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Book Club – The 50+ Dog Owner: Complete Dog Parenting for Baby Boomers and Beyond

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The 50+ Dog Owner

The 50+ Dog Owner: Complete Dog Parenting for Baby Boomers and Beyond

by Mary Jane Checchi

Dogs make us feel good with their unconditional love, but did you know they’re good for you? Numerous studies document the benefits of dog ownership—antidotes to depression, loneliness, high blood pressure, and heart disease. And of all age groups, it’s people over 50 who stand to benefit the most from living with a canine. That’s why The 50+ Dog Owner is chock full of easily accessible advice tailored specifically for anyone over 50 who wants—or may already have—the companionship of a dog.

The 50+ Dog Owner includes:

  • How to select a dog who best matches your lifestyle and living arrangements
  • Step-by-step calculation of costs associated with acquiring, feeding, grooming, training and health care
  • Easy-to-follow care and training advice
  • Information on canine-friendly housing options
  • Selection of products and services to make life easy for the over 50 dog owner
  • How to travel with your dog and not cramp your style

Written in an engaging and direct style by a canine expert and member of the “50+ Club,” The 50+ Dog owner is the essential guide for empty nesters, working, retired, or other adventurers 50 and beyond.

About the Author:

Mary Jane Checchi is the author of Are You the Pet For Me? Choosing the Right Pet For Your Family. Her numerous pet articles have appeared in Dog and Kennel, PetLife, Big Apple Parent, Georgia Family, and petcity.com. She served as a consultant on pets for the website accenthealth.com and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Writers Union, Authors Guild, Washington Independent Writers, and The Writer’s Center of Bethesda, Maryland. She has owned and trained dogs all her life, has assisted with animal rescue groups, and as a member of PAL (People, Animals, Love) she visited Washington area nursing homes and hospitals with her Collie. Her website is checchibooks.com. Mary Jane resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and dogs.

Book Excerpt: The 50+ Dog Owner

Dogs are physical beings, and it is important to reconcile canine and human characteristics before you make your choice about what type of dog to get.

Health and Fitness
If your health concerns are a compromised immune system, balance, or fragile skin, so that it is important for you not to be scratched by a dog’s nails or teeth, not to be jumped on, or not to be pulled, then your best bet is to adopt a mature, calm, well-behaved dog. Puppies, being puppies, will inevitably teethe, sometimes on a human arm or finger. They are likely to jump up on and paw at you, as will many adolescent dogs. Some dogs, despite training, tend to remain “jumpers” into their adult years, and some dogs nip. Like puppies, these dogs are not good choices if you might be knocked over because of unsteady balance or if your skin is easily torn or bruised.

If your immune system is weak, either temporarily or for the long term, there is a simple answer here too, and it will seem familiar: Adopt a mature, housetrained dog. Because a primary source for the transmission of zoonotic disease is dog feces, it is best to avoid housetraining a puppy.

If arthritis or a bad back present problems for you, consider a small dog. A small dog can be lifted onto a table or counter for grooming. Plus, a small “nonshedding” dog will require less grooming from you and your aching hands (but may require professional grooming). However, a small dog can present some challenges, such as the need to bend over to lift him or to attach or detach a leash.

Energy Level: Couch Potato or Triathlete?
Here is a mistake that I’ve noticed some people tend to make: They think big dogs need exercise and little dogs don’t. But size alone will not tip you off to a dog’s energy level and the amount of exercise he will need. I have known 100-pound (45-kg) Newfoundlands who are really quite lazy and 20-pound (9-kg) Jack Russell Terriers who need to run, run, run.

Just like a human being, a dog’s need to run, walk, play, or explore outdoors will vary with age, health, individual temperament, and genes—not just with size. [My two year old Collie] could literally run us into the ground and even a one-hour walk would not tire her out. Today, seven years later, she is happy with 20-minute walks.

If your self-audit does not include the time, inclination, and physical ability to spend one and a half to two hours a day outdoors exercising your dog, then avoid a high-energy or even an average-energy dog because he’ll need a lot of daily activity. An unexercised dog is bored and unhappy and can annoy you half to death, pacing through your home or dropping a slimy tennis ball in your lap 500 times a day. Dogs who don’t get enough outdoor stimulation and exercise can become obese and develop problem behaviors, including excessive barking, digging, destructive chewing, and house soiling.

Canine energy will also determine whether a dog’s presence in your home feels comfortable or intrusive. A small- or medium-sized dog with a demanding personality and high energy level can “use” more space—and more of your energy—than a quiet, mellow couch potato at triple the weight.

Excerpt from The 50+ Dog Owner: Complete Dog Parenting for Baby Boomers and Beyond © TFH Publications, Inc. Used by permission.

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