by Meg McIntire
There have been a number of days recently when I’ve pulled up Facebook on my phone, and it has put me in a foul mood. It feels like I’m endlessly scrolling through a collection of opinionated political articles, angry blog posts and status updates from people sharing their unsolicited, unhappy thoughts on a current event. As a result I find myself actively trying to avoid the hell that is the Facebook comment section.
When it becomes too tedious and downright depressing, I know that there’s always one page I can turn to brighten my mood—Susie’s Senior Dogs.
Created in 2014, Susie’s Senior Dogs is a work of love inspired by the then 13-year-old straggly haired pooch Susie, owned by photographer Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York. In case you didn’t know, Humans of New York is a blog and bestselling book featuring street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York City. Started in November 2010, it has become a phenomenon and has attracted more than 3.7 million followers.
Stanton’s girlfriend, Erin O’Sullivan, wanted to create an online community where she could make a difference in the lives of other senior dogs, age 7 or older, like Susie by helping them find forever homes. The first story O’Sullivan posted on Humans of New York was about an 8-year-old dog named Tyra living at Animal Haven in SoHo. "She was like a grumpy old woman and she was not so beautiful,” O’Sullivan said. “She was definitely the low man on the totem pole for getting adopted.” But after the post, Tyra quickly had a home. Recognizing she was on to something, O'Sullivan soon began new Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts devoted to such matchmaking. The campaign has been wildly successful. Susie's Senior Dogs went from a few hundred followers to 10,000 within 24 hours of Stanton’s promotion on Humans of New York.
In a Facebook message, Stanton, who had never owned a dog before, wrote that adopting Susie ended up being one of the best decisions he’s ever made in his life. The idea behind starting Susie’s Senior Dogs came from the fact that “senior dogs have a tough time getting adopted even though they are extremely laid back roommates. They enjoy a good walk as much as the next dog, but they are also down with chillaxing all day and watching ‘Breaking Bad’.”
Sadly, Susie passed away earlier this year, but her legacy lives on in her owners’ determination to be a voice for unwanted senior dogs—O’Sullivan estimates that they have been able to place more than 500 senior dogs with permanent families.
What makes Susie’s Senior Dogs unique in terms of social media is that it has created an extremely helpful and loving community of individuals who are willing to do just about anything
to help an older pooch. On any given day, you can find hundreds of comments underneath pictures posted of adoptable dogs from people who are willing to open their homes to a dog either as a foster parent or permanently. Those who can’t currently care for a senior dog still reach out and there is always someone willing to help pay for travel expenses or pick up and drop off a dog so that it can reach its new owner.
If you want to shed a few happy tears, visit Facebook.com/SusiesSeniorDogs.