18-year-old dog gets adopted in teary-eyed, happy ending

Photo from Beth Ethier/ Twitter.

Age is just a number, especially in the case of a senior dog named Julep who has just found her new forever home.

The 18-year-old canine was part of a loving family when her owner suddenly passed away. Unable to live at home, Julep, who is believed to be a pitbull/hound mix, was taken in by the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C. They tried to find the old but healthy dog a second chance at a new home.

“Julep is a sweet girl, who given her age is doing pretty well here at our adoption facility,” David Smith, chief communications officer for the alliance, told People magazine last month when Julep arrived. “We’re keeping her spirits up and she’s getting lots of attention from our staff, but a dog at this age truly needs to be at home where she can get all of the attention.”

And it looks like Julep has found that home with a man named Wayne Lerch.

Lerch said goodbye to his 11-year-old pitbull who went by Jasmine last December and was still feeling the heartbreak when he saw a social media post about Julep. On Tuesday, Lerch drove his motorcycle to the Humane Rescue Alliance headquarters to meet the elderly dog.

He thought that bringing his bike might dissuade him from making a rash decision, but as soon as the pair locked eyes, Lerch knew he was taking home a new best friend.

“She loved me and I loved her,” he told Today.

Lerch went home to get his car and when he returned, staff asked him if he had any second thoughts about adopting the elderly dog. “I’m more sure now than I was before,” he told the Humane Rescue Alliance.

The same day he took Julep, who he renamed Tutti after his grandmother, out of the shelter and home forever.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” said Humane Rescue Alliance spokeswoman Alix John Tolley. “We see a lot of happy endings and try not to get too emotional. But the combination of her age and Wayne’s obvious adoration for his new ‘old lady’ left us in tears.”

And it’s been all belly rubs and treats so far, according to Lerch, who has embraced his new companion with open arms. He explained that helping another dog is allowing him to heal from the pain of losing Jasmine. And even though Tutti may not be around for long, Lerch wants her remaining days to be as full of love, comfort and stability with him.

“I couldn’t let her spend one more night in the shelter,” he said. “She’s saving me as much as I’m helping her.”