How many times can you say that an organization in need of volunteers has asked you to eat and share ice cream as part of your community service? That’s one of many things that the Silver Muzzle Cottage Rescue & Hospice Program (SMC) has deemed as “medicine” for their dogs in and out of hospice. SMC is a non-profit organization that provides homeless senior, disabled and hospice dogs the chance to live out their remaining life with love and dignity. The dogs who are in the SMC Hospice Program might only have a few months to live – or maybe even few weeks or a few days. To make their last days full of joy and love, SMC asks their volunteers to sign up to visit with these dogs so that they can know that they are special and very loved. Other methods of “treatment” during these visits include long walks on the beach, cheeseburgers, swimming, playing with toys, snuggling, kisses and paw massages. Because it’s such a popular volunteer program, they are also letting volunteers visit with other dogs in the SMC organization.
The first Hospice Dog to get this special treatment was Dusty, a 11-year-old male Labrador who was abandoned at a downstate animal shelter by his family. Dusty had an aggressive form of melanoma that was inoperable. The SMC family surrounded Dusty with visits and lots of love in his final days. He made lots of new friends and even had his own Facebook page.
Right now, SMC has one Hospice Dog named Charlie. There are also three other friends of his who would love to have visitors to love on.
Charlie is about seven or eight years old and an English Setter. He was found on the side of the road soaking wet and ended up at the Cherryland Humane Society for a few weeks. Besides being totally adorable, the staff noticed that he had some odd behaviors which seemed to be neurological. He only spins left – and he does it continuously and obsessively. He can rarely walk in a straight line. Director Heidi Yates realized that Charlie needed to be in a different environment and called upon Silver Muzzle Cottage to help.
A SMC volunteer paid for extensive tests to be done on Charlie at the MSU Small Animal Hospital in Lansing and it was discovered that Charlie had blunt force trauma, either from getting hit by a car or harmed by a human. It caused a bone that holds the brain in place to push his brain forward and to the left. This is a permanent injury with no cure or surgery to make it better. The staff at MSU offered to euthanize him but SMC decided to bring him back to Elk Rapids and show him the love and compassion that he deserves. They will provide him with a dignified and worthy sendoff when the time comes. In the meantime, they have bought him a Thundershirt which seems to be helping a bit. Charlie will still spin, but he is less anxious and it is easier for him to focus. Aside from his neurological issues, he is a loving, sweet, affectionate dog who still enjoys life. To sign up to be a Cottage Friend to Charlie or any of the other dogs below, please click here.
After being found in an abandoned home, Dozer, a Shepherd/Dane mix, landed in a shelter – a place he’d been at least a few times before. Severe neglect left him with advanced stage Heartworm disease, Giahrdia, a urinary tract infection and a lung infection. In addition, the muscles in his back end have atrophied and he’s extremely underweight. The goal of SMC is to provide Dozer with a full and enriching life as they walk with him on this journey back to good health. Dozer gets along great with kids, cats and dogs and has a wonderful temperament. He is blind in one eye and as some atrophy in his hips.
Molly came to SMC after their received a call from the great folks at The Devoted Barn (a rescue downstate). A concerned person had contacted The Devoted Barn about finding a new home for Molly, but they were unable to take her in. Molly came from a home in which she had been isolated in a room for the past couple of years and had gone into a state of depression. While her rescuer was able to free her from that situation, she couldn’t keep her long term because she already had five dogs of her own. That’s when SMC was contacted. Molly is a mixed breed, 17 years old, a bit arthritic (she’s taking medication for this), hard of hearing and doesn’t see well. All things considered, she’s doing VERY well. She is good with both dogs and kids (no info about how she does with cats). She has come a long way – she loves the water, going to the beach and she loves to eat!
Henry is a Beagle, approximately 10-12 years old; very playful still, slight vision issues, and a heart issue He is housebroken, neutered and gets along fabulously with dogs of all ages/sizes/breeds but SMC is unsure if he gets along with cats. He also does well with children so he would love some kids to visit him.
Once again, to sign up to be a Cottage Friend to any of these dogs, please click here.