Her Tibetan Terrier Oliver has been her constant companion for the last six years.
“You just can’t be down in the dumps when he’s around,” said Mrs Niblett. “He’s also a wonderful introduction to other people. He’s a conversation point, everyone likes to tell you about their dogs.”
That certainly helped Mrs Niblett settle into her new home when she moved to Elmbridge Village, an age exclusive village on the outskirts of Cranleigh in Surrey two years ago.
“There is no way I would have moved anywhere which wouldn’t allow me to bring Oliver,” she said. “I chose a bungalow so I can open the door and take Oliver straight out into the grounds.”
Having to ensure Oliver gets his daily walk helps keep Mrs Niblett on her toes too.
“I can’t just duck out of going for a walk because Oliver needs his fresh air,” said Mrs Niblett, who’s 76. “And he sleeps on my bed every night which means I never wake up alone, that’s comforting.”
Oliver is just one of several dogs and cats who call Elmbridge Village home. The village is owned by Retirement Villages Ltd which have a strictly inclusive pet policy.
“Pets are an important part of every community and a retirement village shouldn’t be any different,” said the company’s Sales and Marketing Director Sarah Burgess. “There is no way we would ask anyone buying one of our properties to leave their pet – often a lifeline – behind.”
Sheila and Graham Sheriff’s Terrier Jamie goes with them everywhere and is particularly keen on trips to the beach.
“We meet up with our family in Cornwall and Jamie’s a part of that,” said Mrs Sheriff. “He proved to be such an ice breaker when we moved to Elmbridge – he likes saying hello to people!”
The grounds at Elmbridge prove the perfect place for Jamie to run around – and the couple, both in their early 80s, often take a drive to local beauty spots with Jamie.
“He’s not as obedient as he used to be and he often gets very dirty but it gets us out and about,” said Mrs Sheriff.
The same rules apply at Elmbridge as they do in the general community. Pets are expected to be well behaved, well looked after and kept out of places were food is served.
National Pet Month aims to promote that kind of responsible pet ownership while also making people aware of the benefits of keeping pets and the professional help that is available for those who do.