Mim has been a member of Kendal at Home for about seven years, but she has been an animal lover her entire life. Between full-time pets and foster pets, she has cared for at least seven or eight English Mastiff dogs over the years. Two were actually therapy dogs that came with me to work every day, says Mim, who was a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for about 35 years. They were big dogs you could put your head on and just cry, she says, which happens a lot in a therapist's office.
Mim even had one dog that was a champion, but she no longer cares about breeding or dog shows; now she simply enjoys the company. It is interesting to have pets, and I wouldn't do it any other way! she says. And Kendal at Home makes it possible for me to live independently in my home with my pet.
Two mastiffs ago I gave up mastiffs because they are too big and too needy, Mim says laughing a little. But they just kept coming along. Currently, Mim lives with Samantha, who she rescued when the dog was about two years old. Sam was badly treated and neglected, Mim says. I had hoped then that I would have a happy dog someday, but I wasn't sure. After two years of intense training and lots of love, Mim had a happy dog, although she still had issues. I have worked with her and with a trainer, she says. Sam is sweet and gentle. She is a good dog, but worries about other humans. It has been difficult for Sam to adjust to humans when all she knew was neglect and abuse.
Helping Sam Adjust
Sams issues with trust require that she be taken for walks in a secluded area. I cannot walk her out on the street as I used to with other dogs, Mim says. So a couple times a day, she puts Sam in the car and goes to a quiet park. She requires very slow, careful training, she says. I don't yell or hit her, but I have to be the boss. I have had to work consistently to train her.
Unfortunately, Mim cannot take long walks as she used to due to a painful back issue. She originally considered not taking Sam in because of it, but she manages. I am limited by my back, she says, but I am perfectly independent, and we get by. Sam would pull me or anyone else right down. She couldn't trust anyone else to walk with. Mim has found an informal doggie daycare where Sam feels comfortable enough that she could be left if Mim wanted to go away for the weekend or needed to be in the hospital for a few days.
Kendal at Home Can Help Pet Owners
While Kendal at Home is willing to help members with pets find care for them when necessary, Mim feels that Sam isn't the right candidate for this, due to her trust issues and enormous size. I think Kendal at Home would help with someone who had a more manageable dog. It wouldn't be a deterrent for them, Mim says. If I had gotten into Golden Retrievers like I had planned, Kendal would have been able to help.
Mim's advice for older adults with pets? Look into a program where you can be in your own home and keep your pet in your home or look for a retirement community that will allow you to have pets, like Kendal at Oberlin.
She also recommends having a back-up plan in case something happens and you can't care for your pet on your own. They are not kids, but they are dependent on you and you are responsible for them, Mim says. You should have a plan in case you are no longer able to do that. Kendal at Home can help you develop and implement that plan.
Mim still lives in the neighborhood where she has lived for 50 years and she wants to stay! I am glad to know that Kendal is there if there is a problem, she says. My children all live far away, but I have independence in my own home with the knowledge that if I need help, someone is there for me.
To learn more about Kendal at Home or our affiliate Kendal at Oberlin, contact us today, and pet your furry friends once for us!
Photo credit: Claudio Gennari ..."Cogli l'attimo ferma il tempo" via photopin cc