very weekend, photographer Lori Fusaro ventured to one of the Los Angeles area’s overburdened animal shelters and volunteered her professional skills to create funny, adorable and moving images of the pets to boost their adoption potential.
As she returned to each shelter week after week, she noticed that the older dogs and cats were still there. One day, while visiting the Carson/Gardena Animal Care Center, she stopped to spend a moment with Shady—a sweet brindle-and-white dog whose snowy face was evidence of her advanced years. Fusaro offered her a treat, but to her dismay, a resigned Shady wouldn’t even lift her head.
All that night and into the next day, thoughts of Shady haunted Fusaro. Was it crazy to think about adopting a 16-year-old dog? Wasn’t it just a recipe for heartache? Fusaro went with her gut, hopped in her car and drove to the shelter to retrieve Shady, whom she promptly renamed Sunny.
Fusaro and her husband took Sunny to the vet, who confirmed a malignant tumor on her left leg, the reason Sunny’s previous owners had surrendered her to the shelter. The couple decided not to take “heroic measures” to treat Sunny’s cancer, instead putting her on pain meds. Knowing Sunny could at least spend her last weeks in comfort was enough for them.
But apparently it wasn’t enough for Sunny, who blossomed in her new home, transitioning from dejected shelter dog to happy and fun-loving family member. Sunny lived almost another three full years with the Fusaros and their other pets—an older dog named Gabby and cats Enzo and Francis.
The photographer was so inspired by Sunny’s plight and her dramatic turnaround that she dedicated herself to promoting senior pet adoption through a photo project called Silver Hearts. Through this work, she made the acquaintance of writer Laura T. Coffey, who wrote about Fusaro’s work for the Today show’s website. Little did the pair know Sunny’s story would brighten the lives of people around the world.
Readers were so inspired by Fusaro’s images of older dogs that the story went viral, and Coffey and Fusaro were approached by a literary agent. The result was My Old Dog: Rescued Pets With Remarkable Second Acts, a book that’s spreading the word about the benefits of adopting senior pets.
Read more: humanesociety.org
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