Residents at Levande Hillsview retirement village have celebrated an anniversary of a different kind – the first wedding anniversary of Wally the rescue dog and his fur-ever friend, wife Lily.
Wally, 12, is a much-loved rescue dog adopted by resident Renate Petersen.
It was love at first sniff when Lily, an 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, moved into the Levande Hillsview community in Happy Valley, south of Adelaide, with her owner Jen Ranger.
After a 2.5-year courtship of play dates, long walks and puppuccinos, Wally finally asked for Lily’s paw a year ago and later made it official in a ceremony held at Levande Hillsview.
Now 12 months on, the marriage remains the talk of the village, credited with strengthening community spirit and leading to new friendships and connections among residents.
“It’s just wonderful. People are still talking about it and some people you’ll meet them nearly a year later now and they’ll say ‘Oh there’s the bride, the mother of the bride, there’s the groom’,” Jen said.
According to Renate, replays of the wedding footage remain on high repeat with friends and new residents learning about the event and the loved-up pups see each other every day and while they’re the best of friends, they also behave just like a married couple.
“Wally likes to think he’s the boss, but he does let Lily eat everything of his,” she said, smiling.
“We look after each other’s dog if we need to. We sometimes walk together and sometimes one of us takes two dogs, depending what we’ve got on.”
Wally had a ‘ruff’ start to life after he was found beaten and starving wandering the streets. He quickly became Renate’s best friend when she adopted him following the death of her husband in 2016.
And the friendship between owners took on another special meaning last year following the passing of Jen’s husband, Trevor. Jen said the support of Renate and other residents, including Trevor’s cousin Trish who has moved into the village, was comforting during a difficult time.
“The last thing Trevor said to me was ‘I’m so glad that we got moved into the village, you’ve got good friends and you’ve got Trish’,” Jen said.
“It’s been really lovely. My good friend Renate was so helpful at the funeral, too, which we had here because I knew there were lots of residents who wanted to say goodbye to Trevor.”
Talking about the friendships formed through animal ownership, and the benefits of pet companions to reduce isolation, Renate said that Wally is her family.
“And there are some people who have lost dogs and are happy to have a visit.”
Levande Hillsview assistant village manager, Kerry Amberg, said Renate and Jen’s dedication to bringing their neighbours together was admirable.
“Renate and Jen have done a fantastic job and it’s great to see the community come together the way they have,” she said.
“The fact that the residents wanted to celebrate the first anniversary, you can just tell how excited they are and it’s a credit to them both.”