One of the biggest complaints among empty nesters is there is no longer anyone to care for once their children leave home. Even a spouse, as nice as it is to have someone to love, doesn't require the kind of attention and caregiving that children do. One way to channel all of that maternal or paternal instinct is to adopt a dog. Dogs are a responsibility, of course, but they are also willing recipients of as much love and attention as you have to give.
Research Before You Adopt
Before you adopt a dog, think about what it is you are looking for in a companion.
- Do you want a snuggly lap dog who will sit with you while you watch TV or read a book?
- Do you want a big, loud dog to make you feel protected and safe?
- Do you want a dog that requires a lot of activity, or a more relaxed, sedentary breed?
- Do you want a puppy, and the work that goes along with training a young dog, or an older, housebroken pet?
Once you've figured out what your needs are, you're ready to start looking for your perfect companion. Here are some major reasons why an empty nester may benefit from adopting or rescuing a dog.
Dogs are Unflinchingly Loyal
Once you bring a dog into your home and he knows that you are his pawrent, you will discover that he will be your constant companion. A dog will sit by his pawrent's side, follow him around, and listen to his commands, after he has been trained. Dogs are very much aware of the absence of their masters, and will always greet their return with enthusiasm and joy. Unlike teenagers, whose moods can change from minute to minute, dogs are, for the most part, reliably happy, affectionate, and loyal.
Dogs Can Help You Make Friends
Walking is great for your health, everyone know that. But walking with a dog is not only great for your health - it can be a boost to your social life, too. Nothing is more appealing to a dog lover than a dog with a friendly face—and people will stop and say hello to your dog, even if they don't know you. If your empty nest has left you with some holes in your social life, take the opportunity to strike up a conversation with neighbors you may not have met yet, other dog owners at the local dog park, or, if you are single, potential dates may be out there as well. Don't hesitate to stop and admire someone else's dog, either—just like their babies, people love to talk about their pups.
A Dog Can Change Your Routine
Routines can become dreary after too many years of doing the same thing each day. Getting a dog will definitely change the rhythm of your days. Where once you woke up and drank some coffee, read the news and got ready for work, now your pup will demand your attention with walks, feeding and affection. If you have been coming home at night and sitting in front of the TV, your dog will get you up and off your feet, at least for a brief time, to get out for an evening stroll. On the flip side, if you are someone who doesn't know how to sit still, a dog's need for affection—petting and snuggling—will force you to slow down a few times during the day. Petting a dog is a great way to relieve tension and anxiety!
A Dog Can Improve Your Health
Having a dog to love and care for will improve your state of mind and mental health, simply by giving you something to focus your attention on and to receive love back from while you adjust to your empty nest. You can train your dog to do tricks, or you can just enjoy your dog's company. Your dog needs exercise, so by default you will get exercise as well—and staying fit and healthy as you age is an essential part of enjoying your empty nest. Small dogs, in particular, are quite portable and can travel with you if you want, while large dogs offer a sense of strength and security that many people—especially those who live on their own—appreciate. A dog is a wonderful addition to an empty nester's home.