The benefits of having a pet in your life are well known, and for most of us they far outweigh the prospect of a little hair on the sofa and the need to keep a clothes brush by the front door! Studies have shown, for instance, that having a dog may reduce the likelihood of heart disease and actually increase longevity. But even if it’s not a dog – if it’s a guinea pig, a budgie or a cat that you share your home with, the opportunities for improved health are still there. Every time you fetch the food for your pet, you’re moving as opposed to sitting. Your mind stays active as you engage with your pet: talk to it, give it exercise, and amuse it. And, especially if you live alone, there’s something heart warming about coming home to a living creature that just can’t wait to see you.
So far, so good, but life, especially as you move toward retirement or enter it, doesn’t get quieter – in fact it actually speeds up. Suddenly there’s more time for socialising, volunteering, travelling, and spending time with grandkids. So what do you do with the dog when you’re at the golf club? Who’s going to feed the cat when you’re in Auz for 6 weeks? And have you ever heard of a rabbit-minder?
The logistics of finding a temporary home for your pet can be mid boggling. Which boarding kennel can you trust with your much-loved pooch? Is your cat up-to-date with the shots it needs to allow it into a cattery while you’re visiting family out of town? Professional pet care doesn’t come cheap, either. With dog and cat kennels charges starting at around $20 a day, that’s a whopping $140 cut from your holiday budget.
Put off a pet? Don’t be – because there’s an answer that will have you smiling. It’s pet sharing, a relatively new concept where you actually share some or all of the responsibilities and/or ownership of a pet with one or more other individuals or families. The beauty of pet sharing is that you all agree on the collective management of the pet – yet it doesn’t have to be an equal split. In fact, the variables involved are as wide as your imagination or your preferences can stretch.
It may be that you don’t even want to ‘own’ the animal, but you’d welcome its company whenever its owners are away on holidays. On the other hand, joint ownership may suit you but you’re only available on weekends to care for the pet. If you’re in a rental situation where pets aren’t permitted, you can still put up your hand to take a dog walking, and bath and groom it afterwards at its owner’s home. The options are unlimited!
Just how you get your pet sharing plan underway isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. A helpful site to check out is Share My Pet. But if you’re digitally shy, head to your local vet to see if they know of someone who wants to share a pet or who could do with a hand to care for it. Check out retirement villages, too, where older residents may have a much-loved pooch, but are no longer able to take it for a daily walk – a job you could take over!
However you decide to make pet sharing happen, be sure to read widely around the subject. One common and reassuring theme is that everyone who shares a pet is advised to draw up, in writing, a plan which covers everything from care, costs and time sharing. Don’t wait – make it happen today!