Sheffield retirement homes

Moving to a retirement community with a canine companion

At just six months old, Poppy is the youngest resident of Jacobs Gate, Adlington Retirement Living’s new community in Sheffield.

When Mavis, aged 75, decided to downsize, finding somewhere that would welcome a four-legged friend was a top priority.

“I’d never had a dog growing up, so when Derrick and I got engaged, that was the first thing I wanted. Our first dog was a Labrador, Bruce, who lived with Derrick’s parents because we were both working.

“After Bruce died, we got a Beagle, then two years later, we got a Yorkshire Terrier as well. Our Beagle died when he was six, but the Yorkshire Terrier went on until he was 16. Our fourth dog was a Collie-cross, Sheba, who I had from the RSPCA, and then we took a rescue on called Max when he was nine years old and he lived until he was 15.

“The last dog that we had together was Alfie, he was a Border Terrier. When Derrick died in 2018, I went out walking Alfie all the time, so that helped. It broke me when Alfie died last year. When you’ve had a dog all your married life, it feels really empty when they’re not around anymore, especially after losing Derrick. I was lonely.”

Although Mavis and Derrick had downsized from their family home in 2014, Mavis decided that she wanted to move to an apartment or a small bungalow.

“I hadn’t ever thought about living in a retirement community, but when my children brought me here, that was it. I just liked the feel of it. It felt like walking into a really nice hotel, with the hair salon, the therapy suite and the restaurant.

“As soon as we looked around the one-bedroom show apartment I knew that I wanted it. I thought ‘This is great!’ It was a nice size, and on the ground floor, with patio doors straight out into the garden. I already knew that I wanted another dog so thought that would be ideal.

“I purposely asked the team from Adlington Retirement Living if having a dog would be alright. If they had said no, I would have had to find somewhere else. As it turns out, they couldn’t have made Poppy more welcome!”

Mavis moved to Jacobs Gate at the start of September 2021 and collected her new Border Terrier puppy, Poppy, in October.

“When I got Poppy, the management team really welcomed her. They kept coming to the door to have a look. They all came to see her and then the housekeeper, Debbie asked if she could pick her up and take her to the office for a few minutes. She was cuddling her in the car park again yesterday. Poppy has quite a few fans amongst the staff here.

“Some people probably think I’m crackers having a puppy because it is hard work but fortunately, I’m able to deal with it as I’m fairly healthy.

“My daughter was part of that decision when I decided that I wanted to have another dog after Alfie. I wouldn’t have had a puppy without knowing that somebody would be happy to take her on if anything happens to me.

“One of the upsides of having a dog is that you keep exercising. I missed going to the park when Alfie died. You get to know so many people with their dogs. It’s funny because you always know the dog’s name but not the owner. They’re ‘Charlie’s dad’ or ‘Charlie’s mum’. It’s very sociable, having a dog. There are one or two people who I’m really good friends with now because we met walking our dogs about five years ago.”

Moving to a retirement community has also been a positive experience for Mavis in terms of meeting new people.

“I think Jacobs Gate is good for meeting different people and getting friendly with them. You might spot somebody walking past your door and think, ‘Oh, I’ve not seen that person before’ and you’ll get chatting.

“I would have been lonely if I’d moved to a bungalow. I was on my own before, and I think that was in my daughter and my sons’ minds when they brought me to have a look around. I had friends and I could go for coffee and lunch and whatever with them, but I was still lonely. You can’t keep going for coffees and for lunches all the time.

“The great thing here is if you want your own space, you’ve got it. You’re in your own apartment, close the door. But if you feel like it, all you’ve got to do is walk outside your front door. The staff are great here too, they’re very nice.”

“There’s a lot of life to the place and there’s a nice community spirit. It’s nice just to chat, you know. There are a few people from Sheffield, but most have moved from somewhere else to be closer to their children.

“My three children all live locally, which is useful, so I haven’t moved that far from where I was living. I worked in the office of a school just up the road for 19 years before I retired.

“Now, my friend Debbie comes and does my hair in the salon for me and I have a lady called Nicola who comes and gives me massages in the therapy suite. I’ve known Debbie and Nicola for years and years.

“I think a lot of people still don’t understand what retirement living is do they? You know, people have a preconception because it’s a new thing here, isn’t it? It’s not like in America and Australia where it’s the norm.

“I would definitely recommend it. My friend Maxine’s been to visit. She came to shorten my curtains and she said ‘Oh Mavis, it’s brilliant’. And another friend’s daughter came and she said ‘Mum, are you interested in this?’ And another friend and her daughter said ‘Ooh, crikey, I like this’she’s a young woman with four children and she thought it was brilliant.

The location has been ideal for taking Poppy out too.

“There are lots of good places for walks. There’s the park just up the road. I’ve been going there for years, I went there as a kid, and there’s also the woods.

“I’ve only been to the park once with poppy so far. Just to see if I could see anybody I knew. I think we’ll go more when the weather warms up and we’ll see more people again. We’ve been for walks in the woods with my daughter and her partner, and Poppy’s recall is very good – she’s back straightaway.”

And Poppy is now receiving invitations to visit some of the other homeowners at Jacobs Gate.

“Quite a few people already love to see her and one or two have invited me to bring her round to their apartments but I’m waiting until she’s a bit older and I’ve done more training with her. She’s still a puppy.”