Phoebe the dog enjoys a new life at Sachs Lodge

When John and Margaret Cunniffe-Smith were looking to downsize by the coast at Churchill Retirement Living’s Sachs Lodge in Torquay, there was no need to worry about leaving important family members behind. Pets are welcomed at Churchill Retirement Living developments, so Phoebe the Pekingese dog has been settling in too at their brand new apartment overlooking the sea.

John explains: “Having spent the majority of our long married life in an ‘animal friendly’ environment – our primary aim being to rescue abused Siamese cats who we welcomed into our specially ‘cat-adapted’ bungalow to spend their final years along with our much loved rough collie dogs – we always felt that life would have no fruition without any pets to care for.

“However, owing to our advancing years and health problems it became difficult and stressful to maintain a large detached property and garden. So in recent years we chose not to replace our cats, having cared for a total of 34 over the years, and to ‘downsize’ our choice of dog to a much less active breed, the Pekingese.

“The day arrived when we just had one elderly Siamese, Dusty, to care for along with a middle aged Pekingese, Phoebe. Churchill Retirement Living had just completed the construction of Sachs Lodge in nearby beautiful Torquay. Would well behaved pets be accepted? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’!

“Viewing the amazing apartments available, we were stunned to discover it had a massive balcony with breathtaking, uninterrupted views across Lyme Bay to Dorset. How could we resist?

“Would our pets be happy in that situation? Having sought prior permission, we had a professional small dog flap inserted to gain access to the balcony, also purchased, would you believe, a doggie toilet, and moved into our new home.

Phoebe absolutely adores lying on the balcony, taking in the ozone of pure sea air, and takes pride in the fact that she has independent access. She does not miss her original garden at all – indeed when visiting our previous home, she hides away in the car, longing to return to her retirement apartment. Our friend visits often to take her on substantial walks, and meeting the other home owners along the way, she quickly draws attention as she is such a little beauty.

“We are so thankful, and grateful, that Churchill Retirement Living agree with us on the beneficial and therapeutic advantages of keeping pets, and we are not deprived of their love in our senior years.”

John adds: “My wife and I are continually impressed with the care and consideration shown by Churchill Retirement Living, expressed on a day to day basis by our wonderfully efficient, compassionate Lodge Manager Jo, and the whole design of the building, which ensures such easier, stress free, living, as we approach our senior years.

“We really cannot emphasise enough the contentment we have experienced at our decision, together with the pleasure of mixing with others of our age group, and have no hesitation in recommending Churchill Retirement Living to all our peers!”

Sachs Lodge is a collection of 33 one and two bedroom privately owned retirement apartments and shared facilities, designed exclusively for the over 60’s.  The show complex is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. For more information call 01803 701600 or visit