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For ailing dogs whose owners can no longer care for them, House with a Heart in Gaithersburg, Maryland, provides comfort and unconditional love.
Founded by Sher Polvinale, House with a Heart is a sanctuary for dogs with a wide range of maladies: skin problems, impaired vision, respiratory issues and more.
"Everybody has a different personality, and they go from sweet to fighting to just wanting to be loved all the time," says kennel assistant Wendy Reid. "I would say the majority of the dogs have the sweetest personalities ever."
But one thing they all have in common: "Within I'd say 24 hours, 48 at the most, [they] are in love with Sher," says House with a Heart volunteer Pat Viehman. "She's got this aura."
"Everybody that comes to stay with us I think really thrives, so they live a long time," says Polvinale, a 68-year-old former librarian who first opened her home to dogs in 2005 along with her husband, Joe, who died of cancer three years later.
"You get up every morning and you have somebody that needs you and they love you back unconditionally," Polvinale adds. "What's not to love about that?"