Downeast Dog News

Senior Dogs Thrive in a Forever Sanctuary

By Susan Spisak | Jul 01, 2020

“I always wanted to take in old dogs. It was kind of a dream of mine,” said Laurie Dorr of North Yarmouth. “You say, someday I’m going to do it.” So, in early 2019, she made that dream a reality by initiating Finally Home Senior Dog Rescue and Retirement Home.

The 501(c)(3) isn’t an ordinary nonprofit with foster volunteers and adoptable dogs. Rather it’s a forever sanctuary in her home for senior canines. The dogs that she brings under her wing are relinquished to her or aren’t highly adoptable – she doesn’t want them sitting in a shelter waiting for “their person” who may never come.

The Sanctuary

Dorr, who serves as Finally Home Senior Dog Rescue and Retirement Home’s president, has a strong conviction that older dogs don’t thrive in a shelter – in fact, they often become depressed and sad. By creating a nurturing and permanent retirement home where they can live out their days, she’s achieving her mission.

The home is large enough to accommodate six sanctuary dogs on the first floor – stairs aren’t easy for seniors. Those that she accepts must be compatible with not only other sanctuary dogs, but her pets - the family has two rescued cats and senior dogs Toby and Sierra. They also have a horse that they adopted from the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals – they’re friends to all animals. (She’s clear her pets are not funded by Finally Home.)

Currently, Finally Home is caring for five dogs as the gentle Sophie II passed recently. In addition to herself, Dorr’s daily core of volunteers is her family - husband Robert and adult children Bobby and Samantha. Son Alex contributes virtually from Boston - he’s on the Board of Directors. There are a dozen volunteers for weekend walks and fundraising.

The property has a fenced area with sunny and shady spots for the canine gang. “Because they are old, there is not a lot of playing that goes on, but they do go out and lay on the grass or on a couple of beds I have for them.” There are water bowls for drinks and a small pool for dipping their toes. There’s also an above ground pool for supervised swims – terrific exercise for seniors.

This compassionate woman, she also works for Home Counselors Inc., facilitating safe, supervised family visits, stops home between clients to take the dogs outdoors. (Due to the pandemic, she was laid off and has enjoyed her time with the pets – but she anticipates going back to work.) Dorr also walks the dogs every day, rain or shine. “They all seem to really love that.”

To aid with their mobility, she gives them hip and joint supplements, and if they have anxiety, CBD oil is utilized. Finally Home dogs receive preventatives and are vetted by Gray-New Gloucester Animal Hospital - they offer these pets a 10% discount. There’s food and any other associated costs – that’s why fundraising is critical. (She said COVID-19 has hampered those efforts.)

Meet the Dogs

Jewels was the one who started it all. Dorr was fostering her for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. She made the decision to adopt her in March of 2019 and initiate the nonprofit. Jewels, who came from a Mississippi shelter, captured Dorr’s heart with her small stature and playfulness. She admitted that the little dog with only three teeth may have had past issues with other pets. As more canines joined the pack, Jewels acclimated.

Dizzy has been at Finally Home for eight months. Her owners had medical issues and relinquished her. They toured the home and grounds and were grateful to be reassured. “It took a while for Dizzy to feel comfortable,” admitted Dorr. Even though Dizzy’s on pain meds for an arthritic spine, she is doing wonderfully. “She’s definitely feeling like part of the family. We love her and would never give her up.”

Sally’s a Dutch shepherd whose spirit has rebounded. Originally, she was heartbroken to be placed at Finally Home - her owner moved and couldn’t take her. Dorr slept near her those first nights to ease Sally’s tears, but the other animals and humans rallied round her. “She quickly fit right in and is doing very well.” At 15 ½, she’s the “old lady” of the house, “As far as dogs go,” Dorr joked. She’s quite spry - she almost prances on walks.

Sophie aka “Sophie Dophie” is a 12-year-old black Lab. She came to Finally Home from an older couple who were moving to a facility. While Sophie is healthy, she’s almost blind.

Marissa is their newest dog. The 9-year-old hound came from a Maine rescue – they indicated that she had lived most of her life in shelters. Marissa is quite timid, so she has her own crate for a sense of security. “She has her own toys in there and comes out when she wants attention, but I also go to her many times during the day, as I do with the other dogs, just to give them a pat and say ‘hi. ’She is coming out of her shell a bit, but it will still take time for her to be totally comfortable being in a home.”

She invites you in Saturday, August 1st between 10 am and 4 pm for their one-year celebration. You’re welcome to drop off soft treats, canned food for the dogs and coins for their “Saving Silver for Seniors Campaign.” She’ll have crafts for sale and baked goods. (Call 207-829-3943 for directions.)

Finally Home would like to construct a first-floor addition so they can take in four more older dogs who would benefit from a retirement home. “The room will have lots of windows, so it will be warm and will have cozy beds and chairs for the dogs to cuddle on,” said Dorr. “These dogs mean the world to us, and we are trying to do a good thing by bringing in, caring for, and loving as many of them as we can.” For more info and donation links, visit