Bed Fund Brings Comfort to Senior Dogs in Shelters

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Frankie. Photo courtesy of Vintage Paws
Photo courtesy of Vintage Paws Sanctuary

They can be the most heartrending of the photos of shelter animals waiting for adoption across the country - senior dogs lying on hard concrete floors. Seeing these images, we can’t help thinking that our loyal companions deserve so much better while they await new families and new homes.

The Grey Muzzle Organization has found a way to help. Six years ago, with the assistance of its donors, Grey Muzzle's Bed Fund was launched. Since then, over $33,000 worth of orthopedic beds have been delivered to homeless dogs in more than 133 shelters around the country.

A senior Yorkie claims her bed at The Oakland County Animal Control Center.
Helping senior dogs get off of concrete shelter floors and rest easy not only brings comfort, but can give them a second chance at a home and family. When dogs sleep well and feel better, they are more likely to tolerate the stress of a shelter environment and they show better to potential adopters. Older dogs rising to greet a visitor from a concrete floor—or even just blankets on a hard floor—can limp or be stiff, making them appear slow and immobile. A comfortable and well-rested dog is more limber and interacts better with the children and dogs of adopting families during the adoption meet-and-greets, and thus has a better chance of being adopted.

An orthopedic bed from Grey Muzzle could well be the difference between a senior dog being passed over for a younger dog, or going to a new home.

Shelter and rescue workers from coast to coast have also attested to the pleasure that the donated beds give to their senior dogs. At the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, they are delighted to watch dogs move onto their new beds for the first time; "We just received the soft beds, and the dogs LOVE them. Especially the old Rottweiler. It took him a whole minute to raise himself off his blankets and make a beeline for the new bed. I could almost hear the sigh he let out." In Florida, an 8-year-old retriever mix at the Humane Society of Pinellas had so much fun rolling around on her bed that they had a difficult time taking her picture!

The Grey Muzzle Bed Fund provides the beds specifically for the benefit of senior dogs in shelter situations, rather than in foster homes, as dogs living in kennels are considered to have the greatest need. Grey Muzzle invites applications for beds from shelters and humane societies that are committed to the care and comfort of their senior dogs but lack sufficient appropriate bedding.

An old Rottwelier loves his new soft bed.
Two kinds of bed are available, both of which offer the orthopedic comfort that seniors need, while being long-lasting and easy for shelters to keep clean. The Kuranda Bed is a cot, elevated off the floor, that provides needed support. It is also chew proof and washable, ensuring that many dogs will benefit over time from each bed. Soft beds from Doctors Foster and Smith are also high-quality with an orthopedic foam, perfect for older dogs that are ill or recovering from surgery. They are washable with a waterproof lining and are designed to be used over and over.

Because the beds are durable, they provide comfort not just for one senior dog, but for many who come after - small and large. The Oakland County Animal Control Center in Michigan sent in a photo of a Yorkshire Terrier named Angelina with a note saying that they will get a lot of use out of the beds and expressing gratitude to the donors who made Grey Muzzle's gift possible. At the City of Georgetown Animal Services, the first dog to try out the bed was an 8-year-old female St. Bernard named Lucy "who took to it immediately." "So, on behalf of Lucy and the many who will follow that will gain comfort from you beds, Thank You!" they wrote.

Grey Muzzle receives manufacturer discounts on all beds, and whenever possible, money is saved by buying in bulk or during sales. Kuranda has also recently donated two beds. To be able to meet the huge need, however, Grey Muzzle is seeking to expand the fund. As with all donations to Grey Muzzle, a 501c3 nonprofit, donations to the Bed Fund are tax deductible.

Grey Muzzle hopes that in the new year, the Bed Fund will be able to help many more old dogs sleep easier as they wait for their adoptive homes.

To donate, read updates on the Bed Fund, and see more photos of the dogs it has helped, visit: Donate a Bed.

For information about Grey Muzzle grants to help build and sustain programs for homeless senior dogs, see: Grey Muzzle Grants. The Grey Muzzle Organization is an all-volunteer, 501c3 nonprofit. Since it was founded, Grey Muzzle has provided more than $420,000 in grants and has supported over 50 senior dog programs in 27 states. Its funds go to rescues and shelters for medical care for adoptable dogs, programs to keep senior dogs in their homes, hospice care for unadoptable senior dogs, seniors-for-seniors adoptions, and senior therapy dog training.