A NEW book highlights how a couple moved to the Dordogne for a leisurely retirement and found themselves offering elderly dogs a leisurely retirement instead – or, rather, as well.
In Paws Before Bedtime, Liz Brown tells how Leeanne and Michael Whitley set up Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs and even moved house to have a bigger garden to cater for an average of 30 dogs.
It came after one of their own dogs died in 2009 and they were looking in refuges for a friend for their retriever, Teg. They discovered old dogs did not face a good life, with a possible premature end without dignity. Now they offer limited places for elderly dogs, who are lost, abandoned or bereaved.
Liz Brown is one of about 30 volunteers who help by walking dogs, cleaning, or raising funds for the €35,000-a-year costs.
Rather than the usual vide greniers or cake stalls, she thought of writing a book on the extraordinary story: “The only cost was printing it so, after that is paid for, all proceeds will go to Twilight.”
Mrs Whitley said she was pleased to be able to promote the message that adopting an elderly dog was worth doing, both for the animal and owner. “If it reaches just one person who will take on an oldie, it will be worth it.
“People are scared of taking on an older animal for fear of very high vet bills, worry about illness and possible incontinence and mess, and facing the death of a pet. But there are endless advantages. They are past the chewing stage, they don’t need long walks and lots of play, are not demanding and are happy with a quiet corner and a cuddle. They give back so much love. It is very rewarding. Old dogness is fantastic!”
In all, they have looked after 300 dogs. “Of course, we have to face up to losing them and one dies almost every month. But although sad every time, we can celebrate the extra time that dog has had and know it has been looked after and loved to the end.”