year 2, week 28: this week i'm gonna... fight loneliness
Walking his dog, Roscoe, on a winter day several years ago, Tom McMullin fell hard to the icy ground and broke his wrist.**
But McMullin, now in his mid-70s, didn’t blame his nearly 80-pound pit bull-terrier mix. McMullin says the slippery sidewalk was to blame, rather than any tugging on Roscoe’s part. McMullin is confident that the value of their relationship to both his emotional and physical health far outweighs any risks from their daily walks.
Research shows the most serious risk for older persons is not cancer or heart disease - it's loneliness. Pets offer affection, unconditional love, and companionship, and they can also help ease the loss of a loved one.
“It provides the framework for my daily schedule. I am doing something and going out,” states McMullin, who is retired and divorced. A son sometimes lives with him, but much more of his time is spent with his dog. Their three walks a day provide socialization with other people in the neighborhood that McMullin might not otherwise see, a benefit that supplements their own attachment indoors.
“It makes a huge difference -- it’s a connection,” McMullin says. “Most of the day we’re not farther than 10 feet away from each other.”
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation's (PFE) mission is to provide companionship to senior individuals through pet ownership, while saving the lives of companion animals in shelters.
The program began in 1992 with two shelters near Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, PFE has seen great success and has grown to a nationwide program. PFE branched out nationally in 2002, and has helped successfully place nearly 57,000 companion animals with senior adopters. PFE helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter - including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter costs.
Below are a few notes from participating shelters and humane societies located throughout the country that illustrate the importance of The Pets for the Elderly Foundation.
"I wanted to send you this sweet photo of James and his new adopted dog, Trinity. Trinity is an 8-year-old Black Lab mix who was rescued from a house for her own protection. When she arrived at [the shelter], her coat was very poor and thin. She had been living in a house with no gas, heat, or electricity. She is now the picture of health and better still, has a home with James. James is age 92! When he was told that Trinity’s eyes were not that great, he replied with a smile, "We have something in common!" This is the perfect dog for him... very sweet and gentle. They need each other."
- Animal Friends, Pittsburgh, PA
"WOW! What a wonderful program! Older people make great pet owners, and pets provide such good companionship for them. We truly feel this is a remarkable project, and are proud to be part of it."
- Dubuque Humane Society, Dubuque, Iowa
"We had an elderly gentleman adopt a puppy today. He was standing in the lobby holding his puppy as we all oohed and ahhed, and he was laughing about what a chick magnet his puppy was going to be!"
- PAWS, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
"We are thrilled to be part of this program. It's tremendously gratifying to have a senior citizen fall in love with an animal at our shelter and, when we tell them the adoption is free, they hug us (some have even cried). We could not offer this service to seniors if we didn't have your support."
- Humane Society of Indianapolis
Notes for this week:
- July 11th is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day!
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor adoption fees for approximately 15 animals to provide companionship for the elderly.
- For more information on The Pets for the Elderly Foundation, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to The Pets for the Elderly Foundation.