HRA’s Oldest Shelter Resident Finds Her Prince Charming
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Humane Rescue Alliance

A Fairy Tale Ending for Julep

Julep was surrendered to the Humane Rescue Alliance in February after her owner passed away, a relatively common situation.  What made her situation unique was her age. At 18 years old, she was, we believe, the oldest dog we’ve ever had in our care.

Not surprisingly, Julep became something of a celebrity among staff and volunteers. “She was really sweet,” says adoptions counselor Joel Lopez. “She liked to lay on you…pretty much an oversized lap dog who just wanted lots of loving.” As an older dog, we knew Julep wouldn’t be as popular among potential adopters; but all it takes is one. So, in the hope of finding that one, our communications staff turned to social media to give her some extra visibility. Thanks to their efforts, the sweet senior was featured in several news articles and her story was shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook. And it paid off.

Enter Wayne Lerch, who lost his beloved 11-year-old pit bull Jasmine last December. “I saw a picture of Julep on Facebook and I had to come see her,” he recalls. Lerch arrived at HRA's Oglethorpe Street Adoption Center on his motorcycle—to prevent any “rash decisions.” He wanted the excuse to be able to think about it. As soon as he met Julep, however, he filled out the paperwork and went home to get his car. And that was that.

To say staff and volunteers were happy would be an understatement. “It was like Christmas morning,” recalls Geri Lee, an HRA veterinary technician, who called Julep her pretty princess. “We’re happy whenever any of our animals get adopted,” Lee explains, “but it’s sheer joy when an older one finds a loving home.” And Julep has certainly found that.

 “I know she’s not going to be around for very long but that’s okay,” Lerch said before he and Julep left the shelter. “She deserves to live out the rest of her life in a loving home with somebody who’s going to pamper her and make sure that she enjoys the last bit of life she has.”

Since then, Lerch and Julep—now named Tootie in honor of Lerch’s grandmother—have definitely been enjoying life.

“Tootie is doing great!” says Lerch enthusiastically. “While she’s not all that interested in squeaky toys, she loves playing tug of war and moving one of her beds around the apartment. I don’t need to a watch to know when it’s 10 p.m. because she lets me know it’s time for her Greenie.”

And according to Lerch, “the Toots” has become a favorite in his building. She wants everyone to pet her and will check everyone’s bags to see if there are any tasty treats she can steal.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found her,” he says. “She brings joy to my heart and while I still miss Jasmine so much, Tootie reminds me that I am a better person for having her in my life.”