"I'm chopped liver but everyone loves Lucy," said Jeri Miller. The resident of Monarch Landing is referring to Lucy, her much beloved 80-pound white shepherd. The two ladies are a familiar sight at Monarch landing where they make their home, and the connected Springs healthcare center which they visit frequently.
A resident of Monarch Landing almost since the community opened its doors eleven years ago, Jeri said she wouldn't have even considered moving into a retirement community without her faithful companions. At the time she had two dogs, Heidi, a white shepherd/husky mix and Kelly, a golden retriever. 'I called around to different retirement communities. So many don't have dogs, Other places allow only small dogs, a single animal; some even prevent you from getting another dog if the one you come in with dies," she said. "When I asked Monarch Landing if they allow dogs, they said, 'of course, they're family too.'"
Jeri said that currently, there are approximately 20 dogs, 14 cats, and three birds living at the community that not only permits pets, but welcomes them. Monarch Landing boasts a dog park on campus with an agility course, and holds an annual pet parade.
Not long after Jeri moved in, Monarch Landing's pet club was initiated. The club's meetings are varied, and are most often informational. "We have had representatives from Naperville Humane Society talk about their foster cat program, from Edward Hospital talk about their therapy dog program, from the comfort dog program of the Lutheran Church Charities and more. One year, a local vet came and vaccinated against canine flu. The owner of Two Bostons came and talked about good dog and cat food," said Jeri.
As important as the educational meetings are, even more essential is the fact that the pet club also provides a tremendous opportunity for camaraderie. "Everyone is an animal lover. We trade information and ideas, and even exchange equipment," Jeri said. "We're also able to help each other out. One woman was in the hospital for a couple of nights. The social worker asked me if I could take care of her dog, and I said, 'sure'. People care about each other's animals. We're always available to help. Besides, they're nice people. Animal people are usually pretty good people."
Jeri makes a practice of sharing Lucy's love, by visiting residents at The Springs healthcare center regularly. "It's good for Lucy because she gets all sorts of positive attention, and it's good for the residents. They love having her to hug, and many have had pets of their own and miss them and so are very glad to see her," she said.
Jeri said she is a long-term but not life-long pet lover. "I just fell in love with pets and realized what I'd been missing these years. They add so much to our lives; they give so much comfort to people."
Inspired by her love of dogs, Miller has written a book called "Furry Angels with Wagging Tales: True Stories of Canine Humor and Grace," available at Amazon.com.
Monarch Landing is a Life Plan Community located on a scenic campus in Naperville, Illinois-named "one of America's best places to live and retire" by Modern Maturity, and "the best city for early retirement" by Kiplinger. Monarch Landing offers independent living, promoting a vibrant life style for active seniors. The Springs at Monarch Landing offers assisted living memory support, enriched living, respite, rehabilitation and skilled nursing services, thus providing complete continuing care for seniors. Monarch Landing is owned by Senior Care Development and managed by Life Care Services. For additional information visit www.WelcomeToMonarchLanding.com or www.TheSpringsatMonarchLanding.com.