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updated: 2/5/2014 11:43 AM

Older Rescue Dog Gets a "New Lease on Life"

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  • Oak Hill Supportive Living Community resident Patsy is one of the many residents who enjoy spending time with Nitra, the community's adopted Labrador.

    Oak Hill Supportive Living Community resident Patsy is one of the many residents who enjoy spending time with Nitra, the community's adopted Labrador.
    Oak Hill Supportive Living staff

Kathy Wolf

Adopting a "rescue dog" from the local animal shelter is a popular choice for many families, many of whom tend to overlook older pooches in favor of younger shelter puppies. Not so for the 94 seniors at Oak Hill Supportive Living in Round Lake Beach who find that the older, more mature dogs are the perfect match for their retirement lifestyle.

The senior residents and staff at Oak Hill Supportive Living Community in Round Lake Beach, IL, recently found their perfect canine companion when they adopted 4-year-old Labrador mix, Nitra, as part of the community's "See Spot Retire" adopt-a-pet program. After interviewing several doggie candidates, the residents and staff chose Nitra because of her sweet and gentle disposition. Potty trained and past her puppy-chewing stage, Nitra is not a jumper or barker. These qualities make her an excellent fit for the senior supportive living community, where some residents have challenges with mobility, eyesight and hearing.

"I just know we're going to be best friends!" said Oak Hill resident Louise Jankowiak, a lifelong dog owner who can no longer care for her own pet.

Dozens of older dogs throughout Chicago and the suburbs have "retired" in comfort over the past four years thanks to the signature See Spot Retire program created by Pathway Senior Living, the operator of Oak Hill Supportive Living Community and many other Chicagoland senior living communities. See Spot Retire offers older dogs new lives and affords residents meaningful relationships and unconditional affection. In these win-win adoptions, the dogs, like many of the senior residents, now have a new lease on life, and senior residents can enjoy the benefits of pet ownership without shouldering the responsibility and cost of caring for a dog.

The many known benefits of pet relationships include: better mood, lower blood pressure, relaxation, stress relief, less pain, more activity, increased communication and more opportunities for touch and contact. All of these benefits can lead to better physical and mental health. Plus, with Nitra around the community feels more like "home" for the residents, staff and visitors.

"Dogs are like therapy. You can talk to them, tell them your problems and cuddle with them. They give you unconditional love. They really are like best friends," Jankowiak said. She is one of the many residents who enjoy interacting with Nitra daily. For now Nitra is learning the ropes of senior living and is staying in the administrative office, but she will soon have full range of the community (except the dining room!) and even get to stay in residents' apartments.

Nitra's sister, Nala, also found her forever home with Oak Hill's Resident Care Manager, Freda Knorr, who found both dogs irresistible.

Oak Hill Supportive Living Community, located at 76 East Rollins Road, Round Lake Beach, IL, features new supportive living apartments with call systems, three meals a day, support services as needed, activities and outings and other social opportunities at an affordable monthly rate. Amenities include a billiard room, dining and community rooms, beauty salon, library, greenhouse and movie theatre. The community is operated by Pathway Senior Living, which operates 12 other supportive living residences in Illinois. For more information, please call Oak Hill at 847-201-1100 or visit the website at