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Nonprofit gives old dogs a new home

Posted: June 1, 2014 10:43 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2014 10:43 p.m.

An attendee pets a dog up for adoption during the Grand-Paws Senior Sanctuary's fundraiser on Sunday in Canyon Country. Signal photo by Jim Holt.

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Everyone wants a puppy, no one wants an old dog — unless you happen to be Nancy Koch.

Since 2009 when she first came across an aging Mastiff named Maggie, Koch has been rescuing dogs on their way to being euthanized through her Acton-based nonprofit called Grand-Paws Senior Sanctuary.

And on Sunday, others had a chance to help Koch in her efforts to care for dogs in their golden years when the Grand-Paws Senior Sanctuary held a fundraiser in Canyon Country.

Between 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, people young and old who love dogs — even when they’re old dogs — turned out to support her efforts in caring for them.

In a shaded courtyard in the corner of a strip mall on Soledad Canyon Road, half a dozen apparently contented old dogs in cages were visited by those who care about their plight.

In the last five years, Koch has rescued 200 dogs on their way to being humanely killed and has watched scores of them grow old and die, but she gets comfort knowing that she’s help extend their lives.

“There was one day I walked into the shelter at the exact time a dog was being taken out of the shelter to be brought to the vet to be euthanized,” Koch said.

The mission of her nonprofit is to rescue primarily large breed senior dogs who’ve been abandoned. Koch described her mission on her website as: “We rescue from local high-kill shelters and let them live out their lives in our sanctuary or in one of our wonderful foster homes: happy, safe, and loved.”

More than a third of the dogs pulled from the precipice of death have found homes, she said.

“I tell myself that I give them something,” Koch told The Signal Sunday. “Even if I give that dog one extra day in the sunshine.”

The fundraiser was hosted by Joan Darlene, who works with the people at Balance Point Spa at the strip mall.
“What she does is so amazing that I just wanted to help,” Darlene said. “The minute I shared what I was doing, everybody was so giving.”

There was food, wine and a live band playing music, plus balloon-artistry and face-painting for kids. But the main attraction was the dogs.

Sixth-graders at James Foster Elementary School decorated dog bowls for the fundraiser.

Joy Lange of Whitening Lightning provided giveaway some items for the fundraiser.

“We just have a heart for dogs,” she said Sunday. “It’s a shame that everyone just wants a puppy and not an old dog.”
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missyJk: Posted: June 2, 2014 11:09 p.m.

define old?..My Luna came from the Lancaster shelter she was about 5 an owner surrender, so not everyone wants a puppy all 3 of my furbabies came from the shelter...Very commendable a sanctuary for older dogs, they deserve to enjoy their golden years "alive"

Unreal: Posted: June 2, 2014 6:12 a.m.

I wish the story mentioned if all the dogs were adopted.

longdebbie12: Posted: June 2, 2014 8:07 a.m.

I cringe when I see people post photos on Facebook of pure breed puppies they purchased for thousands of dollars. I really don't understand why folks just don't go and adopt from the pound. Does it really matter if it is a "purebred" People are so selfish!!!
Keep up the good work! I have four rescue dogs and they are all mutts, and the best dogs in the world! The old ones are even better!!!

Unreal: Posted: June 2, 2014 8:14 a.m.

I adopted a 10 year old cat from the shelter as well as a 3 year old. They are both wonderful cats. My last cat lived 18 years. What a blessing they are to a family. The best gift I ever got for myself.

SReilly12: Posted: June 2, 2014 8:21 a.m.

longdebbit12 - I have a face book account. I have pictures of my 2 purebreds schnauzers. Trust me not all purebreds costs thousands of dollars.

chefgirl358: Posted: June 2, 2014 9:25 a.m.

Awesome! I love this story, what a great organization. After putting my precious 15 year old lab to sleep (because she was in pain and could hardly walk anymore), my hubby and I agreed that our next dog will be a senior dog so that we can give them a few good years hopefully. When we are ready for another dog, I will definitely contact this organization.

longdebbie, you are way off on your assessment. Yes, it is wonderful when people can rescue/adopt a pet rather than purchase one from a breeder or store. But it's wrong to paint folks who get a purebred dog with a brush of being a bad owner. Some people like a certain breed for certain functions (hunting, guard dogs, etc.) and find a breed most suited to their needs.

Others, like me, love labs and have had them all their life (I've had 5 so far) and three of those have been rescues. Does that make me a bad person because I want a lab? and no, I don't care if it's mixed with something, as long as it doesn't have pit in it. Not saying all pits are bad, it's just something I personally choose not to deal with, and could also have issues with homeowners insurance, etc. Not all purebreds are expensive. How do you know that people posting pix of their purebred dogs means that they didn't get them from a rescue or adopt them like I did? You don't.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: June 2, 2014 10:03 a.m.

Labs are the best friends...... EVER!!!!!

longdebbie12: Posted: June 2, 2014 10:55 a.m.

Yes I did not mean all purebred owners are bad. I just don't understand why they cannot go to the pound. I waited 4 years looking for a bird dog and I finally found one from the pound two years ago. He was rescued from a puppy mill. I know not all breeders are bad, but I know some are very cruel........and the three people I was thinking of did buy the dogs from a breeder........I did not know schnauzers were so inexpensive. Maybe next time you could go to a schnauzer rescue and get one from there.

johnnyrock: Posted: June 2, 2014 11:09 a.m.

Adopt, always. I don't care about purebred. I love what this orginazation does. I am always posting on my facebook page about rescues and animals. I wish I had a house so I could adopt several. I do have 2 rescued cats at home.

SReilly12: Posted: June 2, 2014 11:22 a.m.

longdebbie12 - I think your heart is in the right place - all dogs should have a good home to live in. The answer as to why some people don't rescue is in your comments - I would never wait 4 years to add the love of pet to my home. I give 4 paws up to anyone that goes the route of rescuing a dog/cat......simply put I feel every home should have a pet! Some of us however prefer to go a different route - we are good dog owners too!

chefgirl358: Posted: June 2, 2014 12:24 p.m.


I think the answer to your question about why people don't go to the pound is simply this; some people want a puppy, AND they don't want to wait. We are a society of instant gratification. They want a certain kind of puppy. Those people may not even be aware that they might be able to get the exact breed they are looking for through a rescue. It's simply a lack of awareness for some. I think more and more people are becoming aware though and that's great. It's just going to take time for more people to get onboard. There will always be a group that wrongly attaches a stigma to a shelter dog (they might think they're unhealthy or have behavior/medical issues, etc.) and wants to go through breeders not realizing that they are perpetuating the very problems they seek to avoid.

All we can do is try to educate people and the best way to do that in my mind is to have your furry friend be the greatest advertisement of a rescue. People see your beautiful happy pet and ask about him/her and you tell them where you got it and right then, you've already put it into someone's head that you can find wonderful pets at shelters/rescues/adoptions.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: June 2, 2014 12:56 p.m.

Nice comment, chefgirl.

longdebbie12: Posted: June 2, 2014 3:59 p.m.

Please let me clarify I waited four years for my "dream dog" in the mean time I rescued 3 other dogs that are mutts!! They were all older (2-4 years). @chefgirl358 thanks for the explanation, you said what I was trying to say.

SReilly12: Posted: June 2, 2014 4:28 p.m.

longdebbie12 - Got you!!! Also very glad that while you were in search of, you were not pet less.

chefgirl358: Posted: June 2, 2014 7:21 p.m.


missyJk: Posted: June 3, 2014 1:02 a.m.

Important thing no matter where you get a dog from microchip them and have current info on that chip..found a cute terrier today on my block took her to a local vet she had a microchip with no info on i was heading back to start knocking on doors, as luck had it her owner was searching the neighborhood for her..He was walking around with a pink leash and collar which had tags on it..he said they just got her and were in the process of updating chip, so happy ending..I had 4 fur babies prior to my 3 i have now from the shelter and they were purebreds i paid big bucks for them back in the 80's and 90's. i am now a shelter only adopter...unlike my 4 purebreds i had from puppyhood, i am not sure what my shelter dogs life was before me, but they have the pampered pooches life now

johnnyrock: Posted: June 3, 2014 10:33 a.m.

We all seem to that is a Glad to see so many animal lovers like myself...Hello everyone!!!!

chefgirl358: Posted: June 3, 2014 10:40 a.m.

Yes! Missy hit the nail on the head, make sure microchip info is up to date. The chip doesn't do a darned bit of good if nobody can contact the owners.

There's no excuse not to get your pet chipped either, a lot of free clinics do the chipping, or they come with it already done if you get them from a shelter/rescue, etc. I got my dog chipped several years ago when the animal shelter was doing it for free. Then you just go online to the microchip company website and plug in your information and your pet info and can even add pet photos for identification. It's a good thing!

611mom: Posted: June 3, 2014 7:22 p.m.

My husband took a picture of the flier at petsmart and so my daughter and I went. I have a 4 mo old $2,000 puppy. I also have other pets 5 that are cat rescues. My $2,000 puppy is training to be a therapy dog. I went to this with him and we brought over $200 worth of toys to donate. My daughter also spent $80 on shirts there.
Next time more people should go and not judge.
Just GO make a difference! --edited.

missyJk: Posted: June 4, 2014 9:44 p.m.

Brittany foundation is having their annual balloon release a week from Saturday this past Saturday my beautiful niece was getting married so i had plans otherwise i would have gone

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