Day in and day out, there is so much bad news, I decided that in keeping with the holiday tomorrow, we should have a week of light news and commentary. God knows such things as sexual misconduct, tax reform, net neutrality and whatever else comes up will need our full attention next week.
Meanwhile, in a recent story in 1843 Magazine, Edward McBride discusses dog sharing in London. Mostly, he is talking about working people whose dogs get lonely during the day:
”For those whose schedules make it hard to pay their dog enough attention, outfits like BorrowMyDoggy are a godsend.
“They match owners, who need someone to stop Fido getting so bored he chews the skirting boards and pees on the sofa, with people who volunteer to walk or dogsit lonely pooches because they want the fun of having a dog to play with occasionally without the hassle and expense of owning one full-time.”
Personally, I think such people have no business having a pet but let's go with premise for the sake of this story.
It's more than just dog walking, it's an actual visit and the idea has spread to Canada (Part-time Pooch) and Australia (Dogshare). It's that name “Dogshare” that got me thinking about pets (well, dogs in particular) and old people.
I'm perfectly happy with my cat Ollie, I'm home most of the time so he doesn't need a drop-by friend and it is in the nature of most cats that they are slow to warm up to new people so I'm applying my idea to dogs.
Ollie is 13 now. My previous cat lived to be nearly 20, but what if Ollie doesn't and what if I would like a new pet when he is gone? It is widely understood that pets and people are good for one another and that dogs are amenable to more than one person at a time:
"Most of the world’s dogs [says Alexandra Horowitz, who teaches canine psychology at Columbia University in New York], are strays living in the developing world.
"Their natural habitat, as it were, is the proximity of humans, but they do not have a specific owner. Instead, they attach themselves temporarily to whoever is nice to them.
"There is good evidence that dogs form genuine attachments to humans, and can become depressed when these bonds of affection are sundered. But they need not be exclusive. As Roger Mugford, an animal psychologist who helped to train the queen’s corgis, puts it, “'You can overplay the idea of loyalty to the last gasp.'”
Most people want kittens or puppies but there are services that pair up elder people with elder pets. A good idea. But do I really want to face outliving another pet, if it comes to that?
So taking a page from Part-time Pooch and Dogshare, what about a real shared ownership between an elder and a younger person? The dog could live at each person's house for a week at a time, then switch.
It should start when the dog is a puppy, of course, so that having two homes feels normal to him or her. Each person can enjoy the pet in a week on/week off relationship, share expenses, work out vacation time with one another and when the older person dies, there is no worry that the dog won't have a home.
Give it some thought and let us know what you think.