Seniors and Companion Animals

Filed Under: DogsLife

I have written many columns about how pets enrich our lives.  Study after study has shown that a companion animal help us live longer, happier and healthier lives.  Getting official recognition of these facts and creating programmes that make them part of our society would be a wonderful goal to strive for.  I am very interested in moving forward towards these goals.  Anyone doubting that animals have an effect, google “Nala teacup poodle” and watch the elevator riding life enriching poodle.  But make sure you have a box of tissues handy.

Last week, I was invited to an event at Waverly Retirement Residence by Jodi Arnal.  As part of their “Dog Days” events in August, they had invited the Humane Society to bring 3 dogs to their facility, for an afternoon information session and to meet and greet the residents.  There were about 40 residents in attendance, and a fundraiser cupcake/lemonade sale for the Black Dog Club/Humane Society.

The residents enjoyed the visit, with Molly, Emma and especially Rufus doing tricks and interacting with everyone.  You could see some of them really light up when Rufus high five’d them, or put his head in their lap.  Not all were engaged, but many did get a boost from the visit.  Getting  even one of those smiles is worth whatever effort it took.  Thank you, Jodi, for inviting me, and I hope that you and Revera continue working to integrate companion animals into your residences.

Many seniors are worried about making long term commitments at that time of their lives not because they are concerned about being able to give a loving, caring home to an animal, but because they are worried about what will happen to the animal when they pass.   More and more, though, we see rescue groups coming together that are directed at addressing these issues, both with the pets of seniors who have passed or can no longer care for their companion, as well as finding homes for senior pets looking for the animal equivalent of a retirement residence. 

At Waverly, I did get a chance to meet Kay Brown and Nigel.  Nigel had been a dog looking for a home, he has some issues with other dogs, and is fearful around many people.  Kay had been approached about him, but she was unsure of adopting him, and declined a few times before she was actually introduced to him in person.  That first meeting sealed the deal, though, as he jumped up into her lap and was immediately at ease.  You can tell by the way he acts towards her that there is a very special bond, and there is no doubt the relationship has made both their lives immeasurably better.

Kay and Nigel are a perfect example of why banning pets from apartments and condos is barbaric.  Yes, there are concerns about potential damage caused, but that possibility is a something easily fixed with nothing more than the expenditure of money.  You cannot put a price on what having loving companion means to someone’s quality of life.  Especially a senior, living all alone.  Pet ownership should be encouraged in 55+ condo’s and seniors residences, not banned.  Waverly’s event was another reassurance that this is becoming more recognized, and I applaud those out there working to these goals, and would love to lend my support in any way I can.

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