Everyone Can Enjoy Being A Pet Parent
Paula Williams was worried that her physical limitations would get in the way of caring for a pet, but her fears were unfounded! Her pets have enriched her life, and she now shares her top tips for taking care of her beloved pooches.
Just like every mom I know, I’m a born caretaker, and I cannot imagine spending my silver years only being looked after, and without in turn having someone to care for. So, it was only natural to consider the possibility of having a pet.
But as someone who has difficulties performing daily tasks on my own around the house due to my fast-progressing and often painful osteoarthritis, I was afraid, although persistent in my desire to have a pet, how everything would turn out. So, naturally, I didn’t get a pet. I got two!
As a highly independent person, age has dawned on me with its many limitations as quite a surprise, and I’ve decided to do my best, with occasional help from my daughter, and introduce two lovely French Bulldogs, Ben and Betty into the family.
Potty-training your pooch
This was a big issue for me, since my illness makes it difficult for me to move freely, and I often feel the need to slow down, rest, and the pain can get exhausting. Although I wanted to do it all by myself, I realised that my puppies need more guidance than I was able to give at the moment. Not to mention that bending over dozens of times every day to clean after them if they do go inside was out of the question.
I talked to our neighbours, and they suggested a dog trainer, who started coming over to teach my puppies where they can go potty. Luckily for all of us, they were fast learners, and all it took was installing a doggy door in my own entrance door, and they were soon able to relieve themselves any time they wanted and return at their own pace.
Basic hygiene tips
Ever since my diagnosis, both my kitchen and my bathroom have literally become slippery slopes – and the risk of slipping and falling is greater by the day. Just to be on the safe side, we have installed railing systems in several risky spots, and added rubber floor covers to make it almost impossible to slip. Ben is easy enough to get into the bathtub – we just placed several steps that lead to it, so that I can wash them without bending over.
But Betty still hasn’t warmed up to the idea, so I have to use treats to get her in, and start very slow until she is relaxed enough. Lately I’ve found it easier to use an in-home care professional. The company I use are caring, professional, and great to work with. So if your pooch is too fidgety, or you can’t physically do it yourself, this is a great option. Or if you live with your family, you can ask some of your family members to assist you. After all, bathing happens only a few times a year, unless you have a particularly smelly companion, in which case, once a month may do the trick.
Walking and daily playtime
While we’re on the subject of physical activity, dogs, as well as myself, need plenty of it. I decided to get a pair to begin with for several reasons. First, I love dogs, and the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned! Second of all, with my mobility issues, I was worried my pet might not get enough exercise, so I wanted them to have a playmate every day, someone who can move equally quickly and have the same amount of energy, since I’m not always able to accommodate.
However, since I do walk very often, and have my own sets of exercises to keep my joints strong and my body mobile, they have become very patient with my tempo, and enjoy long walks in the park with me. And I have to say, it’s wonderful to always have companions in these situations, someone you can both talk to if you feel like it, or enjoy the silence and watch them play nearby.
The gist of it all
There are days when things are easy and simple, and others when my mobility issues get in the way a lot more than I’d like to admit. But with some adjustments in your home, patience and consistency, I believe that everyone can enjoy being a pet parent, despite their potential health issues that may make things more difficult along the way. In my case, to say that it’s worth the effort is an understatement – my quality of life and the sense of happiness and purpose have only grown since Ben and Betty have become my companions. I wish you the best of luck discovering your own!