Meet Delilah from The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs

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Delilah. © Portraits by Martha, Cleveland, OH

The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs in Cleveland, OH is a nonprofit devoted to the rescue, adoption, and lifelong care of old dogs. A grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization helps pay for the medical expenses of dogs, like Delilah, in the Sanctuary's senior dog therapy program.

With the heart of a lion and the demeanor of a lamb, Delilah was one of a kind.
Delilah found herself at Cleveland Animal Control in April 2013, surrendered by a family that was no longer interested in keeping her. When she came to The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs she was severely underweight, had a persistent deep tissue infection on her leg and several large tumors that were successfully removed, including a mammary tumor that was malignant. The Sanctuary's vet caught the cancer early and removed it completely; it was not an aggressive form of cancer, and it did not return. During her hospital stay, staff also became aware that Delilah was deaf.

Delilah's Therapy Dog card.
Delilah's foster caregivers, Jack and Sarah Keefer, recognized her gentleness and her eagerness to be with people. Believing in her abilities as a potential therapy dog from the very beginning, they worked hard to train her to hand signals. As a result, Delilah and her foster parents excelled in her training classes, and she passed the Canine Good Citizen and therapy dog tests with flying colors.

In the year that Delilah served as a therapy dog, she visited several group homes in the Northeast Care chain and the adult activities center for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Sarah, her foster mom and handler, recalls, "She was a therapy dog through and through. She was silly and happy; just being around her would make you smile. The love she gave and received was beautiful to be a part of. The ability to see her interact with the residents on therapy visits was truly a blessing."

Delilah had a loyal following; everyone looked forward to her visits. Delilah had a slowness and deliberateness that made her visits relaxing and comforting, and her face perfectly characterized the beauty and wonder of an old dog. Delilah also loved to dress up and could often be seen sporting a hat or a scarf or even a dress! She was so much in demand that she had more requests for visits than she could comfortably handle.

Delilah with her friend Ophelia. © Sarah Keefer
Toward the end of her life, Delilah suffered from degenerative spinal myelopathy. But she still loved to visit and continued visiting even when it was from the seat of a large garden cart.

Delilah’s spirit inspired so many people, and she shared with them the true joy that only a dignified old dog can. Her foster mom writes, "We were lucky enough to be a part of her amazing life, even if just for a short time. I don't know if there is such a thing as a 'perfect dog,' but to us, Delilah was perfection."

The entire Sanctuary family and everyone whose life she touched mourn her passing.

For information about The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs, along with the rest of The Grey Muzzle Organization's grant recipients, visit Who We Help. To meet more of the dogs helped by grants from Grey Muzzle, see our Meet the Dogs page.

The Grey Muzzle Organization improves the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other nonprofit groups nationwide.