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Starting Retirement On The Right Foot (Or Paw)

Starting Retirement On The Right Foot (Or Paw)

By Mary-Jane Gallagher

It turns out, it’s not just rescue dogs who can find life a little too quiet at times; recent research has highlighted that around 10% of South African seniors feel lonely.  For those adjusting to life after retirement, a rescue dog could provide so much love and affection, whilst at the same time providing unbeatable motivation to exercise each day and improve your health. It’s a win-win situation; not only can it help you stay active in retirement, it can also bring a lot of joy to your dog’s life. After all, retirees often have the most patience and time to truly nurture rescue dogs who’ve been let down by other people.

A four-legged fitness trainer

As you might expect, owning a dog prompts regular exercise, as they need walking a couple of times each day. While walking has traditionally been recognised as beneficial for fitness and mental health, new research has shown that it can even improve your brain health. This is especially useful for seniors seeking to improve their memory or slow down any decline in cognitive function. Committing to a canine companion is therefore the perfect incentive to stay active through retirement; and it’s a lot more fun than sweating it out at the gym.

Community and companionship

While a recent Netflix survey found that 64% of South Africans choose their pets as their ideal box set-watching companions, you might also like to build up a community of human friends. Outside of the working world, it can feel a little daunting to find new friends with similar interests, but owning a dog opens up a world of possibilities. From meeting locals who enjoy walking their dogs in the same places as you, to attending dog classes or fundraising walks, you can soon meet like-minded people. You may even like to volunteer at a shelter, to meet new people, feel valued and make a difference in your community.

Best breeds

If you’re considering sharing your golden years with a faithful friend, there are some practicalities to bear in mind.  Firstly, the bigger and more energetic the dog, the more strength you will need to control them, and the longer the walks they’ll need.  If you find long walks difficult, you may be better paired with a smaller dog such as a Pug or Havanese. If you’re fairly active, a King Charles Spaniel or Beagle can bring a lot of joy, being big fans of cuddles as well as walks. You should also consider how much grooming you can commit to; breeds such as Pomeranians are beautiful but do need more regular maintenance than others. Why not take a look at the list of pets looking for a home and see if any meet your practical needs, as well as stealing your heart?

For many people, retirement can be as daunting as it is refreshing. While there’s a freedom and joy to be had in life outside the workplace, it can feel difficult to maintain friendships, stay active, and generally feel appreciated and valued. Owning a dog can help with all of this; a four legged friend can open up new friendships, keep you fit, and shower you with affection. Now that’s sure to put a spring in your step.

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