Senior Living Center Adopts Dog

Joey is making the most of her golden years by warming the hearts of a senior community.

SeniorPAWS + Joey

Senior dog Joey’s plucky presence brings joy, hope, and love to a senior living community she now calls home.

"Our staff and Living Center residents cannot remember life before Joey! There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t make us smile, from the way her tiny pointy ears stand up as if she’s listening in on the conversation, to the way her small warm body fits perfectly in our collective laps."

Joey entered our lives at the beginning of 2020 as the first SeniorPAWS dog to be fostered at the St. John’s Living Center, our local nursing home. SeniorPAWS is a program through Paws of Jackson Hole that allows us Living Center residents and staff to foster a senior shelter dog while they await adoption. Upon her arrival and without hesitation, Joey launched into her new roommates’ laps. Within her first week, Joey was working magic with her new foster family. The end goal for Joey was to be adopted out into the Jackson community, but our residents had something else in mind.

After a couple of weeks, a parade of residents filed into the office of our director to let her know that Joey had to stay. We had residents threatening to leave if we did not adopt her… so we officially failed at our first fostering attempt. Joey officially became ours, and an ambassador to the SeniorPAWS program.

Our staff and Living Center residents cannot remember life before Joey! There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t make us smile, from the way her tiny pointy ears stand up as if she’s listening in on the conversation, to the way her small warm body fits perfectly in our collective laps. She has an incredible effect on everyone, and notably on a few residents who struggle with dementia, communication, and mobility issues. Our staff once utilized Joey’s services to have a difficult conversation with a resident — she sat on a resident’s lap which calmed her and allowed for greater insight and conversation. Joey is the perfect intervention when a resident is in pain or is having a bad day. She plops on a lap and we know that the rest of the resident’s day will be better, and they will forget about their pain. We’ve witnessed her work with a resident who doesn’t like to walk for her therapies. She sits on the resident’s walker, and that motivates our resident to walk and makes her smile throughout her sessions. Our residents who suffer from dementia remember unique facts about Joey.

Joey has her own staff name tag and was recently awarded Employee of the Month, a distinction that came with a signed letter from the St. John’s Health CEO, despite the fact that Joey barks at him whenever he comes around. Our staff sees to most of her day-to-day needs, and the residents take her for walks and feed her treats, along with scraps of food from their own meals. Since the pandemic compelled residents to eat in their bedrooms, Joey has taken to roaming the halls and poking her head in wherever she can find crumbs, not without encouragement. We feel incredibly blessed to have found Joey before the pandemic hit. We have been on a no visitation hold since March and cannot fathom what life would be like without Joey’s plucky presence in our facility. Joey has changed the lives of our residents and staff in a way no other creature could.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Connie won Paws of Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.