What were you doing at 5 a.m. today? Steve Greig was fixing breakfast for his family. No big deal—except that Steve’s family consists of nine elderly dogs, one prima donna pig, a rabbit who watches TV, four chickens (including a hen who rides a robot vacuum around the house) and two ducks.
It all started three years ago when Steve couldn’t shake his grief after the death of his beloved dog, a miniature pinscher named Wolfgang. Says Steve, “I was miserable because we had been so attached, and then one day I had a thought: If something good could come out of Wolfgang’s death, something that wouldn’t have happened while Wolfgang was still alive, then that could be my homage to him. So I decided to adopt the oldest, least-adoptable dog I could find.”
That dog turned out to be Eeyore, a 12-year-old Chihuahua with four bad knees who had been at the Dumb Friends League for a month before Steve took him in. Today, 15-year-old Eeyore is the life of Steve’s parties and always ends up sitting on the laps of the new friends he meets there.
Two other Dumb Friends League dogs also have found forever homes with Steve. Englebert, a 4-year-old Chihuahua, had been living in an unheated garage where his ears became frostbitten before his owner relinquished him. The tiny, skinny, hunched-up dog looked three times his age when he arrived at our shelter, but with the help of regular acupuncture and heat laser treatments, 9-year-old Englebert is flourishing, and according to Steve, “He runs the house.” Then there’s Edna, a ladylike bichon with a heart murmur and knee issues who Steve adopted two years ago at age 12 and who sticks to Steve’s side like Velcro.
These League alums live in perfect harmony with six other senior dogs ranging in age from 6 to 18, the youngest being Enoch, an Irish wolfhound whose size makes him the equivalent of a senior at age 6, and the oldest being Madelyn, a miniature pinscher who at 18 is showing signs of dementia. They share their home with Bikini, the Cheerios-loving pig, and Stuart, the laid-back bunny who loves nothing more than to snuggle with his wolfhound bestie. At night, the whole gang—including Oprah the chicken who comes indoors each evening to hang out—can be found happily covering every square inch of Steve’s lap and sofa while watching Netflix. (In case you’re wondering, Steve lives in a Denver neighborhood that has been zoned for exceptions, and his diverse household meets every exception.)
Today, Steve is not only a champion of senior-pet adoptions, but also a social media sensation, with more than 565,000 people following him on Instagram. (Editor’s note: Don’t visit Steve’s Instagram account—wolfgang2242—unless you are prepared to lose all track of time browsing his mind-bogglingly cute photos and videos, and his funny, touching posts on life in his “puppy bowl retirement home.”)
So what compels Steve to fill his home with aged dogs and other assorted creatures? Simply put, it gives him a great deal of pleasure. “Adopting and caring for senior pets is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. It’s these animals’ last chapters in life, and to be able to give them a home where they’re safe and comfortable and loved is just a great feeling.”
Steve readily admits he can care for so many animals because he doesn’t have kids and is blessed with a very good job, as well as a roommate and a housekeeper who help out. But he also is adamant that senior pets are easier to care for than most people think. “I couldn’t have nine dogs if they weren’t seniors,” he says. “They pretty much just eat, sleep a lot, watch TV with me and go on little walks. They don’t require as much attention as younger dogs, so they fit into my lifestyle much easier. I think everyone should consider adopting a senior; they have so much life in them and so much love to give.”
Inspired to bring a senior pet home this holiday season? Visit ddfl.org or stop by our shelters to meet some of our golden oldies!
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