My daughter had the audacity to move out of the house.
She did this twice. The first time was when she left for college at age 18.
Ok. She just turned 25. It was time. Like many others, Covid interfered with her move. Maybe
her recent departure was hastened by my assurances during the pandemic – tongue in cheek –
that her home residency wouldn’t turn into a “Grey Gardens” situation.
I loved having her home. That was the pandemic’s silver lining. But truth be told, what I was
really going to miss was her canine dependent, the sole resident who exhibited unabashed glee
upon my return home from work every evening. She also solidified a special place in my heart,
having stayed by my side providing emotional support when I was recovering from surgery and
Realizing that my husband and I would enter the “empty nester 2.0” phase, my daughter
encouraged us to obtain a replacement dog. In anticipation of acute adult separation anxiety, and
after finding us the cutest canine, we acquiesced. We obtained the pandemic puppy (both dogs
So again, we entered the sandwich generation. We have become canine caregivers while also
worrying about our aging parents who, parenthetically, love the granddog. While training her
has been harder than I anticipated, and I admittedly experienced moments of regret, the
emotional rewards have been priceless. After a long, hard day, I melt when gazing at her
adorable face. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a furry friend who can help
mitigate the daily stress experienced by two aging attorneys.
I began to conclude that all older adults capable of caring for a pet should consider acquiring
one. I then reminisced about the time – more than four decades ago – when my grandmother
adopted the cutest terrier. I remembered walking with her and the dog in her garden apartment
complex where she lived alone. Her dog provided a source of comfort, especially when she was
suffering from cancer.
Research and studies show that pets provide companionship, giving isolated adults a source of
affection, conversation, and happiness. Pet companionship is also shown to increase levels of
serotonin which reduce anxiety. Research confirming the physical and emotional health benefits
of pet ownership by seniors have been published in many well-respected publications and
medical journals. Studies have shown that such ownership can benefit seniors by decreasing
blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Perhaps if more seniors had pets before the
pandemic, the scourge of isolation and loneliness would have been a bit ameliorated.
Think about it. Rather than being lonely, pets provide a sense of purpose. Many isolated adults
experience cognitive decline due to the lack of interaction and communication. Having a pet –
which requires care and attention throughout the day – provides meaning and activity. Rather
than remaining isolated, pets can enhance opportunities for socialization and conversation.
My unproven scientific study proves this point. People who would not have said two words to
me while I walked alone on the street during the first half of the pandemic, now stop to chat and
comment – or at least wave and smile – while I’m walking my dog. I experienced something
similar about four years ago while visiting my daughter and her dog during her last semester at
college. Every time we were out walking, almost every person who passed us stopped to smile,
comment, chat, or ask to pet her. The dog put a smile on everyone’s face. The canine is clearly
the common denominator.
The bottom line is that nobody should be isolated and alone. Notwithstanding the owner’s age,
gender, or health, a pet can enhance or improve quality of life. There are so many pets in need of
a good home and local organizations which can assist with the rescue, adoption, or acquisition of
the right one.
As I conclude this blog, my lapdog is literally lounging by my feet, waiting for me to close my
laptop. She is helping me to de-stress about the plethora of items on my professional to-do list. I
will certainly get to those later, after I play with her.