Cuddle Club Is The Best Thing To Happen To Senior Dogs—And Senior Humans

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue
Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

When adopting a dog, people often fall in puppy love, choosing younger, peppier pups over the older, more mellow mongrels. But San Francisco-based Muttville is changing that trend by uniting gray-muzzled, cloudy-eyed canines with people who will dote on them for the rest of their days. In 2007, Sherri Franklin founded the nonprofit organization, which rescues senior dogs (ages 7 and up) from all over California.

The organization is doing more than giving senior dogs a second shot at life. In 2013, Muttville launched Cuddle Club, a subsidiary of their Seniors for Seniors adoption program. Two to four times a month, senior humans can visit the shelter’s handicap-accessible Community Cuddle Room and spend time with Muttville's elderly dogs. The event has become so popular that some senior organizations are on a waiting list.

Senior citizens with dogs
Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

“This program is a win-win,” Franklin tells Mental Floss. “Our senior dogs get love and attention while our senior citizens, some isolated, have created a community where they get out and socialize and get lots of unconditional love.”

At the Cuddle Club, older people who may not be able to adopt their own dog receive an abundance of tail wags and slobbery snuggles—without the obligation of pet ownership. During the visits, seniors can walk the animals, and even let small ones ride on their walkers.

“I think the dogs are giving some of our guests a sense of value, because sometimes a dog will come down and they’re nervous, and they start shaking, and over the course of 15 or 20 minutes, the dog quits shaking and has fallen asleep on that person’s lap,” Muttville volunteer Beth Hofer told Today. “You can just see how happy and fulfilled that person is that they were able to help that dog.”

Seniors for Seniors, on the other hand, helps elderly people adopt older dogs. In addition to waiving the $200 adoption fee for adopters over the age of 62, Muttville sends dogs to their new homes with an entire kit, which includes a harness and collar, a leash, dog bowls, a starter supply of food and medication, a bed, and, if needed, a doggy gate and stairs. As of October 2018, Muttville has rescued 6000 dogs—some of whom were adopted by Cuddle Club attendees.

In addition to Seniors for Seniors and Cuddle Club, Muttville also has a hospice program, in which dogs near the end of their lives can receive palliative care in someone’s home (Muttville funds most of the cost).

Two elderly women with dogs
Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

Spending quality time with a dog has proven health benefits for pet parents. “Studies have shown that holding and petting a dog lowers cortisol [a stress hormone] in your body and lowers blood pressure, and we see stress eased from both the dogs and our visiting humans at our Cuddle Club events,” Franklin says. Taking care of a pet also increases physical activity, lowers depression, and offers an overall sense of well-being.

You can check out all of Muttville's friendly Fidos who are in need of a forever home here. You don’t have to be a senior to adopt one of the adorable dogs, of course. People of all ages can bring home a canine companion—say, a Chihuahua, a Bichon Frise, or a marvelous mixed-breed—and start their very own Cuddle Club. And for those who want to foster a dog, Muttville offers that option, too.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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The Reason Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Crew, Unsplash
Crew, Unsplash

Depending on your mood, a dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying or adorable. The behavior is also confusing if you're not an expert on pet behavior. So what is it about the canine companions in our lives that makes them stick by our sides at all times?

Most experts agree on a few different reasons why some dogs are clingy around their owners. One is their pack mentality. Dogs may have been domesticated thousands of years ago, but they still consider themselves to be part of a group like their wild ancestors. When there are no other dogs around, their human family becomes their pack. According to Reader's Digest, this genetic instinct is also what motivates dogs to watch you closely and seek out your physical touch.

The second reason for the behavior has to do with the bond between you and your pet. As veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack told the American Kennel Club, puppies as old as 6 months can imprint on their human owners like they would their own mothers. Even older dogs will bond with the humans in their lives who show them care and affection. In these cases, a dog will shadow its owner because it sees them as an object of trust and security.

The last possible explanation for why your dog follows you has more to do with your treatment of them than their natural instincts. A popular training tactic is positive reinforcement—i.e. rewarding a dog with treats, pets, and praise when they perform positive behaviors. The point is to help your dog associate good behaviors with rewards, but after a while, they may start to associate your presence with rewards as well. That means if your dog is following you, they may be looking for treats or attention.

A clingy dog may be annoying, but it usually isn't a sign of a larger problem. If anything, it means your dog sees you in a positive light. So enjoy the extra companionship, and don't be afraid to close the door behind when you need some alone time.