The Dogcharmer: Adoption

Which breed makes a good companion for older folks?

A toy spaniel Papillon. — Via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Tom,

Growing up, our family shared many happy moments with Ginger, our pet dog. Now and as I get older, what are the advantages of adopting a dog as a single person in my seventies? I have read that it’s a good thing to do. Also, what breed and temperament should be considered?


Dear Bob,

Statistically, older people who are single, with the companionship of a four-legged significant other, live 15 percent longer than those who lack that camaraderie and intimacy. Just petting a dog causes physiological changes; it relaxes and lowers blood pressure of the petter and the “petee.” And it’s not just because of the brotherhood or sisterhood with the dog, because included with the love is real responsibility. Sure, puppy gives and gets love, but puppy must also have meals every day, real exercise, a good social agenda, doctor appointments, etc. I’ve lost count of the older couples I’ve helped who met because of their dogs. Might turn out to be better than a singles website. 

So, what kinda dog? Well, having experienced too many lessons teaching larger dogs not to repeat breaking their owner’s arm, elbow, leg, hip, by joyously pulling them down from their end of the leash, I might suggest a small dog. They’re just as cuddly as big ones, and are unlikely to pull you down or knock you over. My 5 1/2 pound MacDuff was as cuddly as my 90 pound-Michelle. If you’re a serious traveler, a Pomeranian or Papillon will easily share a plane seat with you. Real easy to carry if you don’t want to bother with the other end of the leash in the airport or train station. If you live in Alaska, the heavier coated Pom may be more comfortable than the Pap. If allergies are an issue, the mini poodle is probably smarter than some acquaintances. Thinking of the line in my book, “It’s amazing how much of my life revolves around feces and urine,” I wouldn’t suggest a puppy. There are so many older dogs that will show their appreciation with love and loyalty for being adopted and rescued. Plenty at the shelters and rescue organizations, and, they’re FREE (although donations sure do help).

The Dog Charmer

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