GARDENDALE The entire process has taken five years but the light is now at the end of the tunnel as The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary prepares to open its new facility.

Located at 5010 E. Marigold in Gardendale, the grand opening for the new facility will take place from 2-6 p.m. Aug. 7.

For over 20 years, Connie and Rick Eicher have owned the dachshund sanctuary, rescuing mostly senior and special needs dogs but have been running it from their home.

“We started rescuing dachshunds and special needs and senior dachshunds 20 years ago on the second of July and we did that because seniors were not getting rescued from the shelters,” Connie said.

“Back then, the rescue groups would rescue the young dogs because they could find a home for them but if they rescued the old dogs, nobody would adopt them. That’s when we started rescuing old dogs and special needs dogs because they didn’t have an outlet. That’s what’s we been doing for 20 years.”

Once Connie and Rick rescue their dogs, they immediately get them all the vet care they need before they try to place them in homes.

That can be difficult as these dogs are older and require a lot of maintenance from the vet.

If they can’t find a home for the dogs, then they give them a loving safe home for the rest of their lives.

For them to be able to open a new facility is a dream come true as the new building will allow extra space for the dogs.

“This is something that Connie and I have wanted for a long time,” Rick said. “We do adopt our fair share of dogs but at the same time, we have to have room for the dogs that are permanent residents at the sanctuary. That’s what it was all about. That’s why it was established. It’s a place for these special needs and elderly dogs to live their lives out. “In addition, we’ll be able to accommodate more in the future.”

The new building itself will be 2,000 square feet. In addition, there will be four yards outside so that the dogs can go in and out from their air-and-heat conditioned rooms through a doggie door.

“We use the pet astro turf so we wouldn’t have to drag hoses and mow,” Connie said. “They’re going to have access to indoor and outdoor at their will.”

The building will also have a meet and greet room. People that want to come in and adopt can take the dog into that room and get to know it better.

“That’s important to us,” Connie said.

The building will also have a feed and medical room as well as an isolation room for the new dogs to be quarantined.

“Our dogs are senior dogs and some of them are quite fragile, so we always put a new dog in quarantine for about two weeks to make sure it doesn’t have any intestinal worms or any kind of illness that can be contagious to our fragile dogs,” Connie said. “Now we have a room that’s set up specifically for them to be comfortable and for us to know that they are separated from our other dogs until we ensure that they are healthy enough to go into the other rooms.”

The new building will be named Trooper’s Dream, after one of their former dogs who was rescued from Louisiana and brought to the shelter where he soon became internet famous.

“He was found in a flood in Baton Rouge back in 2016,” Connie said. “It was a 14-hour transport to get him here. When we got him, we discovered that he was blind, deaf, had diabetes and had a low thyroid. He looked like he had been stretched over a skeleton. We took care of his vet needs and fattened him up and he became an internet celebrity. Everyone loved Trooper. He became quite a celebrity so it was a huge loss when we lost Trooper a few years ago. But he brought so many people into the world of understanding that old and special needs dogs deserve a place and they can have a wonderful life if somebody can understand the fact that they’re no longer a puppy.”

Currently, Connie and Rick have about 58 dogs in their care. Many of them are long-term dogs.

“A lot of our dogs come from when an older couple goes into assisted living or pass away and they have an old dachshund as their pet and they can’t take that dog, then we’ll get a lot of dogs from that circumstance,” Connie said. “Or somebody will give up two or three dogs that are bonded and they’ve lived together their entire lives.”

The new building will also allow the Eichers to have more volunteers come in.

“I have a lot of volunteers that want to help but strangers coming in and out of the house is not as comfortable for us as having this facility where they can come over and help me feed or clean,” Connie said. “It’ll enable us to use a lot more volunteers.”

The sanctuary runs on donations. Vet bills will run about $4,000 a month and the building took over three years of funding.

“Our followers are very generous,” Connie said. “They’ve seen our mission and seen that we have longevity and they see our results when we adopt a dog out or bring in a dog like Trooper who was about to die and blossomed. Everything runs on donations and we have a great following that’s very faithful and makes sure that we have the money that’s needed to do what we do.”

Those who want to donate to The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary can do so at

While there are still some things that are going to be finished after the opening, the building will total about $150,000 when everything is done.

“So far, we’ve got about $135,000 in it,” Connie said. “We still have some things that we want to do that are not going to be quite ready in time for the opening. We have some painting to do around the back of the building. Things like that. We’re going to have a sign out front but we’d also like to have one by the street so we still have some things to do. I expect that by the time we’re done, it’ll be about a $150,000 building.”

The facility is built out of concrete and cinderblocks with steel trusses on the roof.

“It will withstand 100 mile winds,” Connie said. “We’re very proud of it.”

Construction on the building took two years.

“We actually started raising money for it five years ago and two years ago, we had enough to where we could get started so we’re still supplementing that fund that we’ve put together to build it as we need,” Connie said.

For them, dachshunds have always been special. Rick himself grew up with dachshunds.

“They’re a very special breed simply because they’re a good family dog,” Rick said. “It’s been a big family tradition of mine.”

If you go

  • What: Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary new facility grand opening.
  • When: 2-6 p.m. Aug. 7.
  • Where: 5010 E. Marigold, Gardendale.