New home for old dogs created by woman’s last wish
BARABOO, Wis. (WMTV/Gray News) - There’s a new home in Wisconsin for old dogs, where sick and aging canines can peacefully spend the final years of their lives.
There are now seven senior residents who can roam, rest and receive medical care. It leads to a life much different than the ones most had in shelters and rescues.
Dogs like Ajax, at 13 years old, have hearing and vision issues. Ajax also suffers from dementia.
“We’re giving them the love and the space to be themselves, even if they can’t hold their bladders, even if they get a little confused, even if they can’t see or hear well,” said Rachel Leuzinger, the executive director.
The direction came straight from Jane Barton, the nonprofit’s namesake.
“The vision for Jane’s Journey Home took many years to evolve,” said Larry Barton, Jane’s son, who cofounded the organization with his wife Melanie.
Before Jane Barton died in 2013, a terminal illness had shaped her last act.
“She knew that she had cancer. She knew she had about nine or 10 months left,” Larry Barton said. “And dogs were the thing – that became the thing that she wanted people to remember her by.”
Jane Barton grew up in Westfield, Wisconsin, with a love for dogs. Later in life in California, she showed her son the struggles at animal shelters.
“She was concerned that dogs were being euthanized prematurely and also the pain and suffering that they were going through leading up to that,” Larry Barton said. “That was all very clear to me.”
He managed the money in her trust, and the nonprofit began.
“It would have been easy to just make a bunch of donations and walk away from it. I feel what we’re doing here today keeps her memory alive really indefinitely,” he said.
Larry Barton, who also grew up with dogs, visits the sanctuary every weekend.
“I think they give a lot back to us,” he said. “I think anybody that has dogs realizes that they’re the most loving creatures, and it’s unconditional love that a dog can give to a human.”
Volunteers are welcome at Jane’s Journey Home. More information on applying can be found here.
“When you can alleviate the pain that they’re in, they feel so much better. They act so much younger. They’re happier. They’re healthier,” Leuzinger said. “Turn that dog’s life around, you stabilize it, and now it is a happy senior animal enjoying life. I love to see that.”
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