Peace of Mind Dog Rescue give senior dogs like Lily a second chance.

Ruff Road: Older dogs like Buff (left, with Peace of Mind Dog Rescue Executive Director Carie Broecker) and Fiona (right, with nonprofit President Monica Rua) get TLC and new guardians late in life.

Lily’s future didn’t look so bright. The 6-year-old Hollister stray, a black-and-white Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, was headed to the shelter where she would join a lot of other Chihuahua mixes, many of them younger and thus more adoptable.

She didn’t have much of a chance – until a shelter employee phoned Peace of Mind Dog Rescue. “She’s a perfect little dog, great with dogs and people; quiet,” says Carie Broecker, the nonprofit’s co-founder and executive director.

Lily was on the young side for the rescue group. It usually finds new homes for senior dogs around 10 years old. “Anybody 7 and up has a harder time in the shelter getting adopted,” Broecker says. “But there are a lot of little Chihuahua-types out there, and they get overlooked these days.”

Peace of Mind rescued little Lily, took her to the vet, placed her in a doggie foster home and put her adoption profile up on its website.

There are a lot of dogs like Lily out there. The lucky ones, between 100 and 150 each year, make it to Peace of Mind.

About half come from shelters in the tri-county region; the other half come from senior guardians who can no longer care for them due to illness, financial difficulty or death. The nonprofit assures them they won’t have to worry about their four-legged friends being abandoned.

Typically the shelter dogs are in worse shape, Broecker says, because they haven’t seen a vet in years. Many suffer from age-related conditions, poor nutrition and neglect. They require, on average, $1,000 in immediate medical attention.

Lily, however, was healthy. Broecker thought she would be adopted right away, but Lily remained in foster care for 458 days.

Kristina Baer was supposed to be doing something else. Instead she was procrastinating, checking out photos of Peace of Mind dogs. “There was this completely adorable dog. She had such an expressive face,” Baer remembers. “She sounded like a really good fit for us: She’s older, gets along well with other dogs, and they picked her up as a stray – that pulled on me.”

Baer and her husband had recently put down an older standard poodle, Bay. They also have a 9-year-old Pomeranian, Nino, who had grown up with Bay. “He didn’t perk up after she was gone,” Baer says. “We could always tell he was waiting for his friend to come back.”

They met Lily, and brought her home. “I’d never had a small dog before,” Baer says. “I was concerned she might be hyper, too lively and demanding. But she’s calm, and she fit right in.”

Baer says she and her husband hadn’t planned to adopt a new dog, especially not an old one, after Bay died. Then she started thinking differently: “This little dog has had a pretty tough time up until the past year and a half,” Baer says. “We feel we can give her a happy rest of her life, however long that might be.”

And that is peace of mind.

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