By early 2017, life had been pretty lonely for Sally Rewehooeern for almost three decades. With her grown-up children mostly living in distant parts of the country and her husband long gone, the elderly woman’s home had become quiet over the years. Then, however, an inquisitive visitor wandered into her life and became somewhat of a devoted companion.
Sally had begun life on a farm in the Netherlands, although she later left her hometown of Leeuwarden in order to move to the U.S. And the Dutchwoman and her husband raised four children together in America before Mr. Rewehooeern’s passing in 1990. After Sally’s much-loved partner’s death, the retiree subsequently lived alone in Mount Vernon, Washington.
But while Sally may now be in her 90s, she is nevertheless a keen churchgoer and a popular member of her local community. Among her friends, meanwhile, are David Mazzarella and his family, who moved into Sally’s street some 15 years ago. And the neighbors consequently struck up a friendship, thanks in part to their shared love of dogs.
Back in the Netherlands, Sally had been surrounded by animals on the farm, and she has always had a particular love for man’s best friend. Consequently, the nonagenarian fell for David’s two canine companions – a tiny Japanese Chin named Lulu and a huge St. Bernard called Blizzard. This adorable pair made quite the name for themselves online a few years ago – principally because little Lulu was often seen hitching a ride on big sibling Blizzard’s back.
Indeed, Blizzard and Lulu were even the stars of their very own Instagram account, where David and his family chronicled the adventures of their beloved pets. And, over the years, the cute canines gathered thousands of online followers from all around the world. However, in January 2017 the Mazzarellas suffered a tragic loss.
Having suffered a serious illness, Blizzard sadly passed away. And as dog lover Sally had been close to Blizzard, the widow was understandably distraught by his death. In 2017 David gave an indication of the relationship between the retiree and the St. Bernard to the Daily Express. The dad-of-two recalled, “Blizzard would come to visit her several times a day. [And] when he was missing, I always knew where to go.”
Tragically, Blizzard’s death was caused by bloat – a stomach condition that commonly affects very large types of dog. During his short time on the planet, however, the St. Bernard appeared to have had a charmed existence. Indeed, one follower wrote on the Mazzarella dogs’ Instagram page, “Almost ten years old for a giant breed is amazing. It looks like Blizzard had a life that most dogs dream of thanks to you!”
And while there is no doubt that Blizzard’s passing hit the Mazzarellas hard, David and his family eventually began to think about a new addition to their number. Furthermore, as confirmed St. Bernard lovers, there was only one breed of canine that they would consider taking on.
So, the family tracked down a fluffy St. Bernard puppy from the city of Tula in Russia. And at just 15 weeks old, the boy they named Brody was already pretty big when the Mazzarellas took delivery of their new dog. Then, on his first day in Mount Vernon, Brody unexpectedly decided to go on a little wander…
Happily for Brody’s new owners, they soon realized that the puppy had not strayed very far. Yes, he had made a beeline straight for neighbor Sally’s house. And the widow could not have been more delighted when the friendly canine arrived at her door.
You see, Sally had been raised with St. Bernards on her family farm in the Netherlands, and so Brody may have brought back some of those memories. What’s more, the retiree apparently wasted little time in getting to know the dog, in what would ultimately become the beginnings of a firm friendship. In 2017 David explained to Today, “Brody would wander over to her house, then she started giving him snacks.”
And ever since that first introduction, Sally and Brody have apparently become chums. In fact, the dog shadows the elderly woman everywhere, trailing the widow around her property and accompanying her to church. The devoted St. Bernard has even been known to try and get into Sally’s car as she drives off.
But although Brody is still only young, he’s rather large. And he’ll get larger still; in adulthood, a male St. Bernard can measure three feet in height and weigh some 260 pounds. Indeed, Sally declared to the Daily Express in 2017, “I’ve never seen such a big puppy. Soon he’s not even going to fit through my living room door.”
In the meantime, the adorable friendship between the elderly widow and the huge, fluffy puppy has been a feature of Lulu and Blizzard’s Instagram account. The Mazzarellas’ pictures show Brody watching TV with Sally and even handing her the morning paper; the delightful duo are also frequently pictured out and about in Mount Vernon together.
And social media users all over the world have been delighted by the sweet pairing. One Instagram follower was so taken by a picture of the pair on Lulu and Blizzard’s page that they were even moved to comment, “Brody loves Miss Sally so much. It makes my heart so happy to see them together.”
And although just one of Sally’s children lives near the Washington city, all of her quartet of grown-up kids love keeping up with her adventures with Brody through Instagram. Meanwhile, the retiree herself is thrilled that Brody has taken such a liking to her. Sally told Today, “From the moment he sees me, he’s so happy – Dave says it’s my voice.”
Remarkably, more than 60 years after her arrival in the States, Sally retains a touch of her Dutch accent. And Brody’s friendship is extra special for the widow because of the happy memories of the Netherlands that his presence provokes. Indeed, she told the Daily Express that just having the dog around makes her reminisce about her own childhood. Sally said, “He just wanders round into my house on his own whenever he fancies it, which takes me back to my days growing up on farms surrounded by dogs in Holland.”
So, while Sally is no longer adequately able to look after a pet herself, having a puppy in her life has certainly made her existence less lonely. Sadly, isolation affects many senior citizens in the U.S. thanks to unavoidable factors such as mobility problems and the loss of friends and family members. However, an academic study has shown that an elderly person having a pet can help combat this problem.
Research carried out by psychiatrists at the University of Rochester and published in 2014 found that older people who own pets were 36 per cent less likely to admit to feelings of loneliness than those without. Therefore, the social scientists concluded that owning a domestic animal may help to reduce perceived isolation in an elderly person. And by contributing their companionship, pets may help with seniors’ emotional well-being, too.
Sally herself firmly believes that her positive outlook has contributed to living such a long and fruitful life. And now that the widow has Brody to pop by and visit, she is feeling even better. Sally summed it up for the Daily Express, saying, “I’m proud of myself for still being so active, and I’m thankful for everyday – not least when I get a not-so-little visitor.”