The role of dogs, and cats have changed over the last 20+ years becoming more of a companion for older adults as well as younger animal lovers. They have truly become a part of the family unit as we know it.
Years ago dogs and cats only had a few purposes. No one used to care about rabies vaccines, distemper shots, or taking them to a veterinarian for any reason. If an animal became sick they just killed and buried it. They ate table scraps and were not given any medicine. Theirs was a carefree, however, somewhat rough and basically a take care of yourself life. Owners did not care about getting their pet “fixed” either – puppies and kittens were always a way of life.
On the farms and working class homes animals were primarily used for hunting, discouraging trespassers and keeping unwanted rodents at bay. For the richer set they were lap dogs, smaller breeds and around for show. The larger dogs were used for hunting purposes.
In the last few years companion animals have taken a somewhat different turn. They are truly more of a companion for many. Owners take better care of their pets, giving annual shots, monthly heartworm preventative medicine and fed special diets. Spaying and neutering have become a way of life to help with the unwanted pet population.
Dogs are some peoples pet of choice. They are very loyal, giving a lot of interaction with the owner, and always there whether happy or sad right by your side. They have become a lot of company for older people who live by themselves, as well as brought to nursing homes as therapy for the residents. There are many service dogs in use that aid in helping owners, from alerting to a seizure to leading a blind person across the street. They can even be taught to do work inside a home for a wheelchair bound person. Many are allowed in stores because of their working status. Hospitals are allowing many dogs to enter to aid in uplifting of the terminally ill patients. There is great success with this.
Cats are more laid back than dogs and require much less attention, some prefer to be left alone. They are very self sufficient and only require a litter box and some toys to be quite happy while their owner is at work. They will sit quietly on an elderly persons lap and just love being rubbed. They are very gentle with babies and seem to know that they are small and require a lot of attention.
When deciding on a companion animal for your family, a friend or an older person, you need to think of their lifestyle, their needs and the breed traits that are best compatible with each other. For instance if you have a very active family who likes to spend a lot of time outside and play sports, hike, etc. then you will need a more active dog and possibly can have a larger, heartier one who can withstand a lot of activity. If quite is your lifestyle then you probably want a cat or a smaller more laid back dog. This might be the best time to opt for an older pet instead of a young one.
Your local humane society is a great resource for animals who need a home and are just waiting for a loving family to adopt. This is truly rewarding for you and the pet. They will make a wonderful addition to your family.