This epic canine sanctuary features in our upcoming Top Dog Film Festival and is a story you certainly don’t want to miss!
Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Known as ‘the city between the lakes’ and only 27km’s away from Nashville, the country music capital of America, lies a state of the art dog sanctuary.
But it’s not just any dog sanctuary, it’s a sanctuary with a very special mission- to care for our ‘senior’ dog population!
The palatial facility offers an assisted living community for canines and provides a lifetime of care, love and shelter for ‘senior’ dogs in particular.
This 5 million dollar doggy paradise features an onsite vet clinic, industrial-size kitchen with a medication pantry, grooming station, indoor and outdoor yards with specialised doggy turf and even a water park!
And it doesn’t stop there because these senior dogs live in style with a mix of dorm-style rooms and private suites for those who prefer a little more alone time. The team likes to create a sense of family and familiarity for the dogs, so the pups get to hang in the same room and have the same handlers tend to them day in and day out, instead of switching it up and disturbing the peace. The sanctuary can hold upward of 120 dogs with varying needs- how cool is that!
With nearly 2 million Facebook likes and 163,000 Instagram followers, the sanctuary has welcomed a steady stream of supporters eager to meet the social media famous pooches. Devoted fans are even flying across the country to have the ‘Old friends’ experience, where staff are now leading guided tours of the sanctuary several days a week.
On the tours, visitors get a ‘backstage pass’ to see how things are done at Old Friends and get a peek at where the cute canines live. However, keeping these dogs safe and comfortable is of the utmost importance to the team here, so there is a rule that anyone adopting a dog must live no further than 100 miles (160km’s) in order for them to return for any vet appointments and medical treatments.
With a number of different play areas for the dogs, they really are spoilt for choice! There’s Central Bark, an indoor park with bone-shape benches, clover-green turf grass and a mural of the Manhattan skyline, the ‘Oasis yard’ which is also known as the Tropics of Tennessee – this garden is doggy heaven! With a splash pad, lots of green turf and even an artificial palm tree, Old Friends senior dogs must feel like they’re on their very own tropical island!
The nonprofit organisation was born around 10 years ago by founders, Zina and Michael Goodin. With a loving nudge from wife Zina, Michael was told to, “go and do something with yourself, instead of watching soap operas!”
So the two combined their love of dogs and passion for making a difference and began volunteering with a golden retriever rescue group. They quickly discovered how adopters often overlooked the senior population of dogs and saw a real need to do something about this. To ensure that those in this upper age bracket were still given the love and care they deserved, the two opened their own home to older dogs and later relocated to a former garden centre in Mount Juliet.
There is so much more to this inspiring story, you have to see the film ‘Old Friends’ which features in this year’s Top Dog Film Festival, find a screening near you and we’ll see you there!
What could you do to join Michael and Zina’s efforts in helping senior dogs?