Dogs and Seniors: How The Love of a Pooch Can Keep Us Young

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Written by Becky White of dogstwentyfourseven

Merry, 94, enjoying a visit with Fulton, a goldie poo.

Yesterday I had a chance encounter which is worth writing about; it involves some dogs and a lovely senior at a local off-leash park on a very hot day.

I noticed off to the side that a senior with two younger people (probably family members) were going to stand on the outside of the fence that runs the perimeter of the park to view the dogs at play. When people stand watching the dogs I often go over and say hello, if they are showing signs of enthusiasm as observers of course. I know that they are out of patting distance and obviously receive joy from the canines there. Sometimes there is a group of special needs children, or a mother with kids, or park users who choose to take in the dog antics.

On this day the senior caught my eye, as a senior in the dog park is sort of unusual. They were standing in the shade so it was the perfect reason to go and have a meet and greet. As soon as we got to them the woman was delighted and I introduced myself. When she inquired about the dogs’ names and ages, I told her.

I said that she must have owned a dog at one time since her ease and joy around them was obvious. I was told that she had owned a Cocker Spaniel and I mentioned that was my family’s first dog, too. I then proceeded to ask if she would like to give them some dog cookies. This was fun as she wanted to and I filled her hands with treats from my dog walking pouch.

Fulton, a large Goldie-poo, was thrilled and he popped up onto the fence for easy retrieval of the goods and to get some pats. His owner Janine, told me today, that he gets treats at her bank and her local convenience store. At these locations he is encouraged to go up on the counter for a hello. Fulton is also a senior at the age of nine, which made the fence greeting even more poignant.

I was told by her daughter that the woman’s name was Merry and that she will be ninety-four next March. This amazed me as she was in great shape and certainly very bright during our conversation.

Merry gave the two smaller dogs with me treats through the lower part of the fence and I picked them up so that she could pat them, too. Cassy, a Poodle-Bichon mix was also a hit. I told Merry that Cassy is like my little lamb with her colouring and soft wavy fur.

I asked if I could take her picture with Fulton and she was thrilled. I showed her the picture and said that I would forward it to her family members by email. At that moment I felt that this picture had something magical in it. I had a busy afternoon and forgot to post it until later that night.

Within an hour of posting the picture I knew that my gut instinct had been right; there was a huge increase of traffic sharing and looking at it. It surpassed my highest record from another post a few months back in just a matter of hours.

I know from my interactions with dogs that they are loved dearly by most seniors. I am often told of a beloved pooch from years gone by or a funny story. Dogs can help with the loneliness of a spouse that is gone for the remaining partner; I have seen this personally. They give a reason to get up in the morning and wonderfully provide someone to chat with throughout the day. The added perks are some exercise and reduced blood pressure, as well.

Dogs that visit at K-Wing, a Veteran’s Residence at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto, are enthusiastically welcomed by the seniors there. Family dogs are even allowed to come and have time with a loved one who misses them.

I became close to a couple when walking their dog Danny for a few years. Hal recently died at ninety-four; he adored Danny, their adorable terrier. I used to see the two of them out for their walks before Hal’s health declined and he was moved to K-Wing. Wendy, his wife, would visit Hal daily and would take Danny on  occasional visits.

When Danny died it was terribly sad for both of them as he was very much like their child that they never had together. I went to Hal’s funeral and was told Danny’s collar was placed in Hal’s pocket as a sentimental gesture. I would like to think they are enjoying their walks once again in heaven.

In the months I have been writing for my blog I have discovered many organizations that place senior dogs with seniors. This video describes a wonderful organization that does exactly that. In four years 700 dogs have been placed with seniors. This organization is located in different countries.

Senior Pooch, is another favorite organization of mine and is dear to my heart. Older dogs in shelters are in huge need of adoption, and Senior Pooch assists in finding a forever home for them.

Check your local area for similarly run programmes that match a senior to the perfect senior dog. This is a win-win relationship. I hope I never lose my love of all things canine and at a ripe old age will have opportunities to be around dogs. Take the time to say hello to a senior when out with your dog. A couple of minutes of a “dog fix” can brighten any day.

1 thought on “Dogs and Seniors: How The Love of a Pooch Can Keep Us Young”

  1. Oh what a wonderful place and what a great idea. The bright light that comes into someone’s eyes, particularly a older person, when they can get close to a dog is one of the most heartwarming sights to see.

    I foster old dogs for a place in Washington State called Old Dog Haven (olddoghaven.org ) where we too understand that old dogs are completely wonderful and perfect. What a joy to know there are people out there who have adopted an old dog and discovered the secret of how perfect they really are.

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