Rosa Lopez wakes up in a nursing home every morning with a purpose — to take care of Dove, a senior dog looking for a permanent home.
Lopez is one of a dozen residents at York Healthcare and Wellness Centre who are fostering a senior dog through the organization Much Love Animal Rescue.
The residents shower Dove, a white mutt with a pink bow on her head, with tender love and care.
"I think it’s not only beneficial for the dog to be spoiled rotten, but also helpful for them to feel like they have a sense of purpose," said Lisa Klink, a volunteer at Much Love Animal Rescue.
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Throughout the day, Dove jumps from lap to lap, sniffing around wheelchairs. She often leads the way when seniors take her on a walk down the long corridors of the nursing home.
The residents learn how to take care of the foster dog with the help of LAK9s, an organization that specializes in dog training.
"The great thing about these dogs is that they've already been through all the training,” said David Aguilera, co-owner of LAK9s. "All they need at the end of the day is love, water and food."
Matthew Lysobey, the program director at Rockport Healthcare Services, has seen a change in the seniors’ attitude since Dove became part of their lives.
"They’re getting out of bed saying Dove needs me," Lysobey said. "It's just flipped the switch on a lot of our people who are often just waiting their time out."
The seniors are giving Dove a new lease on life, and she is doing the same for them.
"They just want to give love, they just want to give back," said Mike Wasserman, gerontologist and CEO of Rockport Healthcare Services. "They want to feel like they're doing something."
Residents have grown fond of Dove, but she will eventually move out of the nursing home and into a permanent home.
"I want to get her adopted, but I’ll miss her," said James Pianfetti, one of the residents in charge of Dove at York Healthcare and Wellness Centre. "She’s such a cute little one."
Once Dove is adopted, the residents will foster a new dog.
"That’s the thing part about fostering that’s hard," Pianfetti said. "You get real close to them and they get to sort of be like family, and then the family member goes away."
If you are interested in adopting Dove, you can schedule an appointment to meet her by calling Pianfetti's dog adoption hotline at 626-310-5448 or visit the Much Love Animal Rescue website.