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Can Rover Come Over?

By Cheryl  Ellis, Staff Writer 

(Page 1 of 3)

We all love our pets, and our attachment to them varies from one individual to another.  In cases of the infirm or elderly, the attachment to a pet may be much more intense. Individuals with memory loss may not understand why they have to move to assisted living, or in with a relative, let alone any problems that might come with bringing Fido along.

Caregivers may swing from one extreme to another in their own emotions.  The part-time caregiver who can tolerate animals during short-term visits may balk at full-time pet and person caregiving. Although it is essential to acknowledge how you feel about animal caretaking, it may be best to keep it to yourself until you explore options. “Preparing” a family member to give up a pet may take many weeks (or longer). There is emotional strain on the loved one and caregiver during this process, as well as on the animal.

People and Things Change

The once hard-nosed parent who made the decision to give up a child’s beloved pet may now be the one who is attached. It may stun a caregiver to find that the parent now exhibits the same sense of loss when approached with having their pet taken away. Caregivers in this type of situation would benefit by counseling to find closure in making a decision that does not access any hidden feelings from the past.  Keeping or giving up a pet with such an event coloring the situation will add to stress for everyone in the long haul.

As we age and/or our health changes, our sense of connection to people, places, and furry creatures may enhance our connections.  Children who are happy go lucky one year may have terminal diagnoses placed upon them, and change their receptivity, too.

Where There’s a Wag, There’s A Way

In the case of dogs and cats, an option for individuals who may be forced to surrender the pet is to have it qualified as a therapy animal. This is different than a “work dog,” which can help perform tasks. 

Local humane societies offer classes in pet therapy. The animal must pass certain tests for social behavior. If Rover is able to complete the program successfully, it becomes a gold star on his “doggie resume.” This may make facilities more agreeable to allowing Mom to bring him in as a roommate.


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