Retirement Communities That Embrace Pets Becomes A Growing Trend

From Yappy Hour to adoption events, retirement residences are attracting pet lovers with dog-centric activities and services.


Bridge, euchre, and shuffleboard used to be the pastime of seniors. A tried and true method used by retirement homes throughout North America to get their residents to mix and mingle. But no more! While today’s seniors may be sorry to say good bye to the family home and flower garden, they’re putting their foot down when it comes to leaving their fur-kids behind and that’s where savvy retirement residences are stepping up to the plate.


In fact, so much so that some not only “allow” pooches, but celebrate their arrival with Yappy Hour socials and even a “Welcome Waggin’”event that encourages the adoption of shelter animals by seniors who may be feeling a little lost and lonely in their new digs.


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According to senior housing marketing consultant Janis Ehlers, “With the growing number of seniors owning pets, senior communities recognize the changing needs of resident pet owners. Whether it’s Yappy Hour, dog parks or mobile vets and grooming, when communities want to be competitive, they have to provide services.”


At The Palace Coral Gables in Florida, Yappy Hour is the most hotly anticipated event of the month. The wine flows, treats are doled out to both human and canine attendees, family photos are snapped, and goodie bags filled with dog treats have become the coveted take-away. Now does that not trump bridge?


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At Vancouver’s Courtyard Village in Washington, the monthly gathering of pooches and parents takes on a competitive edge, with one lucky boy being voted “Dog of the Month” based primarily on his charisma (though the odd, well-executed trick doesn’t go amiss). His proud pet mama or papa receives a bounty of pooch-themed goodies and toys worth upwards of $100, along with bragging rights.


What gives this growing trend added traction is the news that publicly-run retirement homes fall under federal housing laws in the U.S. – meaning seniors cannot be denied the right to bring their furry companions along with them. Assuming their little guy is properly trained and socialized, he must be welcomed. Sadly, in Canada the story isn’t the same. When searching for a long-term-care facility for my mom a few years back, the option of bringing her beloved pets with her was not available. So Harry and Maddie are now lovingly cared for by family but can only visit with their mom – no sleepovers.


I’m thinking the upside for seniors in the U.S. is that if keeping their pooch becomes the deciding factor by which thousands of potential residents choose a facility, those run privately will be changing their tune pretty soon. Gray power at its best!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

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