Roscoe, a handsome, senior chocolate Lab, is enjoying a new life thanks to the efforts of residents of Black Canyon and two valuable nonprofit organizations: OkanDogs and Jamie’s Place.
Black Canyon resident Brian Hagenbuch was walking with his young son Ralph when he saw a pile of garbage at a campsite near Black Canyon Sno-Park. He walked closer to assess the damage and was surprised by a forlorn set of eyes looking at them from behind a tree. “He looked so sad. He was definitely waiting for someone,” Brian said. He consulted with neighbor Rebecca Meadows and they decided to contact the U.S. Forest Service.
The Forest Service called Tom Short, president of OkanDogs, who in turn contacted Penelope Varn, community outreach director for OkanDogs and Methow Valley resident. Penelope cooked up a package of bacon and sped to Black Canyon.
Brian and Ralph were again out for a walk when Penelope arrived. “Her whole car smelled like bacon,” Brian laughed.
Penelope sat down and tossed out bits of bacon. Roscoe gave a few warning barks, but came closer to investigate. Penelope pulled out a collar and leash, “his face lit up when he saw that collar and leash,” he eagerly came forward to climb into her bacon-mobile, but struggled. “He was fat and decrepit,” Penelope had to lift him into the back seat.
OkanDogs covered Roscoe’s vet care provided by two local vet offices. Roscoe had pneumonia, a broken tooth, and an autoimmune condition that affected his lungs. Penelope welcomed Roscoe into her home and started him on a healthy diet of fresh whole foods, daily exercise, grooming, and playing with other dogs. He lost 7 pounds the first month and gained mobility and strength. “He just wants to be with people,” Penelope said, “he has perfect manners and bright eyes. He is healthier by the day.”
While Roscoe was recuperating, Rana Clarke, executive director at Jamie’s Place retirement home in Winthrop, contacted Tom at OkanDogs. She requested a dog who would be a good match for residents. Tom suggested Roscoe – an older, friendly, calm lab who loved to be with people.
Jamie’s Place is modeled after the Green House Project to provide eldercare in a home-like environment where people live according to their personal cycles, explained Rana. While attending a professional conference, Rana and Jamie’s Place administrator Jessica Kulsrud observed the concept of including a dog in the resident home.
“It is scientifically proven that pets lower anxiety and provide seniors with a sense of purpose,” Clarke said. “A pet makes life fun and interesting.”
In his first week, Roscoe appears to fit right in at Jamie’s Place. “He’s the friendliest guy with big eyes and a goofy grin,” said Rana. Roscoe walks with residents, families, and caretakers. He receives lots of love, and he brings joy to residents. He even has his own resident profile with his medication and dietary needs, just like the other residents.
This is a trial run for the program and for Roscoe. OkanDogs and Jamie’s Place are coordinating Roscoe’s needs to monitor if he is a good fit with the residents. Penelope continues to visit Roscoe to take him for walks and spa days at YoDog in Twisp.
OkanDogs depends on donors to provide animal rescue, veterinary care, and home placement for animals in need. Visit okandogs.com to learn more about OkanDogs services and how to support their efforts.