PET THERAPY FOR SENIORSJun 6th, 2012 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Dr Jerry Elrod's Senior Moments Blog
Gentle Joys: Handfeeding our Pet
We are the proud heirs to someone’s loss. A Lhasa Apso showed up near our property a while back. He was laden with mud, could not really identify his color and was tired from a journey that brought him to us from where we know not. We sought to find his owner, identify whether any neighbor had any idea to whom he may have belonged, and quickly had him groomed and looked over thoroughly by our vet.
Rather quickly he maneuvered his way into our hearts. We remained open to someone who might claim him. No one has. We decided that he then had found his home and was quickly adapting to it and our two other pets, a dachshund, who wasn’t too sure, and a papillion, who allowed as how he might be alright.
Our cousin was not the least bit surprised. He had identified our vain efforts at finding the original owner as insincere attempts. Izzy, which is the name we gave him, for Isaiah, was on his way to being a welcome part of our household. He sleeps in our room, and sometimes with us, along with the other two, every night.
Because our dachshund, Zebediah, perceives himself as leader of the pack, Izzy is not always comfortable around the supper bowl. As a result we have had to adopt the practice of hand-feeding him, warding off Zeb, and making sure Izzy dines sufficiently. The net effect has been a new experience in bonding with a pet, who wandered his way into our hearts and home. His gentle spirit and nature is completely endearing. His acceptance of us, and ours of him, is now total and complete. He is well mannered, well behaved, and a good influence on the other two. He has his foibles and idiosyncrasies, all of which simply reinforce the affection and joy of his being with us.
Pet Therapy Explained
Animal lovers have long said their pets add to the quality and longevity of their lives. Research now points to the value of pets in the most serious of maladies of the elderly: loneliness. Pets contribute to the lives of senior citizens in many ways: “…exercise, provide companionship, help to lower blood pressure by reducing stress, scientists have discovered that a senior citizen’s heart rate will slow down to mimic the rhythm of a cat’s pure, laughter, and aid in giving senior citizens a sense of responsibility and a sense of worth.”
So, sitting on the floor next to the feeding dish, Izzy and I spend time together, that is just ours. No interference from the other two, no distractions, just the two of us one feeding, one eating and both binding ourselves to the mysterious thrill of being close. When he nuzzles his little nose into my hand, he seeks out the offered morsels, politely chews and swallows and then is ready for more. When he has had quite enough, he lets me know and the ritual is ended for now. Whatever happens in those moments together is mystically spiritual and totally engaging. It is a means for man and dog to be on equal footing. It is an occasion when it is clear that we are in simpatico and loving every second of it. It is a gentle joy, both for pet and man.