Robbie Gay is an adopted 9-year-old boy with a mission – saving senior dogs left behind in shelters. Instead of looking for the cutest and youngest pup, as most people would, Robbie chooses the oldest and least-adoptable mutt to bring home.
“There’s something about old dogs that I just like,” he said. And that could be because he sees himself in them.
Robbie suffered from mistreatment by his biological family before he entered the foster care system. The abuse was so severe that he was hospitalized twice with brain injuries. Then, two years ago, Maria Henry Gay and her husband, Charles, adopted him.
“He knows what it feels like not to be loved and cared for. He’s the most hopeful, optimistic, and genuinely caring kid who has absolutely no reason to be that way,” Maria said.
Robbie had a terrible history, but Maria noticed one odd thing – he never cried. Despite his rough past, or maybe because of it, the boy can’t seem to express his emotions. But all that changed when one of his old dogs named Buffy had to be put down.
The pooch was supposed to have her teeth cleaned and a few extracted, but because of her old age, the veterinarian ran bloodwork first to be cautious. Sadly, the tests revealed she was suffering from advanced kidney failure.
Though it broke their hearts to do so, the family decided “that the kindest and most loving thing to do would be to let her go before she lost her will to live and stopped eating and drinking.”
Maria wanted to involve Robbie in that decision, so she picked him up from school and told him the sad news. Robbie understood and said he wanted to be the one to hold her until the very end. He even insisted that his mom take pictures of the process to remember it. Buffy peacefully passed on the boy’s lap.
The whole family was devastated, but they knew they made the right decision. Maria felt so proud of how Robbie handled all of it.
“On the way home I told him how proud I was of him for understanding the importance of caring for old animals and helping to make sure they never ever suffer,” she said.
The boy responded with, “I know how it feels not to be loved or cared for and I don’t want any animal of mine to ever feel that way. It’s only sad for us when they go to heaven. It’s a happy day for them.”
Robbie also didn’t want other foster kids to feel that way.
“People don’t want older people and older dogs. They only want babies and puppies,” he said.
“He is so aware that it could have gone totally differently for him. And in these older dogs Robbie has found a place to practice compassion,” Maria said.
Robbie also wants to adopt older foster children when he’s old enough. But until then, he does what he can by adopting as many old dogs as his parents will allow. They have six so far, and the most recent addition to their family is a snaggletooth Shih Tzu mutt named Molly, whose previous owner moved into an assisted living facility.
This kindhearted boy also recently started volunteering at the Flagler County Humane Society in Palm Coast, Florida, where he has been recognized as a powerful champion for older dogs. Because of Robbie’s advocacy, dozens of families were inspired to choose older mutts and bring them home.
For this boy to practice compassion at such a young age is incredible to witness. Please share this story with your friends and family to let them know the importance of adopting older dogs.
Thank you for all the work you so for these senior animals, Robbie!