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Pets And Seniors

by Barry KuKes
Most seniors with dogs probably spend time with them by going on walks, playing fetch, car rides, watching television, grooming and bathing, and other traditional pet interactions. Yet, others will spend time with their pets in more unique ways. My wife and I fall into this demographic.

Our youngest and smallest dog, Mini-Cooper, loves to watch television. He especially loves to watch the Pixar channel and Dug, the dog from the animated movie Up! When he hears the theme music, he runs like the wind to the television and places his front paws on the entertainment center television opening. He then proceeds to bark anytime Dug is on the screen.

He will follow Dug when he runs off the television as if Dug is now behind the TV. He especially loves the puppy episode, where Dug is in charge of watching six puppies. Every time those puppies are on the screen, Mini-Coop goes nuts. He does so much more than watch; he interacts with it. This is one unique way we spend time with him.

I have seen many motorcycle enthusiasts take their dog along for the ride, either in a sidecar or, for smaller dogs, in a backpack where only their head sticks out. I always smile when I see a dog in the sidecar wearing goggles.
Other timesharing activities with dogs I have witnessed include skateboarding, golfing, swimming, and bicycling (the dog runs along or sits in a basket like Toto). I once had a dog that would follow me up a playground slide and slide down all on his own. He also enjoyed swinging on the baby swings.

The only female dog we ever owned, Fiona, loved to swim and joined us or anyone in the pool. If I were to dive into the pool, she would dive in to save me; however, in the process of doing so, she would nearly drown me when she wrapped her paws around my neck.

My 82-year-old neighbor takes her dog for long walks about 3-6 times daily. They take their time, and she talks to many neighbors to get the latest scoop on what’s happening in the subdivision. I would consider this more than your basic walk. It’s more like a walk-and-talk with the neighbors’ excursion.
Now, of course, your professional-level pet timeshare proficiency experts take spending time with their pet to a whole new level. These pet owners will sky-dive with their pets and compete in all types of competitions, including frisbee catching and dock diving. Many people hike with their dogs. This is different from taking your dog for a walk on a leash. These pooches accompany their handler as they climb mountains and spend time exploring new frontiers.
The point of this column is to identify ways to spend time with your pets that are a little more adventurous than watching them sleep on the couch. Watching them is safer than paragliding with them three hundred feet off the ground, but there is a happy medium between the two. I am not a fan of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute on my back and my dog strapped to my chest. I doubt that my Golden Retriever, Bentley, would enjoy this activity, but crazy Cooper might love it. We will never know, for this doggie daddy is staying on the ground.
If you spend time with your pets in ways that are not the norm, I would love to hear about them. I will share some of your e-mails in a future column. Unique and “not the norm” are the keywords here. Cats that love to swim with you, dogs that love playing poker or juggling, guinea pigs that play a mean game of hide and seek, etc.
Spending quality time with your pets is extremely important. Most are only here for a fraction of the time we are, so giving them the attention they need and desire makes their lives fulfilled and fun. Take the extra step to putting a smile on your and your pet’s faces. The first step to making an animal smile is rescuing them from homelessness. Please adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the former Community Outreach Director of Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at bkukes@gmail. com View more of his work at