104-year-old Man Who Adopted Senior Dog Shares His Secret to Long Life
Photo: Lionel's Legacy / Facebook
Milt Lessner and his senior dog Layla have been each other’s companion since 2016 and they’re still enjoying life and good health.

A 104-year-old man, who has been a dog lover since he was a child, knows the secret to long life. Milt Lessner, a retired psychiatrist, shares a special bond with a senior dog named Layla, whom he adopted a few years back, and they have been living a healthy life together since.

Speaking with the BBC, Lessner said that the shared affection he has with Layla is the reason for both their good health. They enjoy bonding with each other so much that the old man believes it's the reason he and Layla are still alive.


Perfect Calming Companions

Lessner, a widower for several years now, had pets all his life. He used to bring his dogs to work to help his patients relax and calm down. He described dogs as the perfect calming companions. Suffice to say, Lessner knows how to care for furry canines and has been an excellent and experienced dog owner. But when the old man sought to adopt a new canine to live with him, shelters turned him down several times.


Most shelters have a rule against putting rescue dogs in senior people's homes. Understandably, it's a huge concern since caring for dogs can be a strenuous task for a man his age. Besides, what would happen to the dogs in case something happens to their aging owners?

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Made Friends Fast

Layla was around eight when she was found wandering in streets of San Diego some two years ago. The Department of Animal Services generally gave her a clean bill of health, even after an emergency surgery on her uterus.

The senior dog suffered from pyometra, a life-threatening infection caused by the changes in a female dog's hormones so she needed the surgery. When no one came looking for the dog and she got better following her health scare, Lionel's Legacy took her in.


The shelter particularly helps senior dogs find new homes. Since Layla was generally a calm and housebroken pet, which meant it was not difficult to care for her, Lionel's Legacy thought she would be a perfect match for Lessner.

Layla and Lessner became friends as soon as they met. It was not hard to see that they were so smitten with each other, so after making some arrangements, Lessner finally took the dog home.

Big Love For Dogs

The decision to allow Lessner to adopt the dog might be questionable for some, but Lionel's Legacy said they gave great consideration for the 104-year-old man’s big love for dogs. The shelter also has a special arrangement for Layla's case because, while she lives with Lessner, Lionel’s Legacy is still the dog’s owner. If anything happens to the old man, the shelter will take Layla back so that Lessner won’t have to worry about her care.


Workers from Lionel’s Legacy conduct regular visits and phone calls to Lessner’s home.  On one of their recent visits, photographers captured photos of the two seniors in their heartwarming moments together, which showed a great deal of how much Layla and Lessner meant to each other.

Misconception Against Aging Dog Owners

There seems to be a misconception against dog owners who are way past their prime. However, the owner's passing that could leave orphaned dogs, or the inability of an aging person to care for a dog, are not valid arguments against seniors, according to Psychology Today. Even dog owners in their ‘20s or ‘30s could die suddenly or be physically unable to care for a pet.

If anything, senior dog owners form such strong bonds with their pets, as Lessner and Lyla have shown, that they usually make the conscious efforts to plan out care for their furry companions if and when they have gone.

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Camden Savage is a Phoenix based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught her every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.