How One Pit Bull Inspired the ‘Ripple Effect’ of Pet Adoption in Philadelphia

Back in 2013, a shy pit bull named Apollo spent eight weeks waiting for someone to adopt him from an animal shelter in Philadelphia.

When Maria Termini-Romano and her family adopted him from ACCT Phillyit not only saved Apollo’s life but ultimately the lives of countless other shelter dogs.

Termini-Romano told The Dog People: “We were on the go looking for a dog that needed a home and it was right for us.

Sofia meets Apollo in 2013

Sofia Romano, then 7 years old, met Apollo in 2013. Photo by Peggy Jackson

Ambassador for Temporary Pets

Apollo hatched out of hiding and became friends with the family’s Coonhound, Miles. The sweet dog understands that he needs to be gentle with the kids – Louis, Sofia and John, then 2, 6 and 8 years old – often roll over to give them a cuddle.

Meanwhile, Termini-Romano can’t stop thinking about the hundreds of other dogs that need to be adopted before the clock runs out, dogs that are seen as “timestamps” for euthanasia.

“Those sentient beings who have feelings and love to give and feel stress, loss and grief sitting there alone in this crib for days on end… the emptiness inside me perceives their experience, ‘ said Termini-Romano. “I call Apollo my ‘gateway dog’ because he made me aware of my needs at ACCT Philly and in the community.”

So she started volunteering at the shelter, walking the dog, transporting ringworm kittens to volunteer caregivers, running programs and fostering.

“For nine years, Apollo has welcomed a lot of dogs here [in our home] and helped them socialize and become friends,” she said.

Apollo and Maria

Maria Termini-Romano and Apollo had a special relationship. Kristen Kidd / LUX Summit Studio’s photo

Apollo also inspired her to co-found her own nonprofit, Lifesaving Initiative Funding Efforts (LIFE), raise funds to help support shelter dogs with behavioral and medical needs. The group, founded in late 2019, has donated about $50,000 to medical and behavioral support for dogs in need—primarily at ACCT Philly—in the last year alone.

LIFE also helps keep pets in their homes with a monthly pantry that provides pet food, collars, leashes, leash, cat litter, dog bowls, bedding, sweaters, and other items. other widgets, as well as free quarterly wellness events and clinics.

In fact, Termini-Romano started the celebration with the woman who found Apollo lost nearly a decade ago, sleeping on her porch on Valentine’s Day.

Termini-Romano said: “The ripple effect of Apollo is very impressive. “That’s his legacy.”

Gail and John Hagen bond with their 14-year-old lab, Roscoe, during a photo session for “Old Friends.” Gail was being treated for breast cancer and Roscoe helped her through. Kristen Kidd / LUX Summit Studio’s photo

Legacy in Life — and Photos

Apollo’s legacy will be showcased by professional photographer Kristen Kidd in her forthcoming book on coffee tables.Old friends: How senior dogs are teaching us the best way to live. “Apollo was the first dog she photographed for the book.

“The inspiration Apollo has for his family really embraces and informs every aspect of this project,” Kidd told The Dog People, who learned of his story after his family posted it. sign to participate.

Kidd, co-owner of LUX Summit Studio in North Wales, Pennsylvania, will be photographing 50 dogs and their people for the project, and is still accepting applications from potential participants. LUX Summit Studio, which Kidd owns with her husband and fellow photographer, David Weir, will donate 100% of profits to the nonprofit Monkey’s House: A Dog Hospice & Sanctuary in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Senior dogs like Kristen Kidd’s beloved Hudson “have a lot to offer,” says the photographer. Kristen Kidd’s photo

Kidd’s previous book project, “A woman’s best friend, ” Celebrating the bond between women and their dogs. Three episodes have raised more than $25,000 for animal rescue organizations. Now, she’s excited that LUX Summit Studio will light senior dogs while raising funds for them.

“Elderly people have a lot to offer, so [our studio] Kidd said. “Part of the reason we wanted the ‘Old Friends’ project to celebrate senior dogs was that it was a way for us to remove the age stigma, not just for four-year-old friends. our feet, but also to us and the way we think. about aging… What we see is that our senior dogs really know how to live their best lives every day. ”

Kidd said she was inspired by her senior dog, Hudson, as well as other dogs that will feature in “Old Friends,” such as Pacino, a former decoy dog ​​in the air combat ring who survived terrible wounds. Now, he is loved by his family and social media fans and followers @GoodBoyPacino.

Pacino and his family

Pacino receives affection from Ryan Ferry and Brittany Elder during a photo session for “Old Friends,” which benefits senior dog rescue. Kristen Kidd / LUX Summit Studio’s photo

“I hear a lot of stories (from senior dog owners) about being reminded to be present, just enjoy, to slow down. All of those are important lessons in life in general, but especially as we get older,” Kidd said. “I really think there’s a stigma attached to old age, and we can have the mindset to change that and start thinking every stage of our lives has opportunity and potential, joy and its own gifts.”

Saving the Elderly, with Books

Kidd is excited that her senior dog book will support Monkey’s House and the nonprofit’s work to save older dogs and give them the care they deserve during their golden years. of them.

“A lot of times senior dogs are overlooked for adoption because we know they don’t have long with us, but they have a lot to give while they are here,” says Kidd. “Michele, the founder of Monkey’s House, said one thing that I love and live by, which is ‘Live ’til you die’.

Fittingly, it was a dog named Monkey that inspired Michele Allen, co-founder and director of Monkey’s House, to set up a nonprofit dog ranch and sanctuary on the ranch she shares with her husband – and there are more than 20 senior dogs available at any given time.

She thought of doing something to help the elderly dogs after taking care of a senior Golden Retriever Named Goldie when given the opportunity to raise Monkey.

Jeff and Michele Allen at Monkey's House

Jeff and Michele Allen founded the nonprofit Monkey’s House to provide end-of-life care for older dogs. Kristen Kidd’s photo

She told The Dog People: “In 2013, Monkey came to the shelter — a cute little brown dog suffering from congestive heart failure. “I remember raising money for a chest X-ray. They called me and asked if I could marry him, and I said yes… and he changed our entire lives.”

Allens monitors Monkey’s condition with medication every four hours and makes sure he’s happy by taking a car ride, one of his favorite activities. After his death, their grief prompted the establishment of the Monkey House.

As a hospice, the nonprofit doesn’t usually adopt dogs, but sometimes they’ll pull a shelter dog that’s medically “a hot mess” but turns out to be “fixable.” “, she said.

“For me, if a dog is smart enough to pretend they’re dying to come here, they’re pretty special,” she says. “We call them ‘impostors’ because they have some medical problems, but they are not going to die. We wanted to work things out that was going wrong but saw them as a forever home, so they were placed for adoption through one of our rescue partners. ”

Shelters contact Monkey’s House about dogs in need. The majority came from ACCT Philly, the open bunker where Apollo operated. Dog food company AllProvide donates a whopping 60 pounds of food each week to help feed the elderly golden retrievers and volunteers help care for the dogs, whether feeding them, bathing them or simply sitting with them by the side. outside.

Hydraulic elevator at Monkey's House

Allens and Dozer demonstrate how Monkey’s House uses hydraulic lifts to transport large, hard-to-move dogs. Kristen Kidd’s photo

With Age, Wisdom

Allen said donations and volunteers are always welcome, and that Monkey’s House is an incredibly happy place.

“I am a human nurse and have worked with people who are always on the verge of death. Life is full of enveloping, regretting, embracing, missing out on many things,” she said. “For dogs, even being actively dying is fine. You keep them comfortable and they’re happy. They find happiness in the simplest things… It’s incredibly rewarding. ”

She hopes people will consider adopting or fostering older dogs, which she likens finding the right condiments to make bland foods delicious because they can improve lives. Our lives are many.

“They teach me and inspire me every day,” she says. “They just opened their hearts to make things great.”

That was certainly the case for Apollo, who recently celebrated his ninth “Gotcha Day” with his beloved family and continues to inspire them daily with his legacy of love.

To submit an application for the book “Old Friends: How Old Dogs Are Teaching Us to Live Our Best Lives”, visit:

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