‘She came alive': Dog saved hours before euthanasia finds home at senior living center

A dog that was hours away from being euthanized was saved and is now spending the rest of her days at a senior living community in Maryland keeping the residents company.

Journey, believed to be a 6-year-old hound mix, had lived in a cage her whole life. When her owner died, she was sent to an overcrowded shelter in rural Virginia, according to Knine Rescue board member and adoption coordinator Amy Creel.

Being on the older side, Journey was one of the first dogs scheduled to be put down, Creel said.

Thanks to a fortunate set of events, Journey came to Maryland — but she almost didn’t make the trip.

Through rescue contacts, Creel had received word about another dog named Spec at the shelter who needed help. The team arranged a transport from Montgomery County, Maryland to Virginia and back to pick him up — and at the last minute, they asked if Knine Rescue could take another dog too.

“When the transport was picking him up, I got a call and they said, ‘Is there anyway you can take a second dog?’ My first thought was no,” Creel recalled.

The team’s transport wasn’t prepared to take another dog, Creel said. They didn’t have a foster home lined up for Journey, nor did they didn’t know anything about her.

“I was actually really reluctant, but something just told me to take her. I can’t explain it,” she said. “It was literally the day before she was scheduled to be put down.”

When she arrived in Maryland, Journey ended up going to a previously scheduled event the next day at a local senior center, called Sunrise Senior Living of Chevy Chase, Creel said.

“We just brought Journey along for the ride because we had nothing else to do with her. She was really shy when she first arrived, not surprisingly,” she said. “When she walked into the senior center, it was like she belonged there. It was the weirdest thing. She just walked in and was instantly comfortable, her tail started wagging and she was going up to people.”

Journey was showered with attention by the residents that afternoon, getting petted and receiving treats, Creel said.

“It was like as soon as she walked in the door she came alive again,” she added.

Creel said Sunrise Senior Living’s executive director, Kathy Tyler, pulled her aside and asked, “What if Journey lives here?”

“I never even knew that was a possibility,” Creel explained, adding that the community center had never had a “house dog” before Journey.

Journey ended up being adopted by Sunrise Senior Living and is now doing “so well.” Creel explained that she is the perfect kind of dog for the facility.

“I think because she’s a little bit older, she’s not going to jump up on any of the seniors. She’s not a trip hazard. She’s very calm, very gentle,” Creel said. “I am convinced she’s also a match because of her history. She understands on some deeper level what it’s like to be lonely and to need comfort and companionship.”

Interacting with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, experts say. They have also been shown to help with social interaction and reduce feelings of loneliness.

Creel said the senior center has a walking club, which Journey gets to participate in, and she inspires more of the residents to be more physically active and walk with her.

“She had no one to care for her her entire life and now she’s living with this whole group of people,” Creel said.

Journey’s story has inspired Knine Rescue to reach out to other senior centers to see if the team can help other older dogs find a home, which are sometimes harder to place, Creel said.

“The really amazing part of the story is how close she was to not making this trip. We almost didn’t take her just because we weren’t prepared and it was so last minute. Everything just fell together to make this happen,” she said. “It felt like it was meant to be.”

Even more good news: Spec, the other dog who was rescued, found a forever home as well, Creel said.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.