Thursday, October 05, 2017

Special connection between the elderly and dogs

A dog and his purpose.
I am a mush-ball when it comes to dogs. I am listening to the audio of A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron--life from a dog's viewpoint. Corny as heck, but I cried.

But I do not own a dog now--my last one threatened to trip me about 10 times a day...A nice young couple gave him a new forever home. I am wobbly with my arthritis--and also worried about the financial liability for vet bills.

Lisa Esposito writes in US News & World Report about the connection between older adults and canines. She also talked about the health angle.

According to the October issue of The Gerontologist, owning a dog leads to lower BMI, fewer doctor visits, and less sitting.

We all know walking a dog is good exercise and thus good for you. But this study also showed that even the leisurely sniff-and-explore way dogs prefer to walk leads to better bonding with the pet than a forced march.

Bonded pet owners also stop and talk to others about their pets.

But even attached owners could be better attuned to the needs of their pets. If you have a chronic condition, you may walk the dog less. Take your energy level and the dog's into consideration when selecting a pet. Some dogs don't even like walks!

Or, a strong, active dog could drag a weaker older person. Also not good.

And, as you age, your dog does, too--but not necessarily 7-1. A 7-year-old dog corresponds to a human 44-56. At age 10--that dog could be equal in health to a 56-78 yr-old human. (For cats--15 cat years equals 78 human yrs.)

Older dogs tend to get arthritis. Their hearing and vision can fade. If the owner is frail, lifting a labrador with a bad hip can be impossible. Aging pets also get cancer, heart disease, kidney problems, liver disease--all heartbreaking or expensive.

So am I right to not have a dog--just a 20-yr-old cat? She, by the way, is lithe, leaps around, screams for snacks and food. She sure wouldn't like a dog to come to stay. (We used to have a dog and four cats and now she is queen.)

Still....

When my grandmother was in a nursing home, she kept telling my father she missed her dachshund. Finally he said, "Now, Mom, what would this place be like with dogs running all over the place?" She thought a moment and said, "Heaven."

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