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December 26, 2021 2:03 p.m.
Posted: December 26, 2021 2:03 PM
It was just after Thanksgiving when nurse Jennifer Smith received an early morning call from one of her favorite patients, John Burley. He was desperate about his beloved dog, Boomer.
“I was coming to work the Monday after Thanksgiving when the phone rang at 7 a.m.,” Smith told CNN. “John called from his hospital room and said, ‘Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is in the pound! ‘ Boomer is John’s world. “
Smith, who has been a nurse for 12 years, said she could see that he was worried and also afraid of what would happen to Boomer.
“He took a deep breath and asked me, ‘Do you care about boomers?’ And I said, ‘Of course, John. I’ll find Boomer and take care of him for you, ‘”Smith told CNN.
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Smith met Burley at the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Rome, New York, through his adult health program.
The 60-year-old still had his own apartment in which he lived alone with his little mutt. Burley adopted the 12-year-old dog as a puppy in Arkansas and later moved to New York. Most of his family still live in Arkansas. When he was hospitalized with pneumonia and lung problems, he had no one to look after his dog. Nobody except Smith.
Smith says she became friends with Burley in the adult daycare, and he often talked about boomers and showed pictures of his furry companion. “I couldn’t separate the two. I just couldn’t. “
Burley didn’t know which shelter Boomer was in. Smith immediately searched for nearby animal shelters and when she called the Rome Humane Society she found that he had been taken there.
“I was a little panicked because I didn’t know how long he had been at the shelter or whether he had already been adopted into another family. It’s Christmas time and people are getting animals, ”she said. “I told John that I have a 13 year old dog of my own that I have had since a puppy, so I fully understand the panic. It made my heart sad for him and Boomer. “
The next day, she had an early lunch and drove to the shelter, where she found 18-pound boomers in a large cage in the back. Smith said, “Okay, where are the adoption papers? I’ll take him home. “
Although he wasn’t quite ready to be released from the shelter, Smith immediately called Burley to tell him that she had found Boomer, he was fine and that she would be taking him home soon. A short time later, Boomer was set up at Smith’s home and befriended her dog.
“John has one less worry and he needs to focus on getting better and taking care of himself and knowing that Boomer is in good hands,” said Smith.
Burley is now temporarily living in the center’s rehabilitation wing. It is uncertain where he will live after his release. But while he’s there, Smith can bring Boomer to work with her. She takes him to Burley’s room a few times a day. “It helps John heal and gives him peace of mind,” said Smith.
The other residents also love boomers. Smith says Burley takes pride in showing off Boomers while riding in his wheelchair on his lap. They smile and caress him.
“There are so many worries in the world right now. If I can take one worry away from John, that’s the least I can do, ”she said. “I cannot cure diseases. I’m not a miracle worker … I promised John I would take care of Boomers. I’ll take care of him as long as he needs me. Johannes knows that. Right now the focus is on John getting better and taking it one day at a time. “
Smith’s friendliness has not gone unnoticed. Burley, struggling a little with the language, had an important thing to say: “I love Jennifer.”
“John sees boomers, that’s the only Christmas present I need right now,” said Smith, who, unsurprisingly, said she had made a career in nursing to help people.
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