Pets Are Wonderful Support

Older man with dogWhat a beautiful day here in sunny San Diego! I've been down here for the Thanksgiving holiday visiting with my parents. My mother is a tiny, 83-year-old Chinese powerhouse -- up at the crack of dawn, she's been doing her tai chi and calisthenics since she was in her 40's. She's still an avid golfer and gardner, and she could probably lift 100 lbs. if she wanted to. After 56 years of marriage, she's still the same patient and caring wife to my father that she's always been. My dad, at 93, has the sharpest mind and most impeccable memory of all time. He remains the mental encyclopedia he always was. Ask him about history, geography, religion, literature... you name it, and you may as well be sitting in a university classroom. He's fluent in 6 or 7 languages, too.  

While I've been down here I've been trying to convince my mom to adopt a little dog. She loves animals as much as I do, and she certainly has the energy to care for one. Although my parents are healthier and younger in spirit than many young people, it's common knowledge that pets keep us young. For them, owning a pet would be like jumping into the fountain of youth! 83 and 93 today, 43 and 53 tomorrow!

Old lady with kittenSpeaking of pets and the elderly, we were visiting an Assisted Living Facility where an animal loving friend of mine is in charge of marketing. She told me that a few of the clients there have pets. I asked who cared for the dogs (because aside from the cat litter and feeding, which the attendants help with, cats don't require much work). I was told that those who were mobile enough to walk with walkers or move about in wheelchairs take their dogs for little walks in the large courtyard. For those who are not ambulatory, the attendants are kind enough to walk and feed their dogs. This made me think of Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), which I hope to begin volunteering for in the new year.

PAWS is a volunteer-based organization that provides for the needs of companion animals for low-income persons with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses, as well as senior citizens. By providing these essential support services, educating the larger community on the benefits of the human-animal bond, and advocating for the rights of disabled individuals to keep service animals, PAWS improves the health and well-being of disabled individuals and the animals in their lives. My friend wasn't familiar with PAWS, so I decided to find out if they had a San Diego branch. Sure enough, they do!

Hopefully, my friend will be able to find a volunteer for her facility. And, equally hopefully, my mom will decide to adopt a needy pup for herself.