“He’s a wonderful companion,” Smith, 71, told TODAY. “He’s very active, but he really is my best buddy. No matter where I go in my house, he follows me. He’s a real comfort to me.”Smith, a resident of Grand Ledge, Michigan, adopted Brady two years ago from a local Humane Society. Because she is over 60 years old, the shelter told her she qualified for a $100 adoption discount from Pets for the Elderly, a national nonprofit that offers grants to participating shelters.
The retired middle school math teacher was delighted by the news and said it’s a helpful program. She credits her energetic dog with getting her “moving around a lot more,” and hopes other seniors will consider adopting dogs.
Stay consistent with training, play time and rest time for your pets so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Your calm and consistent demeanor will help your pet to understand that they can trust you. Once you earn their trust, understand the schedule, and feel secure in their safe place, both of your lives will be much easier.
“I just think everybody should have a pet,” she said.Since its inception in 1992, Pets for the Elderly has paid a portion of pet adoption fees for nearly 100,000 “seniors” aged 60 and up from more than 50 shelters in 34 states. Now the group is alerting shelters of a new option to help cover the costs of routine veterinary care, surgeries, pet food, grooming and in-home visits, in which shelter employees check in on senior citizens caring for adopted pets.
Susan Kurowski, 69, executive director of Pets for the Elderly, said she hopes more shelters will apply for grants to help keep pets in the homes of the seniors who love them. The goal is to have at least one participating shelter in all 50 states by the time the expanded program officially launches on Jan. 1, 2021.She said Pets for the Elderly was founded by the late Avrum Katz to help seniors feel healthier and more connected through pets and to find shelter dogs and cats forever homes. Studies have shown numerous health benefits of spending time with pets , from lowered blood pressure to reduced anxiety and depression.
It pays to be a lap dog. Three dogs (from First Class cabins!) survived the sinking of the Titanic – two Pomeranians and one Pekingese.
“Now, especially with COVID, bridging this whole isolation gap with companionship is going to show — when we look back — as being key to so many people’s mental wellness,” she told TODAY. “And you don’t have to live alone to feel isolated.”While these benefits apply to the general population, there’s an added advantage that pets provide to older people, according to Kurowski.
“Seniors take better care of themselves because somebody’s counting on them,” she said. “They maintain a routine. They take their vitamins and their prescriptions on time because there’s someone relying on them, and that is so important.”
She loves hearing happy adoption stories facilitated by Pets for the Elderly. In one instance, a lonely widower came to volunteer at a shelter but ended up adopting a fluffy little dog.
Pedigree's Dogs on Zoom campaign helps shelters like Nashville Humane Association host virtual meet-and-greets with adoptable dogs, and sponsors adoption fees for pets adopted through the program.Michigan Animal Rescue League launched a videoconferencing fundraiser in which people can "rent" an adoptable dog, cat or kitten to appear in Zoom meetings.
“When he walked into the common area after the adoption with this dog, everybody’s oohing and aahing and he just brightened up and said, ‘I’m going to be a chick magnet,’” she said with a laugh. “I just hope we can keep on and help more and more of these animals and seniors.”