Sanders said she needs a big dog to stand and support her weight if she falls and needs help getting up. Before she had her first Rottweiler, she said, "I had an Afghan to walk with, but she wasn't big enough to support me. … I had known people that had Rottweilers and they had good ones."

Jurnee, who is about a year old, is the third Rottweiler Sanders has had since 1986. She said she's had no problems with Jurnee or the Rottweiler she had when she moved into the apartment in Laurel from Akron, Ohio, in 2006.

Two doctors — one in Akron and one here — have written letters saying Sanders has to walk to manage her arthritis, and the dog makes sure she'll do that.

"After speaking with this patient, there is no doubt that her dog is extremely important to her emotional and physical well being," wrote Dr. Gordon L. Bennett, an orthopedic surgeon in Akron.

Sanders' hunt for an apartment came after her daughter moved out of the apartment they shared, leaving her unable to pay the rent.

She has evidently done quite a bit of work trying to find an apartment she can afford on her $698 monthly Supplemental Security Income check from the federal government. She has pages of apartment listings and notes on places she called in Washington and Baltimore City, as well as Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Prince George's and Howard counties.

The subsidized rent at Morningside Park would be $209, a big difference from the $1,400 she now pays for a two-bedroom apartment. Sanders said her daughter lost a job with the federal government and moved out abruptly in early September, leaving her alone and without the income to afford to stay.

The management of her current apartment says she owes more than $3,000 in rent and fees, and recently won a judgment in District Court. But it's unclear when she will have to move out.

Most of her belongings are now packed in boxes stacked around the townhouse. Just about everything but her bedroom and the kitchen is packed, although she doesn't know where she's going.

"I got to find a place to go," said Sanders, sitting in her living room, surrounded by boxes and Jurnee, sitting quietly in her crate, occasionally licking the bars. "I got so much coming at me. The dog keeps me sane and keeps me focused."

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts