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Closing The Loop: Protector Of Older Pets Kim Stordahl

Kim Stordahl grew up all over the United States, thanks to her father’s management career.

Following in her father's footsteps, Stordahl went into management, moving with her husband to Jacksonville. That’s when she decided she wanted to do something different.

“I was in restaurant management for 12 years or so. It was fast-paced, it was fun, it was perfect for a younger  person, and I just got to a point where it was time to do something else.”

Stordahl and her husband didn’t have kids, so she was able to take a breather to decide what to do next.

“I knew I wanted to help. I didn’t know who or what I wanted to help, but I knew that I wanted to make a difference besides just serving a good meal," she said. "I volunteered at the Humane Society and ended up taking a job there.

"After getting my bearings in animal rescue, I said, 'This is it. This is what I was meant to do in the next part of my life.' ”

But as a trained manager, Kim Stordahl soon recognized a problem area in her new field.

“I got to see a lot of success stories, and I got to see a lot of sad stories, and a lot of those stories were with the older animals,” she said.

Stordahl said, much like with old phones and computers, older pets would also cast aside for newer models.

“Puppies and kittens are king. Everybody wants bright, shiny and new," she said. "I think a lot of the hesitancy in adopting an older animal — or keeping your older animal — is dealing with death.

"We have a hard time dealing with death, not just with our pets, but with our families.”

So Stordahl founded her own organization, The Old Dog House, to focus on older dogs.

“(Owners of older pets) were having a difficult time watching their pet age, dealing with the consequences that come with an aging pet, the financial issues.”

The Old Dog House features photos and videos of the dogs that can be adopted.

“Getting really good photographs and videos showing that they’re still active. They might have some medical issues, but that doesn’t hold them back from just enjoying life," she said. "As much as I can, I try to help people understand that you have to focus on the everyday.

"That’s how dogs live; they live in the here and now.”

Which is why old dog rescue means supporting the owners.

“My hope is that I never have any old dogs to save, because I think that people really do want to keep their animals," she said. "One of my big dreams is to have a rehabilitative facility, and that means a warm-water therapy pool.”

And if working with old dogs sounds altruistic, Stordahl said she gets as much as she gives from spending her days around experienced dogs.

“I’m a chronic worrier. That’s just my nature. I think that comes with having so many animals to consider," she said. "But I try to step back and just live in the moment, and celebrate the here and now – not just with the dogs, but in my personal life.”

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.