Q: I'm a 54-year-old woman with some medical issues. I've survived breast cancer and am being treated for a cancer call malignant mesothelioma. I also have a very bad knee. Right now, overall, I feel OK, and I so badly want a dog. Everyone keeps telling me how much work they are, and cautions me about the expense. I live on a fixed income. But I am lonely and depressed, and feel a small dog would help me. I don't mean to cry on your shoulder, but do you know of an agency that might offer financial support? Do you think I should adopt a new friend? -- R.M., Eagan, MN
A: It sounds like you've had a rough time, and if anyone deserves the unconditional love of a dog, you do. Certainly a dog is a commitment, but I suggest that adopting a small dog might save a pet's life and inspire your own.
A small dog can be trained to go potty on pee pads or in a litter box made for dogs. That way, on days when you might not feel up to going outdoors, it wouldn't be necessary. However, a dog can also motivate you to get out in the sunshine, which may be healthful.
Do check with your physician before you adopt a dog. If you receive an A- OK, I enthusiastically support the idea.
You're right that pets generate expenses for food and medical care. One upside to adoption, however, is that it's a relative bargain since the pet is already spayed/neutered, vaccinated and, hopefully, healthy. Some shelters do feature low-cost veterinary clinics, and there are communities where at least one privately-owned clinic provides low-cost care. Still, there is a cost associated with preventive care as well heartworm preventives. Some larger communities, such as Chicago, have pet food pantries associated with animal shelters. Perhaps there's a pantry in Minneapolis or St. Paul. I wish I could offer a more definitive answer.
Another option might be to have a friend or relative leave their pet with you for a few days every few weeks. Most animals will settle into such an arrangement, but I realize it's not quite the same as having your own pet.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services
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