SeniorPAWS is a win-win for pets and patrons of the Living Center

JACKSON, Wyo. — A new pet project of PAWS of Jackson Hole has the Living Center buzzing…and barking.

The unique partnership between PAWS and St. John’s Living Center called SeniorPAWS is off to a tail-wagging success. It feels so naturally a no-brainer it is a surprise it has not been thought of before.

In an effort to enhance the quality of life of Living Center residents while providing a foster home for an adoptable dog pulled from regional shelters, the goal of the project is to adopt out a handful of senior dogs during 2020 through the Living Center test pilot program. It’s a symbiotic relationship where both pets and people greatly benefit from their time spent together.

Joey was selected as the program’s Guinea pig. Well, truth be told, the 8-year-old chihuahua-miniature pincher mix is not much bigger than a Guinea pig but she’s all dog. She made her journey from the Snake River Animal Shelter in Idaho Falls to Jackson on Friday, January 10 as the first SeniorPAWS dog.

Joey was selected based on her age, size, and outgoing demeanor. Plus, it just so happens she was originally surrendered to the shelter because of her elderly owner’s failing health. She spent her first weekend with PAWS program director Jess Farr, and it didn’t take long for Jess to realize Joey was going to be a big hit with the AARP crowd.

Joey was introduced to the Living Center on Tuesday, January 14, and it was like Joey was born for this. The plucky pup made herself right at home, hopping up an any available lap. Not only was Joey phenomenal with her new residents, but it was visible how much she enjoyed herself interacting with them.

In fact, Living Center staff members noted that residents who suffer from memory loss have been able to remember who Joey is, her age, and why she is there. Truly remarkable.

Director of Life Enrichment Connie Hansen said, “Joey has already brought much joy to many of our residents. Her presence is truly therapeutic for some.”

Joey fit in so well that she was adopted by Connie Hansen and now lives at the Living Center as a permanent SeniorPAWS Ambassador dog. She’ll be a valuable asset in helping future SeniorPAWS dogs transition from shelters into the Living Center and, eventually, their forever homes.

The new SeniorPAWS dog, Laverne, arrived from the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter Tuesday. She’s an 8-10-year-old Russel mix who, according to PAWS, is a “super sassy and social spry senior lady” who “loves car rides, couch time, and is quiet and polite in the office.

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