Date of Award

Spring 1984

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology & Anthropology

Abstract

Pets have always had a capacity for putting human beings in touch with life. Watching a puppy or a kitten at play stirs a joy somewhere deep within us bringing with it a smile or a chuckle. Pets remind us of spring, of youth, of all there is to see on this earth that is new and alive. Pets keep us in touch with ourselves as indviduals beings. Walking in the woods or fields with a dog at our side or sitting by a cozy fire on a cold evening with a cat purring in our lap gives us a feeling of peace and quiet companionship. Pets have always been part of our lives in America. We take them for granted and never stop to think why they are important to us. Most of us have families, productive work to do and friendships. Since our lives are full, do we need pets? Yes, pets help us keep in contact with the basic and simple things in life that are so easy to forget in our highly mechanized scientific world. Pets can provide us with relief, give us pleasure and remind us of our origins. In his book, Animals, Aging, and the Aged, Leo Bustad stated: "To remain healthy, people must remain in contact with and relate to their environment throughout life. The people-animal-plant bond is critical to a healthy community." If pets are important for the mainstream of our - society, how do pets effect the lives of old people who no £ longer have families and friends, and who no longer are able to do productive work? Whether it be a dog, a cat, fish, a bird or a horse, pets can give an elderly person joy in being alive. Too often elderly persons are separated from the animals who could provide a source of Continual, unconditional love, comfort and companionship. The purpose of this research is to point out the many benefits of pets for the elderly, and to show haw each of us can help provide pets for the elderly when and wherever suitable.

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