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Page 22A - Seniors Lifestyles, September 28, 1994
Pets bring love to seniors' lives

By Shelley Grant

Ah, it's 7am and I awake to the beautiful singing of my Canary named Marmalade." As I snuggled under the covers to catch a few more minutes of rest my 8 1/2 year old Shepherd "Candy" nuzzles me awake. She's so smart she saw me open my eyes. As she rests her head and paw on the edge of my bed she looks at me with her big brown eyes and says good morning. And, I think what a beautiful way to start the day. So I get up and get dressed, put on my running shoes and take two poop bags. Candy and I set out for her morning walk. It's one of our special times. I can't imagine life without my pets. They are all a part of my life. With them I am never alone or lonely.

If you are a dog owner you know the responsibility you have. You need to walk the dog, clean up the mess, feed them and take them to the vet. But, let's talk about what they give you in return. They give you love, stability, companionship and security. They are always there for you no matter if you are happy or sad. Dogs don't discriminate between race, sex or age. They are there for you to love and respect.

This makes me think of an elderly person who I respect dearly.
This person lives alone. His spouse has passed on, and his family rarely visits. He never used to have pet. So, he spent much of his time alone at home and on nice days he would go to the coffee shop. On occasion he would visit me at my store to visit with my pets. I really enjoyed his visits. He is a very interesting man with a very good heart. But, he needed a friend, he needed someone to take care of.

Now he is the proud owner of a beautiful Canary and a fish aquarium. He now comes in to visit me full of questions and enthusiasm for his pets. We laugh together about how comical Canaries are and how beautiful they sing. Then we complain about that yes they do make a mess with their seeds. But this wonderful

Area pet shop owner Shelley Grant says pets can have a positive impact on senior citizen's lives.
older man now has a reason to get up in the morning. He has a reason to live, love and laugh. One year ago this person felt he had no reason to go on. He felt his life was over. And now he knows it's not over but another chapter has begun.

Recently, there have been many studies done on the benefits of seniors having pets. It has been statistically proven that the quality of an older person's life greatly improves when they have their own pet. This does not mean that everyone should own a dog. Because some people prefer cats or birds or fish. It all depends on your ability to physically care for the animal.

There are, nowadays, quite a few senior citizens' homes that have dog trainers or employees bring their dogs in to visit the residents weekly. The residents enjoy these visits. They can pet the dogs and walk with them, and occasionally slip them a cookie. Even the residents that don't wish to be directly involved with the dog usually watch from a distance. Pets break up the monotony of a day. They offer a distraction for a seniors aches and pains. The medical profession now realizes that mental health is directly related to physical health. Dogs have

fewer germs than humans anyway. So there is no reason the seniors' homes can not have a few well-mannered furry visitors.

If you are a senior, this is the time to enjoy life. Be proud of yourself for all of your lifetime accomplishments. Now that your children are grown and you've put in your many years of hard work and labour you can enjoy life's pleasures. A pet would be a welcome addition to your home. Think of the wisdom, love and experience that you can share with an animal that just wants to please you.

Shelley Grant is the owner of Critter's Corner, Exeter.