By Janet McAfee

The Dachshund/Chihuahua mother dog and her seven puppies had a challenging start in life. Although their owner loved his dogs, he was without housing and camped outside a local Walmart. The hot summer was approaching and having that many animals is an overwhelming task when one is homeless. A good Samaritan suggested the young man relinquish the dogs to Loving All Animals shelter in Coachella while he worked on some goals to change his life’s direction. The puppies were only 3 weeks old and still nursing.

The little family thrived indoors receiving adequate exercise, nutrition, and excellent veterinary care. Staff and volunteers made sure they were loved and socialized. Everyone was spayed and neutered so they would not contribute to the growing number of homeless pets.

Robert Bernal’s last dog passed away in 2021 and he was lonely for canine companionship. He tells us, “I was looking for the right one when I arrived at Loving All Animals. I didn’t plan on two dogs, but I could see Bender and Fry belonged together. Their foster parent mentioned they weren’t fond of men, but the puppies suddenly crawled into my arms.” Sometimes dogs adopt their human. They found their forever home on May 20, 2023, National Rescue Dog Day which celebrates the adoption of rescue dogs. No one could anticipate how much these once homeless puppies would transform many lives.


Robert is an Activities Assistant at a Coachella Valley assisted living facility that includes a memory care program. The dogs now named Jax and Kai began accompanying him to work. They soon became very popular with both staff and residents. Some staff asked to take one or both pups to their departments for part of the workday.

The dogs run up and down the facility hallways, making stops at various rooms to bring cheer. They sit on laps and they snuggle next to those suffering from physical ailments, instinctively knowing who most needs comfort. Paws and Hearts, a wonderful local charity, brings their therapy dogs once a week to provide companionship. Jax and Kai provide longer and more frequent visits. Since many seniors don’t have family nearby, these dogs bring smiles to those without many human visitors.

Jax and Kai are regular visitors for a memory care resident receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer. She was not able to keep her own dog in memory care. When she sees Robert she calls out, “Where are the dogs? Please bring them here.” The dogs are generous with kisses and willing to receive them in return.

Jax and Kai changed Robert’s life as well. “They snuggle with me at night, and I wake up to see their sweet faces looking at me. On those days I don’t feel like getting up, the dogs give me no choice! They give me motivation to do more and give me so much happiness without even realizing it. It’s fun taking care of them and cooking them special meals.”

Science now confirms what dog lovers always knew. Having a dog improves both emotional and physical health. The Center for Disease Control states that having a dog can decrease cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Studies at the National Institute of Health found that dog owners have lower stress and have a better one-year survival rate after a heart attack than those without dogs.

Since the arrival of Jax and Kai, Robert’s blood pressure has gone down. Every day has become more joyful for him thanks to the bonded brothers who teach the lesson of enjoying the moment. Jax and Kai are grateful for the small pleasures in life. The brothers somehow understand that fate brought them a wonderful chance to give back to the world after surviving a tough beginning.

Bonded rescue siblings double the joy and the love in a home. Jax and Kai brighten the day for dozens of seniors. They bring joy to their human with their love for him and each other. Their favorite game together is playing hide and seek with their treats as they check to see if anyone notices where they are. They had a bit of separation anxiety when one of them went to the vet and went wild with joy when reunited.

Contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000 or for information about rescue dogs. Contact one of the shelters or rescues on the attached list to find your best fur friend who will bring you better health and happiness!