In recent weeks, my family adopted a 10-week old-puppy from the Eleventh Hour shelter in Mt. Olive, NJ.
The care for this puppy has been reminiscent of the sleepless nights and potty messes of caring for my two children when they were newborns.
But despite my current state of exhaustion, I feel strongly the pros of owning a dog far outweigh the cons. My further research into how dogs can positively affect the lives of their owners proved to uncover some interesting facts especially about seniors.
As a previous marketing director of an assisted living community, I fondly recall the joy the weekly pet therapy dog visits brought to the residents. In spite of cognitive or physical ability it was evident most resident’s spirits were lifted as a result of the dogs.
The American Humane Association refers to this practice of utilizing animals as a source of solace and relief for those who suffer from physical or emotional pain as Animal-Assisted Therapy, or ATT. In an article posted on www.powerofpaws.com titled, Seniors Who Adopt Senior Pets Often Stay in Better Shape, several physical and spiritual benefits are noted for seniors who own a dog.
Here are the top 5 that caught my attention that I believe are applicable to all ages:
1. A buffer against loneliness
2. Maintain a clear sense of purpose
3. Derive a profound sense of satisfaction from living with an animal
4. More likely to exercise
5. Have lower blood pressure and a decreased likelihood of depression
A subsequent study by Alan Beck, Director of the Center of Animal-Human Bond at Purdue University, indicated that pet ownership can act as a health enhancer for seniors by:
A dog offers unconditional love, which is priceless therapy any individual can receive on a daily basis. For a senior who may be dealing with unexpected physical and environmental changes a dog may become a reliable and trustworthy friend.
So I encourage seniors (and all other adults) to consider adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. However, I caution you to consider your lifestyle and choose a dog that you can care for well. Caving to an 11-year-old’s pleas for a puppy may not be the best choice.
To learn more about becoming part of a dog certification organization, visit the American Kennel Club’s website.
~ Dawn Perdon