My first post about never getting too old for dogs generated enough feedback and comments that it got me thinking and I have more thoughts to share on the matter. They will come later in the post.
I was using old profile pictures in my posts that I have taken over the past few years because it was easier. I didn’t want to mislead though, so this one is of me at 60 years old, as is the one in the last post. (Never Too Old for Dogs) If you’re wondering how I got my hair so much less poufy in this one, here is my trick. I put my hair in a ponytail when it is still wet and leave it that way until it dries. I have thick hair, so that is sometimes the next day. Once my hair is down, it does get “bigger” as time passes. Especially, if it is rainy or humid out.
I got to watch my nieces over the weekend. I was so excited to see them! It was supposed to happen last week but didn’t work out. I had a flat tire on one car and transmission trouble in the other car. Both discovered in the same afternoon! It was not my day and let me tell you, I was none too happy that something came between me and seeing my girls. Both vehicles are repaired and roadworthy again. While watching the girls, I got more of those flexibility experiences that I was talking about last time to help keep me young. We again played hide and seek. The game is a favorite of theirs’. I took Zekie with me this time. He seems to understand the concept of Hide and Go Seek. Or he at least sits with me and quietly waits until we are found. This does not work with Shelby. She stands in front of where I hide and stares a hole into the spot, so that I am found almost immediately. All the girls have to do is look for Shelby. When I hid under the computer desk, Zekie crawled in with me while I crouched in the knee hole waiting to be found. All I had to do was point at the spot beside me and make a down motion and we were hidden. Zekie was the perfect guest on our visit. He really is a good dog if I am with him.
On to why I will never be too old for dogs. The main reason is that I think it would kill me to be without a dog. How could I survive without a constant companion who thinks everything I do is wonderful and is happy to see me at all times? Dogs are mental health aides! So, what are some ways to pull this off for the older individual?
One. Stay healthy and active as much as you can. The better your health and activity level, the longer you will be able to care for a dog. (Or any animal.) The dog comes with built in health benefits. You should exercise and walk your dog. This will help to keep you both moving longer. There are studies that prove that people with pets age better than those without. Not just physically, but mentally as well.
Two. Downsize to a smaller or less active breed or mix of dog. Note that the two things do not go hand in hand. A French Bull Dog and a Jack Russell Terrier are similar in size, but you are not getting the same level of dog. The terrier is highly active, mentally and physically. They are a lot of dog in a small package. Many young people cannot handle this type of dog. Shelters were full of them after the television show starring a well-trained Jack Russell, Wishbone, rose to popularity. The Frenchie on the other hand is a low energy dog that needs only short walks. And then, you have the greyhound (approximately 55-80 lbs.) who is affectionately known as a couch potato. Do your research. There is a dog who is appropriate for nearly everyone.
Three. Who says you have to get a puppy? There are adult dogs who are in need of a home. Many through no fault of their own. Rescues and shelters have staff or volunteers who can help you choose a dog that fits your lifestyle. They know the personalities and habits of the dogs in their care and can guide you in picking a new best friend who is suitable for you. Some rescues even have Seniors for Seniors programs. This is when a senior dog is paired with a senior person. The rescue retains ownership of the dog and covers vet bills. The senior person provides a home for the dog and all daily care including food, walks, general grooming, etc. The person keeps the dog for the lifetime of the dog. Another benefit of this situation is, if something happens to the person, they know the dog will be taken care of. Someone from the rescue will come get the dog in this case and it will be rehomed or remain in foster care. It’s a win-win for all involved. Harder to place senior dogs get loving homes and the older person has a dog for companionship without the worry of expensive vet bills that can plague an older dog. The rescue I am involved with, Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue (NEOSSR), has such a program. Public donations make such programs possible. Here is a link about our rescue, complete with a donation button! https://www.neossr.org/ Our rescue tries to help in whatever way is best for the individual and the dog. Some of our senior families have needed temporary help in caring for their dogs. We have had a team of rotating volunteers show up to walk a dog for someone recovering from surgery until he was back on his feet. Right now, we have a dog in foster care because the owner was hospitalized from a fall and is in a facility for rehab. The foster mom takes the dog the facility to visit its owner occasionally. We hope the owner and dog can both go home again but if not, we will be here to care for the dog. By the way, the foster mom was on her way to pick up this dog from a neighbor within hours of NEOSSR receiving the call for help. Our members are awesome!
Four. Consider being a foster parent rather than having your own dog. You get the joy and rewards of having a dog around without the full-scale commitment. This option would also have veterinary care of the dog covered by the shelter or rescue. And though it may be painful when the dog gets adopted, you know that you gave the dog love and a home while he was waiting for his forever home. Most groups do give their foster families first rights to adopt if you happen to fall in love with your pup while you have him. And this happens often enough that there is a term for it. You are a foster failure. I have been a foster failure with several dogs. It is a term of endearment in the rescue world, and I am proud to be a member of this group. In fact, Shelby, Zekie, and Claire are foster failures. It can be a good way to try out a dog to see if he is a fit for your family. Many groups have a foster-to-adopt option. If the dog absolutely is not a fit for your home even on a foster basis, the group will take it back. It is helpful if you can keep the dog until it gets adopted or at least until the group can find another foster home. There are usually those of us crazy enough to foster most any dog. I have had to put up some foster limitations since we’ve had Zekie, and he is so much to handle. I would take them all, but sometimes you have to do what is best for the family and this includes the whole family, canines and felines as well!
Thanks for sticking with me to the end. My route can be rather circuitous as I have lots of random thoughts that get recorded along the way. Sometimes those can be the most valuable, and I hope, enjoyable. My goal was to give you options and lots to think about. May peace, and good health, be with you.
You can sign up to receive an email when I publish a new post if you want to follow along with the blog. There is an option for this on the top right-hand side of my blog page. https://sanctuary-acres.com/