Nurse adopts elderly rehab patient’s dog so he can visit his owner and help him get better 

A kind New York nurse went above and beyond the call of duty when she rescued a patient’s beloved dog from the pound.

John Burley (60) was forced to give up Boomer, his 13 year-old dog, after he was diagnosed with pneumonia the day prior to Thanksgiving.

John was concerned about his four-legged friend. He called Jennifer Smith, a registered nurses at The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Rome to inform her of the sad news.


“John was calling from his hospital room saying, ‘Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is John’s world,” Jennifer told CNN.

They had met at the Rome nursing center, New York, where they were both enrolled in its adult day healthcare program for patients who require supervision.

John had his own apartment where he lived with his pet. Boomer was adopted in Arkansas by John when he was a puppy. He later moved to New York. His family is located in Arkansas so he didn’t have anyone to call to care his dog when he was sick.

Jennifer was able and willing to help. John became a friend of her in the adult daycare program and would often talk to her and show her his photos.

John asked Jennifer to take care John’s senior dog. Jennifer accepted immediately. She had a 13-year-old dog herself, so she fully understood John’s situation.

The problem was, John didn’t know which shelter Boomer was in. Jennifer researched nearby shelters called the Rome Humane Society and confirmed that the pup was taken there.

The facade of Adult Day Healthcare at The Grand at Rome

She drove to the shelter for lunch early the next day. She found the Boomer, weighing 18 pounds, in a large kennel at her back.

“I crouched down and I put my hand on the cage. I was surprised when he approached me and touched my finger. I said ‘where do I sign the adoption papers? I am here to adopt him,’” Jennifer said.

John immediately called Jennifer to inform him that Boomer had been found. Boomer was in good hands, which was a relief to John.

Jennifer paid the adoption fee and then went shopping for food, toys, clothes, and a crate for her dog.

During John’s time in the hospital, Jennifer called every day to update him about how Boomer was settling in her home. She said the dog happily slept in her daughter’s room every night.

John was told that he would need rehabilitation to be released from the hospital.

John Burley reuniting with his dog Boomer

Jennifer planned a surprise for Boomer’s discharge day by dressing him in a cute plaid shirt, and bringing him to work.

Kimberleigh Hare of Adult Day Healthcare at The Grand asked John, once he was settled, if he was feeling well.

“When he saw Jennifer and Boomer come around the corner, he just burst into tears and reached for his pal,” Hare recalled. “There was not a dry eye in the room between residents and staff. He was so happy to see the dog and so thankful to Jennifer for saving him.”

While John lived in the rehabilitation wing of the center, Jennifer brought Boomer to work and would take him up to his owner’s room a couple times a day.

“It helps John with the healing process and gives him peace of mind,” she said.

John Burley in a wheelchair cradling his dog Boomer as nurse Jennifer Smith pets him

John loves to show Boomer his affections while he lies on his lap in a wheelchair. The dog has also been loved by the other residents at the nursing home. They are able to smile and pet him whenever they see him.

Jennifer said that the dog was very well-behaved. He was always a welcome visitor to the center.

“That’s why I went into nursing,” said Jennifer, who has been in the profession for 12 years. “I love helping people and taking care of people in any way that I can.”

John was also promised by her that she would care for Boomer for as long he needed. She wants him to be able to concentrate on getting better.

And as for Jennifer’s king act, John had three simple words to say: “I love Jennifer.”

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