Pets bring us joy and fun, and certainly make us much healthier by far. I’ve had seniors who live alone tell me that their pet is the reason for them to get up in the morning and look forward to the day. One 80-something year old told me her dog was always so glad to see her when she came home from anywhere and that meant the world to her. Animals are just good for the soul and can get us moving which makes us a lot healthier! Caring for a pet is actually caring for our own health.
Animals have been a part of my life from my earliest years on earth. It’s no wonder. My mother is an animal lover so I come by it naturally. My mama has had some pretty unusual pets. She’s had cats and dogs like most but how many people have a pet cow? Well, my mama did. Her name was Beauty. One of my kids named her that after reading “Black Beauty.” My mother loved her cow even though that cow was a lot of trouble. Beauty learned to open gates and would often go wondering through the countryside in the middle of the night. She often would let herself back into the pasture. If she got out in the daytime, all my mother had to do is yell, “Beauty, get back in your pen.” Beauty, a full-grown heifer, would literally kick up her heels, grab a mouthful of one of my mothers’ favorite bushes and then wander back into her pen!
Mama is convinced that animals have kept her young. Chasing around a cow can keep you in really good shape. She’s also had goats, chickens and a really ornery goose. Come rain or shine my mama made it out to check on her pets and keep them fed and watered despite the weather. Getting outside has been proven to lift our spirits and keep us from becoming depressed. I don’t have to worry about mama getting depressed. She now has Parker, a moose of a dog that she treats like a baby.
My husband’s granddaddy also had cows. I guess they weren’t exactly pets, but the way Grandpa loved them sure made them seem like pets. He had 50 milking cows that all were like pets. They all had names and when Grandpa went into the field they would rub all over him and insist on a scratch behind the ear.
For those who live alone, their pet is often the only one they talk to every day. Pets need care and if they’re a dog, they need to be walked. One senior told me that she loved walking her dog because she always got to stop and talk to neighbors and friends along with getting some exercise.
While working in memory care, we had a lady with her two dogs who came for a visit a couple of times a month. All the seniors loved to pet her Golden Retrievers. Those dogs thrived on the attention and would look right into the eyes of each senior they came to. Experts say that just petting our pets and grooming their fur can relieve stress which makes our lives not only happier but healthier.
Every pet I’ve ever had has enriched my life. Right now it’s a rooster, four hens, two dogs and a half-dozen cats that keep me happy. I can’t imagine a life without animals. If your older loved one is living alone, why not get them a pet to keep them company? Animal lovers are just happier people. Spread the love with a rescue animal as a gift today!