Pet Friendly

Senior living community opens doors to residents’ furry friends.

It’s a fact supported by research: Having a pet has benefits, especially for seniors. Seniors with pets are never alone, so they don’t feel lonely. Pets inspire them to socialize more and make new friends. Walking a dog encourages a more active lifestyle. Pets can lower stress levels and help seniors feel safer.

Residents Sandra Laettner and Gail DuBose discuss living at Concordia Village of Tampa with their pets. Chief Operating Officer Brian Hortert describes Concordia’s background and its rationale for allowing pets at the community.

Sandra Laettner and Buffy

These facts were not lost on the leadership of Concordia Village of Tampa. That’s why they opened the community to their residents’ furry friends. Being pet friendly was one reason Sandra Laettner chose to make Concordia Village of Tampa her new home last year.

“It was very important to be able to have Buffy with me,” shares the Buffalo, New York native. “Buffy is a Coton de Tulear. It’s a combination of Lhasa Apso and Maltese. She’s a white fluffball. She’s actually my adopted pet. I lived with my daughter-in-law for five years before moving to Concordia Village, and Buffy was her second dog.

“During the time I lived with my daughter-in-law, Buffy attached herself to me so much, I felt it would be painful for both of us to leave her behind when I moved. I asked my daughter-in-law if the dog could come live with me, and she said yes.

“When I moved to Concordia Village of Tampa, it was the first time in my life I didn’t live with someone. Having Buffy by my side made it easier.”

Sandra may have felt a bit unsure when she first arrived at Concordia Village of Tampa, but Gail DuBose was already comfortable and familiar with the community when she moved there in July 2018.

A former volunteer who performed music and led activities when Concordia was still St. Joseph’s John Knox Village, Gail became a resident after selling her home to cover her sick husband’s medical expenses prior to his passing in October. Having the couple’s pets with her at the community held a special significance for her.

“I had two pets when I moved into Concordia Village of Tampa, but my little Bonnie has since gone on to doggy heaven,” shares the Illinois native. “I still have Jackson, a twenty-pound, black-and-white tuxedo cat. Jackson and I get along pretty well in our little apartment.

“It was important to have Bonnie and Jackson with me when I moved because they were part of our family. It would’ve been very difficult to give up those guys. I think it’s important for most people because pets are a connection to what they used to have. It’s a big change when you move into a senior living community.

“For me, my pets, especially Bonnie, were a connection to my husband as well. He was very close to that dog. He was close to both pets, but Bonnie was his dog. She passed away the day after my husband died.”   

Member of the Family

Concordia Village of Tampa is part of Concordia Lutheran Ministries, which was established in 1881. Concordia Lutheran Ministries began in Western Pennsylvania as an orphanage and expanded into senior care in the 1950s.

“We currently operate fifteen senior living communities, most of which are in Western Pennsylvania,” reports Brian Hortert, Chief Operating Officer at Concordia Village of Tampa. “There’s also a community in Akron, Ohio, and now Concordia Village of Tampa in Florida.

“Concordia Village of Tampa offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term nursing care and short-term rehabilitation. In addition, Concordia Lutheran Ministries operates homecare, hospice, medical equipment and pharmacy services, primarily in Western Pennsylvania.”

As COO, Brian oversees all operations of the skilled facilities, assisted living facilities and the retirement community at Concordia Village of Tampa. He was instrumental in the decision to operate Concordia Village as a pet friendly community. Several factors were considered when making that decision.

“We’ve always believed that pets become part of residents’ families,” Brian describes. “We wouldn’t expect them to move to a new home without a child. It’s the same feeling with pets for many residents. When they move to Concordia Village of Tampa, they become part of our family, and we think it’s just right to allow them to live with their family pets.

“Pets also provide companionship, as well as a level of comfort to our residents, especially those in new situations. We understand the importance of these benefits and want our residents to experience them.”

With a 14-acre campus and many walking trails, Concordia Village of Tampa is a perfect place for residents to exercise their dogs and meet their neighbors. The campus is secure, so residents can feel safe while walking their pets.

Of course, there are a few rules to be followed in order to keep a pet at Concordia Village of Tampa.

“We ask that dogs be under twenty-five pounds and be well behaved,” Brian notes. “So far, we haven’t had any major issues with barking, which can be a quality of life concern for the other residents. Also, residents with pets must be able to take care of their pets themselves. It would be a huge challenge for our staff if they had to take care of multiple residents’ pets.

“Currently, we have about eighteen residents with cats and thirteen with dogs. We also have a resident with a fish tank. We have had a resident or two with a bird, but we don’t have any birds living with us right now.”

Retirement Bliss

Living at Concordia Village of Tampa has been beneficial for Sandra and Gail. It’s been a good experience for their pets as well. Both have made themselves comfortable at the senior living community.

Residents Sandra Laettner and Gail DuBose discuss living at Concordia Village of Tampa with their pets. Chief Operating Officer Brian Hortert describes Concordia’s background and its rationale for allowing pets at the community.

Gail DuBose and Jackson

“Buffy has become a more social dog since she’s been here,” Sandra reports. “I think it’s because all the dogs here are small and where she lived before, there were large dogs in the nearby houses. But now, she encounters other animals her size, so she’s extremely friendly and social. I think she’s happier here than she was living at the house.”

“Jackson is quite entertaining,” Gail offers. “He’s afraid of everything. As big as he is, you’d think it would be the other way around. Jackson doesn’t like the people who come in to clean the apartment, so he gets on top of the refrigerator and stays up there until they’re finished. That works out quite well for him.”

Sandra and Gail are happy with their living arrangements as well. For Gail, her life changed dramatically once her husband got sick, so living among friends at Concordia Village of Tampa made a difficult life experience easier to manage.

“Concordia Village of Tampa is a very nice place to live,” Gail confirms. “I was able to bring with me the things I really like, the things that make me smile, and that’s been a great comfort to me. Things that make me smile include my cat, Jackson, and I feel really blessed to have him with me.”

“Knowing Buffy’s little face is right here looking after me is really important to me,” Sandra adds. “I think it’s important to Buffy, as well. She’s the love of my life, and I love that she’s here with me. She’s just like another child to me.”

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    • Concordia Village of Tampa

      When it comes to senior living in Tampa, there are many factors to consider before deciding which location is right for you and your family. At Concordia Village of Tampa – which joined the Concordia family in May 2018 – their focus is on provi... Read More