Monthly Archives: April 2014

It’s a Ruff Life – More Merrill Gardens Pet Stories

We’re closing out April with tails, er, tales of more wonderful felines and canines that live with our residents.

If you’re a pet owner – you’ll appreciate what these friends bring to the table. If you aren’t one yet, these may make you want one.

Merrill Gardens at Willow Glen
Jean and Booby
Jean and BoobyHow cute are these two? Meet our resident Jean and her pet Chihuahua Booby. When Booby isn’t napping, she loves to take her short legs out for a walk. Booby, not Jean. Though Jean likes to walk as well.

When Jean’s husband was sick, her daughter rescued Booby from a shelter and the two became instant companions. Now Booby is 7 years old, and celebrating her 7th month in our community!

Merrill Gardens at Albertville
Ramona and Heather
Ramona and HeatherWhat were you doing back in 2003? That’s when Ramona and Heather hitched up, and the two have been inseparable ever since.

After Ramona’s first cat passed, she decided she’d live pet-free for a while. But when a friend of hers met Heather, the decision was taken out of her hands. Even though Ramona protested at first, the friend would not take no for an answer. One day, while Ramona was gone on vacation, her friend picked up the cat. When Ramona returned home, Heather strolled right up to her new mom, as if she knew that she was exactly where she was meant to be. They’ve been together ever since.

Merrill Gardens at First Hill
First Hill is home to a number of playful pets, and a few dogs working for their keep.

First, let’s meet Julie and her 15 year old cat Romeo. The two have cuddled on the couch at Merrill Gardens for more than three years.

Then there’s Jane and her eight year old dog Joey, who was adopted in Salono 2 two years ago. It was love at first site for Jane, and the sweet and calm Joey is also adored by our team and residents.

Jane and Joey


Next we meet two of the hardest working dogs in show business. When you head into a little physical therapy session, you’ll meet these guys. Don’t you want to take a little PT just to hang out with them?

Jessie & Patrick and Charlie & Lucky
Jessie and PatrickCharlie and Lucky


Kay and Bear
Merrill Gardens at Willow Glen
Kay and Bear

Kay has been our front desk receptionist for four years, and Bear is her Pomeranian puppy. Bear was a surprise gift from Kay’s boyfriend, but the present extends to all of Willow Glen, where he plays with his toys and runs around the community. One look at the picture below, and you can see how he got his name.

Gary and MistyMerrill Gardens at Village Green
Gary and Misty

Misty is a six year old female poodle who found her owner through a breeder. Famous around the community for wiggling her little stumpy tail, Misty brings laughter to Gary and the entire Merrill Gardens family.

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Meet Merrill Gardens – Jason Childers

In this episode of Meet Merrill Gardens, we bring you our Canine-Lover-in-Chief, Jason Childers. When Jason isn’t palling around with his five year old furry friend, Koda, he’s our senior vice president overseeing sales, marketing, information technology, operations analysis, building & facility maintenance.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I spent most of my childhood in the Seattle area but graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in Economics and a minor in Psychology. After college, I worked in advertising as a strategic planner for two prominent agencies and worked on large national brands like Hilton Hotels, Kawasaki, Mazda and Sunkist.

I made the natural transition from motorcycles and orange juice to senior housing in 2002, starting as a market research assistant. I fell in love with senior housing because of the impact we can have in the lives of our residents.  That’s just not something you can find in other sectors.  I eventually worked my way up to marketing director, then VP of Brand Strategy, then Partner & Vice President. I joined Merrill Gardens last year.

Jason Childers - Merrill Gardens

Now tell us about your adorable poodle Koda.

Koda and I have a lot in common. We are both very even tempered and we are more indoorsy than outdoorsy.  She is a great running partner, though.  When it’s not raining, we have a three-mile loop around our neighborhood that we like to run.

How did you get her?

I always had a Lab growing up, but when I left for college, I realized I was actually allergic to dogs.  So, when I started looking for a dog a few years ago, there were a few requirements:  1. The dog had to be good with my two daughters, Peyton (9) and Makena (5).  2. The dog had to have a hypoallergenic coat.  3. We wanted a dog that would not shed too much.  After much research, we found that a standard poodle was the perfect match.

We actually found Koda on an online pet adoption site, when she was two years old. She was living with a great family near our home but their daughter was getting ready to go to college and they were worried Koda wouldn’t get enough attention.  On our second trip to visit her, we brought her home with us. She’s fit in perfectly with our family from day one.

Jason Childers and Koda - Merrill Gardens

What is your favorite part about working at Merrill Gardens?

The people. Every day I am impressed with how talented, smart, and genuinely friendly everyone is at Merrill Gardens.  We are fortunate to be in a business that truly matters and where we have the opportunity to make life better for the residents we serve.  Everyone here takes that responsibility seriously.

What does your typical day look like?

We have a truly outstanding team here, and my job is to make sure they are challenged, excited and recognized for their great work.

On the top of the list right now, we are working on some significant technology implementations. This continues our mission of providing the most innovative tools for handling their responsibilities as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our new software programs touch every aspect of our business in some way. It’s been a huge project for everyone at Merrill Gardens, both at the communities and here in Seattle.  The impact of all this hard work will be remarkable because it will allow our team members to spend more time focused on resident services.

Finally, how do you think Koda will feel about being featured in the blog?

I expect she will have the same look of excitement she gets when I open a can of her favorite dog food.

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It’s Pets Month at Merrill Gardens

April is our month to celebrate the many wonderful felines and canines that live at our communities. We asked our residents to share some stories of their four legged friends. It was tough to get any interesting comments out of the four legged friends, as they mainly gave us a bunch of confused stares (and a couple of barks).  Luckily, our human residents were a lot more talkative!

Here are the first set of stories we’d like to share.

Sophie and Pumpkin & Batman
Merrill Gardens at Campbell, CA
Merrill Gardens at Campbell, CA
Sophie is a pre-nursing college student and the yoga instructor at Merrill Gardens at Campbell. This spring she wanted to take a trip to New York to visit her family, but needed a temporary home for her bunnies, Pumpkin and Batman. The Merrill Gardens community volunteered to take care of the fluffy creatures, where they received constant attention and were loved (nearly) to pieces by the residents, visiting family members, and people on tour visiting our community for the first time. Needless to say, the bunnies were a delight and are invited back anytime to visit. We promise to always have carrots stocked up, just in case!

Bob & Dixie with Gizmo
Merrill Gardens at Willow Glen, CA
Merrill Gardens at Mountlake Terrace
Bob, Dixie and Gizmo have lived in the community since day one. Gizmo and Bob have a standing lunch date each day, followed by a long walk. Gizmo’s favorite part of the walk?  Sitting and watching the traffic go by!  While those two are on their afternoon walk, Dixie cooks Gizmo her dinner.
Bob got Gizmo at two and a half, and she’s now ten. Gizmo is unique in that she’s smaller than your normal Pekingese, her paws are shorter, and in another obstacle towards her getting a basketball scholarship, Gizmo cannot jump at all. Bob’s grandkids gave Gizmo her name after the movie Gremlins, and it fits her perfectly.

Peggy & Jim with Enzo
Mountlake Terrace,
A Merrill Gardens Community, Seattle

Peggy and Enzo
Enzo is the only dog that resides at Merrill Gardens Mountlake Terrace. He belongs to Peggy and Jim. One special note about Enzo is that he’s never left alone, because he tends to worry.  So another wonderful resident, Sandra, takes care of him everyday during the lunch and dinner hours so his parents can eat in the dining room together. This is just another great example of how residents in this community care for one another!

Lea with Moses & Frankie
Merrill Gardens at First Hill, Seattle
Lea Black has been a Merrill Gardens resident for more than three years, where she takes care of her silver Persian cat Moses and her blue-silver son, Frankie. Both cats love to cuddle on the couch with their mom, watching the birds and big cats on Animal Planet. Lea speaks five languages, including Hebrew, which is how Moses got his name. He’s named for the term Moishi, which means teacher. Francis is named after Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Theresa and Noble
Merrill Gardens at Gilroy, CA
Merrill Gardens at Gilroy
Noble is a fantastic companion whose antics bring laughter and enjoyment. If Noble wanted to (and could get around the paperwork), he’d likely have a great career ahead of him as a personal trainer! He’s Teresa’s workout partner and chief fitness motivator– encouraging her to exercise and take him for walks.


Myrtle and Muffin
Merrill Gardens at Albertville, AL
Merrill Gardens at Albertville
Myrtle and her cat Muffin have been companions for six years. The two joined up when Muffin showed up at her house one night, making a clatter outside. She heard a knocking, scratching and meowing. When her husband opened the front door to investigate, the little rascal bolted inside. Muffin’s been with her ever since.

One of Muffin’s cuter qualities is her human-like ability to pout. When this cat is told “No,” she turns around and sits on the armchair with her back to Myrtle like she is mad– until her owner finally gives in (which is most of the time).

Stay tuned for more stories of cuddly companions from all our Merrill Gardens communities.

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Meet The Vet – Tips For Moving Your Furry Friend Home

PART 1 of 2

Did you know you can move into Merrill Gardens and bring your pet along with you? From puppy dogs to parakeets, you can find many furry friends living at Merrill Gardens with their owners.

Today, meet veterinarian Mark Freiberg, who is here to share a few tips for moving your pet into a new home. This is Part 1 of this series. If you have additional questions, email us or leave a comment below, and we’ll get the answers for Part 2.

Dr. Mark Freiberg

Dr. Mark Freiberg graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Zoology. He attended Washington State University and added a degree in Animal Science and graduated from Washington State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. After briefly practicing he founded the hospital now known as Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood, WA. He later founded Animal Emergency Service of Kirkland, WA.

He became the owner of Rose Hill Animal Hospital in 1992. In 1996, he merged his two practices and was a founder of Pet’s Choice, Inc. He obtained board certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in 2001. He has remained as medical director of VCA Rose Hill Animal Hospital after Pet’s Choice, Inc. merged with Veterinary Centers of America.

What Are Some Benefits Of Pet Ownership?

Pet ownership is fantastic for people of all ages.  They give us love, physical companionship (as well as training challenges!), and do not ask anything in return. Pets allow us to focus on things different from our daily stresses and worries by helping us release our own endorphins so we feel happier without even knowing why.  They ask nearly nothing in return.

What Is The Best Way To Introduce a New Pet Into a New Home?

Thirty percent of a dog’s cognitive ability is dedicated to sense of smell. Introduce them to the home one room at a time. A dog can tell what has been in each room as well as when it was there. Their sense of smell is tens of thousands of times more acute than ours and you can bet they’ll have a lot of sniffing around to do in your new digs! A cat’s sense of smell  is not nearly as good as a dog’s, but it’s still much better than ours.

Is There Anything Specific We Should Do When Introducing a Pet Into a Home With Other Pets?

If you’re adding another pet to the pack, the best way to introduce them to the new environment is to keep them separate from other pets as best you can for the first few days. This is the best way to help get everyone acquainted, learn boundaries and acclimate to the new environment.

Anything Specific About Introducing a Dog Into a Home That Already Has Other Dogs?

Well, both dogs and cats have more of their brains devoted to olfactory recognition – that means both have great senses of smell.  But dogs tend to make mistakes when they are anxious and new odors make them anxious.  It is a protective physiologic action and once they realize that the new odor doesn’t represent a threat they can get on with the real work of finding out who is alpha.  Dogs don’t care who alpha is, they simply need to know. They get confused and anxious when they do not know.  Therefore after a week or so of introducing the new smell they could be encouraged to interact under supervision.  It might take a few “conversations” to determine the pecking order.  That is not bad or good, it simply is something that needs to happen.

What Does Your Typical Day Look Like?

I have a busy schedule with appointments all day long.  It’s not unusual for me to see over twenty pets and their owners in one day!

Can You Tell Us About Your Pets? 

My wife and I are both suckers for rescue animals. We have two German shepherds, Rose and Pippa. Rose is a rescue that my wife found on the side of the road after receiving what was an incredibly devastating blow to the snout from a previous owner.  My team and I were able to put her back together and she hasn’t left my side ever since. Pippa is a retired bomb sniffing dog that was awarded a purple heart after coming home from Afghanistan.

We also have six (technically five and three quarters) cats, Art, Carl, Snoop, Sarah, Jane and Riley. Riley only has three legs, but we round up!

Do you have questions about moving your pet into Merrill Gardens? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook Page. Dr. Freiberg will answer your questions for Part 2 of this series.

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