Question: Dear Luise: I didn’t think I would ever say this, but I’m afraid to get another dog. I’ve had one or more dogs most of my life and not having one feels like my life isn’t complete. The problem is that I am now “of an age” where I feel I might need to go on alone. I lost my beloved Apricot Poodle aptly named “Appie”, several months ago from the myriad complications of old age. She was wonderful company, but I feel concerned about the continued care of a pet. My driving skills are diminishing and I know the day is approaching when I won’t be able to pop a pet into my car and head for the vet. My income also seems to need to stretch further and further because it’s fixed and the cost of living isn’t. I don’t even go out in all kinds of weather as easily as I once did. Yet, just as I was beginning to accept the fact that it’s not wise to look for another dog my neighbor, who is considerably older than I am, got a new dog and is doing very well so far. She even has to use a walker and has triumphed over that. Do you have any observations about this? Mae
Answer: Dear Mae: Well, first of all I think that you may be able to look at the overview to a greater extent than your neighbor. That may not be true but it’s awfully easy to gratify the wish to love a pet and be loved by one without looking too far into the future. Many of us are conscious of the needs that a pet can fill and a dog is often the perfect solution…since they are a wonderful source of love as well as something cuddly to love.
Much has been written of late about the value of pets for Seniors. I assume you qualify as a Senior since you mentioned looking at the problems that are coming to the fore as you face the possibility of losing your ability to drive and feel less able to perform dog-walks in all kinds of weather. Still, there may be an alternative or two for you to look at before you have to make the difficult choice to give up the idea completely and have to forfeit the obvious benefits.
First of all, do you have family or close friends relatively nearby that could be your back up? They may not be aware of your concerns and might be able to help. It sounds like you could handle most of the responsibility if you had a person or persons who could make an occasional vet run for you or help out in other ways when you needed assistance. If that’s a possibility, you might want to discuss your needs for another canine companion with them and try to work out a plan.
Where I live, which is a Senior Community, we have several examples of pet co-owners. Two single ladies share a small dog that appears to adore them both. When one is on vacation, the other steps in. They also share the dog’s food and vet costs. Whoever has the dog usually does the walks. At present they alternate weeks, but in emergencies they are there for each other whether it’s their week or not. This plan need not be limited to a dog. We have two couples here that successfully share a house cat in much the same way.
If none of these approaches would work for you, then offer to pet-sit. You sound like you have a lot to give so don’t give up. Blessings, Luise