Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dog talk with Uncle matty: Dogs and seniors

“I bought my mom a Yorkie for her birthday.”

“Yorkie, huh? Cute breed. How old is your mom?”

“She’s 92.”

And so began the story that, all told, included four trips to the hospital in five months for Mom, as she repeatedly tripped over, tangled with and stepped on her rambunctious gift. Happy birthday!

The potential benefits of pairing the elderly with pets are immeasurable, but clearly there are risks to consider.

Large dogs can knock a frail person to the ground. Hyperactive or herding breeds require a lot of exercise and attention. Longhaired dogs tend to shed more, creating extra housework and requiring frequent grooming. Many purebreds and older dogs have health problems of their own, meaning frequent trips to the vet, medication and special care.

Basically, any dog can be a handful in the wrong hands — or under the wrong feet.

Small dogs tend to get underfoot. Remember Paula Abdul? Made famous by her talent as a dancer, Abdul lost her balance and fell on her face trying to avoid stepping on her Chihuahua.

Toy dogs send their senior owners to the emergency room with broken hips, broken arms, broken legs … And a broken bone can lead to major complications for an elderly person — physical, psychological and financial complications that can take a lasting toll on the individual’s quality of life.

This is why training and foresight are essential.

Foresight means you’ve considered the risks outlined above and determined that you are able to successfully navigate them. In giving the gift of a dog to an elderly person, foresight means asking hard questions:

• Will the dog outlive the person? Most dogs live about 15 years. If the recipient is 92, who will take care of the dog once that person is gone? A shelter should not be the answer.
• Can the recipient take care of the dog? Walk the dog? Remember to feed and water the dog? If not, who will?
• Can the person drive the dog to the vet and take charge of any medical needs that arise? If not, who will?
• Does the person want the responsibility of a dog? After all, the point of a gift is to bring joy, not stress, to the life of another.

After foresight comes training. Training prevents accidents — for the person and the pooch. No dog enjoys being run over by a wheelchair. And a dog properly trained to sit and stay will not only be out of harm’s way, but also will be the kind of calm, reassuring presence that would benefit an elderly owner.

The potential benefits are many and not to be overlooked: companionship, protection, the establishment of a daily routine, the great feeling of having a purpose and being needed, not to mention the good health rewards of exercise, playfulness, the smile a dog brings to the face and the relaxation induced by stroking his fur.

But before you give the gift of canine companionship, make sure the hard questions are asked and answered. And don’t underestimate the need for and the value of professional training.

After suggesting to her well-meaning son that it makes no sense to give a 92-year-old woman an untrained puppy, he indignantly replied, “Who has the money for professional dog training?”

Answer me this: Who has the money for four hospital stays in almost as many months?

Woof!

Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions todearuncle.gazette@unclematty.com or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc. 

Matthew Margolis

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

 
More mountain lion sightings reported

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

Supervisor Nutting trial begins

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 72 Comments | Gallery

 
Sanford murder case to jury

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Herard over the back fence: Try fishing at Wakamatsu

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Downtown group coordinates painting, awnings

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

 
Gearing tax questions to correct office saves time

By Treasurer-Tax Collector | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My turn: More than a buzzword

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4, 23 Comments

 
Building restored

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
Outstanding dog

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

.

Letters

Misquote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

 
Altshuler framing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

National Day of Prayer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
‘Parents, be afraid’ letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 20 Comments

Ukranian situation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
.

Sports

Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

 
Pitching the ‘Root’ cause of Trojans’ victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Pedal power at the forefront next month

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Sports Scene: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Roundup: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

4-H’ers star at showcase

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
At a glance: Look for fireballs

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Authors to share their stories

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
Church to host human trafficking conference

By Pollock Pines | From Page: B3

Grow For It! Flower of Easter

By Barbara Schuchart | From Page: B5

 
.

Essentials

Crime Log: April 1-3

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
Weather stats 4-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 4/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Harry Frank Harper

By Contributor | From Page: A2, 6 Comments

 
Marion “Wayne” Griswold

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Bobby Lloyd Bridges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8