It is rare for a senior center to allow pets, but one center in Thousand Oaks does, and the seniors living here are finding companionship in adopted rescue dogs.
Mary Jo Miller, 89, is a retired nurse who stays in the assisted living center in Thousand Oaks. In May, her 14-year-old Chihuahua Cary passed away. Miller was devastated.
"Cary made no noise, but the apartment felt so dead and quiet," Miller said.
One day, Miller said a prayer, hoping that she would find a new companion. A few weeks later, a rescue dog named Cory — also a Chihuahua — showed up from the Agoura Animal Care Center, and Miller fell in love.
"Part of it was he looked at me with those eyes and gave me a kiss and I thought ... 'I can't leave him...he's looking for a family,'" Miller said.
Now when Miller comes home, there is somebody waiting for her.
Miller is not the only one who finds comfort in her canine companion. Retired school teacher Mary Lou Heckel was so grateful she could keep her dog Buffy at an assisted living center that she wrote a book about it.
Taking care of pets keeps these seniors active, and the rescue dogs have found a new home. More importantly, both the seniors and their dogs have found in each other a loving family.