Jeff Allen joins me for this podcast episode which was pre-recorded as a Facebook Live. He is the cofounder of Monkey’s House – a Dog Hospice & Sanctuary and an award winning and bestselling author of Where Dogs Go To Live!: Inspiring Stories of Hospice Dogs Living in the Moment. He runs Monkey’s House with his wife, Michele Allen. Living life among twenty-five hospice dogs has given Jeff a different outlook on life; seeing the beauty in all dogs and experiencing the unconditional love only a dog can give.
On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. Podcast:
- Why Jeff and his wife Michele started Monkey’s House
- The biggest challenge his organization has had to overcome
- What gets Jeff excited about the work he does
- What Jeff wishes he’d known before starting the dog sanctuary
- The role social media plays in promoting Jeff’s dog hospice
- Why Jeff became an author
- Why Jeff calls some of their dogs imposters
- Why you should hug your vet
Connect with Jeff:
- Join the Live. Love. Engage. Community
- Intuitive Business Coaching
- The Live. Love. Engage. Book
- Support the Podcast with BuyMeACoffee.com
Gloria Grace Rand 0:02
namaste, and welcome, welcome to a another edition of live love engage. I am delighted to be here with you today and to have our guest with us as well. And even though it says monkey’s house there, that’s not his name. But that is what we’re going to be talking about today. But I want to welcome Jeff Allen to live love, engage.
Jeff Allen 0:28
Thank you, Gloria. Thank you for having me on and namaste to you as well. And to all the guest audiences out there.
Gloria Grace Rand 0:35
Awesome. Yes, well, let me let me explain a little bit about who Jeff is, and what monkeys houses. And that’s really what we’re going to be talking about today. Jeff, and Jeff Allen and his wife, Michelle, as well. They are cofounders of monkeys house, which is a dog hospice and Sanctuary. And he’s also an award winning, Best Selling Author of where dogs go to live, inspiring stories of hospice dogs living in the moment. And I you know, this is not, you’re not our typical guest that we have on the show, because a lot of times we’ll I’ll have coaches and folks helping us with our business but but also from a spiritual perspective. But part of what live love engage is all about is really helping us to live fully love deeply, and engage authentically. And I think our pets are a big part of that. That’s what helps us a lot of times in being able to, you know, live a full life and they bring a lot of joy to us and, and a lot of love. And I was really it. Being an owner of dogs. I’m mostly cat person, but I’ve had dogs now, had a dog when I was a kid, and we’ve got two foster dogs. Well, one’s a rescue from a shelter one’s an adopted dog that I know, they’ve definitely wormed their way into my heart, but I love what, what you and your wife have done. And I want you to if you could start off by explaining to our audience, those who are listening and those who are also watching, we’re on some of the social media channels today, what exactly? Well actually start with why did you start monkeys house because you don’t typically hear of a dog hospice before. You know, we hear people going into hospice. But what prompted you to do that?
Jeff Allen 2:43
You know, Gloria, we started in 2015, officially, but we used to foster dogs way before that. And I would say that we feel like there was no resources for these seniors, generally senior dogs with major medical issues. So we foster the dogs, my wife being a retired nurse, the shelter’s would give us all the dogs that had the major medical issues because my wife knew how to take care of them. And so then we realized that as I said, there’s no resources for them. We had nine dogs at that time, mostly fosters and ones that we adopted that were seniors with medical issues. And then eventually we got this little dog named monkey. He was supposed to live for like a month or two, the shelter vet just said, take him home, and just let him pass. And that wasn’t good enough for us. So we adopted him. He saw our vet, a cardiologist got some very inexpensive heart meds, and lived 17 Wonderful months. And when he passed, we said that’s it. We’re opening monkey’s house. And since we’ve had over 140 dogs here,
Gloria Grace Rand 3:49
that’s that is really amazing. Because I’ve been I’ve been reading the book I haven’t finished it off quite yet, but just in going through some of the stories of some of the these dogs that you’ve had that have that you’ve been able to really help and extend their lives now. Why is it or I guess what, I guess maybe I didn’t really realize that. You know, that people give up senior dogs that they don’t that they will turn them over to a shelter and I mean, I that just boggles my mind. So what how they it how I guess tell us a little bit about that. I mean, what are shelters’ experiences with that and, and why is this, you know, then became something that you had to, you saw a need to help with?
Jeff Allen 4:43
Yeah, sadly, you know, the American Society is a throwaway society and even comes with our pets, right? People could. We don’t understand how someone can have a pet which is a family member to us for 12 years and then the pet gets sick and they take it to the shelter and dump it at the shelter, we don’t truly understand that we tried it, we actually, like your podcast, we try to stay very positive all the time. We don’t even think of that we don’t. Some of our followers, we have a lot of followers on Facebook. And when a new dog comes in, and we tell them the situation, they get really upset with the previous owners, we say, we don’t want that. We want positive energy. They’re here now, their life’s going to be completely different. So that’s what we try to do. There are some cases where the owner has passed, and there is nobody able to take the dog. And again, the dog has medical issues. So we bring them here, and they are loving dogs, all the dogs. It’s amazing that a dog that obviously was not treated well for 10 years, dumped at the shelter. They want to give you so much love. It’s unbelievable. You would think that they wouldn’t trust humans. They love humans.
Gloria Grace Rand 5:56
Can you share with us maybe one of one or two examples of of that sort of transformation that some of these dogs have experienced at at your at Monkey’s house.
Jeff Allen 6:07
Sure. One was Holly, she was a smaller German Shepherd mix. And she came here, very frightened. I actually my wife was the only one that could go and do anything with her for about two months. And you being a cat person, you’ll like this story. So she would take her out and walk we have six acres, we have a little farmland. So she would walk around the farm just trying to get used to things trying to get her calm down. She was a bag of bones, the thinnest dog we’ve ever seen. And what would follow her around was our cat, we have cats, this little cat would, Grandpa would go with them and they’d walk around. And before you know it, well not before you know it, took a month or so she started warming up. She didn’t like other dogs. So we we always have to evaluate and see how we can put them with the other dogs. We have 25 generally dogs here at a time. So we did we put her in the cottage, which is a separate section of the house with a with little gates between her and some other dogs. And then eventually those gates came down. And she lived with the other pack of dogs. There was about four of them in there. And it got to the point where she was had a hard time eating she her stomach was upset, didn’t feel like eating, she was eating out of my hand. That was the way and that was. Truthfully, that was one of the best experiences I had, every night I would go in there. And we feed raw food and home cooked. So it’s a little gooey in the hands. But there’s nothing better than that dog eating out of your hand and licking it. To finish it off. It’s just it built a bond between Holly and myself that that I could I could never replace.
Gloria Grace Rand 7:40
Hmm, that’s awesome. Yeah. What has been maybe what’s what’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in running monkeys house.
Jeff Allen 7:53
The big, very big challenge was was COVID in the pandemic, we had, I would say we had two to three dozen volunteers coming sort of on a regular basis, we’d have some come three times a week, and every breakfast there would be woman here three times a week to help out. She was retired. But then when COVID hit, you know, we were trying to do the the separation until everybody got to back vaccinations if you know on, you know, its up to the person if they want to get one or not. But we did say please get them because you know we are getting older and, and needed the protection. So that was tough. You know, besides Michelle and I doing all the work and I’m working at home full time. It was a lot of work for us. And I felt bad for the dogs because they really they really love when the aunt, we call them aunts and uncles our volunteers. When they come over, there’s certain dogs that really get attached to certain certain aunts. So it was sad, but now they’re starting to come back. So that’s that’s good.
Gloria Grace Rand 8:54
That’s good. Yeah, yeah, I can imagine I know I was thinking about that. How How stressful even for you know, it’s stressful enough for the people but I imagine it was probably stressful for the dogs as well. To be able to, you know, not having all of that human contact which is so important. What gets you really excited about the work you do what really lifts you up about it?
Jeff Allen 9:18
I think what gets us really excited both Michelle and I is you know a dog will come in here like a Holly. We had a little Hannah bear came in Hannah bear was a little Pomeranian and you’ll Pomeranians have a lot of hair. She had no hair from the neck back. She had cancer, she was malnutritioned. She had mammary masses that were actually oozing. So some healthy food to begin with. And then had had surgery had them all removed. Now she still had cancer, but she lived with us for two and a half months. But what was the funniest thing is here’s dogs that come in. They’re kind of lethargic, they have these medical issues and they get on to healthy food We had the surgery two days later, she’s chasing the cat around. you know, you’d generally yell at a dog like that. But no, we love that we love the mischief mischief that these dogs get into. Because usually they don’t. Right. And and you know that they’re getting healthier if they’re getting into trouble.
Gloria Grace Rand 10:15
Yeah, absolutely. What what do you wish you had known when you started out? That you know, because I imagine there’s a lot involved in being able to do this to run, run a hospice and sanctuary for dogs.
Jeff Allen 10:33
You know, we are a 501-3c. So we’re nonprofit. So when we first started the first couple years, the nonprofit the money was coming, you know, from ours, right? That’s fine. So that’s the thing you will have to realize how do you have to become a really the back office work, I call it you had to become a fundraiser, campaigns, all of that. But what I what I really say is that social media is extremely important. No matter what you look at your audience, our audience are mostly females age, say 40 to 45 to 65. That’s kind of the general demographics. So we go on Facebook, we have close to 80,000 followers now, which is great. That helps support us in many different ways. But when we started, it was all about the dogs. It’s still all about the dogs. But a community, a community came up. And now when someone loses their dog does talk about it, and other people will chime in. It’s amazing. We did not expect that to happen. And it’s not just you know, local from the northeast, it’s from around the world. In one of our dogs, it was two years. We just started two years after we started, and this little Beagle named. Much love Bob. Everybody fell in love with this little Beagle. I’m talking everybody. When he passed, there was over 1000 comments and they were not r.i.p. that rest in piece. They were like people writing paragraphs about this little dog that they never met. It’s just amazing to see how people connect and love a dog from far away.
Gloria Grace Rand 12:05
Yeah, that is I got that does really, I would think make you feel like really good that you’re making a tremendous impact, not only in the dog’s life, but in in the world as well. You know, I had, like I said, I’ve never heard about a dog hospice. Are there other organizations like yours around the you know, the United States or around the world that you’re aware of?
Jeff Allen 12:28
Because there’s very few true dog hospices like ours. Mostly, there’s senior dog rescues or sanctuaries. And they will have some hospice dogs there. like, what people say yes, okay, are your dogs up for adoption? No, they’re actually here. And this is where they spend the rest of their lives. Now, we do have what we call an imposter every so often. That is, supposedly the shelter vet says that it’s gonna pass and they come here, they get the healthy food, they get the vet care, and they are well enough. So we do get them out with a forever family. But yeah, there’s there’s very, very few and we take it a step farther, Michelle’s become an expert in dog nutrition. I think being a nurse has really made a big difference. And we’ve seen dogs, like I said, even Hannah bear, have we had a dog Buck that was supposed to be here for three months, he was here four years, and four years living life, like you, but your first word is live. And that’s what the tone of my book, right? Where dogs go to live. And that’s our theme. And so it’s quite amazing to see that.
Gloria Grace Rand 13:37
That’s, yeah, that is amazing. And… it just warms my heart that you’re able to do that. And and it is a shame that there aren’t more organizations like that. What would be your advice to someone who, you know, has a, who has a dog that, you know, maybe gets diagnosed with, like cancer or something? What, what do you recommend, because, you know, a lot of times, I mean, we’ve experienced this with our last dog. She, you know, she was fine. And then all of a sudden, she wasn’t, and she was just having trouble walking, and we, you know, took her to the vet, and it turned out that she had like cancer riddled all over. And, you know, and we had we had put down because that seemed to be the most humane way to go. But you know, now, in reading your book, I’m thinking, Well, did we do the right thing? You know, maybe I should have just, you know, kept her home and just tried to, you know, still try to make her comfortable there. So what what’s your advice to folks who are in a similar circumstance?
Jeff Allen 14:35
Well, Gloria first, I’d say I don’t think anybody makes a wrong decision. They make the they make the best decision they can. But to help you make the best decision, become knowledgeable as knowledge is power, right? So becomes knowledgeable. We always say that You should want to hug your vet. Maybe you don’t hug your vet, but you should want to really hug your vet because you need to make sure that you have a vet that’s going to listen to your needs and your dog’s needs and We do go traditional, but non traditional vet care as well. So see if you’re using a traditional vet, you might want to check into what are they up for options that are somewhat non traditional, because some of those non traditional methods really work, work out well. We have a dog right now who’s still with us came in 2017, Violet. Violet, looks like a cross lab black lab. She takes fields, I take her to the, to the state forest every week, and we go walking in the park, she came with a big lump right between her eyes, it was cancerous. And it was so big. We call it a mustard portabella mushroom, it kind of flopped between her eyes, that got removed. And we thought she was going to be an imposter. And next thing you know, she got cancer in the jaw. And traditional vet said, Okay, we have to take the jaw off and some of the tongue. And we said, no that’s not going to be right for for a dog, they’re not going to that’s not the way to live. So we used neoplasene which is a salve, that actually eats the cancer away. And she’s been she’s been we’ve had to go through three or four treatments of that, like every three to six months. And she’s still here. She’s doing great. She’s still able to eat. We had to have a tooth removed and a few other things. But she’s doing well.
Gloria Grace Rand 16:17
Wow, that’s amazing. Well, I that’s a testament to I think, as you say it’s important to explore other alternatives, we get into certain ways of just treating things and thinking that’s the only way. And, and I think sometimes maybe it’s even that vets have kind of gotten into similar circumstances of how our medical community is for people too. It’s like, we’re really good at triage, and, and fixing things, but we don’t necessarily look at what’s the underlying cause. And maybe we can try to address it in an alternative way in, you know, doing something different instead of radical. You know, things like that may not actually provide good outcomes for our animals. So I’m glad that you’re able to do that. Is there? Well, I guess, yeah, here’s what I would love to know from you is what? (dog barks) I hear somebody…
Jeff Allen 17:20
Excuse me. There’s one out there that wants to come in one of the 23 they just ate this is dinner time. So they just ate so now they’re walking all over the place. Sorry, I
Gloria Grace Rand 17:30
did the same thing. I fed my dogs before I gpt, before we did this as well. Um, just to make sure that they’re not pestering because they do let you know, when you want something, don’t they no matter how old they are, I think or what kind of shape they’re in, they still have a way of getting getting their needs met. What I wanted to ask you was what? What impact would you like to have on our, on the planet Earth, you know, in your lifetime, and I suspect it’s, you know, you’re already doing it. But I’m wondering if there’s even any broader or bigger, bigger impact that you want to have?
Jeff Allen 18:08
Well, I guess if I, if I had a pipe dream, the biggest impact would be we would be put out of business. Right? Everybody would keep their dogs use some of the methods that we use, and enjoy their lives all the way up until the end. You know, that’s what our dream could be. But since that probably won’t happen, what we try to do is my wife is excellent at educating through the Facebook page, what we’ve seen people do is they say, Oh, that would see a comment and said, Oh, we adopted a senior dog with medical issues, because we’ve been following you. And we realized we could do it. Or we’d see someone else saying, Oh, my dog was you know, sort of like your dog. Right? It has some cancer had major issues. But I tried some of the things and I got it, you know, I was able to spend an extra three or four months, enjoying time with them. Those are the things that we want other people to to be able to experience.
Gloria Grace Rand 19:07
Yeah, absolutely. And, and I trust that you’re continuing with the work that you’re doing that and hopefully things like you know, interviews that you’re doing here, I hope that I can be able to help you with that as well. Tell me Let’s Let’s spend a moment though telling us telling us a little bit about the books you’ve written because I know you’re not only you know, I mentioned where dogs go to live which is about your stories, but you also have another book as well. Tell Tell tell us a little bit about how you how you got into even even becoming an author and and what prompted you to do that.
Jeff Allen 19:44
It the funny thing is it’s like I’m a math guy. I’m a science and math not in English. And yes, I have here it is where dogs go to live. And it it really does. I wanted to really highlight monkeys house, but a highlight 37 of the dog stories in there. These dogs, they deserve their stories told, they come here and they have a great life. I don’t know if we ever mentioned it, but we go on field trips to the Jersey Shore, we have a senior bus that 25 Dogs pop into, will go sit on Santa’s lap that’s coming up in the next couple of weeks. Everybody gets their little Christmas outfits on. All the aunts and uncles are very excited about it. So it just tried to highlight and then my second book was, it’s kind of fun. It’s a coffee table book. Life’s a dog bone chew it all day long. So it’s awesome quotes for dog lovers. And what I actually the title came from I wrote a music video too. So if you if you’re on YouTube, check out life as a dog bone. And you’ll see the music video. It’s from life’s a highway. Yeah, right. Yeah. It’s just, I just enjoy doing it. And I really like highlighting these dogs, it shows that these dogs have a lot of love to give, have still life to go through. Their Final Chapter needs to be the best. And that’s what we try to do.
Gloria Grace Rand 21:07
That’s awesome. I am so glad that you’ve been here to share with us today. So how can people help you? You know, what is the best way? What you know, what do you? What’s the best way for folks to be able to support monkeys house and and how can people learn more about your organization?
Jeff Allen 21:30
Thank you, Gloria, they can go to www dot monkies house.org. Yep, they have it on the bottom of the screen. And we do have like I said we’re a 501-3 C donations, we’re greatly appreciative. We have a Amazon wishlist because we obviously go through quite a few supplies. And you know, there’s different ways to donate and just, you know, spread the word about us. That’s the main thing is follow us on Facebook, you’ll learn a lot. If you have a dog, in middle aged dog, senior dog, even a young dog, my wife as she gives every every week she has Facebook Lives where she is giving instructions and information out. So it’s I think it’s a great organization to to follow us. Thanks.
Gloria Grace Rand 22:18
Absolutely. And I’ll and I’ll definitely have all that information in the in the show notes as well. Before I let you go, is there anything else that I should ask? But I didn’t anything else you’d like to share?
Jeff Allen 22:32
No, I think I snuck in field trips, because that’s a big one. People see us come that with Santa, everybody gets excited because here’s 25 Dogs sitting on Santa’s lap, right. And it’s it’s not a door. It’s a regular it’s out now we do it at a landscape because we got so many dogs actually there was 35 dogs because some of the four we also have what they call forever Foster. So some people will foster dogs for us. Monkeys house still is financially responsible will supply the food and all that so we do that. And then the imposter couple of the imposters brought their dogs back too so it was it was a fun week. That’s the thing. I think when people hear hospice, they always think of sad. One of my volunteers called monkeys house, the happiest place on earth. And I said move over Disney. That was and that’s true. 95% of the time. 5% of the time. It’s very sad. But you come here, and you’ll have 20 Dogs roaming around. It doesn’t you say wait a minute, these dogs are all sick. This is also our hospice. Yes, but they’re not like, they’re not like us, right? They don’t they don’t think about tomorrow. They live in the moment. And we make that moment the best it can be.
Gloria Grace Rand 23:42
Absolutely. And frankly, I think if more people did that, I think we’d be a little bit happier too as well, if we follow the example of our of our canine friends
Jeff Allen 23:52
It’s funny a good friend of mine. Read my book and he doesn’t have pets. And he said this this book is not really just about dogs. This is about people. And I I said you get it. Yeah,
Gloria Grace Rand 24:04
absolutely. Well, good well, I am really glad that we were able to spend some time with you today and but I think you you probably need to go spend some time taking care of those those wonderful creatures, you have those furry friends of yours and I wish wish you all the best and and again, I’ll make sure again, if you’re listening, check out monkeys house on Facebook. And also go to monkeys house.org where you can support them. And and I, do you have a link like to Amazon there or can people search on Amazon for it? How does that work?
Jeff Allen 24:41
Well, they could do it. They could find it from our website. I have a link to each book and I have a link to the the the music video which is all fun.
Gloria Grace Rand 24:48
All right, excellent. Well, very good. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. Jeff. I really appreciate it.
Jeff Allen 24:54
Thank you Gloria. Appreciate you having me on.
Gloria Grace Rand 24:57
All right. And thank all of you for watching and for Listening and I appreciate you as well and I help you make sure that you are subscribed on the podcast platform of your choice. And you can also watch our episodes, either catch it, this one as a replay on Facebook or, or LinkedIn or you can also catch us on YouTube as well. And until next time, I am Gloria Grace Rand, and I am encouraging all of you to live fully, love deeply and engage authentically.