Thursday, October 30, 2008

Care and loss

I remember this little girl from a few months back when she first came through Toronto Animal Services. She was returned to Toronto Animal Services a couple of days ago because her owner is critically ill.

I don't know the situation outside of that. I don't know about any family or friends who might have been able to step in and take care of the dog. Maybe they weren't there. Maybe they were but didn't feel like having any added responsibility. Either way, it must make a terrible situation even worse knowing that the pet you love is left homeless because you're no longer able to take care of it.

I often wonder about the relationship between older people and their pets. It's no news that in our increasingly self absorbed society many of our elders are left isolated without a strong network of friends and family to rely on for emotional support. Many turn to their pets in place of the comfort of a close biological family. That bond must be exceptional then, replacing the emotional ties that had been lost.

In my neighbourhood, I've known a few older people and their dogs. It's obvious that it's a greater effort for them to get up and out everyday to take their dogs for a walk but they do it because they take care of things they cherish as best they can. It's always sad, though, when I no longer see them.

There used to be a woman, maybe in her seventies, who went to the dog park with her chubby black poodle. She adored the dog but every so often she would let loose a piercing scream at it whenever it wandered too far away. I see them no more.

There used to be another woman, even older, frail and bent, and she had a white Shih Tzu that had an open sore in its side. She'd brought it to the vet but couldn't afford the cost of the treatment so she was asked to leave. I see them no more.

Though the relationship may be necessary and strong between the older person and their pet, their situation sometimes seems so fragile. It makes their bond that much more precious.


Caveat said...

Yes. Seeing and old man with an old dog always tugs at my heart strings, because I hope they make it together. The older I get, the more I realize I have less time to have dogs. It sucks.

This is something people need to think about. In my will, I've arranged for a friend to look after my dogs if I can't, or if I die. There's money for vets, etc. She doesn't have to keep them, just find them a good home.

If you have a purebred dog, you can also arrange this with your breeder. They will always take their dogs back and either keep them or place them in a good home.

Fred said...

Good points.

Young or old, we should all make arrangements for our pets - just in case.

Anonymous said...

Selma and Fred, getting older means you have an opportunity to offer a senior pet a forever home. That's my plan, anyway.