A neighborhood nonprofit helps a man and his pets stay together
Poquito, a 9-year-old Chihuahua mix, lives in an aging apartment complex at Northwest Highway and Abrams with his best buddy, Gerald Lowe, an avid volunteer, stroke survivor and admitted pushover. Poquito, warily eyeing his visitors, snuggles into a well-worn La-Z-Boy chair next to Lowe, who tells us how he and Poquito got themselves a cat (she made a brief appearance and is successfully hiding somewhere in the one-room unit). “She brought her kittens right up to the door,” he says, pointing to a shaded front porch. “I went outside to see what the commotion was about, and there they were. I couldn’t let them die. What could I do? I told you I was a pushover.” Thanks to a locally formed nonprofit organization, the Seniors’ Pet Assistance Network (SPAN), Lowe and other senior citizens who have trouble, physically or financially, caring for their pets, receive help. White Rock area resident Adelle Taylor founded SPAN a few years ago whenshe learned that financially strapped older adults were being forced to give up their pets, who were often their sole companions. Taylor says that there is a tremendous amount of research showing that pets help people in a lot of ways, mentally and physically. “I like to think of SPAN as not just a pet and people helper, but also a prescription for better health,” she says. Lowe, who suffered from a stroke a few years ago and who struggles financially, had been participating in a “foster grandparent” program that puts seniors to work volunteering in elementary schools through the Dallas-based Senior Source, when he learned about SPAN. They found veterinary help for the litter of kittens and had the mother cat, who Lowe named Momma-psy (“a combination of Momma and psycho,” he says), spayed and domesticated, so that he could keep her. SPAN also helps with veterinary care and food for Poquito, who is a vital member of the household. “He’s in charge. He wakes me up in the morning and tells me when something’s going on that is of interest,” Lowe says. “He might be just nine pounds, but he’s a good guard dog.”
Learn more about SPAN by calling 972.655.8906 or visiting seniorspets.org.