10 Reasons to Get a Dog When You’re Over 50
From health benefits to sheer huggability, canine companions make sense
Adopt a dog and ditch that pricey personal trainer. A study in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that dog owners walk approximately one hour longer per day than those without a fetching friend in their lives.
Studies show that dog-owning seniors have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than their petless peers. Having a dog also reduces the risk of heart attack — and boosts your chances of long-term survival if you have one.
A natural-born icebreaker, your dog will introduce you to everyone from next-door neighbors to perfect strangers. It’s impossible to pass a dog without making a “pat stop,” so head for the park — Bowser will take it from there.
A dog may keep you sane, showered and solvent. Studies show that dog owners exhibit higher degrees of self-discipline than those without. Makes sense: Dogs, like humans, thrive on structure; they need to be fed, walked and nurtured at regular intervals.
MRI scanners showed that the canine brain reacts to voices and sounds, such as crying or laughter, in the same way the human brain does. Dogs are also the only nonhuman animals who scan the left side of a face — the process whereby people, too, “read” emotions.
For many older Americans, a dog means the difference between a life lived and a life merely endured. Dogs help you stay safe and independent: They provide ears for the deaf, eyes for the blind and an early warning system at the approach of dangers (both real and imagined, of course!).
No need for housebreaking and training when you adopt an older pooch. Studies show you can teach an old dog new tricks — or simply take it for long, calm walks. For tips on bringing a “senior dog” into your home, check out susiesseniordogs.com.
Bill Bachman / Alamy
When is a dog like a grandchild? When you can play with it during the day and then head home! Shelters and rescue organizations are desperate for volunteer help. And you’ll get a boost from that tail-wagging mood elevator.
ZUMA Press, Inc / Alamy
Consider this: Ozzy Osbourne, the bat-chomping rocker not known as an SPCA poster child, once wrestled a coyote to the ground to pull his pet Pomeranian, Pipi, from its jaws. As the “bumper snicker” exhorts us, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”
The Humane Society estimates that 6 to 8 million dogs and cats wind up in animal shelters every year. The majority would make loyal and loving companions, yet at least half of that number are euthanized annually. Visit a local shelter; maybe some buddy needs you.