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Pets Are Wonderful

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Pets Are Wonderful!

Who hasn’t laughed at the antics of a puppy, enjoyed the purring contentment of a cat or kitten, or marveled at the color and movement in a fish tank? Pets make us laugh with their antics, provide companionship, and give us an opportunity to just love and be loved in return, unconditionally. What could be better than that?

We are not pet people but not too long ago, we had the opportunity to experience just what a pet can add to life. While our son, Andy, was out of the country, we gave his dog, Chueco, a home. I was more than a little anxious about caring for a dog; I have a hard enough time just caring for me! But the life and vitality that that 100 pounds of energy provided to our household transformed us in ways I never could have imagined. We laughed at his antics, enjoyed the trust and love he displayed as he laid at David’s feet, and we enjoyed the health benefits of taking him outside for walks, play, and exercise.

The benefits of having a pet — whether dog, cat, bird, or even the lowly goldfish — are well documented for all. However, for people with disabilities or those over 60, owning and caring for a pet can contribute to a healthier outlook on life, promote a feeling of safety, and improve health, including lowering stress and blood pressure.

If you or someone you know might benefit from a pet around the house, select that pet carefully. AARP provides information from a veterinarian on selecting the best pet for you at  www.AARP.org

Purina© partners with local humane societies to provide free pets to people over 60. Their Pets for Seniors program pays the costs involved in adopting a pet and provides coupons for pet food to the adopter. Ask for details at your local humane society. 

If you have a disability and need help getting around or performing specific tasks, assistance animals can provide a sense of freedom and independence, greatly enhancing your life. Assistance dogs, for example, are specifically trained as:

  • Guide dogs for the blind and the visually impaired
  • Hearing dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Service dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing. They may be trained as seizure, therapy, or social dogs, or specifically for their owner’s unique needs.

Assistance Dogs International, Inc. is a coalition of not for profit organizations that train and place Assistance Dogs. For a list of programs in your part of the country or the world, visit: www.assistancedogsinternational.org and click on Member Program List & Links

Of course, the decision to get a pet should not be taken lightly. In return for love, companionship, and assistance, they will need you to provide food, shelter, exercise, and medical care.  

If you are not in a position to care for a pet, do not fret. Erika Freidman, a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, says, “Studies have shown that animals are good for our health, whether we own our own or just spend some time with one.” Senior Centers often have birds or fish, even visiting pet days, so give your local Senior Center a call and see if there is a pet you can visit.

For more information see 10 Tips for Caring for your Pet When you Have a Disability.

©2012 Meeting Life’s Challenges, LLC         www.MakingLifeEasier.com
For reprint permission contact Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com






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