When Shultz was brought to a Pennsylvania shelter he had two marks already against him—he was a senior dog with a grey face that clearly marked his age, and he was black, a color trait that often gets overlooked by potential pet adopters. The stray Lab mix was found wandering on some rural streets before landing at Pittsburgh Animal Rescue League. Shultz could have easily been overlooked for his age or his color, but his story took a remarkable turn when an elderly couple visited the shelter.
Joseph and Pat, a couple in their 90s just lost their 14-year-old German Shepherd to cancer and found that their home felt empty and lonely. Though most people advised them to go without a pet at their age, they knew that wasn’t an option. “Dogs make life complete! How could we live without one?” says Joseph. The couple asked their kids to take them to the shelter to see if there were any dogs that would fit with their lifestyle. They loved big dogs and knew they wanted to adopt a senior.
As Joseph and Pat walked the halls of the shelter in search of the perfect companion, they saw a big black dog sitting in the back of his run. He had a calm demeanor and a kind face. “I knew the minute I saw him that he was our dog,” Joseph says. “He’s grey.. we’re grey! Us seniors were perfect for each other.” Joseph and Pat signed the papers, and Shultz became part of their family.
Dogs have a distinct ability to understand what their human companions need—and what Joseph and Pat needed most was a companion. After bringing him home, Joseph and Pat fell in love with Shultz immediately. He was happy, warm, and friendly—overall, a great fit for their home. The only complication was that although Shultz was a senior dog, he still had a LOT of energy, and for the older couple, it was a challenge to walk him because of his size and habit of pulling on the leash. But luckily, the couple’s family members have stepped in to help exercise and care for Schultz. “My son drives over every day before work and takes him on a long walk,” says Joseph. “He knows how much it means to us to live life with a dog.”
Though Joseph and Pat were the ones who did the rescuing, to this couple it seems like it was Schultz who came to their rescue. “I can’t believe he wants to hang around here with us old folks all day,” Joseph jokes. But Schultz is completely content spending the days lounging around with Pat and Joseph, providing companionship, laughter, and happiness to their home. We’d say he’s exactly where he needs to be.
All images courtesy of Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs.
Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs is a documentary dog photographer based in the East Village. As a personal project, Milla works with local rescue groups.