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Are you thinking of a pet? – Senior Planet

Pets have so many positive qualities – having a pet lowers our blood pressure and cholesterol, improves our moods, increases our exercise, provides companionship, protects against loneliness and depression, and improves our social and work-life balance, which makes us rethink our priorities . If you also want to consider improving your social life (even during a pandemic), studies show that dog owners are much more likely to know their neighbors – one said that about 50% of dog owners made new friends because of their dog, since dogs they are natural icebreakers.

Please note the following.

Which race?

First, research different races. “Breeds bred for companionship, like Cavalier King

Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

Charles Spaniels (left), Shih Tzu and Maltese are good options: you would rather lie on your lap or cuddle next to you on the couch, ”says Dr. Heather Venkat, Arizona’s Public Health Veterinarian. “Working dog breeds like a hyper husky who loves to roam or a Belgian Malinois may not be the best choices.”

Petfinder.com, which offers adoptable pets from nearly 11,000 animal shelters and rescue groups in North America, has a breed finder that makes it easy. You can read descriptions of different breeds of dogs and their energy, playfulness and affection, exercise and grooming needs, ease of training, singing (barking), and friendliness towards other dogs. You can also look for small or large dogs, apartment dogs, long or short haired dogs, hypoallergenic, emotional support, and the healthiest breeds. There is also a cat breed finder. Basically, choosing a pet boils down to one that suits your lifestyle and activity level: avid hiker? Couch potato? There is a pet for you.

Look at your lifestyle. “There is no particular breed that is best for older adults. Usually it’s chemistry and / or love at first sight, ”said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and author of Designer dogs: An exposé: In the criminal underworld of crossbreeding (Apollo Publishers). “That means your lifestyle and general well-being are relevant. Is the dog easy to care for, requires more training trips and more trips to the groomer, and what about your ability to lift, restrain, control and treat the pet? “

Older versus younger?

A puppy is active, energetic, needs housebreaking, training in basic commands like “stay” and “let go” and a lot of attention, tends to chew things, but let’s be honest, is cuter. An older dog is calmer, has a potty (one hopes), needs less exercise, and has a stronger personality – but more likely to have medical problems (and their costs). Balance the adorability factor and problems associated with babies and young children with the known crowd factor and the challenges that come with aging.

Photo by Catherine Heath on Unsplash

“Who wants a puppy that pees and pukes all over the place and jumps over you and your guests? Are you chewing your shoes? “asks Sherri Franklin, founder of Muttville, an elderly dog ​​rescue group in California, bluntly.” Most elderly rescue dogs come with some training and they are all so grateful for their fresh start. They soak up love and fit like an old comfy pair of slippers Often times the dog is used to living with a senior as we take in a lot of senior dogs, so it’s a win-win situation. “

For adopters aged 62 and over, Muttville offers a Seniors for Seniors program that offers free adoption (typically $ 200) plus a monthly supply of food, leash, collar, bowls, dog bed, and a dog gate or staircase if needed. The on-site veterinarian assesses the dog’s health so you are aware of current medical issues and can perform spay / neuter or other surgeries if necessary. Franklin urges pet parents to purchase pet insurance to cover costs. One insurer, Trupanion, waived the registration fee for Muttville adopters.

On the Muttville website, under Success Stories (click here), you will find heartwarming stories from older people who are excited about their adopted seniors (and photos). It would take a heart of stone to withstand Alfie (AKA Bartholomew, left) and his story.

Advantages and disadvantages

Save an Elderly Dog’s Life. “Adopting an older pet can save their life. Many people are quick to adopt kittens and puppies and often overlook older pets, ”says Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna, senior manager of veterinary medicine at PetSmart Charities, the leading funder for animal welfare groups in North America. “Older pets are calmer and less energetic. Don’t assume they’re “problem animals,” she says. Older pets may be abandoned for reasons that are usually unrelated to their behavior or temperament – including moving house, allergies, a newborn, a change in work schedule, or losing a job.

Enjoy the antics of a puppy. On the flip side, Teri Dreher, an intensive care nurse who owns NShore Patient Advocates in the Chicago suburbs for over 30 years, recently adopted a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. “I think a puppy is fine for the elderly: you bring a lot of joy and laughter to your life, you have the dog for a long time, and potty training is good for everyone,” she says. “I would advise a small to medium-sized dog… even smaller dogs can be very strong and fierce, which can lead to falls if you are not careful. Older dogs get more expensive over time. “


Take the quick quiz on Petfinder.com to see which pets are available for adoption in your area. For dogs, select the size you want (small, up to 25 lb., large, 61-100 lb., medium, in between), age, gender, and how important it is to have already been home-broken, and the distance from your home ( 10) -100 miles or anywhere). Then you’ll see photos and “résumés” of dogs in front of your eyes (yes, like a dating site). When I was selecting small, adult, female, and home-broken poodle mixes called Roux within 10 miles, an 8 year old poodle mix popped up a mile from me and many more beyond those categories.

You can ask questions of the shelter or rescue group who will offer the pet, whose contact information is listed, determine adoption fees, which can range from $ 5 to hundreds, and whether vaccinations, neutering, and temperament tests are included. You can also find tips for your first month with your new pet on Petfinder.com. These include

Protection from pets Your home (make sure fragile items or poisonous food or plants are out of reach)

Place your pet if possible in an area that is easy to clean

Understand that a new environment, people, or schedule can cause an anxious pet to forget about potty training skills.

If you’re still on the fence to care for a pet is a great alternative. It is a temporary rehearsal where a pet is taken home from a shelter or rescue group for weeks or months before being adopted. For a list of 20 questions to ask yourself before grooming, visit Petfinder.com. Foster failures often have happy ending when the foster parent decides to adopt the pet.

How has your pet contributed to your life? Upload a photo so we can admire him or her!

Photo: Sharon’s adoptive pet, Fluffy.

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