When we heard about a year ago that a nursing home would like to help us with fundraising and events, we never imagined that their impact on our organization would be so profound and touching. Pathway volunteer, Barb Balchus, had a very personal relationship with Care one at King James nursing home. Her father resides there, and so she got to know the residents and learned of their love for animals. When she told them about her rescue work, they wanted to help. What started with small bake sales and a raffle became so much more, to Pathway and to the residents.
After hosting several successful fundraisers for Pathway, Barb wanted the residents to have the opportunity to meet the dogs they were helping. The nursing home has an enclosed courtyard, so Barb and I decided it would be a great "pit stop" for our transports driving our precious rescue dogs to their new foster homes. Volunteers would drive the dogs, many of whom came from southern kill shelters just weeks prior, to King James nursing home, where they would be welcomed by loving arms and have room to run freely in the courtyard. For one litter of husky puppies in particular, we learned that they had never ran freely on grass before. What an amazing sight to see them running through the courtyard at top speed, wrestling and finally being free. Residents gathered to see the dogs playing. Volunteers walked dogs around to residents' rooms and carried small puppies in their arms for residents to snuggle with. It was a beautiful experience.
But, the most amazing thing was the impact that these dogs and puppies had on the residents. Their faces would light up, and many would become animated as soon as they could see the dogs, or hold one of them in their arms. They gleamed with pride knowing they helped to save these dogs. One resident even tried to sign himself out of the nursing home to adopt a mama dog he fell deeply in love with.
Last year, a woman on hospice wasn't expected to live through the night. Her daughter asked if she could take a puppy to her. She walked out of the room in tears as she explained that her mother had responded for the first time in days with a smile when she held the puppy. This tiny, beautiful pup, that no one wanted, touched her mother's life in her final days. Her mother passed away several days later, and the daughter asked that her memorial donations go to Pathway, to help save more lives. A remarkable experience, but not an isolated one we soon learned. Amazingly enough, the same thing happened again, when we brought 2 small husky puppies to the nursing home. A woman being given her last rites became animated as soon as she was able to see and touch one of the puppies. Its heart warming to see what a difference these abandoned and abused dogs, once unwanted, are able to make in the lives of so many.
King James has become our dearest rescue partner. Its likely that over fifty dogs have passed through their doors on their pathway home. King James has hosted car shows, craft fairs, raffles, donation drives and bake sales to benefit Pathway. They have raised thousands for our organization, and every time they hear of one of our dogs in need, the residents come up with new ways to raise them money. The residents recently met our newest mama, Daisy, and her nine puppies. They were honored and thrilled when they found out that they had a very important job--to name Daisy's nine precious babies. Many of the pups are named after residents.
So now, whenever Pathway dogs are headed north, we try to make our final stop at King James nursing home where the residents and rescued dogs come together with an unspoken love and gratitude for one another.