Through the Finally Home Senior Dog Rescue and Retirement Home, Laurie Dorr opened her North Yarmouth residence earlier this year to older dogs who had none. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

NORTH YARMOUTH — Laurie Dorr’s home has long since gone to the dogs, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since opening the Finally Home Senior Dog Rescue and Retirement Home at her forested 616 New Gloucester Road residence earlier this year, Dorr has adopted four older dogs in addition to the two she and her husband already had. The $500 campaign she started in February to help support her expenses had as of Nov. 20 reached $8,265, and Dorr has been inundated with donations such as dog food and treats.

The vet bills for which the money was designated have been relatively minimal, considering the age and number of dogs under her roof. All their vaccinations were up to date before joining her home, and only one has visited the vet a few times, costing about $2,000. Some are on pain medication for arthritis.

Dorr is seeking a bigger financial boost to build a nearly 300-square-foot, porch-like, enclosed-but-well-windowed addition in order to house additional dogs and their beds. Along with the online campaign, she is pursuing grant funding for the project, which is estimated at $52,000.

“We’re not running out of space; we could probably take another (dog),” Dorr said Nov. 20, while surrounded by her furry friends. “But we just feel we want to take more. And so we want to add on.”

Although a den in the house is already dog-designated, it’s often empty if the humans are elsewhere. “They want to be where we are,” Dorr said. “Usually wherever I go, they go.”

Dorr aims to have a total of 12 dogs. Having so many around already, “you have to really watch your step when you get up,” she said with a laugh. “When we’re eating at the table, they’re all around here.”

Her house is meant to be a permanent and loving haven for dogs about 7 years old or older that have spent a long time in a shelter, are possibly in a “kill shelter” and facing euthanization, have special needs, or haven’t yet found their “furever” home, according to Dorr.

They live indoors but can romp outside in a grassy, 800-square-foot fenced-in area constructed by Dorr’s husband. They have the food, toys and socialization they need for the time remaining in their lives, and veterinary care through the Gray-New Gloucester Animal Hospital.

“It’s going well; the dogs are awesome” and all get along, Dorr said. “… I wouldn’t be expanding if it wasn’t working out.”

Each dog undergoes a trial run to ensure he or she is comfortable. Apart from one dog, whose anxiety and arthritis made it difficult to be around bouncy canines, all have found a permanent home with Dorr.

As a visit supervisor with Home Counselors, a nonprofit organization, the 55-year-old is able to spend some time each morning and evening and the hours in between back at home with the pack.

It can take about a week for the dogs to acclimate to their new residence – Dorr has slept downstairs with the pack at times to ease the transition – and the goodbyes with the previous owner can be emotional. One dog came from a shelter, others from people who were moving to places like retirement homes and unable to bring their canine along.

“All the owners feel bad, and usually I have tears, and they’re tearing up when they leave the dog, which is natural,” Dorr said. She discourages the previous owners from visiting, since “I think for the dogs it’s better, because as soon as they come back, the dog’s going to think that they’re leaving.”

Dorr does send photos of the dogs to their former owners “so they can still kind of see that dog that they love, and see that she’s OK,” she said.

Donations can be made to gofundme.com/finallly-home-senior-dog-rescue-amp-retirement-home, and Dorr can also be reached at 829-3943. Finally Home, which earlier this year received nonprofit tax status from the federal government, can also be followed at facebook.com/olddoggies and on Instagram at @finally_home_dogs.

Nancy Petit, a volunteer with Old Dogs, New Digs – a network that works with Maine shelters to help homeless and displaced dogs into homes like Dorr’s – praised the North Yarmouth woman’s efforts.

“I was so excited when I heard about her and realized she was going to complete ownership and care for the older dogs that are in the shelter, because those are the most overlooked dogs,” Petit said. “As people walk by them in the shelter they don’t show their best behavior, because they’re very nervous and scared.”

Petit said she hopes to work with Dorr more going forward, “and hopefully get her a couple more of our old dogs, because we want to get them out of the shelter, and we’d love to have them be with her.”

Comments are not available on this story.