(NBC NEWS) – Jennie has big brown eyes, soft golden fur, and a tail that won’t stop wagging. Scratch behind her floppy ears, and she’ll lean in for more. She even barks on command.

But Jennie’s not a dog. She’s a prototype for Tombot, a puppy-like companion robot being developed by a Santa Clarita, California-based company of the same name as a tool for comforting people with dementia. Tombot is one of a handful of firms working on the next generation of social robots designed with seniors’ needs — and fixed incomes — in mind.