By Beth Pinyerd
Early childhood teachers love to sing the preschool lullaby “Bingo” to a farmer’s dog. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers enjoy this cute little jingle song as they learn some of the letters of the alphabet in language arts. The composers are unknown, but this children’s song has been passed down from generation to generation with chants and clapping. We remember the Patti Page song, “How much is that puppy in the window?” “How much is that little dog in the window? The one with the wagging tail. How much is that puppy in the window? I hope that puppy is for sale.” This song sings the wishes of the heart of young and old.
April is “Dog Appreciation Month”. And how deeply I appreciate and love my therapy dog, Cookie Pinyerd. She helps me meet other people by taking the two of us out for walks during the day. Cookie is my alarm clock in the morning when she touches my back to wake me up for her morning run and her needs. Also, when I want to cut the walk short, she pushes me gently pulling me to keep walking and exercising in our house. She shares my emotions. When I am laughing and happy, she also shares my joy playfully. When I am sad, she sits on my lap and shares my tears. Cookie is a good weatherman. She starts running and panting as a storm approaches. When Cookie is asleep, even though she is a dog, she snores loudly. But this shows me that she has had a good active day and is just tired. I really love my little friend “forever”.
Pets make people smile. April 11 is National Pet Day. We all like to pet a dog, pet a cat, or spend time with a cute little puppy or kitten. Let me mention that April 6 is National Siamese Cat Day. From cute little furry animals to looking at an aquarium with gracefully swimming fish, pets are just plain fun. I served as a volunteer in a retirement village in Spanish Fort, Alabama. I would love to hear the residents I serve daily talk to the parrots that have perched in the cages in our hallways. Pets provide great health benefits for the elderly. I have taken the time to observe and speak with residents about how pets make them feel, but I have also spoken with medical staff as well as professional staff about the benefits of older adults having pets. Benefits may also apply to young children. Pets are truly loved by young and old.
PETS HELP US
INTERACT WITH OTHERS
Walking or carrying a pet is a natural topic of conversation. Whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, or other cute, fluffy animals, pets provide a conversation starter. During an evening event with seniors, the director of residents shared her cute little hedgehogs with residents to hold, pet and learn more about hedgehog life. Sharing her pets was a topic of conversation and interaction between the residents to get to know each other.
Man was not destined or made to live alone. Companionship prevents disease, while isolation can cause loneliness leading to depression in many cases. Caring for a living animal, whether it be dogs, cats, or fish, encourages one to feel emotionally needed and wanted. It gives one a purpose. Older adults, as well as children, can greatly benefit from caring for a pet.
TAKING CARE OF
A PET ADDS SCHEDULE,
ROUTINE AND STRUCTURE
Pets require regular feeding. Pet health requirements must also be met. Dogs require a consistent schedule of exercise. Having a consistent exercise routine not only keeps your dog calm and balanced, it also keeps us calm, balanced, and less anxious. This is important to us as we age.
HAVING A PET DECREASES
SENSORY, STRESS RELIEF.
Touch and movement are natural ways of managing stress. In early childhood education, teachers learn that young children need movement, hugs and pats on the back as a stimulus to feel safe and calm. The same is true as we age. Petting a dog, cat, or other pet helps us feel calmer and less stressed. Being less stressed lowers blood pressure.
BOOSTS ENERGY AND
I love seeing my older friends having fun, exercising, and being happy with their pets. This increases the energy of the elderly person even if they are sitting or in a wheelchair. The simple acts of stroking, cleaning, brushing and feeding pets provide gentle activity, leading to more energy and a better mood.
If an older adult is mobile, walking a dog provides immeasurable benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
HAVE A PET CAN
The older years can be a lonely time of life. The unconditional love of a dog, cat, parrot, or other pet can stimulate us mentally and renew our interest in living life to the fullest in our old age.
April 8 is Zoo Lovers’ Day. A couple of weeks ago, this elderly preschool teacher had a great time with the kids from her church and her families at the Montgomery Zoo. The zoo staff share a lot of facts about the different animals. We were delighted to feed the giraffes, see the baby hippo, watch monkeys climb and swing, be entertained in the distance by elephants, see snakes in the reptile house, enjoy the birdhouse and see different types of marine life. Families, this zoo is very close to our area and makes for a wonderful day trip. The zoo also has places where families can have a picnic and play in a playground.