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Rescued NYC dogs prove senior pups still have spunk

When two 9-year-old Chihuahua mixes were brought to the ASPCA’s Manhattan adoption center in April, shelter staff did everything they could to make sure the pair found a loving home together.

Ana Nizialek spotted a photo of two dogs on the ASPCA’s website while visiting a friend on the Upper East Side and instantly fell in love, she told amNewYork. Those two dogs just so happened to be the shelter’s bonded pair, Grace and Karen.

Nizialek didn’t see age or health when she looked at their photo. She saw her new family members. On July 24, she visited the shelter with the intent of giving Grace and Karen some extra love. She drove them to their new home in Grand Island, in western New York State, one day later.

Nizialek said she dropped by to see them because she felt they would otherwise be looked at as unadoptable due to their age. The shelter was delighted to have a visitor come in just to see Grace and Karen, she added.

The two wide-eyed dogs, differentiated by their colored harnesses, were missing patches of fur on their bodies, most predominantly spotted on their bald heads. Unsure of their previous home life, Nizialek’s veterinarian isn't quite sure of exactly what caused their fur loss.

“What attracted me most, was they looked so gentle and so sweet,” she said. “I tend to like the underdog. I am not afraid of adopting senior or older dogs. In fact, I prefer them to puppies.”

With four rescue dogs already at home, Nizialek took no issue with adding two more to the pack.

“I’d already adopted a bonded pair, so I knew that adopting them together would be an easy transition for me,” she said. Plus, she knew she wouldn’t have to worry about some of the concerns that come with owning a puppy – like teething, mostly because Grace and Karen don’t have any teeth left.

The once-quiet dogs completely opened up once they settled in with their new mom and four siblings. Much to Nizialek’s surprise, Grace and Karen really love to play.

“I only saw a small side of them in the shelter. I thought since they were older that they wouldn’t be interested in playing with toys or the other dogs,” she said. But that’s not the case. They even branched out from their attachment to one another.

“Karen loves playing with Grace, but Grace loves playing with the other dogs,” Nizialek said.

The former city dogs also had to adjust to life in the suburbs. Nizialek said they’re fascinated by birds and squirrels in her yard, a sight she believes is completely new for them.

While the senior dogs may be playful, sleeping is still their favorite pastime. They have claimed numerous pillows and pet beds around the house as their own. Nizialek calls Karen a champion sleeper.

As for their missing patches of fur, it’s growing back in nicely.

“Our current vet said they may never fully get their hair back, but their heads are starting to get baby fuzz now. They’re gaining weight and are active. All are signs they’re recovering nicely from whatever conditions [they were rescued from],” she said.

Here's a glimpse of Grace and Karen's life in their new home.

Grace and Karen (lounging on the red pillow)
Photo Credit: Ana Nizialek

Grace and Karen (lounging on the red pillow) have four siblings: Melvin, Mavy, Lola and Lulu.

They'll take a nap any chance they get.
Photo Credit: Ana Nizialek

They'll take a nap any chance they get. It doesn't even matter who's already occupying the bed.

If they're not sleeping or playing, their next
Photo Credit: Ana Nizialek

If they're not sleeping or playing, their next favorite thing to do is spot squirrels and birds in the yard.

This duo may have branched out with their
Photo Credit: Ana Nizialek

This duo may have branched out with their new siblings, but they're still a bonded pair.

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