The Pets of Brio Living Services
If you are a pet owner, you can undoubtedly relate to the joyful moments of arriving home to a furry friend greeting you excitedly. You can always count on a pet to cheer you up, lend a listening ear, and give you unconditional love. Aside from being members of the family, studies have also shown that owning a pet can even have significant health benefits. The National Institutes of Health reported that interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, keep you more physically active, and boost your mood.
Recently, we reached out to our residents, participants, and elders to share pictures and stories of their pets, past and present, to celebrate National Pet Day on April 11. We were floored with the response of not only pictures, but heartfelt lifelong memories and stories that were shared about loyal companions. It would take many more blog posts to truly appreciate all the stories we received, although we have attempted to highlight just a few.
Sophie, the office dog: Sophie is a 1.5-year-old Pomeranian, who has been going to work at Chelsea Retirement Community with Stacy Kudlak, Director of Independent Living, since she was 8-weeks old. What started as a temporary pandemic mood booster, has become a well-known and necessary honorary team member. Sophie is spoiled by the residents and team members, getting pets, playing ball, and even has a designated resident to take her on walks when she visits. A previous resident, Horton, would affectionately refer to Sophie as “The Mascot”, which seems to be fitting. Rose Doub, who is known for her crocheted mats for the homeless, even made Sophie her very own mat to enjoy while in the office. Stacy shared that if Sophie isn’t in the office, everyone is wondering where she is and when she will be back! “Team members seem to enjoy her just as much, if not more than residents! She brings a lot of joy to the community,” Stacy said.
Frisky, the almost orphan: When a participant from Huron Valley PACE in Ypsilanti passed away, Daisy Hawkins and Hannah Zomermaand, social workers at Huron Valley PACE, jumped into action to find the participant’s cat a new home. They knew how important this was to the participant and couldn’t think of the cat not having a loving home. Daisy and Hannah sent out an e-mail to team members about the cat needing to be rehomed, not knowing what kind of response they would get. It wasn’t long before Carolyn Lukasik, Quality Coordinator, responded with a resounding “yes” to taking in Frisky. Carolyn had been planning to adopt another cat, as one of hers had recently passed away of cancer. It felt like the stars aligned for her to adopt Frisky and have her join Carolyn’s other cat, Darth, at her home. Carolyn says of Frisky and his adjustment to the new home, “He was not too friendly when I first met him but has since become very affectionate and cuddly! When he first came home, he explored his new surroundings, walking on the windowsills and bird watching. Darth and Frisky took some time to warm up to one another, but they seem to get along just fine now!”
Sunshine, the rescue dog: Sunshine was born in Texas in 2018. When Mary Ann Lentz moved to Porter Hills Village in 2022, Sunshine adjusted to the change surprisingly well! Sunshine has a lot of friends, both human and canine, with one particular dog who she is especially fond of. Mary Ann shared, “She practically pulls me off my feet when she sees him on our walks!” Mary Ann was grateful to have found a community to live in that welcomes pets with open arms. Mary Ann said of Sunshine and their meaningful relationship, “I rescued her once, but Sunshine rescues me every day!”
Chloe, the former dresser-drawer hider: When Marilyn Hennon, resident at Chelsea Retirement Community, first moved in, she wasn’t sure how her 6-year-old cat, Chloe, was going to adjust. Marilyn’s former home was the only home Chloe had ever known! Marilyn was thrilled to have gotten offered the apartment at Dancey House and that they were pet friendly, so she took a leap of faith that Chloe would adjust. Once Marilyn moved in, there was a few weeks period where Chloe was scared of the new noises and would sleep and hide in a particular dresser drawer. Marilyn knew Chloe felt safe and comfortable there, so she added blankets to make it more cozy. Now, almost six years later, Chloe is extremely comfortable in her new home, and loves the visitors that come to Marilyn’s home! She is always intrigued with who is coming and going and what’s happening in the hallway.
Tiglath-Pileser III, His Royal Catness: Affectionately known as “Tiggy” by owner of 12 years, Dave Zandstra of Porter Hills Village. Dave refers to Tiggy as the “King of the Castle,” and much more than a pet, rather more like a manager! Tiggy spent his early years at their country home, roaming outdoors and even hunting. During extensive cancer treatments in Dave’s life, Tiggy faithfully comforted him in his recliner. In 2020, Tiggy made the transition to house cat when Dave came to Porter Hills Village. Tiggy loves to visit with the day care children from the Generations program. They knock on the door and ask for him! Dave shares about Tiggy, “He knows me better in some ways than I know myself. My life continues to be enriched merely by living with him.”
Author Jury Nel once said, “Everyone is taught that angels have wings—the lucky ones of us find that they have four paws.” Brio Living Services is proud to offer pet friendly communities across the State of Michigan. Our home- and community-based services team members enjoy meeting your furry friends in the comfort of your home, too! We understand and value the benefits that pets can bring to all of our lives and provide friendly spaces for your relationship to flourish. To learn more about pet-friendly offerings within our vibrant communities, please visit www.MyBrio.org.