It can be hard for senior dogs in shelters to get adopted. Most people go for younger, cuter dogs that will be with them a longer time. It’s heartbreaking to think that these dogs will never see a home of their own.
But some kindhearted people do open their hearts and homes to these older dogs, ensuring that their final years will be filled with warmth and love—even knowing the heartbreaking day will eventually come.
That was the case for one family, who took in a senior dog and made sure to make the most of every day she had left.
In 2017, the Davis family, from Maryland, decided to take in a new dog, after a surprising request from their 9-year-old daughter Raven.
“She started begging for us to adopt ‘an old dog no one else wants’ so that it could have a family before it died,” mom Melissa Davis told Today.
“When she realized that old dogs die in the shelter with no family to love them, she was heartbroken.”
They went to Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARC) and discovered a beautiful 11-year-old dog named Kaylee.
Kaylee had several medical issues, including a torn CCL, kidney and bladder issues. Her original owner couldn’t care for her anymore and took her to the shelter to be euthanized. Instead, the shelter opted to treat the dog and try to find her a new home.
But it wasn’t easy—Kaylee waited in the shelter for months but no one wanted her. “How many people want a senior bull breed mix with known medical issues?” Melissa wrote on Facebook.
But the Davis family knew she was the one and gave the poor dog the home she had been waiting for.
The family expected to have a few happy years with Kaylee—but it turned out, they had even less time than they thought.
Shortly after adopting Kaylee that summer, they found out the dog had metastasized thyroid cancer. Because of her age, treatment wasn’t viable, and vets gave her just a few months to live.
With their time cut short, the family set out to make Kaylee’s final months as perfect as possible… and made a “bucket list” so she would experience everything life has to offer.
The first item, “find a forever home,” was already crossed out.
But soon, Kaylee was crossing out other items on the list, like trying out different tasty foods, celebrating her birthday and getting breakfast in bed.
Through all their adventures, Kaylee formed a closer and closer bond with her new family.
“We’d snuggle into bed together,” Melissa told Today. “She always slept smashed up against me.”
Their Facebook page, “Kaylee’s Bucket List,” quickly went viral. As people followed the story and fell in love with the dog, it gave Kaylee a chance to fulfill another entry on the list: inspiring people to take in senior pets.
“I received an email from someone who has started volunteering at a local shelter and adopted a senior cat because of Kaylee,” Melissa said.
“This means more to me than words can say.”
All this love kept Kaylee going, and she lasted longer than anyone expected. But after seven months, it was finally her time.
The cancer had spread to the point that the family decided to end the dog’s suffering… but not before crossing off one “final bucket list item,” having a “perfect day” and falling asleep in his mom’s arms.
They gave Kaylee a final walk, and gave her a delicious meal of brownie cake and bacon. She was finally put to sleep, but the important thing is she wasn’t alone—she died in Melissa’s arms surrounded by her family.
The family was sad to lose Kaylee, but grateful for the time they had together, and for the impact she had on everyone.
Her legacy lives on: her Facebook page continues to operate, both preserving her memory and sharing photos of other dogs in need.
“The best way to honor Kaylee’s memory is to get out there and get involved,” Melissa told Today. “Donate to a local shelter. Sponsor an adoption fee for a senior pet. Volunteer your time. Foster.”
“And best of all, adopt a senior pet. Give a loving home to a pet no one else wants and see what a truly magical experience it is.”
Rest in peace, Kaylee! Even though you’re gone, you’ll still continue to inspire others to open their hearts to older dogs in need!
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