Pet-friendly retirement villages and why we need them: Angela's Story
We're a nation of pet lovers here in the UK. With around 50% of the adult population now owning a pet (PDSA, 2019) and a rapidly ageing population, it's no great surprise that a growing number of retirement villages are being asked whether they accept four-legged friends. Angela, a resident at The Chocolate Quarter retirement village near Bristol, shares her experiences making the move and the wider benefits of doing so alongside her Border Terrier, Trilby.
“The first question I asked over the phone was… ‘Are dogs welcome?’
Coming from an army family and moving frequently, it wasn’t until we returned to the UK from Singapore when I was 16 that I was able to choose a puppy. He turned out to be a feisty Dalmatian, grandly named Tunku, and a real handful to boot. Many years later Tessa came into my life when my husband, a naval architect, was away in South America and after two months I spotted an advertisement for Labrador puppies. She moved in and fortunately my husband was as besotted with the new arrival as I was. Ever since there has been a dog in our house."
When did you first lay eyes on Trilby?
"Both my husband and our previous dog died within a few months of each other. Until very recently all of my relatives and many of my closest friends lived in Australia and America. So I upped sticks and visited all of them, returning to an empty house at the end of my travels. Part of the huge gap had to be filled, and quickly. I'd hit 70 during that year and discovered that the dog rescue charities I approached weren’t keen to re-home a young dog with somebody of my age… The less said about that the better!
When I met Trilby she was 2 years old. Her breeder had hoped that she would produce beautiful puppies but luckily for me she never obliged (“stubborn" is her middle name!) and so she came into my life. She moved in and has ruled the roost from day one – not a peep, not a worry, not a cry. She was quite happy."
What has the experience been like moving with a dog?
"We moved to The Chocolate Quarter in February 2018 and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We live in this super quirky building, in beautiful countryside (perfect for wonderful walks and handy pubs along the River Avon) and midway between two great cities, Bristol and Bath. But above all, having Trilby has opened up so many opportunities for meeting people and making new friends.
Trilby is allowed with me in most areas of The Chocolate Quarter and she and her fellow four legged friends receive adoration from just about everyone they meet everywhere they go. I couldn’t be without my faithful, mischievous, stubborn, funny and, above all, affectionate furry companion. Love me, love my dog!”
What advice would you give to a person considering getting a dog in their retirement years?
"Think about it carefully and choose a dog with the right temperament. Probably the best advice I've been given about this is never to get a dog that you won't be able to pick up in an emergency. If they are ill and you need to get them to the vet you need to be able to pick them up. With this in mind I've chosen to get smaller pets as the years advance. It's worked for me."
Angela, resident at The Chocolate Quarter retirement village.
Things to consider when choosing a pet-friendly retirement home
1. Whether the retirement community you're considering has a policy that excludes your pet. It's always best to check early on in the process as different providers approach pets differently.
2. Proximity to a local vet and access to the necessary transport to get there.
3. Whether the retirement community are happy for you to get another pet should your current one pass away.
4. The space immediately around the retirement community for nearby walks.
Life in our retirement villages
The Chocolate Quarter is the St Monica Trust's latest retirement development, based in the town of Keynsham between Bristol and Bath. Formerly Fry's chocolate factory, the award-winning redevelopment boasts a variety of facilities from swimming pool to art spaces, private cinema and more.
To explore The Chocolate Quarter, the last remaining apartments and to download a free brochure visit the dedicated village page.