Pets & Animals

Elderly shelter dogs get sweet senior prom — who will be crowned king and queen?

It's doggone hard to choose which of these puppers should be crowned king and queen of The Grey Muzzle Organization’s inaugural Senior Dog Prom.

Whom do you vote for among the adorable, elderly dogs in the running? There are four worthy contenders in each category — plus you get to select the cutest couple.

Photo courtesy of the Richmond Animal League
Misty is available for adoption through the Richmond Animal League. Jacksie was recently adopted from RAL. Together, they are in the running for cutest couple of The Grey Muzzle Organization's senior prom.

And they're all so cute in their fancy dresses and sweet little bow ties.

Photo courtesy of Bob’s House for Dogs
Rusty is available for adoption at Bob’s House for Dogs. His date, Libby, has a forever home.

Oh my, we could spend all day gazing at these dogs' photos. Which is part of the point of this whole endeavor.

The Grey Muzzle Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to helping senior shelter dogs find homes. The group decided to throw this online shindig in part to draw positive attention to dogs who've been around the block a few times. (Preferably leashed, with their poop picked up.)

"The Senior Dog Prom is a chance for older dogs to shine," Grey Muzzle's executive director Lisa Lunghofer told TODAY in an email. "It’s an opportunity to showcase senior dogs in a way that highlights their unique personalities and the joy they bring to our lives."

Some of the dogs are available for adoption.

This includes the would-be prom king Dwight, who is 12 years old and seeking a home with the help of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville, North Carolina. Eight-year-old Misty, half of a duo up for cutest couple, is available from the Richmond Animal League in Richmond, Virginia.

Others already belong to human families who know how great life is with a senior dog. Like 13-year-old Mikey, who would like your vote for prom king, please.

Mikey lost his previous home when his owner developed dementia and moved into a long-term care facility that doesn't allow pets. He was taken in by the rescue group Animal Network Las Vegas.

Photographers Mike and Pam Heiney met Mikey at a pet adoption event in early April. They were there to shoot pictures for a fundraiser, not pick up a dog. But there was just something about Mikey.

"He seemed sad and disoriented, deaf, overweight, lumpy and with many obvious health issues. Yet he was stoic and funny," Mike Heiney said in an email. "Without really discussing it, my wife and I both knew Mikey was going home with us that day."

He's settled in well. While at first Mikey seemed confused, as if he expected his previous owner to come walking through the door at any moment, now the little guy seems content and comfortable.

"There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere for all of us about accepting change and moving on," Heiney said. "And as I write this, Mikey lies under my desk gently snoring."

Lunghofer said working on the Senior Dog Prom has been a moving experience. People all over the country have been contacting The Grey Muzzle Organization to gush about their aging furry family members.

"One of the things that most impressed me about the prom is how much people absolutely adore their old dogs," Lunghofer said.

Of course, there's Mikey and his adoring family. And Brownie, a 14-year-old Chihuahua who's a finalist to be prom queen.

In her prom photo, Brownie is wearing a regal pink dress. It was handmade by her adoptive mom — a survivor of domestic violence who heard about the prom contest from The Shade Tree, a nonprofit in Las Vegas that helps women, children and their pets.

"Her devoted mom is very excited that Brownie is in the running for Senior Dog Prom queen," Lunghofer said. "We know dressing dogs up in prom outfits may strike some people as silly. But if it helps people take a second look and think about opening their hearts and homes to older dogs, then it’s worth it."

Voting will remain open for Senior Dog Prom finalists until May 31, and winners will be announced in early June. The prom king, prom queen and “cutest couple” winners will receive a copy of the book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts,” a Grey Muzzle “Together Forever” T-shirt — and some serious wagging rights.

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