DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — The hardest thing Helen Barker could do all morning was let go of the little white ball of fur and love.
“I just want to keep him,” said Barker, a resident at Granite Mesa Health Center in Marble Falls. “I just want to keep him.”
Then, she pulled the kitten closer to her face and gave it a kiss. The toughest thing the Granite Mesa staff and the Living Love Animal Rescue volunteers might have faced all day was trying to get Barker to give up the kitten. But for the hour she clung to the young cat, Barker seemed wrapped up with the animal’s love.
“This is just a wonderful experience for our residents,” said Kris Tilley, the Granite Mesa Health Center activities director. “I bring my dog here when I can. The residents just love it. They get these wonderful smiles on their faces — like now. The dogs and cats are just great for them.”
The Living Love Animal Rescue volunteers stopped by the health center May 30 with several kittens and dogs. Claire Edwards explained that the organization just wants to give the residents and the animals a chance for a little love.
“I call this our Living Love-in,” she said. “It’s great for the residents, and it’s great for the dogs and kittens.”
Living Love Animal Rescue is a local, no-kill program that finds homes for dogs and cats. The organization recently found an animal shelter facility just outside of Marble Falls where it currently houses about 45 kittens and 12 dogs. Along with the shelter, the nonprofit runs the Living Love Animal Rescue Thrift Store at 407 Main St. in Marble Falls.
“We’re an all-volunteer organization,” Edwards said. “We have no paid staff.”
The hope is to find each of the dogs and cats it has a permanent home.
While the stop at Granite Mesa probably wouldn’t lead to a home for the visiting kittens or dogs, it was a good chance for the animals and residents to enjoy each other. Spicewood resident Charles Jones, who was taking some rehab at Granite Mesa, let one of the dogs sit on his lap. He stroked the dog’s fur, all the time smiling.
“I’ve had dogs my whole life,” he said. “This is great.”
The dogs hopped up on the laps of the residents and patients. They nudged a few hands for extra pets, but, most of the time, there was no need for any attention-getting vices. They found many willing hands ready to offer a pet or stroke.
Living Love volunteers and Granite Mesa staff passed around kittens to make sure any resident who wanted to hold one got the opportunity, except for maybe the white kitten Barker clutched. She just kept holding the kitten, hugging it and burying her own face against the white fur.
“When I see something like that, I know we need to come back here more often,” Edwards said.
And by the looks on many of the residents gathered in the front room, they hope so, too.