They say every dog has its day. But for older dogs in their twilight years, times can be ruff…err, rough. Many animal shelters care for aging dogs facing adoption challenges due to health issues; or the simple fact that people prefer to adopt a younger dog. That’s where Marty’s Place comes in; this Senior Dog Sanctuary in Upper Freehold welcomes aging canines with open arms.
It’s rare to find a place that focuses solely on housing and caring for the elderly animal population; but according to Marty’s Place founder and executive director Doreen Jakubcak, it is one we very much need. For instance, the non-profit takes in dogs from shelters, rescues, and owners who can no longer care for them; often due to situations like relocation, a move to assisted living, or financial hardship.
Age is Just a Number
“I’ve been a dog lover all my life,” says Doreen. “But my sensitivity to the plight of seniors didn’t come to realization until my experience with Marty.”
Marty was a chocolate lab, and the first senior dog to find a permanent home with Jakubcak. After two years bouncing from shelters to rescues to foster homes – all during his senior years – he came to Doreen. Though she only got to enjoy life with Marty for one year before his passing, he left a lasting impression; inspiring his owner to start Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary.
Marty’s Place has two missions. First, to enhance the lives of senior dogs, ages seven or older, by providing them with a forever home; Second, to change the way people value and view older dogs.
Soon after opening Marty’s Place in 2015, Doreen’s vision came to life. The 8,000-square-foot facility sits on 25 acres and has individual living spaces for up to 40 dogs; as well as many areas where the dogs can be together and socialize. There’s even an indoor saltwater pool for the dogs to enjoy, if they are able.
Currently, the sanctuary has 23 dogs in residence. “Our ability to take in more dogs directly correlates to resources– finances and volunteers,” Doreen says. Marty’s Place has both an adult and a youth volunteer program, with youth ages 14 and over able to volunteer.
Fun For Everyone (Even Pups!)
Marty’s Place also hosts events for dogs of all ages. In fact, every October they host the Howl-O-Ween Family Fest at the Sanctuary. Highlights include a “Ruff Mudder” obstacle course for dogs, a canine costume contest and hay rides; as well as K-9 police dog demonstrations, live music, food trucks, vendors and other fun activities for the whole family. The 2019 Howl-O-Ween Family Fest takes place on 10/19 (rain date 10/20) from Noon to 4:00 pm.
This fundraiser is the organization’s largest each year, and plays a crucial role in its ability to care for dogs.
Of course, if a volunteer or visitor falls in love with one of the dogs, there’s good news; all dogs are available for adoption. Since 2015, twelve dogs have found new homes after staying at Marty’s Place.
The rest continue to enjoy their golden years in a loving, safe, permanent environment. “No dog is ever pushed out of here,” says Dorren.
All Photos: © Marty’s Place