Study shows relationship between older owners, dogs deepens over time
Published Friday, April 13, 2018 9:55PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, April 13, 2018 10:02PM ADT
A Maritime exhibit is showcasing the special bond between older owners and their dogs.
The exhibit shows that pets and dogs in particular, don't just keep seniors active, but they can often be the closest relationships they have.
Libby Edwards spends most mornings walking on trails by her house in Seaforth, N.S. Her best friend Peggy always walks by her side.
Peggy is a five-year-old golden doodle and she goes everywhere with Libby.
Libby’s husband Mike even built a custom seat for the pooch on his ATV.
Libby thought the two would be a perfect fit for “Grow Old Along with Me.” It’s a study that looks into the meaning of dogs in senior’s lives.
“She's mandatory…we couldn't live without her,” says Libby.
At 65-years-old, Libby says she can see how her bond with Peggy has grown. She says Peggy stayed by her side when she was sick a few years ago.
“She knew as I was getting stronger and healthier because I didn't realize it, but all of a sudden one day she came and jumped up on my lap again and I realized that I was then strong enough to actually have her on my lap.”
That’s the kind of bond that Dr. Ardra Cole has highlighted in her study at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.
Dr. Cole says older age is the time of life when people have the strongest attachment to their dogs.
“When you think about it, it's not surprising, because in a lot of cases, senior people are at a point in their life where they spend a lot more time alone,” says Dr. Cole.
Cole has followed 14 seniors and 60 dogs over the course of one year.
Dr. Cole says she has found that the relationship helped seniors to "age in place" -- keeping the elderly in their own homes longer. She recommends that people think twice before separating seniors and their pets.
“This relationship is so deep and the attachment is so strong and taking that away is to do a grave disservice and in fact, to interfere with the quality of life of senior people,” says Dr. Cole.
Atlantic Canada has the highest percentage of seniors in the country and many people across the region live in rural neighbourhoods, which can contribute to isolation.
The exhibit will be travelling around to a few communities in Nova Scotia in April and May.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff