Cheer Up the Lonely Today!

by Dr. Tim Kirby

At a recent summer show as I strolled along with our beloved dog “rascal”, a stranger approached us and began to feverishly rub rascal’s head with the exuberance of a 5-year-old child. This “man” then asked me all about Rascal and how long we had owned him. As I replied, I noticed how a veil of sadness automatically swept across his face. “So do you have a dog” I quipped, to which “the man” replied, “no, but I did 25 years ago when my wife was alive”.

Edwin’s wife had died suddenly 2 years previously, and in his own words, “she was my life”. The couple’s children had since all grown up and moved abroad. Now, Edwin lived a secluded life alone in a 5 bedroom house which lacked the life and energy of his previous 40-year family life. Before my eyes, I could see and feel the raw loneliness of a man who longed for happiness again. As rascal licked Edwin’s hands like a best furry friend, I could sense a smile sprouting through the man’s heartbroken, weather-beaten face.

“Would you ever consider getting a dog again”, I quipped? Edwin paused momentarily and replied, “I don’t have the confidence to own a dog now, but deep down I would love the company”. After a short while, I explained to Edwin, that he could softly re-introduce himself to pet ownership without any stress, by fostering! Pet fostering brings so many benefits and positive changes to a household, not only for the pet but also for the people who become foster parents. If you are someone who is somewhat nervous about trying something new or maybe lacking in confidence to make that long term commitment to pet adoption or ownership straight away, then why not try fostering first!

Pet fostering is where you welcome a rescue centre pet to your home for a trial period, basically to see how well you both get on. If you both are compatible, a longer-term bond may develop between you both.

Did you know that fostering a dog has proven to drastically reduce loneliness and depression!