They were both so confused — but now they’re getting the best second chance ❤️️
For 10 years, Donnie and Marie spent their lives outside. It was far from ideal, but at least the brother and sister had each other and a backyard to call home.
Then last Monday, without warning, the senior shepherd mixes were loaded into the back of a truck and dropped at the Humane Animal Treatment Society, an animal shelter in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The senior dogs had been barking too much, their owner explained to the shelter worker, and she no longer wanted to care for them.
This situation is far from unusual, Mandy Risch, director of Humane Animal Treatment Society, told The Dodo. She said she has seen far too many older dogs “thrown away” like they don’t matter — and for many of them, the sudden shock of life in a shelter is just too much to bear.
“We explained that if these dogs are 10 and they had lived their entire lives outside, that they might not do well in a shelter environment,” Risch told The Dodo. “It’s really hard to adopt out senior dogs, so it could lead to euthanasia. As far as I understand, the response was that she didn’t care … she needed to bring them in.”
When asked why the dogs had been riding in the truck bed, the owner explained that they were too smelly to ride inside her car. After so many years spent outdoors, it was clear that the dogs needed some care and attention.
“The first time our kennel tech tried to bathe them, her hands were literally black they were so filthy,” Risch explained. “Her hands were just covered because they needed a bath so bad.”
To help the pups look and feel their best, the shelter arranged for a full spa day — and made sure they were driven inside the car on the way to and from the pet care center.
“Donnie absolutely loved the attention, he just ate it up,” Risch said. “Marie was a little more scared, but eventually she came around with the grooming staff.”
While the dogs are now looking and smelling much better, transitioning to a shelter environment has been difficult — especially for Marie, who’s a bit shyer.
“She shakes all the time, and when Donnie is not with her she is absolutely lost, she cannot function,” Risch explained. “They’re very very scared.”
Risch knew that if they were stuck in a kennel for much longer the pair would become more withdrawn and depressed, so she took to Facebook to share their story.
To her surprise, the post went viral, gaining thousands of likes and shares in just a few days.
“That was the goal of the Facebook post,” Risch said, “to not have them sit here like older dogs often do, and to get them out of here as fast as we could.”
“We had an outpouring of generosity,” Risch added. “People have already sponsored their adoption fees, and then we had a number of people call from other states to look into adoption.”
After sorting through numerous applications for the senior duo, the very best possible home turned out to be only a few miles away. A local couple had heard about Donnie and Marie’s story, and knew they had to do something to help.
During their very first meet-and-greet, the normally nervous dogs warmed up to the couple and their dog, a 13-year-old Basset hound named Daisy, immediately.
After watching their first meeting, Risch knew it was meant to be.
“When their new dad mentioned how heartbreaking their story was when they heard it, their new mom answered with the best thing that anyone has said so far about their situation: ‘You just don’t do that,'” Risch said. “We agree. You just don’t discard members of the family … for any reason.”
Soon, the brother and sister will move into a big farmhouse, where they will get to spend their days lounging on the couch and running around the yard, clean and well cared for.
After all they’ve been through, they deserve to enjoy spending their golden years as part of a real family.