Last October, the Arizona Humane Society expanded the nursery’s benefits by introducing Boots, a 12-year-old Chow/Golden Retriever mix who became their first official kitten nanny.
Once a week, the senior gray-muzzled dog accompanies his owner Susan Juergensen to the animal shelter where he helps make 5-to-8-week-old kittens more adoptable by exposing them to new experiences – such as meeting dogs like himself – at a young age.
“One factor that can increase a cat’s chance of adoption is its ability to live in homes with other pets. By socializing kittens with dogs like Boots early in life, we are able to open up an entirely new world of potential home environments to that kitten,” the Arizona Humane Society said.
Boots starts by walking around the cages, sniffing the kittens. Depending on their reactions, society workers slowly introduce the kittens to him, where they climb on him, meow at him and, sometimes, even lick his face.
Arizona Humane Society spokesperson Bretta Nelson says Boots is “giving back to the animal world after his heartbreaking experiences” during Hurricane Katrina.
Boots was found in an open field in downtown New Orleans in August of 2005. He was standing in almost 10 inches of black water with foggy eyes and irate with bacteria.
“He ducked his head down when we approached, but let us pick him up,” Traci Pepper, an in-field trap and neuter return coordinator for the Arizona Humane Society, told People. “His paws were almost completely de-gloved, which means the skin was completely gone. We don’t even know how he was standing.”
The lovable mix, then 2 years old, was rushed to a makeshift shelter set up in a parking lot in Jefferson Parish to get his bloodied, raw paws repaired.
Boots was adopted weeks after Hurricane Katrina by a worker at the shelter who had helped change his bandages during the storm.
“There was just something in his eyes, he was so relieved – he captured my heart,” his owner, Susan Juergensen, said. “It’s so cute; now when we go to the shelter he knows he’s working. I think he’s saying, ‘Finally these humans have realized my talent as a nanny and given me a job!’ “