During weekdays, Jeff Allen works in human resources. When he gets home, however, he is surrounded by animals – mainly, dogs.
A few years ago Jeff and his wife, Michele, of Southampton, New Jersey, took in a terminally ill dog named Monkey. They agreed to foster Monkey during his last days and though the dog’s death was difficult for the couple, they also found the fostering experience rewarding.
“Dogs don’t think of their life before being fostered, when in many cases they were abused or neglected,” said Jeff, who works for CSL Behring in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, as Senior Manager Global Human Resources Systems Administration. “They cherish each day finding something to enjoy, that special moment. We can all learn a lesson from them, enjoying what we do have and not being caught up in what’s lacking.”
Jeff and Michele were so moved by their fostering experience, they started Monkey’s House Dog Hospice and Sanctuary in 2015. The nonprofit organization is based out of their six-acre Garden State farm and currently fosters 25 dogs living out their last days in what some would describe as a “doggie heaven” with home-cooked meals tailored to each dog’s needs, plenty of room for exercise, quality veterinary care and lots of love from volunteers. To date, Monkey’s House has saved more than 70 dogs from shelters.
“I’m blessed to be able to make a difference in human and animal lives, through my profession at CSL Behring and animals by work at Monkey’s House,” Jeff said.
Years with CSL: Just celebrated my first anniversary at the global biotech leader
Goal I’m striving toward now: Getting the word out about senior dogs, in particular hospice dogs and the value they can bring to your home. If you’re looking to expand your family with a four-legged friend, don’t forget the seniors. My wife, who used to be a nurse, said this about hospice dogs (which can just as easily be said for people): “Just because you’re dying doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life”.
Best advice anyone ever gave me: The best advice I’ve received comes from an uncommon source, the dogs of Monkey’s House. It’s a cliché but ever so true – “Never dwell on the past, live in the moment.” If you’re open to it, this pack of hospice dogs can teach you so much. The dogs may have cancer, heart disease, seizures and they could also be blind, deaf or both, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying the moment. Living in the moment for these dogs may mean sitting on their favorite volunteer’s lap to packing up the crew of 25 dogs and heading to the forest for a field trip with wagons and strollers in tow for the ones that can’t walk the distance.
Something I learned the hard way: Life can be very unfair but there’s always an opportunity to turn things around for that happy ending. We’ve rescued dogs in every condition imaginable; you learn fast that a lack of respect for life does exist in the world, but you also find overwhelming compassion by the vast majority of people. With the support of our community we’re able to transform these dogs’ lives so they feel the love that previously evaded them for whatever time they have left.
My idea of the perfect day: Being able to celebrate an achievement, no matter how great or small it may be. In many cases it’s helping a colleague, neighbor or even a dog with their achievements.
Favorite movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite musician: Matthew West
My most prized possession: Memories of people and pets that have passed.
What motivates me is: The ability to make a positive difference in lives no matter how small it may seem. There’s a saying in the rescue world: “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”
The most interesting thing about me is: Our house has gone to the dogs, literally as we live with 25 dogs. And although I would like to be called the leader of the pack, my wife (who was featured on a CNN “Heroes” segment last year) has that title!