After the death four years ago of Wolfgang, his beloved red miniature Pinscher, Colorado accountant Steve Greig felt like he’d reached an important crossroads.
“I knew that this would be the beginning of the rest of my life,” he told Mashable last month. “When any pet dies, the pain can be so intense and heartbreaking that many people will try to avoid this again at all costs. But, if when a pet dies you allow another one to live in their place, it is incredibly powerful. You have both honored your fallen pet’s life and given dignity to another that probably wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”
Greig decided to pay tribute to Wolfgang by adopting a new pet from a local shelter. But he had something very specific in mind: he wanted to take home the “oldest, least adoptable” dog in the place.
That day, Greig took home Eeyore, a 12-year-old Chihuahua with bad knees and a heart murmur.
“I was so distraught, but I wanted to find a way for something great to happen, to give [Wolfgang’s] death meaning,” Greig, 50, told ABC News in a recent interview.
Since then, Greig has dedicated his life to taking care of senior animals like Eeyore. “It just took off from there,” he said. “Whenever I came across a dog that didn't look like it was going to find a home, I took it in.”
Over the years, Greig has taken in dogs and cats, but also a bevy of farm animals.
Today, Greig’s property in Denver is home to nearly two dozen creatures, including eight elderly dogs, two Calico cats, two ducks, a miniature pot-bellied pig named Bikini, a rabbit, and chickens.
Greig has a roommate and a housekeeper who he credits with helping him care for the animals. But even with this support, he admits that looking after such an enormous brood can take a toll.
“It can be a repetitive, exhausting cycle,” Greig, who wakes up at 5 a.m. on weekdays to prepare meals for his big family, told Mashable. “But I know how blessed I am to take care of these animals.”
Greig says he hopes he'll inspire others to adopt shelter animals, specifically senior ones.
“I love all dogs, but there is just something special about the bond between the owner and a shelter pet,” he said in an interview with photographer Nancy LeVine last year. “Knowing that you saved an animal from possible death has an incredible impact on both of you.”
Visit Petfinder.com or your local shelter to adopt a furry forever friend of your own.