At MODERNBEAST, we love old dogs. To know us is to know this. Beulah and Rosie are the current Golden Girls of our MODERNBEAST pack (Beulah is Dorothy – hands down - and Rosie is the Blanche of the dog park). Because of our soft spot for the senior set, we’re always in awe of those who make the golden years possible for seniors who just need another chance.
This is why we are absolutely thrilled (fireworks and laser beams thrilled) to introduce you to a woman we love and admire, the founder of Vintage Pet Rescue, Kristen Peralta. A retirement home and hospice for vintage pups, VPR welcomes seniors from shelters across the east coast, as well as those needing to be spoiled by the greatest folks (Kristen & Marc) in the coolest home as they live out their final days surrounded by love. Enjoy getting to know the woman who turned her love of the oldies and goodies into a powerful force for good, Kristen Peralta.
MB: First of all, thank you for doing the interview – our first – when you may be the busiest person we know. Let’s start at the beginning. Do you think there was something that prepared you to start Vintage Pet Rescue?
KRISTEN: I was working as a Production Accountant for a TV network in LA before founding VPR, but I had been a volunteer for another LA-based rescue for years. Being a key volunteer for another fairly new rescue group really prepared me to start VPR. As a volunteer I taught myself how to create eblasts, design marketing materials, organize events, take good photos of dogs, and fundraise. All of these skills have been so crucial to VPR’s success. Obviously so much of my time is spent focused on the dogs in our care, but without funding we could not do any of this.
MB: So many of us dream of doing something big for animals. Was there a moment – or a slow build of events – that made you say, this is it, I’m going to start VPR?
KRISTEN: It was definitely a slow build. I have always loved dogs and spent most of my free time volunteering to help dogs in need. I met my husband, Marc, in an animal shelter. Marc had 2 pugs and together we adopted a senior pitbull. Then we took in a senior Maltese, Rue, as a hospice foster and I completely fell in love with the super senior. She had such an adorable personality for an old lady! When Rue passed (after 1.5 years) we adopted another senior in her memory. Then we couldn’t stop! Soon we had a house full of senior pups and Vintage Pet Rescue was born.
MB: We’re not trying to start any problems between the residents with this question, but do you have a favorite?
KRISTEN: I’m not supposed to have favorites but Nougat has stolen my heart. Nougat is an 11-year-old chihuahua that was one of the first seniors we took in officially under VPR. When I met Nougat at the shelter he was very aloof - wanted nothing to do with me. I almost didn’t take him home but I took a chance. I am so happy I did! Within a few hours Nougat was my shadow and he was so sweet. A few days later he bonded with one of our pugs, Clarence, and the two have been inseparable ever since. If you see Clarence, you will find Nougat. Their relationship is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
MB: What is the best part and what is the most challenging part of running Vintage Pet Rescue?
KRISTEN: There are a few best parts for me. First is seeing the relationships that form between the dogs (like Clarence and Nougat). It happens a lot and it just makes me so happy when they make friends. The second is when people come to visit our facility/retirement home. They are in heaven! They are greeted by dozens of happy, senior pups who just want love.
The hardest part is when we have to say goodbye to a resident. Obviously this is something that happens fairly often when you take in senior & hospice dogs. We just find comfort knowing that their last months or years were filled with love.
MB: We all know that supporters and especially volunteers run the world. Tell us how people can get involved and help with VPR.
KRISTEN: My volunteers are amazing! I have a handful of dedicated volunteers who come regularly to help me clean, feed, and love our residents. I really couldn’t do this without them! Ideally I would love to find another 4-5 volunteers who could commit to coming at least one day a week.
MB: We live for your Instagram feed. From Nougat and Clarence (the dynamic duo), Farc replacing Marc, senior zoomies to Nougat’s side gig as a masseuse. We can’t get enough of your residents! Why do you think social media is so important to Vintage Pet Rescue?
KRISTEN: I think our IG really captures the different personalities of our residents. People can connect with the dogs and fall in love with them even though they’ve never met them in person. We try to keep our messages positive and happy. We want our posts to be something people can look forward to.
MB: Do you have any big plans in the works you can share or upcoming events we can support?
KRISTEN: We are in the process of planning our second annual PAWCHELLA event. The event is like Coachella but for pets. Last year’s event was a huge success and we’re hoping this years will be even better! It’s August 4th and we will be posting details closer to the event.
Vintage Pet Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit located in Rhode Island. To learn more about their incredible work, donate or volunteer, go to vintagepetrescue.org. To follow the hilarious and heartwarming lives of their residents, go to Instagram and Facebook.