In 2011 we had the pleasure of fostering our first senior dog, a 15 year old pittie mix from a Los Angeles shelter. We had fostered many dogs before but the one who stole our hearts was Lionel. He was in terrible shape when he joined us and wasn’t given much time to live but his spirit and will amazed and inspired us all. Lionel, originally known as Sad Lionel Boy, came to It’s the Pits dog rescue from a shelter in Los Angeles at the age of 15. He was extremely thin, barely able to walk, infested with fleas and worms, and his ear canals sealed shut from chronic and untreated ear infections. Lionel truly was sad as he gazed into our eyes. We could hear Sad Lion Boy saying, “Why? Why didn’t they take care of me? What did I do wrong? Ok, so I barked a little.”

We decided to take him into our home as a foster dog. He was afraid and untrusting at first but over time Lionel learned we were here to love and care for him. We realized Sir Lionel would stick around for a while when he began to eat, and eat, and eat … like a lion! In fact, when he smelled someone else eating, he started barking for their food too. When he gained enough strength he was finally able to walk down the street, pulling in search of smells and spots to mark his territory. Curious, our senior cat Hercules decided to join us on our daily walks. Lionel and Hercules hit it off and although they were quite the odd couple they became the best of friends walking up and down the street together. Every once in a while, our daughters would hop on their scooters and join us for our walks, Lionel would get so excited that he would take off in a sprint after them. Of course, he’d be done after 100 feet or so, but he showed that he still had the will to live and thrive.

Lionel taught us many things, for one, to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life! He also opened our eyes to the plight of homeless senior animals in our communities. Many senior pets end up abandoned at shelters because pet owners are unable to pay for medical care, sometimes aging pet owners are impacted by their own physical limitations, periodically families are unable to manage their pets age related changes like incontinence or cognitive decline, and sometimes pet owners have to move and aren’t sure their senior pet can handle the change. Although Lionel’s Legacy rescues senior dogs, our ultimate goal is to help beloved pets stay with their families. Check out our HOME PROGRAMS! We are also happy to provide consultations with families who love they senior pets but are struggling to care for them, please contact us at seniors@lionelslegacy.org