When dogs walk into Marty’s Place it is a bad day. They seek hope after experiencing a life changing hardship. Most likely, they were given up because their people either faced financial challenges, had medical problems, or passed away.
Fortunately, the sanctuary makes up for those difficult days by making sure these dogs spend their golden years full of love, companionship, and all of their needs.
“We treat our dogs as if they’d been our own for many years,” says founder Doreen Jakubcak of This Dog’s Life from his Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey location. “We want every dog that comes to the shelter to feel safe and loved and to live a vibrant life in its golden years. We believe we are helping to save more seniors in need. “
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “Older dogs have an adoption rate of 25 percent compared with a 60 percent adoption rate of younger dogs and puppies.” And with fewer than 60 animal shelters for senior citizens in the country, “there are definitely not enough of us yet,” says founder Doreen Jakubcak.
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But for those lucky enough to retire to Marty’s Place, it’s heaven on earth for our four-legged friends. Any senior dog known as a “resident” thrives on their own habitat, human-pooch interaction, routine medical and dental care, and access to fun, stimulating activities.
Marty’s Place also offers several amenities to make everyone feel at home. There are individual living rooms for 40 dogs, a large multi-purpose room with smaller lying areas, outdoor exercise areas, care and bathing areas, a medical treatment room, short-term isolation rooms, 25 hectares of walking paths and an enclosed, covered sports swimming pool. All of this thanks to generous donations from private individuals, companies and foundations. To date, over 85 dogs have walked through the doors of Marty’s Place.
The inspiration behind Marty’s Place
The idea for Marty’s Place came about after the death of Jakubcak and her husband’s beloved Labradors. Heartbroken, the couple thought it best to wait before adopting another dog. Until Jakubcak came across a chocolate laboratory called Marty.
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By the age of 12, Marty had spent six months in a shelter and was pulled out the day before he was scheduled to be euthanized. He then spent over a year between pet homes and nursing homes due to his physical ailments making it difficult to get him to a permanent home.
“I’ve started seeing friends’ emails about Marty and his situation,” Jakubcak says. “I said to Mike (her husband), ‘I think we should be Marty’s last home.'”
In December 2009 the senior dog found its permanent home with the Jakubcaks.
“There was just something about his face – that look in his eyes that he was unwilling to give up,” Jakubcak says, adding that despite Marty’s physical needs, having developed degenerative neuropathy, he has lost his ability to walk completely had lost “as sharp as it could be” mentally.
“He barked at cars, barked at people, barked at bicycles. Whoever came to stroke him, he was ready to get involved, ”she says. “It was the spark he still had.”
Marty became a source of inspiration for his ability to enjoy life to the full, regardless of his health. Unfortunately, less than a year later after finding his last home, Marty had seizures and crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
But his legacy lives on.
After Marty’s death, the Jakubcaks started thinking about older dogs ending up in the shelter system and decided to do their part in helping more dogs.
“You come to a point in your life where you move from success to meaning. Where do you think you want to make a difference? ”She says. “I combined that with my love for dogs. It seemed like a no-brainer. I didn’t know that this trip was going to be something much bigger. ”
How Marty’s Place began
After four years of work to create the perfect property in a peaceful, idyllic setting, the Jakubcaks finally had their sanctuary. What used to be a tree farm has become a puppy paradise. In 2015, Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary officially opened its doors.
Doreen Jakubcak at Marty’s Place
The non-profit organization started out by placing dogs in the sanctuary. However, they soon realized the demand for rescuing older dogs and started an adoption program.
“Future senior users want the company of a dog and recognize the love and gratitude that a senior must show,” Jakubcak says. “They also accept that there can be health problems and are ready to make that commitment for the dog for the years to come.” So far 33 dogs have been adopted from Marty’s Place and have found their home forever.
In early 2020, Marty’s Place started a grooming program where, if people choose to groom, the nonprofit will cover the medical and basic expenses of each dog so they can have dogs at home. In this way, they make a bigger contribution by saving more dogs in need.
“There are some people who are reluctant to care for or adopt an older dog because of the potential cost involved. The other reason is the feeling that maybe I only have this dog for a year or two and can’t go through it emotionally, ”Jakubcak says. “I’m trying to suggest that people don’t focus so much on the quantity of time, but rather on this quality of time.”
“Every dog that has come to the sanctuary really knows in its own way what you are doing for it. The gratitude and love you get from them – even if it’s only for a year or two – is just priceless to me, ”she adds.
While the pandemic has challenged the nonprofit financially, Marty’s Place remains committed to saving as many older dogs as possible and changing the way they are rated and viewed.
“No matter what happens around us, there will always be older dogs in need. Whether it’s because an owner has passed away or an older owner changes their way of life … that will always be the case, “says Jakubcak. “We will continue to do our part to help as many dogs as possible.”
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For Jakubcak, it’s the little moments that make her trip worthwhile.
“It is when you have a moment where someone says ‘thank you’ for a meeting. It is a former owner who says “thank you” as soon as he hears there has been an adoption and he knows his dog is safe. It actually arrives at the sanctuary and goes into one of our open rooms and the dogs come up to you to say hello and they want to kiss you. You just know that it was all worth it. “
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