As animals grow old in age, they tend to suffer from different types of health problems. Some of them end up having such serious conditions that even their beloved owners don’t have the required ability to take care of them and keep them by their side. Some animals outlive their owners and are heartlessly transferred from one home to another if they aren’t lucky enough.

In order to take care of such dogs, Sher Polvinale has established a pet sanctuary called House With A Heart in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Sher and her colleagues look after more than twenty aging dogs with no family. They try their best to ensure that the pooches get to live a very happy and healthy life at their organization.

Sher says, “We have dogs come to live with us until the end of their life and we make sure that the end of their life is full of love and caring [and] lots of attention, and [we] make sure they get all the medical care they need.”


A lot of the dogs who now live in the house came from shelters or from owners who have retired to nursing homes or passed away. The sanctuary makes sure they won’t be moved to a shelter or another owner until they can provide the necessary care the pooches need. They might not have their previous families by their side, but these dogs have found a loving home at House With a Heart for the remaining years of their life. It’s certain that they will be supported and taken care of properly here.

“This is the end,” Sher says, “but it’s a happy end.”


Some of the dogs have costly medical needs, but the expenses are often covered by short term care plans and donations from their supporters.

House With a Heart also takes care of canines with walking impairments. They give them room and various equipment by which they can play and exercise.


Spencer, shown in the picture below, has the adequate resources he needs in order to recover in peace from surgeries and illnesses thanks to House With a Heart.


When the clock strikes six in the morning, Sher is usually up and running. She makes rounds, feeds the dogs, and gives them their medications. She takes care of all their needs until the day ends.


Volunteers arrive later in the morning to play with the dogs, while also helping out in housekeeping and grooming.

Due to her commitment to the dogs, Sher rarely leaves the house. She says that the ultimate fulfillment for her is to be able to spend every moment with the dogs and tend to their needs.


Harriette Sackler, vice president of House With a Heart, is responsible for transporting the dogs. She is in charge when it comes to the case of emergencies or visits to the vet.

Harriette says, “One of the duties that I like least is I am usually with the dogs when we say goodbye to them. We always want to be there with the pets, we never let them leave this world alone. They’re loved until the very last moment and beyond.”

The organization has made a collection of photographs called “Stairway To Heaven” to honor each dog that spent their last days at the sanctuary.

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