Annie the dog is 19 years old and all smiles!
Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. The Labrador retriever mix’s former owner surrendered the senior canine to a Dallas Animal Services shelter in the summer. Annie arrived at the facility weak and in poor health; veterinarians predicted the dog only had a month to live.
To ensure Annie’s final month was filled with love, Dallas Animal Services shared the dog’s story on social media and asked animal lovers to consider fostering the canine.
Lauren Siler spotted Dallas Animal Services’ post and “knew I had to find out how to get her,” the business analyst tells PEOPLE about first seeing Annie online.
“I then showed her picture to my roommate and best friend Lisa, who saw the picture and immediately said, ‘We have to get her,'” Siler says.
Siler and her friend Lisa Flores contacted Dallas Animal Services about fostering the senior dog. The shelter directed the duo to The Pawerful Rescue, which had taken over Annie’s care while she waited for a foster.
The Pawerful Rescue was “very transparent about Annie’s condition and that the vets estimated we would have a month with her,” Siler says of putting in her fostering request to the rescue with Flores.
Annie’s abbreviated timeline didn’t scare Siler and Flores. The friends, who met five years ago while working at the same elementary school, decided to foster the Lab mix and give “her the best dang month of her life.” Siler and Flores created a bucket list for the pup to make sure they packed Annie’s days with fun, affection, and comfort.
“When Lisa and I got her at the end of June, we were prepared for her to be with us for only a month. That’s when it sparked the idea, do a bucket list,” Siler says.
“We started with just a few things like a car ride, swimming, birthday party, Christmas in July, and it took off from there,” she adds.
As it neared the end of July, it became clear to Flores and Siler, who had been documenting Annie’s bucket list trips on Instagram (@dallasanimalfoster), that Annie “wasn’t ready to go,” so the friends kept adding to the list.
“She has had over 500 Valentines sent to her for Valentine’s Day in August, made paintings, been a chef and made homemade dog treats, hosted baby showers, gone on a hamburger tour, and so much more,” Siler says, adding that Annie’s over 19,000 fans offer suggestions on what the senior dog should enjoy next.
Annie has far outlasted her veterinarian’s initial expectations. The dog, who was supposed to live only one month more in June, is still happily going on adventures with her foster family today.
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“I think she quickly learned that living here was ‘the good life.’ We were going to spoil her rotten, say ‘Yes’ every time she asked for a treat, take her places, and give her a full life for however long she is with us,” Siler shares.
When she’s not crossing another thing off her bucket list, Annie adores napping, snoring, going on potty breaks, and mail.
“She lights up when fan mail packages arrive. It’s hilarious! She genuinely smiles and loves getting mail. We started documenting her ‘smile’ every time someone sent her something on Instagram, and so many people have noticed,” Siler says.
Annie also loves mealtime and will “happy dance” for her food. Siler and Flores hope Annie’s fans see the senior dog’s puppy-like personality and are inspired to give older rescue animals a chance.
“We absolutely encourage others to foster. Without someone stepping up to foster, the sad reality is that these dogs are being put down daily because shelters are just simply overwhelmed. Annie is special to us, but not a unicorn. Hundreds of Annies are sitting in a shelter right now. Waiting for someone to step up and care for them,” Siler says.
“These older dogs have given so much of themselves to someone just to be dumped at the shelter. I feel like we owe it to these seniors to help them finish out their life strong,” she adds.
Annie’s bucket list will continue to go strong for as long as the dog has the interest and energy to enjoy the activities. Fans can see Annie’s latest antics on Instagram @dallasanimalfoster.