Caregiver for husband with dementia, writer
Why a Visiting Pet Program Would Be Perfect for Seniors
First, let me say that I am grateful for all the readers who have commented on my bits of trivia. I love writing for you and hope you continue to comment on the things that touch you. Your comments help me to cope as well. We are all in this fight together.
Charlie temporarily got his sparkle back last week.
Over Thanksgiving holiday my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter from New York City and Fargo, ND were visiting for a few days. We love to have company, something that doesn't happen nearly often enough. Oh – and they brought their dog and cat with them!
Neither of us are "pet people." But I am beginning to think perhaps we should be. One of the first things Charlie and I asked each other when we met in 1998 was, "do you have a dog?" We were both relieved when the answer was no.
However, we have both recently found delight in the antics of visiting pets. "Visiting" may be the key word here. A visit from pets, like visiting grandchildren, can be loved and enjoyed for a short period, then sent home with the parents to contend with the inevitable problems.
However, it seems that every time the visiting pets leave we ask ourselves if we should get a pet.
The answer, when it comes to a dog, is a definite NO! Neither one of us is physically able to walk a dog on a good day, much less in New England ice and snow. So a cat may be a YES, until I think about dragging home large bags of kitty litter.
I have trouble enough carrying groceries from the car without adding litter to the mix. The job of cleaning the cat box can also be a cumbersome for someone with poor knees and a weak back; not one I would look forward to.
Caging up a kitty and periodically hauling him/her off to the vet would be another challenge. One also has to consider the expense. My daughter just paid $700 to have kitty's teeth "fixed!" Do you think Obamacare will pay for that?
So what's an elderly person to do?
Charlie was so animated and happy watching the antics of the two critters last week that I feel guilty not bringing a pet into our home. I know it would help his depression and anti-social behavior.
Maybe someone should start a "visiting pet program" where they bring a pet into your home for a few hours a day, then pick it up and take it home and deal with the everyday pet care problems. Now there's an idea for an entrepreneur. We seniors could pay a monthly "rental" fee to have a pet of our choice make regular short visits.
I know there are groups that take pets to nursing homes to bring some happiness to the residents, but I have not heard of a similar program for independent living seniors.
Any takers out there?
In the meantime, we have a stuffed Yorkie that sits in our living room; thank you Winn Dixie. We named her "Kitty" because we don't do dogs. She's traveled north and south with us over the years; we even talk to her and hold her for comfort on occasion. Kitty doesn't bark and we don't have to walk her, and the actual pets think she's the real McCoy. They cuddle with her and drag her around the house.
Have we lost our marbles? Perhaps.
The live family pets, Jack, Josie and Tesla, will be back for a brief Christmas visit – hooray!