Dog Gets Job As Kitten Nanny

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Boots the nanny dog cuddles a kitten at Arizona Humane Society shelter.
Arizona Humane Society/Facebook Boots the nanny dog at work.

Nine years after the trauma of Hurricane Katrina rocked his world, a sweet-natured rescue dog named Boots has found a successful new life as a volunteer nanny for nervous kittens at an animal shelter run by the Arizona Humane Society.

Boots, now 12, found his own second home long ago, when he was adopted by a volunteer at the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix. He was one of hundreds of pets who became separated from his family in the aftermath of the devastating New Orleans flood.

His owner discovered that the Zen-like calm of this golden retriever/chow mix had a happy effect even on the cats in her home. So now, Boots spends Wednesday mornings at the shelter, greeting incoming kittens and giving them a welcome snuggle.

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The project is designed to increase the adoptability of the kittens by giving them "one day of positive playtime and socialization" with the accommodating Boots, according to a post on the shelter's blog.

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The theory is that kittens introduced to Boots when they're between the ages of two and seven weeks will be more tolerant of dogs in general. That makes them eligible for adoption into a wider range of homes, and less likely to be returned as problems develop between pets.

"Studies have shown that cats have a small window of time in kittenhood during which exposure to new things will directly impact their acclimation to changes as they get older," the shelter staff explains.

"It is such a win-win for everyone involved," a shelter spokeswoman told USA Today in a video interview. "Boots absolutely loves it. The kittens--most of them--love it."

Flush with the success of Boots the nanny dog, the shelter now hopes to expand its Kitten Nursery program to include exposing them to other things that make kittens crazy, like a ride in a car and the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

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