Helping the most vulnerable
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.
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:
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.