Pets For Seniors

Question: Dear Luise: Would you be willing to write about pets for seniors? My Dad lives in a retirement center that allows pets. I’ve been thinking of getting him a dog. He’s mentioned several times about how much his neighbor enjoys hers but my bother thinks it would be a bad idea. My reason is that our Dad is lonely, he used to have a dog and knows how to take care of them and they are allowed where he lives. My brother’s reasoning is that as our Dad is starting to fail and we would need to step in and take the dog at some point. He feels that that might be very hard for Dad. He also feels that the dog could easily outlive Dad and be without a home. Do you have any experience with these issues? We’d like your help. Joy and Bill

Answer: Dear Joy and Bill: It seems to me that your points are well taken…both the pros and the cons.

It’s hard, without a crystal ball, to know how it’s going to play out…and I don’t know anyone who has one. The only way I know to look at it is from how things are “now” and then deal with the “then” when it takes shape.

I think Your Dad should have his dog. It’s been proven that they are a very healthy choice for seniors. The responsibility of their care can offer a sense of being of use. The affection they so freely give can have a very healing effect on any person, young or old.

If the time comes when your Dad can’t care for his dog only longer, it is true you might need to take it on so you could continue to create visits between man and dog for as long as it was a positive experience. Are you willing to do that? Or do you know someone who is?

If so, ask your Dad what kind of a dog he has in mind and ask the people at his retirement center what the rules and regs are for dog owners there. I know where we live, big dogs aren’t allowed, it can’t disturb the neighbors and the resident has to pick up after the dog and keep him/her on a lease at all times. There’s also a damage deposit.

You might want to involve your Dad in the choice of his dog…or he might want you to pick his new best friend out and surprise him. Certainly, once you decide to go ahead with the plan, he needs to be part of the process.

There aren’t very many opportunities to bring aging seniors love, happiness and expression. I firmly believe a dog is one way to do that. I have to tell you that ours is a Chihuahua named “Me, Too” and he’s worth his weight, (four pounds), in gold. The lady next door, age 99, has a dashound named “Daisy” that barks her head off all day but we don’t mind. She’s a miniature dog with a miniature bark. Blessings, Luise

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