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Life Care Center of the Willows Employee Spotlight: Lulu the Shih Tzu


Lulu, a 7-month old Shih Tzu that works at Life Care Center of the Willows in Valparaiso, is just like any other pup – she’s sweet, playful, and cuddly. What makes the life that Lulu leads in the dog world so special and unique, is the fact that she comes into work every day with Life Care Center’s Director of Nursing Sabra Coons, Lulu’s owner. While Lulu has her puppy moments, she is amazing at fulfilling her role in her part-time position at the Center.

“She has a job here, you know. Every morning, we go up and down the West Side and – the people that can’t get out of bed – we go up to the bed and they pet her and talk to her and it brings a great deal of joy to the bed bound people, and everybody else; they all get a part of her every day,” said Resident Loretta Williams.

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Williams, who has been a resident at the Willows for a year now, has also been one of Lulu’s main caretakers, and family, since the puppy started coming in just about 7 months ago. Williams said, “Well I’m her grandmother. I’m Grammy – Grammy of the Dog, and I like that title.”

When Don Coons and her husband sadly lost their dog a little over a year ago, they took it hard and decided that they didn’t want to have any more dogs. That was, until, the couple decided to randomly stop at a pet store one day around 7 months ago and bring home a little Shih Tzu that weighed less than two pounds. Named after lululemon athletica, an apparel company, Lulu the Shih Tzu has become such an important and loved puzzle piece to Life Care Center of the Willows’ staff, residents, and visitors.

Residents are so glad that the Willows’ policy on pets allows Lulu to come in every day, so long as her shots are up-to-date, her records are on file at the Care Center, she’s potty-trained, and she follows restrictions such as staying out of the building’s dining room and going home with Coons every night.

“It gives them something else in their life,” said Williams, who is incredibly thankful to Coons for bringing Lulu into her home at the Willows. “She’s been a conversation piece that’s solely needed in a home with so many different people. They have a common interest because somebody, somewhere has had a doggy when they were younger, and this brings it all home in their feelings.”

When Williams moved into the Willows, a close friend of hers started taking care of her dog, and Williams has been apart from her dog for the last two months since the dog was last able to make a visit. With Williams love for her own dog that she misses, and her love for animals in general, she’s a great fit for Lulu’s Grammy. Williams said, “Everybody in their lifetime has had some sort of little animal, and you’ll never know what love is until you love an animal.”

Lulu has no trouble making herself at home in William’s room where her water and food bowl are with a bin of puppy toys for her to play with. Some days, when Coons comes in early at three or four in the morning, Lulu will go straight to bed in Williams’ room to sleep by her side.

Even for a puppy, Lulu is learning a lot, and fast, constantly surrounded by so many different interactions and people. William’s said, “She really is a smart little dog. She sees everything. She knows when I head towards my room. She even knows which door is mine.”

Coons has no doubt that finding Lulu has created a powerfully positive impact on more than just herself and Williams, especially spending her whole nursing career in long-term care.

“It’s amazing how people will remember Lulu when sometimes they can’t remember too much of anything else,” said Coons. “I tell ya. It was a win-win for me because I needed her too. It was a win for the residents here because she really has brought them a lot of joy, and it was a win for Lulu because there she was, sitting in a crate in a pet store somewhere, and now she has a whole building of people that love her and want to take care of her – and they do.”

Lulu’s puppy adventure has just started! To learn more about Life Care Center of the Willows and how they can be a resource for long-term care, visit http://lifecarecenterofthewillows.com/.

Life Care Center of the Willows
1000 Elizabeth Dr
Valparaiso, IN 46383
(219) - 464 - 4858
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