Not every elder feels the need to have a pet, and I respect that. However, today’s JOAG blog is about the importance of pets so, if you’re not a fur baby person, I’m not offended if you click off for today.
Pets are that thing for me.
That thing that keeps me grounded in the need to stay well, to be responsible for another living thing, and to never take myself too seriously.
National Cat Day was at the end of October, and I celebrated. Not with a paper party hat, confetti, and invited guests but with an additional special treat of Kali’s favorite food: wet food, any gag-worthy-to-me canned cat food! She only gets it twice a week normally, so it’s a thrill for her to see it appear unexpectedly. And she loved it! Thanks, Mom! Purr purr purr.
Since I’m not a dog person, I can’t speak to the intrinsic value of them as pets, though I’m sure it’s the same whether it’s dogs or cats … or even birds, ferrets, or snakes (yikes!).
We love out pets! As we age, we love them more.
Pets keep us company, some of the best company ever since they’re adoring, loving unconditionally, and they don’t contradict us when we mouth off. Where can you find such stellar qualities in a person (and, no, I didn’t say or mean to refer to your spouse!)?
So much of my emotion is packed in the love I have for my pet. I’ve often imagined that if I was an actress and someone said, “Okay, you’re gonna have to cry on demand in this next scene,” I’d think of something bad happening to Kali. It’d be no problem for me to sob instantly, in fact, I could cry just typing these words. Over the top? Okay, I see your point. But that’s just me.
Pets can improve our health.
Having a bond with our pets can keep us younger longer. Stoking the soft or wiry fur of our “babies” lowers our blood pressure. Also, stress is reduced when we bond with Spot, Kali, Sammy, Colby, Toby, or Chloe. Pets also keep our activity level up if we’re walking them. Most seniors experience less loneliness when they have pets. And who doesn’t laugh more when their pet does something cute or klutzy?
Kali has never disappointed me … even when she deposits half-chewed kibble all over the house sending out the “Welcome” mat to the ants I pay professionals to remove. She doesn’t care if my breath stinks or if my outfit is too frumpy or outdated. She doesn’t care if I meet my deadlines (unless, of course, I’m a nanosecond late to one of her feeding times), and she could care less if I floss my teeth or shave my legs.
All my pet does is love me. Well, if love is a feeling she is capable of having. I don’t know, perhaps she does feel something like love. I don’t care either way; she is always close to me, leaning into me and touching my cheek with her soft little paw. I could go on and on about the value of my pet and how she enriches my life.
What about you? If you have a pet or are just a pet lover, what is it that makes them so important to you?
Antonia, thank you for the beautiful post. Yes, having pets has greatly enhanced my life and shown me the gifts of loyalty and unconditional love. I think that that’s what makes their loss even more difficult (at least that’s been my experience). Pets accept us as we are, and want nothing more than to be by our sides. I still miss my calico cat, Rascal, who passed away three years ago at the age of 17. She was my shadow (including sleeping next to me every night), and made every day brighter.
I currently have two cats: 17-year-old Milo, and 5-year-old Ruby. Milo has stage 3 kidney disease and cancer (among other issues), so we are doing what we can to keep him comfortable. In all honesty, Milo has been a real brat (putting it nicely) for those 17 years, but I never gave up on him and have promised that he will never suffer.
I adopted Ruby a few months after I lost Rascal. Ruby had just had one of her back legs amputated, and was at the shelter. I took one look at her face and went to get her. She, like Rascal, is a calico, and loves to cuddle. She taught me about resilience and forgiveness, and, even without that fourth leg, she is perfect.
Last, but not least, is my angel, my 16-year-old dog Darby. I’ve had Darby for 10 years. He had been my brother’s dog for five years, until the time he stayed with me for a week, and life changed dramatically. During that week, Darby had the run of the house and the yard (something he did not have with my brother), and we developed a bond that could not be broken. My brother could see the difference, and Darby and I became a team. These 10 years have gone by in a flash. Darby, too, is feeling his age. While he’s fine on the inside, his back legs are getting weaker every day. Thanks to medication, supplements, diet, and a lot of love, he’s holding his own, but I know that we’ll be saying goodbye too soon. As devastating as that day will be, caring for Darby during this time in his life is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have the chance to give him the same love that he has given to me.
I can’t thank you enough, Laurie, for sharing the bonds you’ve had with past and present fur babies. I can feel the bonds you have developed with these animals throughout the years. I too have a tripod; Kali’s back leg was amputated when she was attacked by a dog. I found her at the Humane Society a couple of weeks after her surgery. Here’s to the precious pets that enrich our lives exponentially.