When Sandy Horwitz moved to Brooksby Village, an Erickson Senior Living developed and managed retirement community in Peabody, MA, in August 2020, she wasn't sure how she would get to know people and become involved with life at the Erickson Senior Living community in Peabody, Mass.
“We all see ourselves a certain way, and I didn’t see myself going up to a group of people and saying, ‘Hi, my name is Sandy,’” she says. “I needed an entry point.” Sandy’s entry point, it turns out, was her dog Atticus, a seven-year-old wheaten terrier. “Atticus was my icebreaker,” she says. “I discovered a whole group of people who are drawn to my wheat-colored bundle of love and affection. He’s made it easy for me to integrate into the community.”
“Everyone loves Atticus,” says Suzanne Davis, sales director at Brooksby Village. “As a pet-friendly community, we find that dog people generally like other dog people. For pet owners, it’s a great way to get to know new neighbors.”
Exploring the options
Sandy’s journey to Brooksby began a year and a half ago. “I lived in a two-family home in Newton for 20 years,” says Sandy, a teacher who retired two years ago. “I lived on the main floor and my daughter lived on the second floor. We decided the time was right to sell the house.” As Sandy contemplated her next step, she began to explore living options around Newton, Mass. “I didn’t find anything that suited me,” she says. “I knew I would be welcome to live with my daughter in her new home, but I wanted to see what else was out there.” Sandy recalled television and print advertisements for Brooksby Village and invited a friend to join her for a visit to the community. “I didn’t know anyone who lived at Brooksby, but I was impressed by the beautiful grounds and the way the buildings seem to nestle into the trees,” says Sandy. “Before Newton, I lived in Brookline, so I’d grown accustomed to citified suburbs. The natural beauty of Brooksby stood out to me.”
Sandy met with Sales Counselor Jane Kiegel, who gave her a tour of apartment homes and information about the amenities and activities at Brooksby Village. “Everything Jane said appealed to me,” says Sandy. “The apartments are nicely designed, and I’m ready for day trips, classes, and clubs a community like Brooksby can offer.”
There was one more important detail to confirm— whether Atticus would be welcome at Brooksby Village. “In any prospective new home, a ‘No Dogs Allowed’ sign would be a deal-breaker,” says Sandy. “When I asked about Atticus, Jane replied, ‘Of course, pets are welcome.’”
Sandy chose a one-bedroom Brighton-style apartment in the Felton’s Crossing residence building, just a short walk from the Towne Centre clubhouse, where Atticus’ fan base grows daily.
“When people see me without Atticus, they want to know where he is,” says Sandy. “I really didn’t have to work hard to meet people, because he did the work for me.”
From Newell Road to Brooksby Village Drive
Sandy adopted Atticus when he was 10 weeks old and named him after one of her favorite characters in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
“I could tell right away that he was a kind soul, and I knew he was to become the Atticus Finch of Newell Road,” says Sandy, referring to her former street address. “I’ve always loved Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch and his view of human nature.”
Feeling more at home at Brooksby Village thanks to her four-legged sidekick, Sandy is making quiet inroads when it comes to building relationships with residents and staff alike. She’s getting to know dog owners she’s met walking Atticus around the grounds, and a lifetime spent with students has piqued her interest in the student wait staff who work in Brooksby’s restaurants.
“I’ve found the majority of our student servers attend Peabody High School,” says Sandy. “When I get a chance, I ask them, ‘What’s your favorite book?’ To my delight, several of them have mentioned To Kill A Mockingbird. Other favorites are Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby.”
Sandy’s also finding activities to suit her interests. She’s written two articles for the Brooksby Villager, a quarterly journal written and published by residents. She’s got meetings of the Current Events group, walking club, and knitting club circled on her calendar, and she’s even flirting with the idea of joining Brooksby’s resident comedy group.
“I’m not sure if that’s my thing, but I think I may try it,” she says. “Thanks to Atticus," she continues, "my transition to Brooksby has been a smooth one. I was ready for a new lease on life, and Atticus and I have found our home and our future here.”
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