Q&A: Let’s Talk About Pets

We love our pets—and how. More than 60 percent of people over age 50 own a pet, and in 2015, American Pet Products estimated that Americans spend more than $60 billion on their pets every year. Pets are an important part of our lives and bring significant physical and emotional health benefits. But when our furry friends’ needs outweigh our ability to provide for them, what do we do?

Q:  My mother owns several dogs and she loves them like her children. But I can’t stand visiting anymore because she is no longer taking appropriate care of them. Though they seem happy and well fed, she is unable to take them outside, so they poop on the floor and urinate on the furniture and her home smells like a kennel. I know that she loves her pets, but where do we draw the line as a family?—Kennel Crazy in Kirkland

A:  Pets provide companionship for people who are lonely. They fill the home with love and affection, and give us value and a routine every day. They force us to exercise and to get outdoors, while giving us a sense of being needed and the opportunity to make new friends with their delightful personalities. So why not find ways to help Mom keep her pups, if possible? Perhaps hire housekeeping services, install a doggy door, or find a dog walker who can help. If the situation gets to the point where the dogs are suffering, it may be time to offer to find them another home where Mom can visit them on a regular basis. In the end, where you draw the line needs to benefit both your mother and the pets in the best way.

Q:  My husband and I have been married for many years and we just got a new dog that I love. The dog enjoys sleeping in our bed at night. My husband is complaining about the dog in the bedroom, but I am enjoying the warm fuzzy company and sleep better than I have in ages. This week I moved into the extra bedroom with the dog, and although I am loving it and sleep like a baby, I feel a bit guilty. Is it unusual for couples to sleep in separate bedrooms?—Sleeping Solo in Seattle

A:  It is very common for people in mature relationship to have separate sleeping spaces. In fact, a 2015 National Sleep Foundation survey found that as many as 25 percent of couples reported sleeping in separate beds. Studies in England and Japan have found similar results. The National Association of Home Builders says it expects 60 percent of custom homes to have dual master bedrooms in the future. Common aging issues like snoring, sleep apnea, and other health-related matters can make sleeping in the same space a challenge. In the end, sleeping in separate beds is a practical decision, made with the ultimate goal of both partners having a good night’s sleep. So enjoy your new space and furry company, but don’t neglect to nurture the intimacy in your marriage. Regular “pillow talk” without Fido will bring greater emotional comfort and closeness to your human relationship, too.

Kellie Moeller has worked in the senior housing industry in the Northwest for more than a decade. With an insider’s view and a passion for serving seniors, she gives a fresh perspective on aging. Email your questions to TimetoTalk@3rdActMagazine.com or mail your questions to Time to Talk, 3rd Act Magazine, 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320.


Discussion2 Comments

  1. Dear Kellie,
    I’ve read your Time To Talk in 3rd Act Mag. So true! I need help with my Rx Emotional Support “Animal”. My condo has been badgering me for months about not obeying the condo rule book re: “pets”. Although others here have broken different condo rules, those have slid by unmentioned. Can you please help me with your expertise, facts, knowledgeable sites, laws, and so on re: this unconscionable pressure?
    Thank you,
    Sue Hart

  2. Hi Sue-
    If your animal is registered as an emotional support service animal, you should have the rights to remain in your living space as well as other benefits. The simple truth is that although registration of your ESA is not required under federal law, appropriate identification (ID cards, service vest with patches, etc.) will drastically reduce the embarrassing confrontations you’ll encounter without it. You can find much more information at this site: https://www.nsarco.com/emotional-support-animal.html
    The emotional support list includes: Emotional/Psychological Issues,
    Age-Related Cognitive Decline, Anxiety, Psychiatric Conditions (there may be some exclusions),Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Dyslexia,emotionally Overwhelmed, Fear of Flying, Panic Attacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Separation Anxiety, Social and other Phobias.

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