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Rex: from New York City streets to a lap of love, thanks to Marty's Place Senior Dog Sanctuary
Animal Rescue Article

     Imagine being abandoned simply because you’re old-er. That’s what happened to Rex, a 14-year-old Pekingese from New York City, whose owners abandoned him on the streets after deeming him too much of a burden. Fortunately for Rex, a concerned pet lover, animal rescuer, and Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary all came to his rescue.

      Rex was discovered aimlessly wandering the streets of Brooklyn. Fearing for his safety, a concerned pet lover alerted a local rescue organization that responded immediately. Thinking he was lost, the rescue organization was able to track down Rex’s owner, but an anticipated joyful reunion with his owners turned out to be nothing of the sort. Instead, Rex’s owners said they had purposely abandoned him because he was “too old.”

     “So many dogs like Rex are simply cast away when they reach their senior years,” says Doreen Jakubcak, founder and executive director of Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary in New Jersey. “We were happy to take Rex in and give him a second chance at life.”

     Inspired by a senior dog adoptee named Marty and the plight of other aging canines with nowhere to live out their “golden” years safely and comfortably, Marty’s Place opened its doors in 2015. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization provides a permanent and protected environment for dogs aged seven years and older when their owners or other animal rescues/shelters can no longer care for them. When homes can be found for them, dogs are placed in adoptive or long-term foster homes.

     Today, Rex is living his best life with a doting adoptive mom who is also a senior dog advocate. “Senior dogs have so much love to give, and they deserve to be spoiled,” says Rex’s adopter, Maria Buck.

     Rex is just one of more than 100 dogs that Marty’s Place has saved from homelessness since opening its doors. Senior dogs come to Marty’s Place for a variety of reasons including illness, owner passing, financial hardship, neglect and relocation. “When we make a commitment to a dog that comes to Marty’s Place, that dog has a home for life,” explains Jakubcak. “That forever home will either be with us at the sanctuary or with a new family when adoption or long-term foster is an option.” To date, 68 dogs have been placed in adoptive homes or long-term foster homes and the remaining seniors have lived out their golden years at the sanctuary.

     Marty’s Place provides an idyllic setting for their senior dogs. Set on 25 acres, the 8,200-square-foot sanctuary provides a homelike environment, complete with communal living spaces, comfortable couches and beds, and individual dog rooms for for eating and sleeping. Dogs spend their days interacting with each other and a robust number of trained volunteers who provide love, emotional care and enrichment. Outdoors, dogs spend time playing in fenced-in yards or meandering along walking trails that surround the property.

     Marty’s Place also offers water exercise in their swim center which features an indoor saltwater pool and an underwater treadmill. Both forms of exercise are gentle on aging dogs’ limbs and perfect for seniors suffering from arthritis or age-related mobility issues.

     While saving senior dogs is at the core of Marty’s Place’s mission, Jakubcak explains that helping people goes hand in hand with their work. “Not all dogs are throwaways like Rex,” she says. “Some loving pet caregivers are faced with the heart-wrenching decision of rehoming their dogs, and Marty’s Place is a haven that gives them peace of mind.”

     One example is Bella who lived with her 87-year-old owner with dementia in an assisted-living facility that allowed dogs. When her owner’s condition worsened and he had to be relocated to the West Coast, Bella was in desperate need of a home. “For those moments when the owner’s family brought Bella to Marty’s Place and said their goodbyes, they knew their beloved dog was in a safe place and would be well cared for,” recounts Jakubcak. Marty’s Place is thriving and filled with the joyous sights and sounds of dogs barking, playing, being cuddled, walking, and even some snoring! It’s also alive with the love that staff and volunteers bring to the sanctuary dogs each and every day.

     For more information or to make a donation, visit: and follow the organization on Facebook and Instagram.

Claudia Flisi is a dual national, Italian and American, whose articles have appeared for decades in the International New York Times, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Newsweek, Variety, MS., and dozens of other publications worldwide. She has visited more than 100 countries, fallen off horses on six continents, and trained dogs in three languages. She is also the author of a children’s book about dogs, Crystal and Jade. For more about her and some of her recent clips, check her out at, or Google her name.

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