In honor of National Pet Month, which celebrates the many benefits pet owners receive from their animals and vice versa, we talked to dog lover Connie Burnley. We wanted to know what it’s like for her to live at Meadowood with Romeo and Julie, her two Cairn Terriers (think Toto from “The Wizard of Oz”). Connie, her husband and their two pooches moved into the West Hill neighborhood in December.
Romeo is a retired show dog who has competed at the Westminster Kennel Club and the Philadelphia Kennel Club shows. Julie, Romeo’s daughter, trains with Connie for performance events, such as coursing and scent work, which is comparable to police detective dog work.
Connie and her dogs love getting outdoors, and Meadowood’s naturally beautiful,131- acre campus is an amazing place to do that. She appreciates that the dogs are allowed to be on the walking paths at Meadowood. “We came from Upper Dublin, and dogs were not able to be on walking paths,” Connie says.
“We go for a lot of walks, and it’s very friendly,” she continues. “I’ve met a lot of people because of the dogs. Otherwise, I might have a tendency to stay home, especially with COVID-19 — this helps me get out.”
Studies have shown that pet ownership has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and increasing opportunities for socialization, which aligns perfectly with Meadowood’s commitment to the six dimensions of wellness.
Connie feels that she is enjoying numerous health benefits from dog ownership. “Especially in the last two months, when you can’t be out of the house too much, your pets keep you going,” she says. “They rely on you. They keep you mentally fit and physically fit from walking.”
When she’s not out walking her dogs, she’s training them. According to Connie, it’s really an advanced form of playing with your dog. “We’ve done tricks, we’ve done set work, we’ve done obedience training,” she says. “It’s enjoyment with your dog.”
With Meadowood’s dog park, abundant walking paths and overall welcoming attitude, Connie feels that Meadowood is a truly pet-friendly campus.
“Meadowood is very open to having the dogs,” she says. “My husband has been in the health center a couple of times, and I have been able to take the dogs in to visit — it has been nice for him to see them, and other residents enjoyed them, too.”
Connie also appreciates that people are allowed to take their pets into the Community Center and that Meadowood permits owners to get another dog after theirs passes. “Some other communities have rules that you can’t get another one,” Connie says. Because of Meadowood’s open policy, “I probably will end up with another dog after my 15-year-old passes,” she adds.
All in all, Connie is extremely impressed with Meadowood’s welcoming attitude toward pets. “Meadowood says: ‘Your pets are more than welcome. We encourage you to have your pets here,’” she stresses.
Like their human companions, dogs are currently having trouble looking their best because of COVID-19 shutdowns. “My dogs aren’t groomed right now because I haven’t been to my groomer,” Connie says. With humans also not being able to get to their stylists, “We can commiserate with them,” she adds.
For more information about dog training, ownership and competitions, visit the American Kennel Club website.