Jun 27, 2023
One documentary every dog lover should see
About a decade ago, in a moment of foolhardiness, I agreed to foster a senior dog with an eye towards adoption. Within days I realized I was in over my head, but I stuck it out. However, as the days turned into weeks, I came to the understanding I was not going to be able to keep her long term. I needed options. And that is when a friend told me to check out Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
I did as they suggested, and I was kind of blown away by what I saw. It was a sanctuary. For senior dogs. I had never heard of such a thing before. I also noticed right away their social media game was on point, with not only regular updates but also cute little insights into the dogs themselves.
Eventually, the senior dog I was fostering went back to her original human, and she lived out the rest of her life in comfort and peace. I was relieved at the outcome of the situation—and it created a permanent place in my heart for Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. Now, this wonderful organization is at the heart of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Gorman Bechard’s new film Old Friends, A Dogumentary.
The film is the follow-up to Bechard’s 2020 effort Seniors, a dogumentary.
Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary is the brainchild of Zina and Michael Goodin, who still oversee the Sanctuary to this day. After volunteering with various Golden Retriever rescues, the Goodins realized there was a desperate need for a place for senior dogs to land and spend their golden years. More often than not, senior dogs are overlooked in shelters and rescues in favor of younger dogs. As a result, many are euthanized when they still have so much love to give, and Old Friends is working to correct that.
Old Friends has been in existence since 2010, and they received non-profit status two years later. As the organization has grown in size and scope, they have continually needed to upgrade their facilities, culminating in the opening of GrandPaw’s Gardens. To celebrate this milestone, Old Friends held a parade in Mount Juliet. Staff members and community volunteers came together to transport nearly 70 senior dogs a mile down the road, from their old facility to GrandPaw’s Gardens. It was a huge step forward for Old Friends, which has grown from a two-person operation into an internet sensation.
Gorman Bechard’s excellent documentary recounts these events, using the parade to GrandPaw’s Gardens as a framing story. Bechard not only interviews Michael and Zina, but also many of the staff, veterinarians, and technicians. Talking with the Goodins and those who have worked under them, a viewer can see the passion all parties have for senior dog rescue.
Of course, Bechard also focuses on the dogs, too. Old Friends has a massive digital footprint, regularly sharing updates on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Most of these updates are pictures of the senior dogs enjoying their new lives at the Sanctuary. But beyond just pictures, the social media team inserts cute and cool captions with the photos that allow you to get to know the dogs. Perhaps the best-known dog at the Sanctuary was Leo. Found in an alleyway behind a beauty salon in Nashville, Leo would become the face of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary; when he passed, the Sanctuary received flowers from all over the world.
Bechard also, at the documentary’s end, gives tributes to the dogs who passed during production. It’s a very sweet gesture. The documentary also discusses Old Friends’ social media team, a group central to the Sanctuary and their mission. The cute pictures of the dogs have helped increase awareness of the Sanctuary, which in turn leads to more donations which go to help their mission. The documentary reveals that a large part of their donations come from folks donating through social media, particularly birthday fundraisers. I did this once myself.
Long-time Old Friends’ fans will love this documentary. Bechard takes viewers to the Sanctuary itself, showing the wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to helping senior dogs enjoy a better quality of life. Seeing them interact with the dogs is a joy to behold. Those new to the world of Old Friends are in for a treat as well. Old Friends, A Dogumentary is currently streaming on Tubi. (And a little birdie told us you can also find it on YouTube!)
Shaun Corley is an East Coast pop culture enthusiast who loves to write about everything entertainment. A big, important Screen Rant writer, Shaun has many leather-bound books but they're far outnumbered by comic books and the smell of rich mahogany lingering in the air.