I’m writing this blog while
visiting my parents in Slovakia. It’s so nice to be home and to spend time with
them because I get to enjoy mum’s cooking, play cards, watch old films, chat
and of course, walk Cherry 😍. Do you remember her? She’s the little black
and white chihuahua that changed my parents lives considerably for the better.
“After the final no there comes a yes. And on that yes the future world depends. No was the night. Yes is this present sun.”
― Wallace Stevens
We’ve had dogs in our family since I was 13. After my parents lost our last dog a few years ago, mum didn’t want another dog. This surprised me but she said she didn’t want the responsibility and was also worried about walking a dog on the icy roads in the winter. As a result, for a few years, she just looked after her friends’ dogs while they were on holiday. The thing is that every time she had a little holidaymaker with her she lit up because she had somebody to look after, walk and play with… a little project, something to occupy her and something to entertain her.
I tried to convince her that a little dog would be good for them both but there were always arguments like who would look after him/her if they came to visit me? What if my dad leaves the door open and the dog escapes? How will the regular holidaymakers react and how was she going to walk her/him in winter when worrying about falling? After years and years of me begging, we slowly started to discuss each obstacle and they became smaller and smaller.
As Marie Forleo says… everything is figureoutable.
We eventually got to the point where we discussed what breed to get. When choosing a dog or another pet for an elderly person choose wisely and think ahead!
The benefits of pet ownership for my parents are fabulous and the love, affection, stimulation and joy that Cherry has brought is obvious (this isn’t even mentioning the health benefits such as lowering stress, blood pressure and increasing mental acuity) but owning a dog also carries daily chores and responsibilities and the elderly person has to be up for it.
This is why we settled on a Chihuahua and we haven’t regretted it for one minute.
A small dog doesn’t require as much exercise as a medium or large breed would and I don’t have to worry that the dog will pull my mom over on an icy road. It’s easy to travel with and let’s not forget… less expensive to look after.
There are other benefits too…
1) Taking Care of Something
My sister and I left home years ago and my sister’s kids left the home town as well. Once the last dog left, there was no one to look after. The desire to be useful and of value doesn’t magically disappear when people retire and their kids grow up and build their own independent lives. It’s very satisfying to take care of another living thing for them too
2) Getting Out
Having a dog, requires walks (especially because my parents live in a flat). Going out every day helps my mom to stay connected to life – to other dog owners, the vet, and maybe eventually a groomer as well. Having a pet is a good way to stay involved in your community.
My parents have been
together for 52 years. In the past ,when they worked together and looked after
us, there was always something to talk about but after retirement they kind of
grew apart… spoke less and had no common interests. Cue Cherry and the whole energy changed! This lovely little dog gave them a reason to
talk more, to laugh together and to love.
For many elderly people loneliness can become an unwelcome companion and getting older can lead to depression as well as physical problems. A dog can change an elderly person’s life, their schedule and personality. A dog is never unavailable or off duty and smaller dogs, in particular, are even easy to travel with meaning you can have him/her by your side always.
5) Having a Routine
We are creatures of habit
and we need our routines and the routine of caring for a pet can give structure
and purpose to your daily life. Perhaps there comes a time where an older
person doesn’t want to get out of bed and the dog would need her to?
I hope I’ve given you all something to think about. Maybe you’ve had these same experiences too?
I LOVE feel good stories so please send me a message and share your experiences with me ❤︎