Should 84-year-old woman be allowed to have a dog?

DEAR JOAN: My mother will be 84 in a few weeks. She’s in reasonably good health, although she uses a walker because she’s not very steady on her feet. She lives with us, so we are able to give her the assistance she needs.

For most of her life, she has had at least one dog. She likes the little yappy ones that sleep in her lap. About two years ago, before she moved in with us, her last dog died. She was devastated.

She has talked about getting another dog, but we don’t have any pets and my husband and I aren’t sure we want one. My husband works and I do a lot of volunteer work, which takes me away from the house throughout the day. I worry that my mom wouldn’t be able to take care of a pet when we aren’t there.

What do you think?

Not Dog People, Danville

DEAR NOT.: You have valid concerns about having a pet, but I think it’s important to also consider what’s best for your mom.

Studies have shown that pets can add years to your life, but even if they only extend our time by a single hour, the joy and love they bring can enrich whatever time we are given.

I get that you and your husband aren’t pet people, but your mom obviously is. You’re also gone from the house for large portions of time, and your mom would benefit from having a dog as loving company.

You obviously know your mom’s abilities better than anyone, but you don’t mention anything in your letter that would indicate she wouldn’t be capable of caring for a dog on her own. If you’re concerned about her getting up to let the dog out, you could always install a doggy door.

There is concern about people with mobility issues tripping over a small pet or being knocked over by a larger one. With training, the dog can be taught to stay out from underfoot and to be gentle.

Having a dog is a big responsibility and as you’re already caring for you mom, it might be too much. However, if your mom is capable of doing most of it, you might consider whether you could manage the rest.

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As much as I want to say “just get her the dog,” I won’t. You need to be as committed to the adoption as your mom is, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if having a dog isn’t for you. I would encourage you, however, to talk with others who have dogs and see just how big a commitment might be required from you.

A lot of thought needs to go into the decision. Consider the size of your home, access to a fenced backyard, and what breed and size of dog would be best. Larger dogs require more exercise than someone who is unsteady on her feet might be able to provide. Certain other breeds are full of energy and need a lot of attention.

Talk to the staff and volunteers at shelters and rescue groups. They can point you toward smaller dogs with mellow personalities. A lot of older dogs fit that category.

If you ultimately say no to the dog, perhaps friends with dogs could visit often and let your mom have time with their pets.

You’ve already given your mom a great gift — sharing your home with her and caring for her. If you are able, I think allowing your mom to have a dog would be another tremendous gift that would make her very happy.

Source: mercurynews
Should 84-year-old woman be allowed to have a dog?