Lifestyle and Living

Dogs and Seniors – Pet Ownership Has no Age Limit

Oct 2021 | By Catherine Daley

So Much to Enjoy when You Welcome a new Pet into your life

There’s a growing trend to independent living – or living alone. StatsCan says that single-person households have more than doubled in the last three decades, and it’s not just widowed seniors who live by themselves. In fact, 68 per cent of seniors who live alone are women, and 72 per cent quite enjoy it. One reason might be is that women tend to nurture tight-knit relationships with other women – and their pets.

Still, as many experienced during the pandemic, feeling socially isolated can be very dangerous for one’s health. One way to improve your overall sense of well-being, as well as gain a renewed sense of purpose in your life, is to get a pet. Apparently, a whopping 10 per cent (3.7 million) of Canadians adopted, fostered or purchased a dog or cat during the pandemic – and these furry friends proved to be just what we needed.

Anna and her rescue dog

Anna is 70 years old and had been thinking about getting a dog for years, even before the pandemic hit. She lives in an apartment in Toronto, and was worried that she might get a ‘barker’, and was also concerned about taking it out every day to do its business. “I certainly didn’t want a puppy,” says Anna. “But not too old – maybe two- to four-years – medium sized.”

Anna with her dog HenryHenry was a rescue dog from the Bahamas. In some ways, he’s needed more work and attention than a puppy due to his anxieties. Without knowing his full history, Henry has come a long way with training, patience and love. However, he still requires some socialization as he’s been in isolation, like his mistress. “People, like myself, pay a lot more attention to their dogs,” says Anna. “And probably spend a lot more money – it can be expensive.”

And while she factored in other limitations, like travelling and visiting those who might not care to have a dog in their place, she says that she enjoys the companionship and getting out in nature every day – and he makes her laugh.

Two exes share a puppy

Linda is 75 and she also got a new dog during the pandemic. She’s on her fifth Old English Sheepdog, but she’s sharing this one with her ex-husband, Derek. Her last dog passed away more than a year ago, and she said that she could feel her joints stiffening. “We found it almost impossible to get out for a walk in the park without having an animal.”

“I was worried,” says Linda. “I spoke to my family. I spoke to the kennel, and they assured me that if anything should happen to me, then Paddington (the dog) would go back to them in a heartbeat.”

Derek and his dogDerek was more like a kid in a candy store, and he’d already picked out his treat. “He’s full beans,” says Linda, referring to the puppy. “He pulls everything out of everything, and when he runs, he starts listing sideways. He’s a doll and makes me smile every day. No matter how outraged I am with his behaviour, I’m trying to camouflage the giggles.”

This pampered pooch has two parents, so when Linda wants to go away, Dad takes over. Most of her friends were more than encouraging, and if he’s not welcome at someone’s house, he stays home and guards his own. “The truth is,” says Linda. “It’s a huge commitment, but he gets me out walking every day and I’m part of the neighbourhood once again – seeing other people and stopping to chat.”

And while dogs were highly desired during the pandemic, we can’t forget about cat people – but that’s another story.