new family. It never ceases to amaze me how people can overlook such wonderful animals simply because of their age.

Though Yoshi is 10-years-old, he certainly doesn’t act like it, and now with his upper respiratory infection all cleared up, his cherry eye fixed and a TAF sponsored dental, neuter, and vaccines, he certainly doesn’t feel like 10 either!

A special thanks to our friends at Trio Animal Foundation for seeing beyond the age on his kennel card and being such an important part of Yoshi’s Happily Ever After! ~Dawn Kemper, Executive Director, Young at Heart Pet Rescue

3 Seniors Saved!

Meet Bamboo, one of 3 seniors we rescued from CACC today! He’s a 10-year-old yellow lab who still has a lot of life left in him! He is deaf, but super gentle and happy.

We also rescued 12-year-old Murphy and a senior kitty named Artie.

Unfortunately, Murphy’s vet exam revealed a massive abdominal tumor. It’s pushing his intestines up and is probably the reason why he’s so skinny. We’re awaiting cytology and ultrasound to see if there is anything we can do for him. As wonderful as it is to rescue seniors, it’s often sad, too. We’re hoping the tumor is operable and will keep you posted.

Adios, Lego!

Our beautiful senior Pom, Lego, went home with his new family today! We’re so excited for them all! Thanks to his great foster mommy, Dianne (in the red YAH shirt) for giving him a place to stay so we could save his life!

A Very Special Boy

Friends, we need your help networking for a special home for our newest addition, Reese. Reese is a 13-year-old male neutered Labrador mix who has had a rough life. He ended up at a shelter after losing his way, and no one came looking for him. Young at Heart rescued him, and now we need a very special home that he can retire to where he will receive the love and affection that his past life obviously lacked.

After being treated for a virus over the last few weeks at our vet’s office, Reese just had a much-needed dental and he is now ready for placement. His blood work now looks good, but he’s an old soul, and needs someone with a big heart to open their home to him. He has arthritis and degenerative weakness of his hindquarters, which is already showing some improvement with Rimadyl, but will continue to progress with his advanced age. This poor boy is very sweet, but you can tell he’s never been showered with love and affection. He is very unsure of love, which breaks our hearts.

Reese just wants a soft bed, a quiet home, and a gentle touch to let him know he’s ok. He is ok with other calm dogs and so far does not react to cats. He is housebroken as well. Friends, please share to help us find that kind soul that can provide Reese with the love he deserves. Thank you!


Future Home of YAH!


Dear Friends,

I am so incredibly excited to announce that the future for homeless senior pets just became a whole lot brighter!

Young at Heart Pet Rescue has officially purchased 8 acres of beautiful land in unincorporated Woodstock, just minutes from downtown Crystal Lake. These 8 acres will eventually become home to a serene oasis for senior dogs and cats in need of rescue – an adoption center, sanctuary and grounds designed specifically for senior pets aged 7 years and older.

We have worked our tails off since our founding in 2005 to make sure that your generous support has helped to provide the highest standard of care to our senior pets awaiting loving homes. At the same time, we have also worked towards securing a future where a larger number of senior pets can be helped. Today, we are one step closer to our goal of building a facility especially for senior pets, and we have you to thank for that.

In next week’s e-newsletter, we’ll show you around the land a bit more in photos. Though it will take a mighty effort on the part of our supporters and volunteers to raise the funds needed for a facility, we are so excited to begin the next step in our journey to secure a better future for senior pets in need.

Thank you for believing that senior pets deserve a second chance and for your continued support of Young at Heart’s mission to rescue and rehome senior dogs and cats.

Congratulations on making such an amazing difference for homeless senior dogs and cats.

Dawn Kemper
Executive Director
Young At Heart Pet Rescue

Thanks VSC!

A huge THANK YOU to Veterinary Specialty Center for collecting food donations through the entire month of December for our Nina’s Pet Food Pantry program! We picked up their efforts today and they filled the van! Close to 700 pounds of pet food was collected by their staff and clients. We will distribute this food to the human pantries we work with to help keep pets out of shelters for the simple lack of food. We cannot thank VSC and their customers enough for this tremendous gift for struggling families in our area!

Welcome, Beau!

Our beautiful 10-year-old Beau, our very last rescue of 2012, was just sprung from the vet’s office today with a clean bill of health, and is now ready for adoption! Here he is trying out one of the new no-pull harnesses our supporters donated off our holiday wish list, enjoying a walk on a balmy winter day. He’s such a good boy! He knows sit, and is a very good boy on car rides. We can’t wait to find this grey muzzled guy a loving home!

Thanks to Our Generous Friends!

I just wanted to take a moment for a very heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our senior pets off of their holiday wishlist.

This is a photo of just SOME of the donations before being passed out to our foster homes and the cat centers! Our seniors have the most luxurious beds to sleep in, have Thundershirts to calm anxieties, have no-pull harnesses for easy walks, beautiful leashes and collars that go home with them at adoption time, along with the not-so-glamorous-but-oh-so- necessary items like paper-towels, trash bags, eco-friendly cleaners, dewormer, frontline, probiotics, pill pockets and so much more.

I cannot tell you how amazing it was to get package after package for our senior dogs and cats. Thank you, so very much, for helping us keep our senior pets comfortable while they await their forever homes.

I am truly humbled and grateful for the love you all show for our senior pets. There are lots of wagging tails and loud purrs going on over here.

Thank you!

Dawn Kemper
Executive Director
Young at Heart Pet Rescue

12-year-old Baby is Adopted!

These are our two newest favorite people, to be known from this day forward as “Baby’s mom & dad”! Tonight they adopted 12-year-old Baby, brought toys for the other kitties, chocolates for our adoption counselor, and an extra donation on top of their adoption fee. They were so excited to bring Baby home! And we were so excited for them, too! Baby now has the loving home she’s been waiting for. Yay!

Winter’s Christmas Miracle

Winter’s Christmas Miracle!
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for… Winter!

On December 5th, 2006, Young at Heart Pet Rescue took in a scared, abused little black cat. She had a burn on her hip and was as sweet as pie – unless she saw your hands coming near her – hands triggered a self-preservation defensiveness in her. We’ll never know what happened to Winter in someone else’s hands, but we promised her that she would never know anything but gentle hands again.

Winter came to live at our small cageless adoption area at Best Friends Pet Care where, year after year, she made huge strides in trusting people again. She had occasional interest from adopters, and we always warned them that she would bite people she had not yet learned to trust (and occasionally those she did trust!), but alas, our warnings were not heard, and the potential adopters would leave with another cat, or no cat at all.

Over the last 5 years, Winter watched a lot of her feline pals find forever homes, but though she fast became our longest resident, she was content to be in a safe, known environment, watching the world go by on her perch in the window or high up in the cat tree. She knew love, friends, and gentle hands over the last 5 years with us. But we always hoped there was someone out there that would love her and understand her as we did….

Last year, a wonderful couple adopted a Young at Heart cat named Rain. Rain was at the same adoption center as Winter, but Winter was not even on their radar at that time. After all, they had a scared, biting cat at home already. But when that cat passed away earlier this year, and the couple looked on our website once more, there was Winter.

After the traditional Winter warnings and a meeting, they wanted to adopt her. Another meeting to get to know Winter a bit more, and the paperwork was signed. As we said goodbye to Winter with tears of happiness in our eyes, we wished her luck and happiness. For the first time in her life, Winter got into a cat carrier without a fight, as if she knew a new and more wonderful future was in store for her. She was on her way home.

Today, we are happy to report, that after 5 years, 2 weeks, and 4 days in Young at Heart’s loving care, Winter has found a family that understands and respects her needs. Their first report is that Winter is adjusting beautifully, acclimating in a guest room and hogging the pillows, as if they were the greatest cat beds ever invented. Winter officially has a family of her own. We’ve seen great things over the years while rescuing and adopting out seniors, but Winter’s adoption touched us all.

Merry Christmas, Winter! We are so incredibly happy that you have your Christmas Miracle!

The Christmas Ring

Dear friends & family of Young at Heart Pet Rescue,

dog and cat at home

I’d like to take a moment to thank each one of you for your support and encouragement throughout the year. Because of you, over 435 senior pets have now found their way from death row into loving, forever homes.

As we each celebrate the holidays in our own unique ways, I’d like to once again share with you my favorite Christmas story of all time. It’s about a gift that we here at Young at Heart try to give to senior dogs and cats the whole year through, and it’s what every homeless pet wants – a ring!

Wishing you and your family lots of love, laughter, warm beds, friendly purrs and wagging tails this holiday season.

All the best to you, your family, and your four-legged friends, 

Dawn Kemper

Executive Director


christmas ring
Toby and the Christmas Ring,
© 2008, by Scott Craven


Toby knew what he wanted for Christmas. The same thing everyone here wanted.  A ring. Christmas was close- he could feel it.  Ribbons were hung on the walls, and there were special treats with dinner. More people came by to visit, and everybody was in a good mood. Except Emmett.

When Toby shared with Emmett his Christmas wish, Emmett just shook his head. “Toby, you and I don’t get rings,” he said. “Look at us, a couple of losers who were given up on. It’s the youngsters that get rings.” Toby looked at his reflection in his water dish. There was gray on his muzzle and along the tips of his ears. It was true he couldn’t play fetch like he used to. And his legs hurt when he walked too much. But he could still race to the front door when he heard it swing open, wagging his tail like a pup, and go on a slow walk around the block, sniffing here and there. And how he loved to curl up at the foot of the bed, keeping watch during the night. But those were the old days. Now he was here, with Emmett instead of with…

“See, here we go again,” Emmett said as puppies up and down the long hallway yapped and barked, a sign that people had just arrived. Emmett stretched out on the concrete next to his water dish. “Wake me when it’s over. ”

Toby peeked through the gate and saw a little boy and girl walking slowly his way. They stopped in front of almost every kennel, and sometimes they would kneel in front of one and laugh. Toby wished them closer, his tail wagging. He knew if they saw him, then maybe . . . just maybe . . . “Don’t get your hopes up,” said Emmett, his eyes still closed. “You’ll only be disappointed. ”

Toby looked down the hall. The woman in the blue shirt who brought food every day was opening one of the gates. A brown puppy bounded out and into the arms of the girl, who squealed with delight. From her back pocket, the woman in the blue shirt brought out a ring, pale gray, just like all the rings. She slipped it over the puppy’s head.

“Everyone wants cute and adorable,” Emmett said as he heard the door close, knowing what surely had happened. “Years ago we were cute and adorable. No more.”

But it was Christmastime, Toby thought. Things are different at Christmastime. There is happiness. There is cheer. There is hope. Toby remembered when he had a home and a bed and a yard and a person who loved him. But one day, people came and they were crying, and the next day he was here.  Now all he wanted was a ring, again. Emmett opened an eye when the barking started again but closed it as he stretched out. Toby pressed his muzzle to the gate and wished again. “It’s Christmastime, ” he said. “A season for miracles.”

He saw the woman in the blue shirt, and she had by the elbow a man walking very slowly down the aisle. They were talking, but Toby couldn’t hear them over the barking. They came closer. And closer. Almost, thought Toby. Almost. Toby squeezed his eyes shut. He wished harder than he had ever wished before.

“Hey, fella, what’s your name?” Toby heard. He opened his eyes. Toby noticed the man had gray around his muzzle and more gray around his ears. He was bent over slightly, and Toby noticed a cane holding the man up. Toby wagged his tail and put his paw on the gate, and when he did, it opened. The woman in the blue shirt reached behind her. There in her hand was a ring. Gray, like all the rest. But the man shook his head. Please, Toby wished. Please.

The man reached behind him and pulled out his own ring. It was red and had green and gold stones that glittered in the light. He slipped it over Toby’s head. Toby was going home. “C’mon, boy,” the man said. “Cute and adorable, you are. Lots of life left in you, fella.”

As Toby placed one paw outside the kennel, he stopped for just a little.  Lowered his head for just a little. Glanced behind him for just a little. The man looked at Emmett, and Emmett looked at the man.

“That one, too, if it’s OK,” the man said.  “Looks like a set I’d hate to break up.  My home may be a bit small, but my heart is big enough.” The woman in the blue shirt took the ring and slipped it over Emmett’s head. And that’s when Toby knew Christmas miracles do happen.

Emmett wagged his tail and spun in a circle and barked. Just as if he were a puppy.

Thank you for helping Young at Heart provide “rings”
to homeless senior dogs and cats all year round.
Happy Holidays!!
donate now

$10,000 Challenge Grant!




If you’ve ever wanted to donate to Young at Heart to help homeless senior pets, now is the time! An angel donor has offered to MATCH all donations that come in between now and December 31st, up to $5000! That means your donation is automatically doubled!


Help us raise $10,000 for the senior pets who need our help, and make 2012 a much happy new year for many grey muzzles!


To donate, click here!

Filbert Has Been Adopted!

Filbert was adopted by the Joseph Family, who are now 2-time adopters for Young at Heart. A couple years ago, they adopted an elderly collie mix from us, Coco, who passed away earlier this year. When they saw Filbert, they just knew they had to meet him! Filbert went home last night, and the beginning of his new, wonderful life with them has begun. Congratulations to both Filbert and the Joseph Family!

Filbert and his new dad!

Filbert’s Journey

If you’re a fan of our Facebook Page, then you’ve been following Filbert’s Progress at the rescue since he joined us in late June. But if you aren’t on Facebook, it’s a story you shouldn’t miss. The following is from Joyce Paschall’s blog. Thanks to Filbert’s Foster mom & dad, Joyce and Hector, for keeping such good notes.

Filbert: Finding A Forever Family

 My Life So Far – A Story in Three Acts

by Filbert


Once upon a time I had a home where the people taught me things.

They taught me to do my business outside, and not to jump up on people, and definitely NOT to get up on the furniture. I learned that the refrigerator is something you want to be near when it opens, because there are good things in there and great smells.

I learned to love people and other dogs and to cuddle and snuggle and enjoy my humans. I learned not to bark much, usually not even at the mail carrier. I learned to like car rides and to walk gently on a leash. I learned that sometimes you need to bark at a random squirrel or passing dog, and that small, yappy dogs may need to be checked out closely, although no one told them this because they don’t seem to enjoy it that much.

I learned to turn in one circle when you see the full food bowl headed your way, and then to sit calmly before eating. I learned that people cannot resist petting you if you put your head in their lap or lay your body across theirs (with your back feet still on the floor – since furniture is a no-no!).

I must have been well cared for too, because I am healthy and in all this time I didn’t get bad teeth or yucky ears or flaky skin or mottle fur or anything like that. I was not neutered but I also wasn’t a humper or otherwise dominant type.

A mostly-Doberman mix, I don’t have what you may think is the classic Dobe look since my ears and tail were left natural – or uncropped. This means I don’t have that intense, intimidating look you think of when you think Doberman, and that I have a lovely, long fluffy tail and medium, floppy ears. Also I am what in Dobe-speak is known as “red,” which really means I’m a gorgeous chocolate brown tinged with caramel accents. That’s a little too dainty-sounding for a boy like me but it’s an accurate description!

Things went along pretty well for a while, maybe five or six years or so.

And then things changed.

I learned that people aren’t perfect.


Something went terribly wrong and I don’t understand it. All I know is that I was not being fed so I got really, really, REALLY skinny. Even for a breed that is generally thin and kind of bony, I was just a skeleton, a shell of my former self. I have seen pictures of myself at that time and they are sad.

I was taken to a place where there are rows and rows of cages full of other dogs that don’t have any place else to go. It was loud and chaotic. I heard my person say that I was sick and needed to be put down, whatever that means. But somehow I knew it wasn’t a good thing to hear.

Then a nice person who works at this place with all these homeless dogs said maybe I just needed some food! And sure enough when she offered I gobbled it up because I was super hungry! So Nice Person told not-so-nice-person(s) to leave me there and go away. So they left, I stayed, and then I got to eat every single day again!

One day, a group of people from Young At Heart Senior Pet Rescue came to the place with all the dogs and cages and gathered some of us up and took us away with them on an adventure! I didn’t know exactly what was up but I was very nice and friendly because somehow I just knew these were Very Nice People.

I rode in a crate in the car for a while then went to another place with cages and other dogs, but this was smaller and not as crazy. I stayed there for a couple of days so the Very Nice doctor could double check to make sure I was healthy, and I was.

Well, other than being nearly starved to death, that is.

I learned that hope springs eternal.


A week later I went to live with my foster family which includes a man, a woman and three beagles. I took to everyone immediately and we all get along great.

I am so good in the house. I prefer to be near my people and often curl up in a tight ball right by their feet or close by. One of my favorite places is right at the bottom of the stairs so I can see what’s happening all around me.

At night I curl up into a dog bed on the floor of the bedroom and I don’t get up until you do. If you happen to get up in the middle of the night, I’ll come with you to make sure you’re okay. Then I’ll go right back to sleep.

If you let me outside, I can just hang out there and enjoy myself. Sometimes I’ll just sit right on the back step and observe the world. When you leave I am content to just snooze somewhere loose in the house. But prepared to be greeted with great enthusiasm when you come home! I will squeal and bark just a little bit until you get in the door, then I really want to stand up and cling to you for a while.

I love everyone I meet! I love your rubs and scratches and pets. Every so often I will come up and ask for some attention by nudging your arm or leaning into you or just putting my head right smack into your lap. I like to be brushed but need no grooming other than an occasional nail trim. If you need to clean my ears or wipe my paws, I just sit quietly and let you take care of things. Not even a hint of annoyance from me.

Wow, these people are really treating me to the high life! I’ve been getting extra food and plenty of treats, which I can easily catch if you toss them my way. I am especially fond of canned pumpkin which is nutritious and filling. YUM-O. I gained 14 pounds in about one month!

The good news is that I gained the weight. The weird news is that meant I had to have a little procedure called neutering. But the best news of all is that it went great, I was myself again within a few hours and now I can be adopted to a new home!

I have such a gentle, loving soul. I would be such a good addition to your family.

I learned to never give up.


This is the audience-participation portion, because YOU get to play a part in this story now. The Final Act is yours to play.

You can to donate to Young At Heart Pet Rescue ( on my behalf, or just in general to help other older pets who need your help.

Maybe you want to meet me to see how sweet I really am. We have adoption events all the time.

Or, if we’re both really lucky, maybe you’re Filbert’s Forever Family!

And together we can learn about unconditional love.

July 29

Read more about my Journey at my foster mom’s blog!

(I wrote this article with help from my foster mom, Joyce Paschall)

Keep Your Pets Safe this 4th of July Weekend!

The 4th of July is a time to celebrate independence, enjoy barbeques and watch fireworks light up the sky. Sadly, it is the #1 day in which pets get lost and end up in shelters. Chances are, a high-kill shelter.

Many celebrations in the Chicago area begin before the 4th of July, so it is important to use caution even days before the holiday.

From dogs to cats and even horses, this is typically not a time of year that animals feel safe. The loud noises of fireworks spark, no pun intended, fear into animals.

Keeping identification on your pets during this time of year is extremely important. Make sure all tags have a current address, phone number and email. If your pet is micro-chipped, make sure that you have let your pet recovery service know if there have been any changes since the microchip was placed.

According to the American Kennel Club Companion Recovery Service, the 4th of July the most active time of year for pet recovery. Dogs are most susceptible, as they tend to get scared at the sound of the fireworks and run away.

Several Chicago area publications, such as The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and animal advocacy Facebook groups have offered advice to keep your pets safe during the holiday weekend. (Please also see link at the end of the article to help pets that become homeless during the holiday weekend.)

The SEAACA has issued helpful tips to pet owners across the United States and is encouraging cross-posting and publications to share knowledge in their “Keep Your Pets Safe This 4th Of July And All Summer Long” campaign.

1. Beware of fireworks. Fireworks are no blast for some pets, with many cats and dogs becoming easily frightened by the deafening roar of rockets bursting in air. The best option is to leave your cat or dog indoors (not leashed in the yard) during the holiday weekend (July 1-4) in a safe, secure, escape-proof room of the house with comfy bed, food and water. Also consider leaving a TV or radio on to drown out the sound of the fireworks and to provide familiar noises while you’re out.
2. Confirm your pet’s collar and I.D. information. Dogs and other pets can become easily frightened by loud celebrations on the 4th of July. Make sure your pet is wearing a properly fitted collar with correct identification and tags just in case he or she becomes scared and runs away from home. Micro-chipping also is a great precaution to make it easier for your pet to be returned home safely and promptly.
3. Be careful with 4th of July decorations. Remember that your pet may easily mistake your red, white and blue decorations and glow sticks as chew toys; cats can even become tangled in streamers and ribbon. Make sure to pet-proof your home and keep fun decorations out of a paw’s reach.
4. Call your vet. If you think your pet needs to be sedated or tranquilized to handle the fireworks noise and celebrations, contact your animal care provider.
5. Watch the alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets; never leave your beverage unattended. If alcohol is ingested, your pet could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed, and could go into a coma or worse.
6. No picnic table and grill scraps. Always be aware of what friends and family are sneaking to your dog under the table. While tempting on such a festive occasion, human food (bones, onions, avocado, grapes and raisins) should be off limits at all times to your dog. Some human food may be toxic or dangerous if ingested and cause stomach upset.
7. Never leave animals tethered or chained outside. Pets can injure or hang themselves if they jump around or leap over a fence while trying to run from the noises. Cats should stay indoors.
8. Never leave pets in unattended parked car. Partially opened windows on hot days do not provide sufficient airflow and also can put your pet in jeopardy of being stolen.
9. Stay in the shade. Like humans, dogs and other pets can suffer from heatstroke. Keep your pets in shaded areas on very hot and warm days.
10. Stay hydrated. Dehydration is the #1 concern and danger during those long summer heat waves. Make sure you have a generous amount of fresh water on hand to quench your dog’s thirst.

Article by:
Joshua-Paul Angell

Chicago Animal Welfare Examiner

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