Saturday, October 28, 2006

Elderly and Pets

It's a rainy Saturday, putting a crimp in Pappy's dog park plans. We're likely to head over to my elderly Dad's at some point to drop off groceries. My father is in poor shape, and lives in a "progressive care" facility. They feed him, but he is a queer duck and gets hankerings for odd foods that are horrible for him. He's 81 and his condition is pretty rotten, so we can't see denying him. Also, he'd make our lives flat-out miserable by calling us at 3AM every morning asking for pickles, bacon, japanese rice crackers, and sugary cereal if we didn't keep him stocked... no, wait, he already does that. All I can say is may all the gods bless those of you who are caring for elderly parents in your homes; getting old isn't for sissies, and neither is caring for them.

But griping is not the point of my posting. Whenever I take Pappy to the old-folks home on a grocery run, most of the residents are just thrilled. Not like kids, who often seem to want to pet your dog like there's some secret competition to touch everything with fur. I am always stopped in the hall by residents who want to gush about Pappy. I wish they were in better shape to care for a pet themselves, because it seems it would do them a world of good. I can see how people get into training dogs for "pet therapy for the elderly" programs, because the mere presence of the dog elicits such joy. Sadly, a lot of the nursing staff are terrified of dogs, so I have to be careful to give them a wide berth.

It's a shame Pappy is a bit of a spazz in strange surroundings, getting a little skittish when strangers get too close. Otherwise he'd be a pretty fine therapy dog. It doesn't take much-- a little calm and a little charm.

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