I Just Don't Get It

Elderly dog

Some dog owners must be completely mad. Why else would someone come up with the concept of a canine nursing home?

To me, the concept seems like a complete contradiction. Let's look at the basics. Why do the vast majority of pet owners get dogs? I'm willing to be proven wrong. but I'd say it is for companionship.

It doesn't matter whether you are male or female, live on your own, with a partner or have six kids running around the house, a dog brings so much into any household. Loyalty, constant good cheer, protection, a shoulder to cry on, someone to watch television with - in short - a companion.

To be a companion, your dog needs to be there with you. The special bond that people build with their pets builds with every minute they spend together. So what is to be gained by putting your aging pet in a nursing home? You lose your friend, your companion, and gain a big hole in your household in return.

And what does your beloved pooch get? Stuck in a sterile facility with strange dogs and even stranger carers, who despite their best intentions are being paid to be there and will never take your place in their hearts. What sort of reward is this for a life of devotion and loyalty?

I've spoken previously about people 'humanizing' their pets too much, and this is just another example. I bet if you asked an aging dog whether it would prefer going to a nursing home or staying with its family 'pack', it would choose the pack every time. That's just how dogs think.

Now don't misunderstand me - I don't feel the same way about nursing homes for people. Sure, in an ideal world no one would need to live in a nursing home, but unfortunately there are some people who just can't manage on their own any longer and who don't have any family to look after them. There is a place for human nursing homes. But I just can't see the need for the canine version.

It's not like their owners have all disappeared - life goes on at home while the poor dog mopes on its own in its pen. I just can't see the benefit. Sure, they get 24-hour medical care, but it's a basic quality of life issue - what's the point of giving a dog an extra three years of life if it is going to spend them on its own? And you can buy a lot of excellent home-based care for the $800-a-month fee.

And what about the family left at home - what do they do in the meantime? When do you get a new dog? Straight away? After six months? Do you wait until your current pet passes on? I can see it now - as soon as you get a new dog, the weekly visits to old Rex at the home slowly dwindle to fortnightly, monthly, then only Christmas and birthdays...

I sure hope the canine nursing home idea doesn't spread here.