100-Year-Old Woman Adopts 11-Year-Old Dog That’s A Perfect Fit
As a child growing up in an orphanage in war-torn Germany, Johanna Carrington never had the chance to have a dog.
Since then, she has made up for lost time.
The 100-year-old California resident has loved many companion dogs over the years – including an adorable but turbulent time when she and her late husband had eight Pekingese – and she just adopted an 11-year-old Chihuahua mixed-breed dog named Gucci.
“I just love it,” Carrington told TODAY.
Carrington’s home felt very calm after the death of her former dog, Rocky. When she told her daughter Debbie Carrington, 64, that she hoped to adopt another dog, they feared a shelter would allow a woman of her advanced age to adopt a pet.
Fortunately, one of their Moss Beach neighbors volunteered for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and thought the organization might be able to help. Sure enough, Gucci (then called Gnocchi) had recently been rescued from a hoarding situation involving 22 dogs. The little dog seemed ready to be the only dog in a house that could shower him with love and attention.
As part of the adoption process, Johanna Carrington’s caregiver, Eddie Martinez, agreed to take Gucci for daily walks and help care for him. So on September 2, Gucci’s adoptive parent drove the little dog to meet Carrington – and he immediately made himself at home.
“He came home as if he had been here before. It was remarkable,” Carrington said. “He saw me sitting in my chair, jumped on me and sat on my lap. He made himself very, very comfortable. He was just our baby right away.
She’s given her new boyfriend “loads and loads” of toys he likes to fetch, and she gives him massages while they watch TV together. At night, Gucci loves to bury herself in blankets on her bed to make a cozy nest.
Carrington hopes to do something fun with Gucci to celebrate her 101st birthday in December. Although she credits a healthy lifestyle with her longevity – she’s never had a cigarette or even a sip of alcohol – she “definitely” thinks spending time with pets is one of the secrets of a long and happy life.
“Animals bring so much happiness to our home,” she said. “It’s incredible.”
Studies prove that she is right. The non-profit Human Animal Bond Research Institute’s free database contains numerous scientific studies on the benefits pets can bring to seniors.
For example, one study found that owning a pet can positively impact the mental health of community-dwelling older adults by providing companionship, reducing loneliness, increasing socialization, and giving a sense and a meaning. Pets also provide psychological benefits following a social loss such as the death of a spouse and contribute to healthy aging by reducing stress, promoting physical activity and even helping people to cope with the pain.
“The human-animal bond can have a positive impact on people of all ages, including the elderly,” Steven Feldman, president of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, told TODAY in an email. “Research has shown that pet ownership and human-animal interaction can provide important forms of social and emotional support for older adults that can encourage daily life routines, reduce loneliness, and improve overall quality of life.”
According to Alice Ensor, Adoption Coordinator at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, when seniors adopt senior pets, such as dogs ages 7 and up, it can be a win-win situation for everyone involved. That’s why Muttville offers a Seniors for Seniors program. If a senior adopts a dog but can no longer care for it due to death or hospitalization, Muttville is committed to taking the dog back – and stays in touch in case the adopter needs anything. whatever, as a temporary placement.
“We want them to still have that time together and experience the full joy of their senior years together,” Ensor, 62, told TODAY. “I know that as a dog lover, if I manage to live that long, I hope someone will adopt me because I can’t imagine my home without an animal in it. Life is better with a dog, whether you are young or old.
In August, Muttville celebrated its 15th anniversary by rescuing its 10,000th dog. The Seniors for Seniors program typically accounts for 32% of adoptions each year. Ensor said the team is working to find the perfect match, such as a small dog that can be lifted but isn’t so small that it poses a tripping hazard when scampering underfoot, or a dog that is comfortable around walkers or wheelchairs.
In Gucci’s case, he was well-behaved and always active enough that he didn’t have a problem with the stairs in Carrington’s house. He seemed like a dog that would love to be the only pet in a house.
“He’s a very emotional little guy,” Ensor said. “It’s really a matching process.”
Family, friends, neighbors and caregivers can help seniors adopt pets by using technology during the adoption process, Ensor noted. Especially during the pandemic, many rescue organizations have used social media to connect adoptable pets with people, such as virtual meetups and home inspections via FaceTime or Zoom.
“Helping the potential senior adopter navigate the technology can be the first step,” she said.
Helping her mother adopt Gucci from Muttville through the Seniors for Seniors program proved extremely helpful for Debbie Carrington. The senior dog has already been trained so he doesn’t have to worry about messes, and he has no teeth left, so he doesn’t have to budget for future dental work.
But above all, it is “comforting” to see the bond of love that the couple shares.
“After losing her other dog, it was kind of sad here,” Debbie Carrington told TODAY. “It was quiet and sad, and then Gucci brought joy into the house. Laughing at her running around and doing fun things, and then also having her sleep on her lap with her while she’s in her recliner or sleeping in her bed, it just makes her very happy.