When we arrived in Hungary 3 years ago our son, Raphael, begged us to get a dog, specifically a Husky! Whilst living in England we were limited on outdoor space so a dog was out of the question. My reasoning had always been, when we move and get a big garden we can have a dog.
Now settled in Hungary my husband and I agreed we could manage to have a husky, care for it and give it a fantastic life. We had both taken early retirement, our new home had a massive garden meaning being virgin dog owners was hugely possible. We got Haley Husky when she was 9 weeks old.
It got me thinking about other people, like me, of advancing years and the advantages of having a dog. I have listed 5 excellent reasons why you should own a dog during retirement years… do you agree with me?
Isolation is a genuine and sometimes dangerous reality affecting our aging population. Owning and loving a dog will help tremendously with loneliness. Dog ownership encourages activity in older adults, promotes a healthy lifestyle and in turn helps us to live longer. Owning a dog means you can become part of the neighbourhood “doggie” community. Ownership also means you have the marvellous benefits of keeping each other company. Here’s Haley out meeting one of her playdates in the village.
“A dog will always be your best friend no matter what. Even if your human friends aren’t.”
Dogs love to be close to their humans, scientists call it ‘proximity seeking’. There is nothing nicer than a dog nuzzling up to you and showering you with tons of love and affection.
2. Fill that “Empty Nest”
When you are suffering from “empty nest syndrome” and your own children have become adults and left home, owning a pet can help fill the void. Many women reach a certain age where having an empty house is unbearable. They have tons more love to give, a pet to look after, to love, to spoil and cuddle up too could be the perfect answer.
Haley, our dog, is now part of our family, living very comfortably with us and making us truly happy.
3. An Alternative to Travel
In our younger days we travelled regularly abroad. Owning a dog has curtailed this activity. Being mum to a dog is essentially like having small children back in the house. You can’t leave them alone at a moment’s notice. It took me right back to my child-rearing days! There are options of course, boarding kennels, house sitters, taking your dog with you. Every situation is different. Putting our dog in boarding kennels whilst we leave her and travel is not really a comfortable solution. We would miss her too much and the logistics of this in a foreign country are huge. We are finding more and more that staying at home is definitely more fun with our dog around. It’s a new way of living and it works for us.
4. Positive Well Being
Many scientific studies support the positive health benefits of pet ownership. Owning a pet, especially a dog, has been associated with all of the following:
Dogs encourage exercise: Having a dog encourages a healthy daily routine. Regular walks around the neighbourhood, meeting up and chatting with friends makes it become a social event. Physically playing with your dog in the garden is an excellent way to burn off some energy and is both fun and stimulating.
Mental Stimulation Dogs have an uncanny knack of picking up on and responding to signals from their owners and can, with practise, be trained to perform tricks. This is great mental stimulation for you and your dog. Our dog has a range of skills and is adding to them by the day. It’s very rewarding when she learns something new.
Lower Blood Pressure Studies have revealed that dog owners have lower blood pressure than non-owners, perhaps because their pets have a calming effect on them and dog owners generally get more exercise.
Lowers Stress Levels The companionship people receive from their beloved pets better equips them to deal with stress. Petting and playing with your dog helps your body reduce the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also promotes relaxation.
“Dogs are our official mental and physical fitness trainers because they keep us active, healthy, happy and stress-free”.
5. Routine in Retirement
When you retire you might find it difficult to adjust to the lack of structure in your life that having a job provided. Fortunately, dogs are very routine-oriented, and they can help to get you on a schedule. Daily routines are essential for your dog, and helpful for you too.
A sense of purpose. Caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose and responsibility in your retirement life and helps you to establish a routine that’s based around the needs of a pet. When you own a pet, you will feel that you still serve a purpose and you will have more reasons to enjoy living.
Some Things To Consider
Canine companions make for wonderful company and great partners in exercise, however, owning a dog also comes with its own amount of work. Puppies especially require vigilant care and training in becoming house trained and in learning to follow commands. Getting a puppy later in your life can be hard work so it’s worth researching in detail breeds suitable for you. Perseverance and patience when our husky was a pup has now given us a wonderfully responsive playful adult dog.
Eric and I are not “spring chickens” anymore so for us the advantage of having a large garden for our husky to run around in is vital. Huskies need tons of exercise, daily stimulation and firm discipline. Our son, Raphael takes an active part in Haley’s life.
We have made a huge commitment for life, and KNOW we have made the right decision to have a dog in our retirement years.
Final Quotes from Retiree Dog Owners
“That amazing soothing effect is why the owner-pet bond can become as strong as any human relationship”
“My favorite thing about having our dog is being greeted at the door by her wagging tail and excited eyes”.
“The unconditional love that a dog gives you, and the excitement when you come home, you can’t bottle that.”