For the Love of Senior Dogs

By Monique Serbu, Communications Coordinator

Marlene Cornelius has been an avid supporter of Animal Friends for the past 33 years. And, it all started with a love for dogs and an appeal letter she received in the mail. Marlene began volunteering when Animal Friends was located in the Strip District. Every weekend, she would come and spend time helping in various ways. From walking dogs to organizing merchandise, her time spent helping the animals was always incredibly relaxing for her.

As her passion and dedication grew, Marlene expanded her involvement at Animal Friends by organizing the volunteer corps and implementing a tracking system for volunteer hours. She organized the first Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and handed out awards to some of the most dedicated volunteers. Marlene also made her mark on Animal Friends with the help of a design student from the art institute. Together they created a logo that represented our mission to find loving families for homeless pets, until it was revamped in 2006. Her enthusiasm continued as she became more involved over the years, organizing a number of fundraising events.

But among Marlene’s many passions, the one closest to her heart is advocating for the adoption of senior dogs. Older dogs at shelters are often overlooked by potential adopters and spend a much longer time waiting to go home. Their fur may not be as vibrant or they may have lost a bit of their spunk, but Marlene knows that they deserve a loving family, just as much as younger dogs. When it comes to older dogs, what you see is what you get because most personality, behavior or medical needs are visible right away. And, for some who may not have grown up with much training – the old expression simply isn’t true – you can teach an old dog new tricks! Unlike their youthful counterparts, who may be more interested in playing and exploring, senior pets can be much more focused on learning the rules of their new home.

This was the case with Marlene and her dog Zoey! Two years ago, Marlene attended a Christmas event at Animal Friends and made a quick visit to the dog adoption floor to take a look – even though she told herself “no more dogs!” As a dog lover, Marlene had rescued four dogs in the past, Sam, Dobie, Jessie and Curly and at the time of her visit she wasn’t looking to adopt again. But, as she was about to leave she spotted Zoey out on a walk with a volunteer and immediately fell in love. Zoey was 14 years old and had been surrendered by her owners who were moving and couldn’t afford to give her the care she needed. As soon as Marlene brought Zoey home she knew it was meant to be. It didn’t appear to Marlene that Zoey received much training as far as basic commands, but this smart older gal knew in a couple of days just how to ask to be let outside! Zoey may be a small dog but she fills the house with her presence and Marlene couldn’t be happier to have her in her life.

Marlene has made an incredible impact on Animal Friends throughout the years as a volunteer, event coordinator, member of the Board of Directors and so much more. She still holds an incredibly special place in her heart for the animals and our lifesaving mission. Marlene is a very special part of Animal Friends’ history and we wouldn’t be where we are today without her generous support, friendship, dedication and (of course!) her love of senior dogs.

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