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How A Dog Can Improve Your Retirement Lifestyle

By Kate Benzin

You have probably seen news reports about the wonders of pet ownership. It’s true that dogs require some work on your part, but what they give back to you is far more significant than the work they cause. And some of that ‘work’ actually has major health benefits, like –

  • lower blood pressure
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • better triglyceride levels
  • decreased feelings of loneliness

Fido Will Get You Outside and Moving

When you’re feeling down or lazy and you just don’t want to move, Fido comes over to you with his leash in his mouth and looks at you with those pleading eyes. And you just can’t deny him the walk he needs to take care of his business.

You reluctantly get yourself up and take Fido out into the fresh air. And then a miracle happens. You feel the breeze brushing past your cheeks. You hear the leaves rustling. You feel the sun on your face. And before you know it, you wonder why you felt so down earlier.

You pick up your pace and reach the open area where you can throw a Frisbee for Fido. He’d insisted on carrying his Frisbee on the walk, but you hadn’t planned to throw it. Now, however, you send it out and delight in watching his muscular body run out to get it and bring it back to you. You even find yourself running out to meet him.

So what has Fido done for you at this point? He promoted a better mood for you. He got you outdoors for a big dose of vitamin D, which is known to fight depression, cancer, obesity, and heart attacks. He even got you doing a little exercise, and we all know how important it is to stay active.

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Fido Will Take the Focus Off Yourself

Caring for Fido can give you a sense of purpose and belonging that you may have lost after you stopped working. In fact, the enthusiastic reception you get from Fido whether you were gone for five minutes or five hours can be enough to melt your heart. Fido is totally non-judgmental. He loves you unconditionally, regardless of what you look like or what you’re wearing.

Having a dog to take care of can help take your attention away from problems that are upsetting you. But if you want to talk about your problems, Fido will listen patiently without any judgment. You can talk to him about anything. You can rant about a miscarriage of justice that happened to you, and he won’t scream back at you. He’ll love you just as much after your rant as before.

Fido Will Help You Meet People

It doesn’t matter what kind of dog Fido is. He can be the ugliest or the most beautiful dog on the planet. Either way, people who would never just walk up to you and start a conversation will talk to you when he is with you. And if the other person seems nice and you’re clever, you can turn the few questions about your dog into a longer conversation and perhaps even a later meeting for coffee.

Many of the benefits that a dog or other pet can give you in retirement are the same that pets provide their owners at other times in life. During retirement, however, those advantages can reap even greater rewards because retirement is a time when challenges to redefine your identity can sometimes be overwhelming.
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Kate is a freelance writer who has lived on the island of Java for the past 30 years. Java became her home when she took a 3-month work assignment to train Indonesians on word processing equipment in Jakarta, and she fell in love with the adventurous lifestyle that she found there. She worked as a tour director in many countries of the world, but she now spends most of her time writing in her home/office in Yogyakarta, Central Java, which she shares with her two whippets and four Dalmatians. You can visit her at KateFreelanceWriter or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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