real life

Darryl is 78, and his dog Randy has helped him through life's toughest moments.

Freedom Care Communities
Thanks to our brand partner, Freedom Care Communities

There is something truly unique about the relationship between a human and their dog.

As we go through life’s challenges, they are there to give us unconditional love.

For Queensland man Darryl, 78, his dog Randy is his “best mate” (“in name but not in nature”, he jokes).

“We got Randy from the pound when he was 18 months old,” Darryl tells Mamamia. “They told us he is a foxy cross something – I think he is a foxy chihuahua. He definitely has a bit of chihuahua in him, he’s got very short legs.

“I can still remember when we brought him home. He’d just been neutered so he had a bucket around his head, and I still remember thinking that he looked really cute.”

For Darryl and his wife Valerie, animals had always been an important part of their married life, and with Randy’s adoption, it was the fourth dog that they had welcomed to their family from animal shelters over the years.

Darryl, Valerie and Randy lived together at their Queensland home, where Darryl would enjoy playing golf, reading and watching sports on television. But in late 2017, Valerie was injured and after this, things changed.

Randy, Darryl's best friend who's helped him through hard times. Image: Supplied.

"Valerie was in a Queensland hospital receiving rehabilitation on her fractured kneecap," Darryl explains. It was here that they were advised that it was the best option for Valerie to enter a care facility.

"They told us they were going to put her in a nursing home, but my family and I said that is not on," Darryl says.

Instead, through the assistance of a consultant they were recommended Freedom Care Communities by Aveo and Darryl and his family visited the independent living facility soon after.

After touring their local Freedom Care Community, they decided relatively quickly that this was the place they would like to move into.

But there was one important condition - Randy must also be welcome because there was no way that either Darryl or Valerie were going to leave him behind.

"It was very important to have Randy be able to move with us," he says. "It was the main thing, if the dog couldn’t come, we couldn’t come."

That wasn't an issue at all at Freedom Care Communities. In 2018, Darryl, Valerie and Randy moved into their self-contained unit, where up until recently the trio had lived together.

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But only recently, sadly, Valerie passed away.

Throughout this understandably difficult time for Darryl, having his best friend Randy with him has been more important than ever.

"Years ago, I had a bad bout of depression so having Randy here when my wife passed away has helped me in that regard," Darryl said.

For Darryl, Randy isn’t just a pet - he is a part of the family.

"Randy is someone to talk to and come home to," Darryl says.

dog-friendly aged care
Darryl and Randy are well-loved in their local community. Image: Supplied.

And perhaps intuitively, Darryl says that "since my wife passed away he won’t leave me alone, he hates being alone".

Darryl describes Randy as “a very affectionate dog” that he spends a great deal of time with. He says that their favourite things to do together are to "go for walks and to have cuddles".

With Randy being the affectionate dog that he is, he'll often cuddle Darryl on the lounge chair or snuggle up with him on Darryl's bed at night, rather than using his own dog bed.

The two are inseparable for most of the day, with Randy accompanying Darryl to happy hour each evening so he can join the other residents to socialise. Randy's a hit among the locals, apparently.

"We walk about four times a day. He keeps me really active," Darryl adds.

Many studies have found that there are many benefits, both emotional and physical, of having a pet as you get older. In places like Freedom Care Communities, having a canine-friendly approach only improves the lives of residents like Darryl and Randy.

And Randy doesn't get lonely either. Darryl tells us that there's another dog visitor who often comes to stay overnight, and some of the other residents have dogs and residents' families bring their dogs when they come to visit.

With Randy barking in the background and Darryl calling his name, it is clear that the companionship that animal family members offer is invaluable.

Darryl sums it up nicely: "Randy and I are best mates. We are definitely best mates. Without him I would be lonely."

Freedom Care Communities

At Freedom Care Communities, you will have the freedom to enjoy your own lifestyle, the way you choose, while being a part of caring and a supportive community where your individual care needs are prioritised. You can even invite friends and family anytime. Plus, your furry friend’s are also welcome to live with you.

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