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Tag: retirement

Someday her prince will come

One of Ace’s biggest fans at Arbor Acres, the Winston-Salem retirement community in which my mother lives, is Jo Cochran, who lives down the hall.

When word spreads that Ace is visiting, as it inevitably does, she’s always one of the first to drop by – eager to reconnect with her canine friend.

“Where is that beautiful dog?” she’ll ask me if she sees me without Ace – as she did over the weekend in the dining hall. “Is he asking about me? I’m sure he must be wondering where I am. He wants me to come by and see him, doesn’t he?”

After Sunday “dinner,” which, this being the south, is served at lunchtime, Jo dropped by, knocking quietly on my mother’s door. Ace ran to it and, as soon as I opened it, commenced to snuggling with Jo, taking a seat so that he might more easily be petted and, when she momentarily stopped, reaching out for her with his paw.

For every resident that seems taken aback, startled or freaked out by Ace’s appearance, there are four more who, like Jo, can’t wait to give him a hug.

While we told you last week about Arbor Acre’s ducks, and the blue heron couple nesting there, there’s one more form of wildlife we forgot to mention — a species Ace’s friend Jo apparently had an up close and personal experience with last week.

She was sitting on her couch Saturday morning when a housekeeper noticed something moving beneath her sheets. Moving the bedding around, the housekeeper found a frog – which apparently had spent the night under the sheets with Jo.

“We always called them hoppy toads,” Jo explained. After a few minutes of excitement, the housekeeper managed to corral the frog and usher it back outside. No one has the slightest idea how it might have gotten in.

Jo took it all in stride. Her biggest complaint?

“I didn’t get a chance to kiss it,” she said. “I’ll never know if he was my prince.”

Keeping things ducky at Arbor Acres

Other than Ace’s periodic visits, there’s probably nothing residents of Arbor Acres — a retirement community in Winston-Salem — like better than the ducks that waddle and swim in and around the large pond that graces the acreage.

Actually, even though Ace has some pretty big time fans there, the ducks probably rate higher – at least in the eyes of some residents, including my own mother (that’s her to the left, explanation to follow). She, I think it’s safe to say, prefers watching ducks outside her window to having a dog inside her room.

On at least one occasion, she harbored some fugitive newborn ducks who, like all newborn ducks, needed a little protection from the bigger creatures, like foxes and turtles, who tend to snatch them away.

Because of that, the duck population at Arbor Acres sometimes dwindles down to a precious few, and the residents who like to watch them, feed them, and sometimes name them, worry about losing the closest thing many of them have to pets.

(Dogs are allowed there, but only a handful of residents have them.)

Instead, most often, they enjoy the animals nature provides, the ducks, the geese, the fish in the pond and the two blue herons that call the area around the pond home for much of the year.

Sometimes though, even nature needs a hand.

And that’s where Bo Bowers came in.

Bo, who moved into the community in March, brought with him some duck-raising skills, and when the duck census recently dropped he made a deal with the administration — if they provided materials to build the pens, he’d buy some baby ducks and raise them until they were big enough to survive on their own. 

He ordered 16 baby ducklings — of five different breeds — through a catalog. They were 12 days old when they were delivered, and he started feeding them in the 4-foot by 12-foot cage, complete with swimming pool, set up behind his home.

Last month, in a ceremony attended by many residents, he “launched” his babies, releasing them into the pond as residents, staff and at least one TV news outfit looked on. Many of the ducks, by then, had been named after residents, including one named Jo, after my mother.

Bowers has been raising fowl — including some blue ribbon winners — almost his whole life, he said. “They are like my children.”

Wake up early enough and you can see Bowers, tall and gangly, striding down a sidewalk with the still-growing ducks following him. He puts out food, talks to them, takes a count to make sure everyone’s still there.

Two of the ducks are of a breed called white crested.

They have tufts of feathers on their head, like bouffant hairdos — quackfros, we called them. There are black ones, brown ones and silvery blue ones, and, diverse group that they are, they all, after several weeks, still hang together – a pack, as it were.

At least two residents warned me to keep Ace away from the ducks, though he has little interest other than watching them.

I’m pretty sure dogs don’t rule at Arbor Acres. Ducks do.

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months crossing the country. To read the latest installments, click here. To start from the beginning click here.)

The K-9 kiss-off: Friends with no benefits

Izzy was a police dog in Longmont, Colorado until an on-the-job injury led to his retirement. Now, more than two years later, he’s in need of surgery — related to that injury — that could cost $6,000.

That the Fraternal Order of Police in Longmont is turning to the public to try and raise that money is noble.

That they are forced to is wrong.

“He worked for us for nine years and he did a lot of good work in those nine years,” Detective Steve Schulz, president of the Longmont FOP, told the Longmont Times-Call.

As I see it, Longmont owes Izzy for that.

A police dog that serves his city – like a soldier who serves his country — deserves to be taken care of by that city, especially when his injuries are related to that service.

And he deserves to be taken care of FOREVER.

Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Retired police dogs in some jurisdictions are euthanized when their service is complete. Others allow them to retire and remain in the care of their partner/handler.

At that point, as with Izzy, the city cuts off any assistance with care, feeding or veterinary bills.

As Izzy’s handler, Detective Bruce Vaughan pointed out, in the city’s view, dogs are “equipment.”

Izzy was injured while helping catch a suspect in April 2007.  After crashing his truck in a high-speed chase, the suspect ran. Izzy chased him down. In the fray that followed, the dog was flipped over and suffered an injury to his spine, which Vaughan said has been diagnosed as a ruptured disk.

The suspect, who had led police on two previous chases,and reportedly had pointed a gun at the head of two different women, was convicted in December 2007 on menacing and drug charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Other than the injury, which makes it difficult for the dog to use his hind legs, Vaughan said, Izzy is healthy. “He still has a puppy face. He’s got a lot of energy,” he said.

Donations for the surgery, estimated to cost $6,000, can be made to FOP No. 6 K9 Fund, in care of Guarantee Bank and Trust, P.O. Box 1159, Longmont, Colo. 80502.

Dog-lovers, I suspect, will likely come through for Izzy.

It’s a shame that city he served did not.

Pets increasingly common in senior housing

Nursing homes and senior-living residences are rewriting their old-fashioned rules and increasingly allowing pets to move in, USA Today reported today.

Dogs, cats and rabbits — even a kangaroo –  are roaming the halls, lounging on sofas and sharing rooms at a growing number of retirement homes across the country, and in the process making them more loving places.

Some have been adopted as communal pets, rescued from shelters to live in a facility full time; others are animals that residents brought with them.

“Animals are all-accepting. They don’t care about whatever issues a person might have,” said Noralyn Snow, administrator at the Silverado Senior Living Aspen Park Community in Salt Lake City, where seven dogs, six cats, 40 birds and a baby kangaroo live with 100 memory-impaired residents. “And having pets around adds excitement and spontaneity.

“People grow up with animals, have had them all their lives, and this is their home now, so why wouldn’t they have pets here?” says Helene King, communication coordinator for Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore, one of 300 facilities worldwide operating under the “Eden Alternative” philosophy, which integrates animals, plants and contact with children into daily routines to keep the elderly engaged. “It makes such a big difference in their lives.”

Traditionally, most administrators frowned upon animals living in residences for the elderly, citing allergies, and liability cocerns related to residents getting knocked down, bitten or scratched.

USA Today concludes there have been few problems. “We just haven’t experienced a downside,” King says.