Big-Hearted Couple Bring Joy to Senior Dogs

This labor of love finds a golden future for older pooches.

Cute senior boxer dog.

(Holly Michele /

Kelly and Andy Smíšek are quintessential dog people, but these are a couple of dogophiles who have made it their mission to go the extra mile for senior pet dogs. As the website of the foundation they have established to treat and rehome senior dogs, Frosted Faces, details, their love for dogs has conditioned  their life’s work to help man’s best friend. This went from adopting dogs, to volunteering at a shelter, to fostering other dogs and now to running the shelter in Ramona, California, that treats and finds loving homes for its canine charges in the autumn of their lives.  

The Frosted Faces Foundation is born
Back when the Smíšeks welcomed their first two dogs into their home as adoptees,  a much-loved pair of five-year-old canines called Friitz and Gus, they soon came to understand that dogs like them were being surrendered by their guardians, without getting the home and medical care they deserved. 

Over time, this couple found themselves fostering senior dogs in particular, whom they realised needed a unique network of supporters. After grasping their own capacity for care, however, they soon found that their self-funded project, which relied on the compassion of their own friends and family, had outgrown their budget. 

At this point, in 2014, they incorporated the Frosted Faces Foundation as a nonprofit. With the purchase of a dedicated estate in 2016, which this kind couple helped pay for by using their wedding money, as The San Diego Union-Tribune reveals, they could now rescue more time-sensitive cases, and animals who required more medical and behavioral rehabilitation than an average foster home could immediately provide. 

What is remarkable, as Newsweek points out, is that the foundation covers the medical costs of its senior dogs, taking that burden away from the adopter.

The schedule here is daily care, not so different to what senior humans rely on, with pill time and leisure activities part of the routine,  as devoted families are sought. Some of the foundation’s senior charges may be in the grip of loss, missing the humans they bonded with over years who died, or who can no longer care for them, as The San Diego Union-Tribune explains. Today, the typical stay is 30 days for small dogs and up to three months for big dogs.

Their mission remains clear, however. The Smíšeks don’t see the Frosted Faces Foundation as a sanctuary, but remain focused on getting their senior pets into warmly welcoming homes. Or as they put it on their website: “The ultimate goal has always been and still is to find all Frosted Faces families of their own who will author their last chapters as love stories.” 

Spreading the word about the benefits and needs of senior dogs
Part and parcel of this nonprofit’s mission has always been educating the public about the special needs of mature pets, ensuring the care they get is steller,  and spreading the merits of voluntarism to achieve this.

Or as they also put it on the website: “Strengthening our compassion for the pet guardians that love their animals, who are in need of education and resources, is what energizes our focus.  As a result, we have developed programs to help guardians keep and plan for their pets, while we continue to deliver solutions to eliminate the obstacles and stereotypes of senior adoption and care.”

Why do they need to do this? Well, the pluses of rehoming senior pooches are not always clear to potential dog owners looking to adopt dogs from a shelter. This is shown in the figures of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), quoted by Newsweek, showing that senior dogs have a 25 percent adoption rate compared to a rate of 60 percent for younger dogs and puppies.

As the ASPCA emphasizes, however, more mature pets can make ideal pets for many families. The benefits include that older animals, who have lived in family homes, have calmer dispositions than puppies, and so may settle in more quickly than a puppy or kitten. 

What’s more, the personalities of adult pets are fully formed, which makes them more predictable. Many adult animals will also be less disruptive, having already been house-trained and grown out of destructive behavior. They are also likely to have mastered basic commands and to need less supervision than younger pets. Importantly, this doesn’t mean “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”; senior pets are adaptive and capable of learning new skills.

The value of new homes with new families
As part of its desire to see all their Frosted Faces with families, as Petfinder reveals, the foundation’s no-fees adoption policy isn’t just for forever families. It also embraces foster families caring for senior pooches until a permanent home is found for them, with expenses met by the foundation. 

Frosted Faces with lifelong chronic conditions that require medication are eligible for its Forever Foster Program. In these cases, the senior dog legally belongs to the Frosted Faces Foundation for the duration of their life, while medical expenses and supplies are covered. The foundation also offers a “Final Wish Program, ” a unique service offered to the local community, which ensures the safety and long life of a pet upon the passing or incapacitation of its owner. 

So-called “frosted flings” are also an option. Through these, volunteers can care for one of the foundation’s senior dogs for a fortnight. The intention with these short commitments is increased visibility of the canine guest for potential families, gathering quality images and videos for marketing purposes, and all the while enriching the Frosted Face’s life in a loving, home environment.

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