Dawn Shonkwiler is our kind of people.

“Dachshunds are my passion,” says Dawn. The Huntingtown, MD resident is a tireless proponent of senior dog rescue. A “forever foster mom” for Sugar Faces Senior Dog Rescue, Dawn had already rescued two Dachshunds through the organization when she saw a senior Dachshund named Sherman on a shelter website she regularly checked. Dawn left for vacation and returned ten days later to find that poor Sherman had been transferred to a high-intake kill shelter. Dawn knew she had to do something, fast.

“He was a hot mess—pus-filled eyes, ear and skin infection, and very weak back legs, as well as rotten teeth.
I asked the director of Sugar Faces if I could pull him and she said yes.”

“As soon as I took him outside and put him down, he put his paws up on the car—a red Nissan cargo van, plastered with Dachshund magnets—and was ready to roll!” laughs Dawn. There was never any question she would adopt him, despite Dawn’s full house.

“I currently have 16 dogs at my house, all rescues—13 are mine and 3 are fosters. Last year I started my own non-profit, Just One More Dachshund Rescue. I rescue Dachshunds and foster them myself before finding them forever homes.”

Sherman (now 14) currently lives with Wilbur (19), Claire (15), Annie (14), Rusty (13), Rosalita (10), Tucker (10), Shiraz (9), Sookie and Gemma (bonded sisters 7),  Karley (6), Rigatoni (5), Frankie Bean (3), and various fosters. “Dachshunds, especially seniors, tug at my heart strings,” Dawn says.

Thanks to Dawn, Sherman has a new “leash” on life. Not only is he doted on by Dawn, he’s a celebrity. Animal Planet reached out to Sugar Faces last year and asked if they had any dogs that would like to audition for Dog Bowl. The event, modelled after Super Bowl, is now in its third year and brings attention to adopting older dogs. Sherman auditioned and was selected. He scored two touchdowns and was named MVP by live Twitter vote during the broadcast of the show. In fact, Sherman is headed back to NYC next week for a Hall of Fame taping.

“I often wonder if his former family thinks about him. He was obviously loved at some point.”

Then there’s the meet and greet with Maryland’s governor. The local press did a story on Sherman and someone on the Governor's staff saw it and he invited Dawn and Sherman to the Maryland State House. The Governor awarded Sugar Faces Senior Dog Rescue a special commendation for their work in rescuing senior dogs. 

And that’s just for starters. Sherman was also voted Best in Show at the Washington Metro Dachtoberfest in 2018, competing against about 100 other Dachshunds, and won Hound of the Town at an area beach town. But for Dawn, it’s all about inspiring others to adopt a senior dog in need.

“Don't overlook the older dogs in shelters,” she says. “Sherman was a pathetic looking little old man in a cage at the shelter and in less than two years he has become a local celebrity.  If one person sees his story and decides to adopt an older dog, that is a win. We always say #seniordogsrock and Sherman is a testament to that!”

What do you want people to know about senior rescue dogs?

“Most people want to adopt puppies (which are incredibly fun!) but they often don't realize how much work they will be. Older dogs are often already house broken and can be very laid back but still have some playful puppy in them. It's so sad when you see older dogs in shelters— many are given up because they are too old, or their family is moving. Once in the shelter, their world is turned upside down. They deserve a second chance and the opportunity to live out the rest of their lives in a forever home.”—Dawn Shonkwiler