Growing up in an orphanage during wartime Germany, Johanna Carrington was deprived of the opportunity to own a dog as a child.
Since then, she has been trying to make up for the time that was lost.
For the past century, the California resident has had an affinity for dogs — including a particularly chaotic occasion when she and her late husband owned eight Pekingese — and recently adopted an 11-year-old Chihuahua mixed breed called Gucci.
After the demise of Rocky, Carrington’s house was very tranquil. At 64 years old, she and her daughter Debbie were concerned that a shelter would not permit her to adopt another dog when she expressed her desire to do so.
Luckily, a member of the Moss Beach community who works with Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco had an idea that they might be able to help. It turns out Gucci (formerly known as Gnocchi) had recently been saved from a hoarding incident involving 22 canines. The small canine appeared prepared to be the sole pup in a home that could provide him with lots of love and care.
Eddie Martinez, Johanna Carrington’s caregiver, made a commitment to take Gucci on walks each day and assist in his maintenance as part of the adoption procedure. One day, Gucci’s foster parent took him to meet Carrington, and he settled right in.
Carrington was amazed when he arrived to the house, as if he had been there before. He noticed Carrington sitting in his chair and proceeded to jump onto his lap and make himself comfortable, as if it were a natural thing for him to do. In an instant, he became their beloved pet.
Gucci has been presented with an abundance of toys that she enjoys playing fetch with, and she is often given relaxing massages while they watch television. At night, she loves to snuggle up in blankets on the bed to make a comfortable hideaway.
Carrington is looking forward to an exciting celebration this December in honor of her 101st birthday, and Gucci is a part of the plans. She believes that living healthily has been key to her longevity — never smoking or drinking — but she also claims that having pets around is one of the secrets to a fulfilling life.
Steven Feldman, the president of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, expressed to TODAY in an email that having a strong connection between humans and animals can be advantageous for all age groups, especially those who are elderly. Studies indicate that having a pet and interacting with animals can offer elderly people a range of social and emotional support, thus helping them keep up with daily activities, decreasing feelings of loneliness and increasing their overall well-being.
Adopting an older pet can be beneficial for both the senior human and animal involved, according to Alice Ensor from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. This is especially true when dogs that are seven or more years old find a new home. Muttville has a unique Seniors for Seniors program in place. It ensures that if, due to death or hospitalization, an elderly adopter is no longer able to take care of their dog, Muttville will accept the pet back and remain in contact with the former owner to help out with temporary fostering arrangements if needed.
Muttville marked its 15th birthday in August by achieving a milestone of 10,000 rescued dogs. The Seniors for Seniors program is responsible for 32% of the annual adoptions. Ensor stated that the team puts in effort to discover an ideal fit, such as a small canine who is not too light to be picked up but not so minuscule that it might trigger someone to trip over it while moving around, or a dog which feels safe and secure with people walking or using wheelchairs.
When it came to Gucci, he was obedient and energetic enough so that climbing the stairs in Carrington’s house was no problem. He appeared to be a pup that would enjoy being the only animal in the household.
Ensor noted that those close to seniors, such as family, friends, neighbors and caregivers, can help them adopt a pet by assisting with the technology involved in the process. During the pandemic, rescue organizations have been relying on social media to bring adoptable pets and potential owners together, with virtual meet-and-greets and home inspections taking place through video platforms like FaceTime or Zoom.
Debbie Carrington has found the Seniors for Seniors program to be very beneficial, as it allowed her mom to adopt Gucci from Muttville. Having been housetrained, the elderly pooch won’t be making any messes for them to worry about. Plus, its lack of teeth means they don’t need to factor in money for future dental treatments.
Debbie Carrington told TODAY that when her other dog passed away, the house was filled with silence and sorrow. However, she said Gucci came along and made everything brighter, bringing joy back into her home. His comical behavior of running around and then snuggling up with her in her recliner or bed has brought a lot of joy to her life.