Adventures in Retirement – Pets and retirees

Written by Bill Leavitt. Posted in Featured, Pets, Senior Living

Published on September 03, 2014 with No Comments

“When my wife and I come home from work or a day away from home, our dog greets us with enthusiasm and makes us forget whatever stresses we were feeling.”

Most people who have had pets during their working lives eventually will consider whether or not to have pets during their retirement years.

Having one or more pets can interfere with retirement travel plans, but there are also benefits for retirees in keeping pets for companionship.

Depending on our lifestyle, pets can take up time, effort and cost that many retirees would prefer not to have.  Retirees may turn over their unwanted pets to humane societies and other organizations that attempt to place pets (called rescue pets) into caring homes.  Also, when elderly owners get sick or die and can no longer care for their pets, the transition can be a traumatic experience for the pet.  Hopefully, the new owner who has adopted the pet will take good care of it.  However, an inexperienced person may not understand how to care for the pet and may create a poor environment.

The cost of having a pet is relatively low.  Certainly it is lower than one vacation.  With food, accessories and veterinary bills, the annual cost can be as low as $500 ($10 per week) or up to thousands of dollars if the pet is pampered and kennel fees are considered.

Rescue dogs are especially good companions and they are usually already trained.  On the other hand, puppies require a lot of training and care.  Rescue dogs fit right into the new owner’s home without incident and show appreciation for their new family.  Older dogs may be shy and a little afraid of their new “people,” but they will come around.

Dogs in particular are very affectionate, loving and desire attention.  When my wife and I come home from work or a day away from home, our dog greets us with enthusiasm and makes us forget whatever stresses we were feeling.

Many nursing homes use dogs to help their patients deal with the loneliness and unhappiness that sometimes result from moving into a new environment.  It is generally known that pets are very good with people who are sick and in pain.

Retired people may feel loneliness and miss their children if they have grown up and moved away.  A pet, especially a dog, becomes a loving member of the family and is often looked upon as another child.

The personality of cats is much different from dogs.  Often, a cat becomes a roommate or companion.  Cats are more independent than dogs, but are better companions for some people.

My wife and I have had several rescued cats and dogs and, while each has its own unique personality and traits, they all became valued family members.

Pets don’t understand it when they have to leave one loving household and are placed into a new one, but they quickly adapt to the new people and fit right it.  Older dogs and cats, even up to seven or eight years old, generally have little difficulty adapting to a new family.

Whether adopting a cat or dog or some other pet is a good decision depends on the person or situation.  Adopting a pet can be difficult for someone who has never fed or cared for a one because the new owner must develop the habits needed to take care of another family member.

Pets usually become family members who play with you, adore you and are constant companions.  Pets positively impact mental, physical and emotional health−and make people happy.


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About Bill Leavitt


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Bill Leavitt is a technical writer from Valparaiso. After retiring from a large corporation in Chicago, he did technical writing consulting for many companies. He currently teaches part-time at Purdue University Calumet. You can order Leavitt’s book, “Retirement: Life’s Greatest Adventure,” by sending $16.65 (includes shipping and sales tax) made payable to Write On Technical Writing, Inc., P.O. Box 132,Valparaiso, IN 46384-0132. Or, visit RetirementLifesGreatestAdventure.com for more information.

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