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Can pets fill the void once the children leave home?

Article by Fabafterfifty

My mother-in-law was totally distraught at the death of her much loved dog.  A very loving person with a strong maternal instinct she found it incredibly difficult to function without  her pet which had brought affection and structure to her daily life. I jokingly said to my husband that if she didn’t get another dog, he may have to move back home!

Apparently I had struck a nerve as my mother-in-law had indeed acquired her first yorkie just over 32 years ago as an empty-nester  when my husband  and his brother had both  left home.

It seems she’s not alone. A friend often jokes about her ‘menopausal dog’, nicknamed as such because the dog became an addition to her family at the same time she became an empty nester. Apparently her very pampered pooch gets away with far worse behaviour than her children ever did!

Having a pet can help fill the void felt by many empty nesters ,  with health benefits associated such as  increased exercise with dog walking, reducing stress, new opportunities to socialise at puppy training classes and adoring eyes looking at you with unconditional love when you walk through the door.

Pet ownership can certainly fill the need to feel needed.

The downside may involve lack of spontaneity as caring for any pet requires planning- this may be difficult if you have grown accustomed to coming and going as you please!

Any my mother-in-law?  She and her new Yorkie are both very happy and doing well!


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  1. Jackie Walker

    March 10, 2011

    Ah pets and they don’t talk back … well, they do, but not quite like teenagers!! I think that there are pros and cons to pets, for the very reasons you point out. I’ve been dog-less for 18 months now and really miss the regular exercise in all weathers, and the social aspect – it’s amazing how many people speak to you when you’re out walking with a dog, compared to walking on your own.

    I’m looking at getting another dog just now, and am stalling as I enjoy the ability to say yes to things without needing to first think of kennels, walking, feeding etc.

    I think I might wait another year or so before I make my decision!

  2. Valerie Cuell

    March 10, 2011

    Dogs make great companions when you live alone and make you leave the house regardless of whether you feel like going out or not.
    I have got to know many people locally by meeting them regularly when walking the dog, and have become good friends with some.
    I wouldn’t be without a dog now, and personally there isn’t really a downside for me.
    I take the dog with me whenever I can, I have very good local kennels and a friend who will have her for whenever I can’t.

  3. Kathy

    December 10, 2011

    Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to have children and in these circumstances nurturing animals can definitely fulfill a need.

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