The Story of Taylor, a Shelter Dog

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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This is Taylor. Photos courtesy of Aileen Peek

Taylor’s story is narrated here by longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS blogger Bruce McElmurray.

My name is Taylor and I live at San Luis Animal Welfare Society where I have been for the past 10 months. I am grateful that this is a “no-kill” shelter, as I am old and wouldn’t last at one that did not have this policy. Bruce and Carol McElmurray saw a photo of me online and were desiring to take me into their home for my remaining days. I’m disabled because my back legs don’t work so well and coupled with my senior status people don’t even glance my way at the shelter. By the time I can get up to greet them they have already moved on to other needy dogs. Bruce says I am an ambassador for the shelter because I represent so many dogs just like myself. 

The nice people at the shelter drove me to Bruce and Carol’s house to see if it would suit me. Unfortunately I couldn’t get up the five steps to the entrance. I tried really hard but my back legs just wouldn’t support me. I knew this might be my last chance at a home but I just couldn’t do it. I weigh around 100 pounds so they could not carry me so I failed again to get a real home. Carol did take me inside but there were two more steps to get into the house; I couldn’t climb those either. Carol and Bruce and the nice lady at the shelter all cried but I knew I could never make it up those stairs no matter how hard I tried. 

I ended up at the shelter in the first place because a kind lady saw that I was confined to a backyard in a hole I dug for myself. I was hoping that it would work at Bruce and Carol’s home; it looked like what I had hoped for. Maybe one day someone who lives on a homestead with flat land will notice me and take me into their family.  

About the Shelter 

The San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society was established in 2000 by Aileen and Frank Peek. It is a no kill shelter located in southern Colorado with minimal resources. Frank and Aileen mortgaged their home after retirement to buy the land and start the shelter. The shelter has room for 50 dogs and is funded through adoption fees and donations. 

The dogs are housed in modern clean Mason Kennels. Because of the rural location and being located in one of the poorest areas of Colorado the shelter faces numerous challenges. Veterinary services are distant, it is difficult to hold fundraisers, they have no internet communication, there is a lack of support and money from the local area, and there are few adoptions locally. 

The shelter is located on 35 acres and has an on site manager. There are 13 dog parks and the dogs are given ample time to socialize and exercise within the parks. They accept blind, deaf, crippled and senior dogs like Taylor. Each week they transport up to 20 dogs to Colorado Springs to an adoption fair where the potential for adoption is much greater than locally.  

It is a three hour drive one way but it is a unique operation which works well. They are in constant need of funds and volunteers which because of the Covid pandemic have diminished. The shelter’s concern is fully focused on providing the dogs a quality life and hopefully finding them loving homes. 

Frank and Aileen Peek are in their senior years and realize that one day they will have to sell the shelter but it will take a highly qualified and compassionate buyer to acquire the shelter. They are adamant that the shelter remain ‘no kill’ and dedicated to helping animals. In order to write this blog I have been provided the highest accolades from some very noteworthy people in animal rescue about this shelter. Frank and Aileen have both been involved in animal rescue for 25 years and established the rescue upon their retirement. They have also helped start a rescue in a nearby town for cats as well.

The shelter owners and their associates have a love and dedication for animals and take in injured and abused dogs to restore them to health and balance through love and compassion. Because the shelter is located so remotely in southern Colorado it is not widely known except for the over 8,000 abandoned, injured, suffering or abused dogs they have helped over the years.   

Summary by Bruce

We were devastated that we could not adopt Taylor as we wanted to give him a home where he could be pampered and spoiled. Unfortunately, because of where we live, he could not possibly make it into our house and we couldn’t carry him over the obstacles. There are many dogs like Taylor in shelters and they all deserve a loving home. I simply can’t imagine life without a dog as our best friend and family member. 

We have lived at our mountain homestead for 24 years and I have heard about the shelter but was unfamiliar with it or its efforts. It wasn’t until we wanted to adopt Taylor that we discovered this struggling but outstanding shelter just within a few miles from us. Covid has impacted every segment of our society but when it comes to funding and volunteers private shelters like San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society have been especially impacted. 

This rescue is performing a valuable service to the local community and the entire San Luis 

Valley but remains relatively obscure. I’m saddened that there is not more local support for this outstanding shelter. There are most likely many private shelters across the country that are experiencing the same problems but not quite like this shelter which is the most unique one I have known. For more information go to the shelter website

Anyone inclined to adopt a needy dog should keep this shelter in mind.


Bruce McElmurray homesteads in the Southern Rockies at high elevation with his wife, Carol and their German Shepherd dog, Lucy. For more on their lifestyle and their observance of animals coupled with their behavior go to their personal blog site athttps:https://brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com. Read all of Bruce’s MOTHER EARTH NEWSposts here.


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