After spending years on the street, a senior dog finally has a place to rest his head.
Now names Solo, the 11-year-old dog was a stray dog who lived most, if not all of his life, on the streets Los Angeles. It is believed he was part of a roving pack of stray dogs but was left behind after he became too old to keep up with the others.
Finding it harder and harder to survive on the streets, he began resting on a woman’s porch.
Naming him “Solovino,” meaning “I came alone,” the woman turned to Rocket Dog Rescue of San Francisco to see if it could help the senior dog out, rather than have him go back to street life.
The rescue agreed to take him under its wings and for a year or so tried to find him a home. He would get adopted and then returned over and over again. (Having little contact with humans in his life, the dog came off as aloof to some.) But then Carol Messina heard about the dog.
As a huge Star Wars fan (one of her cats is named Wedge), Messina knew it was destiny. “I needed another Star Wars pet and Solo needed to be with me,” she tells This Dog’s Life.
Not wanting Solo to have another bad “forever home” experience, Messina didn’t everything in her power to ensure he felt safe and comfortable — but it wasn’t always easy.
“He was the quietest dog I had ever seen,” she says of Solo when she first brought him home. “He kept his tail between his legs 24 hours a day, even when eating.”
And while previous fosters told Messina Solo was hard of hearing, she soon learned he was almost completely deaf. To help him, she now flicks the lights on when she comes in the room, taps his shoulder when he doesn’t see an approaching dog and puts a “deaf dog” vest on him when going on walks, so people don’t startle him.
She also discovered he had a painful mouth issue. Living on the street caused his teeth to be ground down and rotten, and they needed to be fixed. Messina put off her own dental surgery to help him.
Because of all her patience, understanding and love, Solo is now a completely different dog.
“Once I got his teeth fixed he was a new dog,” she says. “He immediately and visibly felt better, and now that he is on arthritis meds as well he will run and play with me and get the zoomies, just like any other dog.”
And while he is still a bit submissive and not sure how to play with other dogs, Solo “absolutely loves meeting new dogs and will wag his tail and perk up his ears and get in a very playful stance,” says Messina. “It’s such a joy to see.”
Messina has definitely helped Solo come out of his shell, but the senior dog has also given back.
“Solo is such a loving, gentle soul, and my desire to improve his life has actually made me decide to forego having children in favor of rescuing senior and dying dogs,” she says. “I feel like I really have a purpose for the first time in my life. I intend to start a rescue of my own and would like to start fundraising, even if informally, so that I can change the lives of as many dogs as possible and help them have a wonderful end to life, and a peaceful cross over the rainbow bridge.”
Interested in helping a senior dog? Messina has made her first step into rescue by starting a crowdfunding campaign for older dogs and those who are terminally ill.