In 2012 professional photographer Lori Fusaro inquired with the Los Angeles California Animal Shelter about volunteering her time on weekends to photograph the dogs up for adoption for the shelter website. She loved animals, so why not be of service doing what she loved to do? Her intention was to take happy, fun pictures to help them get adopted. The shelter quickly accepted Lori’s offer.

Lori was having the time of her life. Her photos were bringing people in. The shelter management team was thrilled at how well the photos captured each dog’s personality.

It was during this time that Lori met a large 16-year-old female dog that had been surrendered for adoption. The poor creature looked so depressed, Lori called her Sunny to brighten her up. A week after meeting her, Lori decided to bring Sunny home.

A New Life

Lori knew the senior dog’s chance of adoption was nil and wanted to give Sunny some loving attention and comfort for the short remainder of her life. The veterinarian’s recommendation was the same. He felt Sunny had a few weeks at best. Lori began to notice that dogs as young as 3 years were considered old and undesirable for adoption. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often have the lowest chance of being adopted from shelters.

Shortly after being welcomed into Lori’s home, Sunny found renewed life. This inspired Lori to write a blog post about her experience with Sunny and the wonderful old dogs at the shelter. Her blog caught the attention of Laura T. Coffey, a writer for the NBC Today website.

Second Act Stories

Laura interviewed Lori for an article, and it went viral online. People from across the United States were responding positively, thanking Lori for enlightening them or sharing second act stories about senior dogs that they had adopted. It was while reading all of these accounts that Lori thought about publishing a coffee table book that documented these inspiring stories of older dogs rescued from shelters. However, never having done such a thing before, she didn’t know where to begin.

It was then that Lori received a call from the producer of NBC Nightly News wanting to do a segment with her for the next episode. It aired on a Saturday night and again during the Today show the following Monday morning. A few days later Lori received a call from a well-respected literary agent who saw the clip and shared how she had always wanted to be part of a project on the topic of Lori’s story.

Laura T. Coffey was contacted to be the writer, and she and Lori traveled the country meeting people and dogs. The stories and photographs were compiled into the now national best-seller, My Old Dog: Rescued Pets With Remarkable Second Acts.

They may be slower moving and a tad less exuberant than puppies, but these pooches prove that a second chance brings immeasurable joy, earnest devotion, and unconditional love.

Sunny, the dog who started it all, lived happily to the incredible age of 18. Today Lori continues to be of service doing what she loves as a staff photographer for Best Friends Animal Society.

This article appeared in Daily Word® magazine.

About the Author

Darrell Fusaro is a contributing columnist for i-Italy | NY magazine. In his latest book, What if Godzilla Just Wanted a Hug? Darrell describes how he follows his hunches, steps out boldly, and stumbles, like Mister Magoo, from one miraculous situation to the next.


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