Rainbow Springs Villager - Page 12

12 Rainbow Springs Villager April 2018
Pet Ownership
By Gailen Spinka
Many of us remember the
60’s and 70’s when pets were
considered more of an outdoor
animal. Dogs lived on the
porch or in doghouses. Many
dog houses were homemade,
but they could be purchased from local craftsman
or through the Sears & Robuck Catalog. We played
with our dog when we were outside. Most cats were
allowed to come into house but they didn’t live
there. Kitty litter wasn’t readily available back then. I remember taking my dog to the
veterinarian in the 70’s. The Vets primary practice was to take care of farm animals;
horses, cows and cattle. The Vets in my area were a little annoyed at having to deal with
pet owners but they realized it as a good income stream. By the late 80’s veterinarians
primary practice changed from farm animals to Pets. Today most pets live in the comfort
of their owner’s home. Veterinarian’s offices became more like Doctor’s offices; very
clean with waiting areas. The quality of care increased substantially and along with that
the cost. I mentioned this because pet ownership provides significant benefits to seniors,
however there is a cost for feeding and care. For example big dogs cost 4 times as much
to feed and medicate as little dogs. This is just because of the quantities of food they eat
and the amount of medication both are based on per pound requirements.
The benefits to pet ownership are numerous. The most touted benefit for seniors living
alone, to avoid loneliness and depression, is the day to day companionship provided
by a pet. Companionship expands to include “taking care of something.” Sure you love
your pet but it needs you more, so there is a feeling of usefulness. Pets also require a
routine. They should be fed and pottied on a schedule. This helps to provide a senior with
a routine for the day. Try staying in bed when your dog wants to go out in the morning.
Exercising your pet provides exercise for the owner that might not be done otherwise.
My golden retriever is my walking partner; he never bails on me, he is always begging to
go for a walk.
A dog offers the feeling of security and protection. It doesn’t matter how big the
dog is; it’s a watch dog. A 10 pound dog makes as much noise as a 75 pound dog when
someone is in your driveway. It is a well-known fact that thieves do not like barking
dogs. Additionally, if you are suffering from hearing loss a dog may help you feel more
secure in your home.
Puppies and kittens are lots of fun and easy to fall in love with however, they are also
full of energy. That is more energy than many of us are able to keep up with. Also, the
rigors of training a young pet are demanding. For many of us older folks the best solution
is to get a pet from a shelter or rescue group. Spend the time and get help to select the
right animal for your lifestyle. An older dog should be housebroken and trained in basic
obedience and have considerably less energy than a puppy. Additional considerations are
required if a person in the home has mobility issues. A pet bouncing at their feet could
create a fall risk. You can be safe with the right pet. I have 2 large dogs, 1 small dog and
2 cats and when my grandchildren were learning to walk they were never knocked over.
The most important thing to remember when you go to the shelter is that the animal
doesn’t pick you for adoption; you pick the animal. Some people immediately fall in
love with the animal that greets them the best. The most important thing, however, is that
the animal must fit your lifestyle and budget. Go along with the recommendations of the
professionals and your new pet will fall in love with you before you get home.
Gailen Spinka has been working with our senior population since purchasing a Comfort
Keepers Franchise in 2004. Most opinions are garnered from interactions with clients
and their families. Should you like more discussion on the topic please call Gailen at
Comfort Keepers 352- 726-4547


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