DEAR DR. FOX: I have always loved animals, and for a while I did cat rescue. I am 70 years old, and my husband and I have a 16-year-old cat. We have not been replacing pets as they die because of concerns about them ending up in a facility, or burdening our daughter with a house full of animals that she would need to assimilate into her own household.
I was raised on a small dairy farm in rural Virginia, and when I retired two years ago, I enrolled in master naturalist training. I understand the need to connect to nature and our animals. You recommended adopting from a shelter, and I am in total agreement. It would be nice if you would have an article about how to be a pet owner for those of us who are not sure if we will outlive our pets -- our last dog was 15 when she died, and we have had cats who lived 18 and 20 years.
In December 2015, I started volunteering with the Humane Society of Fairfax County. I have found it immensely rewarding, and I get my dog fix. The Humane Society has staff to do the cleaning. What they desperately need are people to spend time with the cats and dogs, socializing them. If you want to bring a book and hold the book with one hand and pet a cat or dog with the other, the staff is quite happy.
I thought it might be difficult for me to see these abandoned animals, but I focus not on what I am seeing as the worst traits of our species, but on the everyday staff and people adopting these pets -- which is what is best about our species. I think of my work with the animals as a comfort station at a particular juncture in their lives.
People of a certain age do not have to "own" a pet; nor do people who know they will be going overseas and unable to take a pet, or people whose lives are in transition. Please share the benefits of NOT owing a pet -- especially if a person is not settled enough to go the full 10 to 20 years of commitment. Another interesting benefit for me was that I had always had herding breeds or shepherds, and I didn't think I could consider anything else. A month of working at the kennels has shown me that what I got from my shepherds, I also get from a variety of other breeds and mixed breeds. I was able to hone in on why I love dogs -- they are companions, and they make me smile, even laugh. -- D.M., Vienna, Virginia
DEAR D.M.: Your beautiful letter will suffice to encourage older people to find satisfying alternatives to adopting a companion animal who may well outlive them. I appreciate the fact that you found the truth that all dogs are great and not just the particular breed with which you were familiar.
CANNED DOG FOOD RECALL
Fromm Pet Foods announced a canned dog food recall of all lots of the following three canned products: 12-ounce Gold Chicken Pate Dog can, 12-ounce Gold Chicken and Duck and 12-ounce Gold Salmon and Chicken Pate can.
Fromm has discovered through its own analysis that the dog foods do not contain recommended levels of vitamins and minerals. These products may contain elevated levels of vitamin D.
This recall is being implemented in an "abundance of caution," as symptoms would be noted in situations where dogs have eaten the affected products as their only meal for an extended period of time, which could lead to depression of appetite. While there have been no reports of any health problems, Fromm is recommending the affected products not be fed.
For more information, visit frommfamily.com/connect/annoucements.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)