For a while when Debbie Gretz would bring home yet another dog, her husband, Bob, would walk in their home and see a new wagging tail and ask when she was going to stop. Debbie’s response was always that she wasn’t going to stop. That was when Bob decided to help her do what she wanted to do, and Gray Face Acres was born.
There have been more than 250 dogs that have come through the Gretzes’ home, either during their 13 years as a foster home or through the nonprofit Gray Face Acres, which they started in April 2016.
The Gretzes’ sprawling 10 acres in Haymarket is home to the nonprofit, where Gretz works with numerous rescue groups and shelters throughout the Metro-D.C. area and West Virginia. It is not uncommon for her to get a call from one of the partner groups letting her know a senior dog, most often in rough shape, has come in and asking her to come get it. She is not one to turn any animal away and usually makes calls to find fosters if she can’t bring the dog into her own home. She also utilizes Facebook as a main way of staying on top of what senior dogs are in need of homes. She will search rescue groups and shelters almost on a daily basis looking for ones she can rescue, and she tends to be drawn to the ones who are in need of medical attention or ones with special needs.
By setting up as a nonprofit, Gretz can work with veterinarians at a discounted rescue group rate, something that comes in handy—one of her current fosters, Rocky, has been to the vet 16 days in a row. Gretz has seen some horrible cases in her work, from malnutrition, blindness and eye problems to more severe chronic illnesses, but she always takes in the dogs and personally screens any potential adopters. If she feels a dog is in dire need of medical care, she finds a place for them in her own home.
And it is not just dogs she brings in. Also living at Gray Face Acres is Louie, a 10-year-old, 50-pound tortoise who inhabits a fenced garden along with the Gretzes’ chickens and ducks, and Pinky the pig. But the focus still remains on canines.
In order to make the transition as easy as possible for these senior pups, the Gretzes, utilizing a grant from the Animal Rescue Fund, transformed their den into a luxury kennel where the dogs have smaller rooms to retreat to—some of the dogs need a quiet space to relax in or some time to adapt to their new surroundings—couches to lounge on and tons of toys. But the dogs have the run of the middle level and the 10 acres of the property. Dog beds can be found around almost every corner, giving these senior dogs a soft space to nap, which they do often. And Gretz has a roster of volunteers to help out at the home when she needs it to help groom, feed and cuddle.
As Gretz continues to grow Gray Face Acres, she is always on the lookout for volunteers to help transport and foster the senior dogs she finds in shelters. And she has a wish list on her site for items she needs and uses regularly. But the biggest request she has is for people to like and follow her Facebook page. It only takes one photo of a dog in need to help it find a permanent home.