VAllEJO, CALIFORNIA — “Missy is just the sweetest thing,” said Jude Potter from her retirement community home in Vallejo, California. “She’s such an important part of my home now.”
Today, Missy, a 12-year-old tri-colored Pomeranian, and Jude (pronounced like Judy) are inseparable companions. Their story started when two NextHome associates noticed Jude’s needs and worked hard to see her happy.
“Having an animal completes your life. They give you something that you can’t quantify: love and understanding,” Jude said.
For Jude, a house isn’t a home without a dog.
“We’ve always had dogs,” Jude said. “My husband John and I raised five children and every child needs a dog to love. We had what you might call a little farm when the kids were young with all kinds of animals: sheep, horses, chickens, rabbits, plus the Shelties, Australian Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Huskies, a few mutts, and even some cats.”
As the years passed, everyone got older – including Jude and John. In 2022, with kids long out of their home and John’s health deteriorating, the couple moved into The Lodge at Glen Cove senior living community.
Katie Pleger, an associate with NextHome Family Tree, loves to connect with people throughout her Northern California community. One way she loves to connect is by spending time at The Lodge.
“This facility has some of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting,” Katie said.
While volunteering at a community chili cook off, Katie met Jude and they struck up a conversation.
“The Lodge is the perfect place for us, but I wanted a dog,” Jude said. “Katie and I ended up serving up dishes next to each other at a chili cook off event. We started chatting and I told her I was thinking of looking for a dog as a companion for my husband – just to keep his spirits up.”
Katie saw an opportunity to help and jumped at the chance.
“Immediately, I knew that this was something I could help with,” Katie said. “When I got home, I called fellow NextHome agent, Annette Davis, who volunteers with PAWS: Pet Adoption and Wellness Services. This non-profit organization rescues homeless and abandoned animals. I explained the situation and what Jude was looking for, and she thought she had the perfect dog.”
Annette had never met Katie, but as a NextHomie who shared her commitment to putting Humans Over Houses, she knew they could collaborate to change two lives.
“When Katie reached out, I had been fostering Missy for just about a month,” Annette said. “She was really the sweetest older dog who didn’t have a place to go after a horrible accident.”
Missy had recently lost her eye when another dog became territorial.
“The owners were heartbroken about the whole thing,” Annette said. “Missy had lived with her original owner all her life, but when that owner passed away, she was inherited by a family member. That family’s longtime pet became territorial. After the accident, they knew Missy needed a new forever home. She was sweet and I felt bad for her. While she had some injuries, she was a very mellow girl and did fine with all my dogs, but liked to hang out with people more.”
After connecting with PAWS, Annette was able to help Missy through an eye-removal surgery, but the next step was looking for her forever home.
“That’s when Katie showed me a picture and suggested I go meet Annette and Missy,” Jude said. “Missy was so sweet and I knew immediately that she would be wonderful for me and John. She has adjusted beautifully and is at my heels all the time. She has become the mascot of the community.”
Today, Missy has her very own door out into the garden from Jude’s room.
“When I take her to memory care the people perk up, get excited, and like to hold her,” Jude said. “She settles into your lap and she’s very comforting.”
While everyone in the community has embraced Missy, Jude and John love her most.
“John is doing much better now,” Jude said. “I’m taking him out of the unit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to activities. It’s still hard when you start to lose your spouse to dementia. In my 84 years I’ve never lived alone. There’s got to be love in the home for it to be comfortable. Missy is good company.”
“When I tell people I am a REALTOR®, a common response I get is, ‘Oh, so you just sell houses,’” Katie added. “Any of us that are in the industry know just how much more there is to it than just selling houses. My favorite thing about being a REALTOR®: I love making connections with people. Connecting Jude and Missy is Humans Over Houses, and this is why I love my job.”
“That’s what keeps me going,” Annette added. “It’s not the paycheck. It’s that because I was in the right place at the right time, two lives have changed for the better.”
You can donate and learn more about Pet Adoption and Wellness Services (PAWS) by clicking here.