Old Friends, New Home…
A feature-length documentary that tells the complete story of the most beloved animal sanctuary in the world, the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. We join founders Zina & Michael Gooden, their amazing staff, and the gang of one hundred plus senior pooches as they parade from their old home into a brand new 20,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility, funded completely by Facebook donations.
On the morning of June 12th, 2021, when we arrived at the old GrandPaw’s gardens, the sun’s rays hadn’t yet peeked over the trees surrounding the lot. As parade time drew closer, over 10 floats and 100 humans – staff members, volunteers, Old Friends fans, and even a Dolly Parton impersonator – gathered in the parking lot, and waited eagerly for each old friend to exit the building’s front doors for the very last time.
The dogs had known for a while that something was up, we were told, as they’d spent days watching their bedding, toys, treats and leashes be packed up and taken elsewhere. Some were eager, others were nervous – but as they were each carefully loaded into their vessels (shopping carts, baby carriages, leashed with some heat booties, etc.) and the parade took off, the general consensus was overwhelming excitement. “We were right,” they seemed to cheer through wagging tails, big loud barks, and happy smiles, “something big is happening!”
A celebration this grandiose was exactly what these old friends deserved. People gathered curbside all the way down the street to cheer them on – some proudly waving signs, many who had brought their own dogs to add to the excitement. The staff and volunteers all proudly adorned their OFSDS merch, and looked after each pup as if they were their own. The parade floats were all decorated to the nines, even those from businesses who had nothing to do with dogs! It truly takes a community, and to see this one working so hard to make these dogs happy was incredible.
And then they entered their new home: The PAWvillions.
This $6 million building was constructed from the ground up, directly from the minds of Zina and Michael Goodin themselves. Over the years, they’ve gained unparalleled experience in exactly what it takes to run this type of facility, and all that knowledge plays intricately into even the smallest details of the building. With backgrounds in engineering, Zina and Michael were acutely involved in every step of this project, and even wrote the codes themselves for the sanctuary’s software system, since a facility of this caliber has truly never existed.
Dr. Christine Puskaric, OFSDS’s in-house veterinarian, now has an entire wing to practice in! Michael and Zina went to great lengths to ensure the veterinary staff would have everything they would need in order to provide the old friends with the absolute best quality of care. This wing of the sanctuary houses some of the most innovative and effective medical technology available, and it is continuously being put to good use as Dr. Puskaric and her team rehabilitate and reanimate even the most heart-wrenching newcomers. In this film, we focused on just three rags-to-riches stories where we were able to witness Dr. Puskaric’s magic firsthand. You’ll meet Sweet Pea, Cookie Dough, and Hugh – three sweet souls who wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the sanctuary – and follow along on their healing journeys.
We made this film to highlight and celebrate these lovely old friends getting the mansion of their dreams. This sanctuary was built as a solace for these dogs, to help them transition from the heavy pasts they’d been through to finding their Forever Foster homes as gently as possible. And for the hospice pups unable to be rehomed, the sanctuary serves as a safe, peaceful home, where they can rest and be loved unconditionally by everyone at Old Friends for the rest of their days. In this beautiful new space, and with the care and devotion of the most kindhearted humans you’ll ever meet, you’d never even know these dogs are seniors!
This is the happy, lighthearted animal welfare film the whole family can enjoy. In addition to highlighting the humans who’ve made this all possible, we wanted to give the dogs the spotlight as much as possible and let their personalities shine through. These little souls are so wise but still so young at heart – an old dog can always learn new tricks, but they can also teach us so much about ourselves. For everyone who’s been lucky enough to love a senior pup, this film will resonate deeply with this special type of bond you know to be true; and for everyone else, sit back and enjoy the GoPro footage our newest cameraman, Forrest, captured of the parade!
Written & Directed by Gorman Bechard
Produced by Gorman Bechard, Sophia Rokas
Edited by Sydni Frisch
Music by Dean Falcone
Poster photo by Devi Sanford