At Sher Polvinale’s Maryland retirement home, House with a Heart, the residents dine on kibble, play fetch instead of Bridge, and love a scratch behind the ears. It’s a cozy abode filled with animal senior citizens, not human centenarians, looking to spend the last years of their lives surrounded by compassion, quiet and comfort.
After rescuing animals in need for over 30 years, Polvinale and her late husband founded House with a Heart as a nonprofit organization in 2006 with 10 full-time senior dog residents, reports The Animal Rescue Site. Following her husband’s death, the 68-year-old animal lover started adopting more elderly pets, and she now cares for over 30 aging animals — including a 33-year-old horse, several cats and over a dozen dogs — with the help of several staff members and numerous volunteers.
Once a pet enters House with a Heart, they never need to look for another home. The sanctuary feeds, medicates and cuddles each resident until its dying day, after which a photo is hung in the house in memoriam.
The furry seniors who find their way to Polvinale have often been abandoned because of health issues or surrendered by an owner who can no longer care for them. After this turmoil late in life, House with a Heart proves to be welcomed repose – and Polvinale a cherished guardian.
“Within, I’d say, 24 hours, 48 at the most, [they] are in love with Sher,” says House with a Heart volunteer Pat Viehman on Today.com. “She’s got this aura.”
For Polvinale, caring for her adorable wards is hardly work at all; it’s a gift.
“You get up every morning and you have somebody that needs you and they love you back unconditionally,” she said. “What’s not to love about that?”
Home with a Heart is able to give and receive this love thanks to generous donations and grants. In the future, Polvinale is planning to start her own grant-giving program through the sanctuary to encourage owners and other animal shelters to take the time to care for needy senior pets — because both humans and golden retrievers alike deserve to enjoy their golden years.