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Friday, June 21st, 2013, 03:36 PM | Updated: 06/21/2013, 03:39:25 PM | (Anonymous) [3 Comments]

When I made the decision to start my pet care business, I knew that my work would encompass activities other than dog walking and pet sitting.  This does not mean that both activities aren’t professionally and personally meaningful to me.  Quite the contrary!  They allow me to spend time with dogs and cats, which is enormously gratifying and they are the cornerstones around which Deluxe Dog Concierge is built. 

Simply put, in addition to providing the basic pet care services clients typically look for, Deluxe Dog Concierge seeks to be a credible informational resource for pet parents. 

So it should not come as a surprise that I stepped before a group of 16 older adults and the Program Director at a senior living community in University City/La Jolla this week to present a program on canine health and ways to strengthen the bonds between people and their dogs.  We covered topics including ideal weight range, appropriate food portion size, canine nutrition, exercising your dog, the value of playtime and the importance of physical touch.  Although I was the so-called expert who delivered the program, Dr. Ira Feinswog (a highly regarded local veterinarian) joined me to manage the Q&A session at the end.

What resonates with me most from this experience is having had the opportunity to observe the extremely close relationships between the residents and their pets. Their dogs sat on their laps, by their feet or underneath their chairs on their doggie cushions.  The residents listened intently and their dogs also were captivated by the subject matter.  Good questions were asked and thoughtful remarks were made.  The residents (probably unbeknownst to them) stroked their dogs’ backs, petted their heads and showered them with kisses throughout the hour-long program. 

When it was over, I reflected upon what had just happened.  The residents hopefully benefited from participating in the program.  But with all their life wisdom, they were already doing and reinforcing much of the emotional bonding and pet enrichment practices we discussed.  In this regard, they had something to teach me:  It’s not just about acquiring some new pet health information or learning important “pet facts”; it’s also about doing what comes naturally when a dog looks into your eyes and his/her soul reaches out to you to say, “Thank you for loving me and taking care of me.  You mean so much to me and I am here to look after you too.”  As I left their retirement community and got into my car, I felt so humbled by the experience.  These elders taught this not so old dog the best lesson ever.  

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, 03:09 PM | Updated: 06/05/2013, 07:30:59 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

One customer demographic that Deluxe Dog Concierge is pleased to serve is our senior population.   Being an older adult and having the responsibility for a pet’s care can have both enriching and challenging consequences.

On the plus side, caring for a pet can exert a positive influence on the life of an elderly person, especially if he/she lives alone.  Just having the companionship of another living being can ward off feelings of loneliness and depression.  But there are other emotional benefits to consider.  Pets can add greater purpose and meaning to an elderly person’s life.  Simply following one’s daily pet care routine may add the necessary structure to nourish one’s cognitive skills and help maintain their mental acuity.  From a physical standpoint, pet care responsibility serves to keep elders more active.  They usually have to bend and reach to pick up, feed and pat their loved ones.  And for dog owners, there’s the health benefits reaped from walking their pets and getting some physical exercise.  In addition, some studies have even shown that pet companionship helps lower human blood pressure.

In terms of the challenges that pet ownership present amongst elders, there is the real concern over how to effectively care for a pet as your own mobility diminishes.   It can be extremely disconcerting and worrisome because as one’s range of motion becomes more limited, their capacity to provide the pet with the exercise it has grown accustomed to also lessens.   Furthermore, there is the issue of even being able to keep one’s pet with them should the elder have to move into a care facility or other senior living community. 

The encouraging news is that the owners/management of more senior living and retirement communities recognize the psychosocial and physical benefits residents derive from pet ownership.  And so, more of them have adopted a “pawsitive” pet policy. 

In June, I have been invited to deliver a pet education seminar at two communities for older active adults in San Diego.  Leveraging what I know about both the enriching and challenging aspects referenced above, my presentation will center on “Staying Healthy: You and Your Dog”.   I selected this topic in light of the tight emotional bonds that develop between people and their pets.  Pet ownership/care amongst elders is truly a symbiotic relationship.  The person gives attention and loving kindness to their pet and the animal showers unconditional love upon his/her parent. 

In closing, one of the reasons for my embarking upon pet care as a professional endeavor is that I treasure the deep and meaningful relationships that form between people and their pets.  This is often magnified in our elder populations as they have more time to spend with their pets and give them personal attention.

There are so many animals in need of a good home and there are many older adults who have the time and space to share their lives with another soul.  May these special relationships flourish! 

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