We’re not just talking an excuse to get out for a walk or a furry friend to sit next to. While retirement is a great time to adopt, having a pet can also bring stress reduction and health benefits, too.

Featured in the 2019 issue of MyNorth Inspired Life

Something special happens when you’re greeted by a four-legged friend. Tail wagging. Tongue out. Pure joy as he awaits your pat on the head.

Pure joy for him, and for you. Retirees are reminiscing about their childhoods with canines and embracing that joy once again years later by adopting a dog.

Cherryland Humane Society in Traverse City has seen a steady number of retirement adoptions over the past few years.

Why? For the numerous benefits adopting a pet can bring. For example, Cherryland Humane Society Executive Director Heidi Yates shares that 5 to 15 minutes of animal therapy a day can help lower blood pressure.

Whether it’s through adoption or bringing dogs to different assisted living locations across Northern Michigan such as MediLodge and Cherry Hill Haven, the Cherryland Humane team regularly sees the joy dogs give to retirees. “It’s a win-win. The dogs get the love they deserve and the residents get the benefit of having the dogs there.”

For those looking to bring a dog back to their own homes, Cherryland Humane has a full-time behaviorist on staff who is specially trained to match the right dog for you and keep your furry friend’s life enriched until you get there.

“We really try to provide enrichment and behavior modification so when retirees come in we can try to match up with the appropriate animal. Sometimes people don’t know where to start,” Heidi says. “We have a behaviorist on staff who is here to match. Do you have an active lifestyle? Or sedentary? Do you like dog parks, etc.? We listen and try to match that up. It takes a village. It’s not just taking in animals and turning them around. We want to make sure it’s a forever home.”

Plus if you need a little help preparing for a new pet at home, Cherryland Humane Society and Traverse Outdoor Landscaping and Irrigation have teamed up for a scholarship program, so that every dog gets a five-week training course for free, providing tips, tricks, and socialization—both for the dogs and the retirees.

Not ready to commit full time but want to share the love?

Join Cherryland’s dog walking program. “You’ll go through our volunteer program (the second Saturday of every month), and join retiree Sue Schwartz,” explains Heidi. “She’s done this for 10 years and is in charge of the dog walkers. First you shadow someone as you take dogs off-site, and then you’ll join a dedicated group of people.

“If you can’t have a pet, you can come here and get your animal fix!”

Heidi’s Tips for Adopting

  • Do your research. Discover what breed will fit your lifestyle. Recognize any size/weight restrictions for your residence.
  • Visit. Stop by the shelter to see some dogs looking for a home like yours.
  • Have a plan. If something happens to you, make sure you have a plan for the animal. If you’re looking for a puppy who’s going to live for 15 years, that’s great! Just make sure you have a plan. Learn more at cherrylandhumane.org.

More Ways to Share the Love

Silver Muzzle Cottage Rescue & Hospice

Many canines late in their years find themselves at area shelters. The Silver Muzzle Cottage Rescue & Hospice is a Michigan-based rescue and hospice on a mission to provide senior, disabled and hospice dogs the chance to live out their lives with love and dignity. Volunteers are the heart and soul of this rescue. Their goal? Shed light on the value, beauty and grace of these dogs and the ways they enrich the lives of those who foster or adopt them. Here are two meaningful ways to get involved:

Cottage Friends Program
Enrich the lives of these senior dogs by taking them for hikes in the woods, strolls on the beach and the occasional swim. Or for those dogs too limited to enjoy a more active lifestyle, quiet companionship is all that is needed.

Seniors for Seniors Program
SMC volunteers take senior dogs to visit area nursing care facilities. This meaningful activity brings joy not only to the facility residents but also to the dogs who participate.

Go to silvermuzzlecottage.com to find out more about how you can get involved.