The Cuddle Club Unites Senior People and Senior Dogs

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue's club helps people and dogs who need companionship.

Aug 12, 2019


The Cuddle Club Unites Senior People and Senior Dogs | Muttville Senior Dog Rescue's club helps people and dogs who need companionship.

Man's best friend needs a loving home even when he is old, and his muzzle is grey. Finding a home for a senior dog whose owner has passed on or who's family can no longer take care of him is not very easy. Most families want puppies that are full of energy.

That's where Muttville Senior Dog Rescue comes in. The San Francisco, California rescue that was founded in 2007 has an innovative program to rehome senior dogs. They have already found homes for 6,600 senior dogs ages seven and up, many with senior people who want dogs that are a little slower themselves.

Some of the pets are blind, missing limbs or have arthritis, Beth Hofer, who volunteers as the Cuddle Club manager told Today, and some are so full of pep and energy that it is hard to believe how old they are. All of the dogs are able to be adopted into new forever homes.

Seniors who adopt have adoption fees waived and receive a free starter kit with pet supplies, including a harness and collar, leash, dog bowls, and a bed, as well as a starter supply of food.

It is a win-win situation for senior dogs and people who need companionship and affection. But not everybody is able to adopt a pet, and that's how the innovative Cuddle Club was born.

The Cuddle Club started as an offshoot of the program in 2013, since not everyone can adopt a dog for because of financial or physical reasons, or because they are living in a facility that doesn’t allow pets.

“Muttville wanted to create a program where people could come meet the dogs, and even if they couldn’t take one home, they had an opportunity to share the love,” Angela DiMartino, who volunteers as the Seniors for Seniors program manager, told TODAY. “We always try to have one dog per lap.”

The Cuddle Club began as a partnership with Openhouse, a nonprofit for LGBT seniors, and has since expanded and includes a large variety of senior groups. The Cuddle Club meets in a home-like wheelchair accessible room filled with comfy couches to meet the free-roaming dogs and to interact with them and with each other.

Seniors who want to walk the dogs can do so and one man likes to let smaller dogs ride on his walker. Another woman walked a dog for the first time ever, and she was in her 70s. It's never too late to start.

“The seniors are giving love to the dogs that they need so much. The dogs are giving love to the seniors that they need so much,” Hofer said. “I think also the dogs are giving some of our guests just a sense of value, because sometimes a dog will come down and they’re nervous, and they start shaking, and over the course of 15 or 20 minutes, the dog quits shaking and has fallen asleep on that person’s lap. You can just see how happy and fulfilled that person is that they were able to help that dog.”

The organization stressed that not being able to adopt and take a dog home shouldn't get in the way of spending time with and cuddling your furry friends, who will reward you with wagging tails and kisses as they settle in on your laps.  

Research shows that spending time with pets provide real health benefits and help to reduce stress. And spending time with people also helps the dogs feel comfortable and adjust to their new homes when they are finally adopted.

What can be better than snuggling a dog, maybe snuggling two dogs at the same time? If you are a senior living in the Bay area, contact Muttville to set up a Cuddle Club visit for you or your organization and let the bonding begin.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.