Sher and Joe Polvinale devoted more than 30 years of their lives to rescuing unwanted dogs and cats – many of them seniors. In 2006 they established House With A Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary out of their own 4 bedroom home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Joe passed away in 2008, but with the help of her large group of volunteers, Sher continues to provide sanctuary to about 30 senior dogs at a time, making sure their final days are filled with love.
“In order to feel happy and fulfilled in life, everyone needs a passion,” Sher told PEOPLE Pets. “This has become mine.”
CUTENESS OVERLOAD!!! In the background Tobi’s behind and in front of her is Happy, and on the top step – Piper, Sally…
The dogs (and a few cats) that call House With A Heart home have been rescued from animal shelters or by personal request. Some of the residents have experienced abuse, while others suffer from disabilities or the diseases of aging. At the senior pet sanctuary they find the veterinary care they need, plus food, shelter, warmth, and the gentle touch of a loving hand.
Thinking of my Joe……This morning I walked under the trees out front of our home in Gaithersburg. This is the house…
There’s Happy, a spirited 13-year-old Bichon Frise who was surrendered to House With A Heart when he lost the use of his rear legs. His former family loved him, but could not care for him after he became disabled. Happy zooms about in his custom wheelchair and sleeps in his own crib at the sanctuary.
Tammy Two-Too is an 18-years-young Spaniel mix rescued from a local shelter. She was likely a victim of abuse before arriving at the shelter and was soon scheduled for euthanasia when it became clear she could not adjust. At House With A Heart, Miss Tammy learned to trust humans and bonded to the other dogs.
An average day for Sher and her rotating band of 60 volunteers starts at 6 AM and finishes at midnight. The time in between is filled with feedings, medications, cleanings, indoor and outdoor play times, and trips to the groomer and vet. Sher sleeps on a sofa among the dozens of plush dog beds so she can be woken up in the night if any of the seniors need a pre-dawn potty break.
Paws for Inspiration: Logan’s asleep, or else he’d quote Shakespeare for you himself! “We are such stuff as dreams are…
It’s difficult work that can sometimes be heartbreaking, but Sher feels it is worth it to know that the animals in her care get the chance to experience kindness, comfort and love, if only for a short time.
“We’ve lost 80 so far,” she told PEOPLE, “and I remember them all. It’s not easy to say goodbye, but we take comfort in knowing we’ve given them a wonderful end-of-life experience. Not a single animal leaves our care without knowing they were loved.”
House With A Heart depends solely on donations to care for their rescued seniors. You can support this wonderful mission by making a financial donation or purchasing a gift from their Amazon Wishlist.
H/T to PEOPLE Pets
Featured Image via Facebook/House With A Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary