100year-old California resident Johanna Carrington has adopted the perfect companion: an 11-year-old Chihuahua mix named Gucci.

Carrington was more than ready for some canine companionship—her home was feeling much too quiet after the passing of her previous dog, Rocky. Carrington told her daughter, Debbie Carrington, that she hoped to adopt another dog but was worried she wouldn’t be approved due to her age.

Photo Debbie Carrington

Luckily, Carrington’s neighbour volunteers for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, and she thought they might be able to help. The organization felt they had the perfect match in Gucci. The sweet senior Chihuahua mix, rescued from a hoarding situation with 22 other dogs, was ready for the love and attention that comes with being an only dog. The organization arranged a meet-up, and it was an instant love match.

“He came to the house like he’d been here before,” Carrington told TODAY. “It was remarkable. He saw me sitting on my chair, jumped up on me, and sat on my lap. He made himself very, very comfortable. He was just our baby right away.”

Photo Debbie Carrington

The small dog likes to fetch—he now has “oodles” of toys—and Carrington massages him while they watch TV together.

Gucci’s presence has proven transformative. “After she lost her other dog, it was kind of sad here,” says Debbie Carrington. “It was quiet and sad, and then Gucci brought joy into the house. Laughing about him running around and doing funny things, and then also him sleeping on her lap with her while she’s in her recliner or sleeping in her bed, it’s just making her very happy.”

Having a strong support system can help seniors adopt pets. As part of the adoption approval process, Johanna Carrington’s caregiver, Eddie Martinez, agreed to help with Gucci’s care and take him on daily walks.

Carrington is looking forward to doing something fun with Gucci to celebrate her 101st birthday this December. Though she credits her longevity to a healthy lifestyle, she says she definitely feels that having a pet is one of the secrets to a long, happy life.

Photo Debbie Carrington

Studies prove she’s right, showing pet ownership to improve the mental health of older adults by providing companionship, reducing loneliness, increasing socialization, and giving a sense of purpose. Pets also contribute to healthy aging by reducing stress, encouraging physical activity, and even helping people cope with pain.

Alice Ensor, adoptions coordinator at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, says seniors adopting senior dogs is a win for everyone involved. To help facilitate these pairings, Muttville offers a Seniors for Seniors program. If a senior adopts a dog but can no longer care for them, Muttville pledges to take the dog back. They also stay in contact in case the adopter needs assistance, such as temporary fostering.

“We want them to still have that time together and experience the full joy of their senior years together,” says Ensor. “Life is better with a dog, whether you’re young or old.”

The First Step

Family, friends, and neighbours can assist seniors in adopting pets by helping them with technology, notes Esnor. Many organizations use social media to post adoptable pets; meet-and-greets and home inspections are frequently conducted via FaceTime or Zoom, which can be difficult for seniors to navigate without assistance.


Seniors For Seniors

Muttville’s Seniors for Seniors program accounts for approximately 32 percent of their adoptions each year. The team works to find the perfect match for older adopters. Dogs with lower exercise needs and of smaller size (such as a dog who can be lifted but isn’t so small as to potentially cause a fall by getting underfoot), or a dog who is comfortable around walkers or wheelchairs are some of the things they look for.



This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!