– by Tania Sigurdson, PVHS Education Chair
“For me a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog.” — Roger Caras
In my life, I have always had, at minimum, one dog living with me at all times. When I arrived into my family, there was a sweet black lab named “Cuddles” who was already one of the family and patiently supported me as I learned to walk and how to be gentle. Cuddles was also my first experience of grief as she passed away when I was 10 years old. Learning love and loss, as taught by a four-legged friend and family member, was one of the many gifts that living with a pet has given me. Between then and now, I have never lived without a pet and as such, neither have my children. We have loved dogs, cats, fish, and a bunny and have received much love in return. When thinking about how I want to live the rest of my life, I cannot imagine any part of it being without a pet of some kind being my constant companion. Having pets does not only offer me love and loyalty, but also a reason to get up and get to the chores of feeding, walking, grooming, cleaning up after, and caring for another living thing. As I imagine moving into my retirement years, I imagine this routine as a gift to transition me out the daily grind of the workday. When I think further into aging, research would support that having a pet to care for and be cared for in return has many benefits.
“Pets bring vital energy to our homes and lives. Pets communicate many messages about love and connection.” — Laura Staley
The online Forbes.com website posted data collected from “Home Instead Senior Care’s” survey published in 2019. In this survey, seniors reported that the most important benefits they received by having a pet was “unconditional love”. Other responses were, “gives a sense of purpose” and “gives me someone to talk to.” Agingcare.com posted that “pets can also have an astounding effect on symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness.” For seniors who are living without spouses or partners, having a pet there with them continues that connection with another living thing.
When thinking about my unknown future, I know one thing for sure: for many reasons including both physical and mental health, I plan to always have a four-legged companion by my side.
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling the emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” — Thom Jones