My dogs died; should I get a new pet in old age?

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my late 60s living alone. I recently lost in succession my two beloved dogs that I had for nearly 15 years to illness. I’ve been sick with sorrow.

I think I have to do something to change my current situation, and I’m considering living with an animal again. But my daughter opposes the idea, saying I might not survive the new pet. She also said that up until the dogs’ death, I spent enough on medical fees to have bought a minicar, meaning it would be impossible for me to have another pet given my current financial condition.

Based on my mental health, my son recommended I have a cat because he would take care of it even if I died before the pet. When I told my daughter about my son’s suggestion, she and her child didn’t agree because they wouldn’t be able to visit my house because of their cat allergies. I assume she didn’t say so out of spite, but because she doesn’t want me to face the same sorrow I felt as when the dogs died.

I can’t figure out what to do, as I can understand the consideration both children are showing me.

I, Aichi Prefecture

Dear Ms. I:

I sympathize with your problem. I have an old cat who’s about 80 in human years. When I lose my current cat, will I be able to accept a new one? Just considering this makes me uneasy. My mother couldn’t continue to keep a cat because of her illness when she was the same age I am now.

Nowadays cats can live longer if they live indoors — some cats can live for about 20 years. However, I think this kind of mind-set is irresponsible when owners believe they could pass away at any time and don’t know whether they can care for their pets until their last moments. Just holding a cat in your arms and cutting its nails is not easy. Generally speaking, cats have weak kidneys, meaning medical fees would cost a lot.

I’m worried you can’t move past your sorrow. It is fortunate for you, however, that your children care about you. I suggest you appreciate their consideration and enjoy things like a long trip and doing volunteer activities from now on, as these are things you couldn’t do while keeping the dogs.

Of course, it’s up to you whether to get a new pet, but I hope you’ll keep this in mind: You loved the two dogs and did your best to take care of them until their end. I believe they were really happy. They are surely watching over you from heaven and will continue to do so in the future.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from Dec. 6, 2017, issue)Speech

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