Helping the most vulnerable

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The Old Mutt Hut is a sanctuary for old dogs located about 35 minutes from Colorado Springs. The dogs, all of whom are over the age of 10, and all of whom wound up homeless for one reason or another, live with a full-time caregiver, receive the best medical care and have several couches and beds for lounging. They are never crated or put into kennels.  


The state-licensed, 501c-3 facility is supported entirely by donations from individuals.


The Old Mutt Hut has a limited capacity, and therefore the organization maintains lists of people who are looking to adopt older dogs and rescues who have old dogs, and puts them in touch with each  other.

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Our Year in Review, 2019

What a year 2019 was for The Old Mutt Hut! Huge thanks to all of the  donors, supporters, and hard-working volunteers who helped us make life  terrific for several old dogs who previously had no hope. They’re living  the good life in the little blue house on the  prairie.
 

Here are some highlights from the last 12 months:

  • We welcomed several new dogs into the fold — most requiring fairly significant medical interventions to ensure that their final years could be as comfortable as possible — bringing the total number of residents we’ve being caring for at the hut to 10.
  • Molly the irrepressible beagle celebrated her SEVENTEENTH birthday with  us (we know her birth date because she spent her life before TOMH with  one man and one veterinarian in Trinidad, Colorado). Molly dressed up, partied like crazy, dove nose first into a  doggie birthday cake, shared nicely with her fellow canine buddies, and posed prettily with the volunteers and board members who gathered to  celebrate her.
  • We helped link up adopters with at least 15 old dogs — dogs  we couldn’t take for a variety of reasons (mostly because they had histories of not dealing well with other dogs, or, in some cases, people).
  • We coached 8 people through practices and resources that allowed them to  keep old dogs that they had previously believed they would have to give  up.
  • Volunteers donated the materials and time to construct a second  fenced-in area (and ramp to access it) so that new arrivals, who we always keep separate from the other dogs for two weeks to ensure they  are infection free, have an outdoor space for exercise  and play. Volunteers also replaced the grout in the shower we use for  dog baths and put up gutters (which we got donated).
  • The Old Mutt Hut was chosen The Spirit of the Season nonprofit by the  Festival of Lights parade committee. Old mutts Kaya and JayCee got to  ride in a classic convertible down Tejon Street as 60,000 people cheered them on (actually, those people were cheering all of the parade participants but the dogs were sure everyone was  there for them).
  • We held three fundraising yard sales, three online auctions, and fundraising events at pubs, eateries and malls.
  • We installed our Fond Memories Garden, a beautiful collection of pavers that people purchased to honor dogs who have passed on.
  • Volunteers and board members dedicated more than 2,000 volunteer hours  to The Old Mutt Hut during the year. They walked and bathed dogs,  cleaned things, constructed things, worked on fundraisers, created  literature, located resources for free or discounted  dog food, transported dogs for vet visits, forged relationships with  retailers and rescue groups, and handled scores of other tasks. Some  volunteers came to the facility every week, some a couple of times a  month; some volunteers, such as a group from the  El Paso County District Attorney’s Office and the athletes from the  Pikes Peak Derby Dames, came for a single day to do a special project, with plenty of dog hugs and kisses added.


It’s been just 16 months since we opened our doors to our first dog — the  incomparable, fiercely independent  Molly — and just a few weeks later to adorable little Chihuahua Pinto (Bean), a sunny guy despite years of  neglect and a terminal illness. Each new dog  and every new day surprises and delights us. First-time visitors often  comment that they had expected that a house filled with old dogs would  be a little, well, depressing. Instead, they observe, “it’s like Disney World for dogs!”  There are sun-splashed decks  where  dogs lounge about watching the rabbits and birds, beds of every  size and shape (perpetually cheerful beagle Joey, 13, always chooses to nap in ones that are a little too small for him so he can spill over the  edges), and regular raw-carrot or apple-slice  treats.
Some of the dogs choose to sleep together from time to time; a couple  have developed especially special relationships with other dogs or some  volunteers; and they all love their daily walks across the plains, rain  or shine, especially when they flush  out quail  (with the exception of Norwegian Elkhound Maggie, the Nordic beauty who  is quite possibly the world’s laziest dog and who often hides under the  table when the leashes come out).

There were, of course, some unpleasant surprises during 2019. For example, we’ve always known that rattlesnakes are part of life on the prairie. We did all the mitigation the vets and the rattlesnake wrangler (yes, there is such a job title) suggested, including having the five acres closest the house mowed three times a summer). We also had rattlesnake vaccinations administered to all the dogs. This vaccination doesn’t mean a dog will survive a bite, it merely gives an additional hour or so to get the dog to treatment, vital time for us, as we’re 40 minutes from our vet and 45 minutes from the nearest animal ER. 


One morning last summer a rattlesnake made its way into the back dog pen. No dog was in that pen at the time (though Mo was on his way out before he was abruptly pulled back by the caregiver). By the next morning, snake mesh had been purchased, and two board members and one volunteer, loaded weapons within arm’s reach, installed that around both dog pens. There have been no additional rattlesnake sightings near the dog enclosures since but we’re always on guard.


Another unpleasantness was that we were forced from the property by the  “bomb cyclone” that hit Colorado Springs in March. The warning about how  bad it was likely to be arrived just a few hours before it hit. We loaded up the dogs and the caregiver to spend  three days in town with the co-founder. When the storm had passed, we discovered there wasn’t much damage to the house—a few shredded screens and some water damage to ceilings from snow blasted into the vents by  the 90 mph winds. But the driveway was blocked with solid-as-concrete drifts for the better part of a week, and the  power went out for a time, so we were glad we made the decision to  evacuate.
 

Sadly, in September, we lost sweet Pinto (Bean), the determined little Chihuahua who lived five times as long — with end-stage congestive heart  failure — as the vets had predicted, largely, many say, because for the  first time in his 15 years he experienced love. He was a cast-off rescued from the side of a busy road by a good Samaritan who saw him struggling to breathe and rushed him to Bijou  Animal Hospital. The vets there got the fluid buildup in his lungs under control, treated his eye ulcer and began to fatten him up, then entrusted him to us. We treasured every day we had with  that perky little guy, who welcomed every visitor with a happy dance and a request for a snuggle. When we had to make the sad decision to let  him go, four women who  barely knew one another — board  member Robin, co-founder Sharon, a veterinarian and the Bijou office  manager  who had fostered him while he fought his way back to life  months earlier — held him and wept together. It’s the very sad part of  providing this sort of sanctuary. It’s also testament to the magic of animals, that a 5-pound discarded dog could generate this kind of connection among strangers. The memory of Pinto reminds that what we do is important. He was happy in his final months, and he left this world surrounded by love.


We are grateful that the support we have received has allowed us to save old dogs at our sanctuary, help guide several other old dogs to new homes, and promote the joys of life with old dogs. People have brought us dog beds and cans of dog food and huge jugs of detergent. They have bid on our auction items, thrust $10 bills toward us at events, and sent us $30 checks in the mail. They have shared our Facebook posts and told us about old dogs that need saving. They have been our lifeblood. They are you. And we thank you.