Meet Martin — a senior shelter dog who desperately needed a home after his elderly family surrendered him. Martin was around 10 years old when he arrived at SPCA of Wake County. His dad loved him so much, but he just couldn’t care for Martin anymore.
“His [dad] was 89 years old and reached a point where he couldn’t provide the life that he felt Martin deserved,” Samantha Ranlet, marketing communications specialist at SPCA, told The Dodo. “He wanted a better life for him.”
Martin’s dad brought the senior pup into the shelter, hoping that they could help Martin find a home where he could live out his golden years in comfort. “He adjusted pretty well,” Ranlet said. “I don’t know if he understood what was going on, but even from day one, he was just this happy, easy-going, really sweet old man with a teddy bear face.”
Because of Martin’s age, however, the task of finding a suitable adopter turned out to be harder than expected. “He kept getting passed over again and again,” Ranlet said. “In two months, seven adoptions fell through for various reasons.” Martin’s age wasn’t the only factor affecting his adoption, though. He was also heartworm positive, which made potential adopters wary.
So, after the seventh adoption fell through, SPCA staff decided to do something different in order to get the word out about Martin. “We reached a point where we thought, ‘We have to use the internet to ask our community to help us share him and get him into a home,’” Ranlet said. Sure enough, all it took was one Facebook post describing Martin’s story, along with two pictures of his adorable teddy bear face, to get him the visibility he needed.
“[Posting on Facebook] made all of the difference,” Ranlet said. “His post was shared by thousands of people, and all of the sudden, we had people contacting us over the phone, by email, etcetera.” Martin’s post went viral, and within less than 48 hours, adoption applications for the senior dog were completely maxed out. One of the applications came from a couple who had experience with senior dogs.
“They weren’t afraid of his age and they weren’t afraid of the fact that he had heartworm disease,” Ranlet said. “They just fell in love with him and his teddy bear energy.”
The couple took Martin home, where he’s been for a few weeks. His adoption isn’t finalized yet, since he’s still receiving heartworm treatment at SPCA of Wake County on the weekends, but it will be soon.
“As soon as he completes his treatment, they’re going to make the adoption official,” Ranlet said. “He’s got another month or two ahead of him.” Martin is the only dog in his new family, but he is happily sharing his space with his younger cat sister, called Hilltop. Even though they get to see him during his regular heartworm visits, SPCA staff miss Martin every day. But they are so excited that he found the perfect home against all odds, and hope that his story will inspire others to adopt older pups.
“It’s nice to give more attention to senior dogs,” Ranlet said. “It helps remind people that they’re worthwhile to adopt, too.”