By Beth Pinyerd
Early Childhood teachers love to sing the preschool nursery rhyme “Bingo” a farmer’s dog. This cute little jingle song is enjoyed by infants, toddlers and preschoolers in learning some of the letters of the alphabet in Language Arts. The composers are unknown but this childrens’ song has been passed down through the generations with singing and clapping. We remember Patti Page’s song, “How Much Is That Doggie in The Window?” “How much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggly tail. How much is that doggie in the window? I do hope that doggie’s for sale.” This song sings the heart desires of the young and old.
April is “Dog Appreciation Month.” And oh how I deeply appreciate and love my little therapy dog, Cookie Pinyerd. She helps me to meet other people by both of us taking walks during the day. Cookie is my alarm clock in the morning as she paws my back to awaken me for her morning run and needs. Too, when I want to make the walk short, she will gently nudge me by pulling me to continue to walk and exercise around our home. She shares my emotions. When I am laughing and joyous she shares playfully in my joy too. When I am sad, she sits in my lap and shares my tears. Cookie is a good weather forecaster. She starts running around and panting when a storm is on the way. When Cookie is asleep, though she’s such a little dog, she snores loudly. But this shows me that she has had an active good day and is just plain old tired. I truly love my “furever” little friend.
Pets make people smile. April 11 is “National Pet Day”. We all like to pet a dog, stroke a cat or take time with a cute little puppy or kitten. Let me mention that April 6 is National Siamese Cat Day. From cute, furry little animals to looking at an aquarium with fish gracefully swimming around, pets are just fun. I served as a volunteer in a retirement village in Spanish Fort, Alabama. I would love to hear the residents whom I served on a daily basis talk to the parrots that sat in birdcage homes in our hallways. Pets provide great health benefits to the elderly. I have taken the time to observe and talk to the residents on how pets made them feel, but I have also talked to medical staff, as well as professional staff on the benefits of senior adults having pets. The benefits can also apply to young children, too. Pets truly are loved by the young and old.
PETS HELP US
INTERACT WITH OTHER
Walking or carrying a pet is a natural conversation starter. Whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit or other soft, cute animals, pets provide a conversation starter. During an evening event with Senior adults, the director of residents shared her cute, little hedgehogs with the residents to hold, pet and to learn more about the lives of the hedgehogs. Sharing her pets was a conversation and interaction starter among the residents in getting to know each other.
Man was not meant or made to live alone. Companionship prevents sickness, while isolation can cause loneliness which leads to depression in many cases. Taking care of a living animal whether it be dogs, cats or fish encourages one to emotionally feel needed and wanted. It gives one a purpose. Senior adults, as well as children, can benefit so much from taking care of a pet.
TAKING CARE OF
A PET ADDS SCHEDULE,
ROUTINE AND STRUCTURE
TO A DAY
Pets do require regular feedings. Health requirements of pets need to be met too. Dogs require a consistent schedule of exercise. Having a consistent routine of exercise, not only keeps your dog calm and balanced but it keeps us calm, balanced and less anxious. This is important for us as we age.
HAVING A PET DECREASES
SENSORY, STRESS RELIEF.
Touch and movement are natural ways to manage stress. In early childhood education, we teachers learn that young children need movement, hugs and pats on the back for encouragement in order to feel secure and stay calm. The same is true as we age. Stroking a dog, cat or other pets helps us to feel calmer and less stressed. Being less stressed lowers blood pressure.
TAKING CARE OF PETS
BOOST ENERGY AND
I love to watch my senior friends engage in playfulness, exercise and happiness with their pets. This increases energy for the elderly person even if they are sitting down or in a wheelchair. The simple acts of petting, cleaning, brushing and feeding pets provide mild activity, which leads to more energy and a better mood.
If a senior adult is mobile, walking a dog provides immeasurable benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
HAVING A PET CAN
AND SELF ESTEEM
The elderly years can be a lonely time of life. The unconditional love of a dog, cat, parrot or other pets can stimulate us mentally and renew an interest in living life to the fullest in our elderly years.
April 8 is Zoo Lovers Day. A couple of weeks ago, this elderly preschool teacher had the most fun with her church children and families at the Montgomery Zoo. The zoo staff share so many facts about the different animals. We were thrilled to feed the giraffes, see the baby hippo, watch monkeys climbing and swinging, be entertained afar by elephants, observe snakes in the reptile house, enjoy the birdhouse and see different kinds of sea life. Families, this zoo is so close to our area and it provides for a wonderful day field trip. The zoo has places too that the families can picnic as well as play on a playground.