Monday, June 24th, 2019

The Crossings at Harbour View Story


Pets are a welcome addition to this community

by Allison T. Williams

Buddy and Doc still share everything in their place at The Crossings

Buddy and Doc still share everything in their place at The Crossings

Buddy — a sassy black schnauzer who has mastered the art of sniffing out hidden treats —  is perfectly at home in The Crossings at Harbour View.

With a few barks, Buddy works his way around the airy guest room of the North Suffolk retirement community. He collects smiles, treats and ear rubs before jumping onto owner Tom “Doc” Johnson’s lap.

“Obviously, Buddy loves it here!” laughs Doc, who moved into The Crossings in June 2017.
The fact that it is a pet-friendly community was very important to Doc. It was also close to home for the retired educator, who initially was reluctant to leave his close-knit Taylorwood community in nearby Western Branch.

“I’ve got a one-bedroom apartment here near the theater and I’ve never been happier,” Doc says. “We should have done it a long time ago.”

 “Buddy loves it here!
I’ve got a one-bedroom apartment
near the theater
and I’ve never been happier.
We should have done it a long time ago.”

—Tom “Doc” Johnson

The Crossings at Harbour View is a rental community offering 83 independent-living, 68 assisted-living and 24 memory-care suites. It has numerous onsite amenities: walking trails, a fitness center, library, computer center, beauty parlor/barber shop, a dining room, 24-hour concierge service and scheduled transportation for residents. Rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, are also available onsite.
Residents are treated to a diverse schedule of activities, including daily fitness and yoga classes, craft classes, happy hours, billiards and movie showings in the onsite theater several evenings a week.

Director of Sales and Marketing Christel Hoy says the facility embraces its pet-friendly designation, rolling out the welcome mat for residents’ dogs and cats.

“Here, dogs are a huge part of our community,” Christel says, stopping to give Buddy a treat. “Residents call the dogs by name and we keep dog treats at the main desk. We’ve even had dogs come to the movies.

“We recognize that pets are an important part of people’s lives and we want everyone here at The Crossings to feel like they are at home,” Christel says. The Crossings has pet stations around the building and walking trails for daily excursions. They hope to build a dog park in the near future.

Doc, Buddy and Adam Mansfield, an employee at The Crossings, <BR>have become very good friends

Doc, Buddy and Adam Mansfield, an employee at The Crossings,
have become very good friends

Residents in independent and assisted living can have pets as long as they are able to care for them. Although there are no weight restrictions, smaller dogs are preferred. Dogs need to be leashed outside their apartments, be current on their shots and there is a one-time pet fee.

Christel estimates that at least 20 dogs, including Danny, a Labrador retriever that is a trained therapy dog, live at The Crossings. She isn’t sure how many cats live there.

“Here, dogs are a huge part
of our community.
Residents call the dogs by name
 and we keep dog treats at the main desk.
We’ve even had dogs come to the movies.”

—Christel Hoy, Director

“Having pets is therapeutic, both for their owners and other residents who connect with them,” Sales Coordinator Sarah Weidner says.

“Pets give people a sense of purpose, a reason to get up the next day. Stroking a soft animal is therapeutic in itself. This is especially true in our memory care unit, where residents may or may not remember pets’ names but they really enjoy loving them and being loved in return.”

In addition to the resident canines, therapy dogs make regular visits to The Crossings.

Before he retired in the mid-1990s, Doc taught math and science at nearby Western Branch Middle School for nearly 35 years. He went on to teach nine years at Tidewater Community College and eight years at Christopher Newport University.

“Doc was more than a good teacher. He became a friend and a mentor for many students,” Brett Wellington, a former student, says.

Brett, 25, a chef at The Butcher’s Son in Chesapeake, first met Doc in 2014 when he took his anatomy class at Tidewater Community College. Doc took Brett out to lunch because he was the only student to pass the class with an A, unknowingly beginning a friendship that transcends their age difference.

The two quickly realized they had more in common than they thought: Doc’s beloved wife, Barbara, had died of colon cancer in 2011. Brett’s mother, Darlene Wellington, had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer, a battle that she lost in 2017.

Every Wednesday for a year Brett and Doc had lunch together. Doc often arrived with a bouquet of fresh flowers for Brett’s mother.

“Doc is a genuine, caring guy who has always been there for me,” Brett says. “He’s helped me through a lot, especially when I lost my mom. He has been a blessing in my life.”

Brett never got to know his own grandparents and treats Doc like he would a grandfather.

“He’s not a friend anymore. He is family now,” Brett says. “I call him Grandpa.”

For years, Doc has been a regular at Outback at Chesapeake Square stopping in several days a week, with the entire staff knowing him by name. He’s become a close friend and mentor to several staffers there as well, even helping two of them get second jobs at The Crossings.

“He was my first customer at Outback,” Robert Hufton, 29, who works part-time at The Crossings, says. Over the years, the two have forged a close friendship.

“He’s always been a good friend and kept an eye on me,” Robert says. When Doc moved into The Crossings, Robert would come and walk Buddy, take Doc to lunch and now brings his stepsons over to spend an evening with Doc on occasion.

“Doc never seems to have a bad day and the boys enjoy a really good, old-fashioned time with him,” Robert says. “He gives them advice on everything from girlfriends to school and teachers. It’s turned into a good friendship for them.”

Doc says he believes in investing time in getting to know people and asking questions about what is happening in their lives.

“It’s good to know you have someone to lean on and to know the people around you on a first-name basis,” Doc says.

The Crossings at Harbour View

5871 Harbour View Blvd.
Suffolk, VA 23435