It’s the first of its kind in the nation.
A program that pairs senior K-9’s with elder members of the community.
It’s seniors helping seniors and it’s giving purpose and value to people and dogs in our community who are often overlooked.
Bootsy is a ten-year-old spaniel mix who many overlooked until he joined the program.
“There’s not too many people who are looking to adopt 10 year old animals,” said Nick Cullen, Director of Kern County Animal Services.
Bootsy is the very first foster dog in the new and never before done Senior K-9 Adoption program.
“The goal of this program is twofold. Yes, we’re helping the dogs. We’re pulling them from the streets and from the shelters and helping them get adopted. Which is very important, but the new spin to this is that we’re having seniors do all the work. They now how a job. They have something to look forward to every day,” said Colleen Steckloff, owner of LA Canines and developer of the Senior K-9 Adoption program.
Residents at the Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield will care for Bootsy in every way.
From walking him daily to fielding phone calls from anyone interested in adopting the old sweet pup.
“I’m excited. So excited. I could not wait til today,” said Sharon Stewart, a participant in the program.
Sharon Stewart has had two strokes, which affected her speech and paralyzed the right side of her body.
She has function only in her right hand.
Despite that, she has volunteered to be the “pooper scooper” – doing a job most wouldn’t want but she does.
“I just love him,” Stewart said.
“Senior K-9 Adoption is really about seeing the potential in people. We have nursing homes all across the country with people ready and willing to help and they really don’t get the opportunity,” said Matthew Lysobey, Chief Community Integration Officer.
“It’ll give us something to do that’s interesting,” said Valerie Miller, another participant in the program.
Bootsy is giving purpose and love to the residents.
“Right before he goes to bed he will be in my room and we’ll look at the TV together and I’ll sneak him a snack or two,” said Azalee Hester, also a participant in the program.
The hardest part about the new program?
“Seeing him go,” Miller said.
Seeing him go to a forever home thanks to the efforts of the residents at the Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield.
It’s K-9 compassion reflecting the value in every dog and person in our community.
“As the dog gets older it needs as much love as the puppy does and maybe more, you know? Because puppies are really cute and everybody loves puppies, but older dogs people need to realize they’re of value too and give them the love and attention that they need,” said Brenna Crafts, another participant in the program.
17 News will continue to follow the Senior K-9 Adoption program, updating you on the day to day duties of Booty’s new foster friends and of course highlighting the day Bootsy finds a forever home.
If you’re interested in adopting Bootsy you can call Valerie Miller on the Senior K-9 Adoption hotline at 205-9607.