Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mt. Juliet is moving forward on a plan to create a neighborhood of nine to 11 cottages that only dogs would live in full-time.
Happy Even After is the name of the dog cottage program being planned on 3.78 acres on Nonaville Road, near Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary’s new 18,700-square-foot building that the nonprofit moved into in June.
The cottages would primarily be set up for dogs who outlive their owners or if an owner moves into a senior care facility and is unable to keep or care for the pet.
"People have been expressing that need for a long time," said Zina Goodin, who founded Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary with husband Michael at their Wilson County home in 2012.
Old Friends cares for about 100 older dogs, generally ages 10 and over, at its facility. About 500 more dogs are placed in foster homes with medical care provided. The dogs are rescued from low-kill area shelters.
“Our goal is for the cottages to be as much like a home environment as possible,” Zina Goodin said. “Many of the dogs in our program are here because their owners have either passed away or gone into assisted living or a nursing home with no one designated to take care of their dogs."
Mt. Juliet’s planning commission gave a positive recommendation to the rezoning request, which will need to pass two readings by the city commission for approval.
Each cottage would be approximately 950 square feet and house 3-5 dogs depending on size. Dogs will be grouped based on disposition and personality. Dogs from the same home can stay together. The dog neighborhood itself will be called Flo’s Front Porch, Goodin said.
One cottage would have three bedrooms, a living room, small kitchen area and a lavatory with heat and air conditioning and a yard. Each unit will have a caretaker and additional volunteers to spend time with the animals. Even furniture in the cottages is planned.
An administration building and garage are also planned, according to documents.
Details on how interested dog owners can secure a spot for their pet at Happy Even After is not yet determined. But the Goodins envision multiple options that will likely include bequests and donations.
"We will really try and make it customizable," Michael Goodin said. "You can imagine many different scenarios. There is a big need for this."
About 15 employees are estimated with the new neighborhood if it’s ultimately approved. Old Friends has about 75 employees for its present operation in addition to volunteers.
The cottages will operate separately from the sanctuary, though some services can be shared.
The cottage neighborhood would have to follow Mt. Juliet ordinances with no dogs out between 8 p.m.-8 a.m. No staff members or volunteers will stay overnight with the dogs, which is how the sanctuary operates, Zina Goodin said.
Yards will be fenced and the entire neighborhood will be fenced, the Goodins said.
"This is fantastic ... this is very unique obviously,” City Commissioner and planning commission member Scott Hefner said at a recent meeting. “And this would be a welcome addition to our community."
Hopes are to start building in about six months and open within 12-18 months if approvals are gained, Zina Goodin said.
Reach Andy Humbles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-726-5939 and on Twitter @ AndyHumbles.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary wants to build a dog cottage neighborhood