Monday, May 9, 2011

How To Find the Perfect Canine Companion

I recently wrote about pets, dogs specifically,and how they can help older adults maintain good physical and mental health. And finding the right dog is critical to the relationship being a positive experience. Many people get swept away with a dogs beauty, or maybe they have seen the latest movie with a very cute pup in it, or any number of ways to be influenced. But, the reality is that the beautiful Border Collie that is herding the sheep in the field, will not be a happy camper living in an apartment, with a person who cant give it a job or lots of vigorous exercise. And the majestic Husky does not fit into the Florida condo life style. so, you see what I mean. Do your home work before you make this decision. See what temperment comes with different breeds, what about short hair v. long hair. As I get older, smaller dogs are better for me, when it is necessary to pick them up. I have found the very best place to go to adopt pets are the rescue organizations. They get to know the dogs, help fit them with the right person, and besides that, you would be saving a life, and discouraging practices like puppy mills. All of my pets have been rescue animals, and I have been blessed with many wonderful years of enjoyment with them. One dog in particular came from Emily was a combo of Golden Retriever and Cocker Spaniel. Dogs for the Deaf is a non-profit who trains assistance dogs for people with hearing loss. Well, Emily was a pooch who really didn't want to work that hard, but loved people, so she became a "career change" dog and I adopted her. I put her through the Therapy Dog training and when she was certified she went to my office in the hospital where I worked, and greeted and calmed people in crisis. When I retired she did too, and lived until last year when sadly she passed away. There are other wonderful places in my Southern Oregon area to find such wonderful dogs. is the adoption center of the local animal control division, run mostly by faithful volunteers that can help you choose a dog. is our branch of The Humane Society, a dedicated group of people to assist you in making a choice. And is a Sanctuary for abused and neglected animals of all kinds, including dogs. I mention this organization because of the wonderful volunteer opportunities. And if you are not ready, or are unable to take on a dog, simply volunteering with them is a way to find great joy.

I was really amazed at how much more I got from my pets when I retired. Getting to spend more time with them has certainly helped my mental and physical health. I highly recommend it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dogs and Their Retired People

One of the things I have enjoyed since retiring, is observing what goes on in my neighborhood during the week days. In the past 5 delicious years of retirement, I have watched people walking on my street with their dogs. I live in a neighborhood that has wonderful hiking trails, and quiet streets that makes it feel rural, even though it is 3 minutes to the Ashland Plaza. Consequently, this makes my Strawberry Lane neighborhood a favorite for dog walkers. What I have noticed is that over this 5 year period, some of the older dogs have passed on to pooch heaven and then for a time, the grieving person has walked alone. But, not much time passed before a new dog is on the walk. As I thought about this, I realized the importance of having a dog in ones life, and how these "walkers" were mostly retired people and they must feel the same way.

I am not the only one who believes in the benefit of canine companionship. A study in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society (May 1999) says that seniors that have a pet have better physical health and mental well being than those who don't. They are more active, (dogs need a walk), and they cope with stress better (physical contact with a dog lowers blood pressure). There are many other benefits as well.

Some people may prefer another pet to a dog, but for me, there is nothing like the love and companionship of a pooch. So, I will close now, as my buddy Max, who is a combo of Corgi, Jack Russel, Beagle, and who knows what else, is reminding me that it is time to go for a walk!

Later I will give you some good ideas about adopting dogs, or having contact with them if adoption is not timely for you.