My grandmother lost her dog two years ago. She has wanted a new pet ever since, but my mom thinks it’s too much trouble. What do you think?

I’m a big believer in the magic of animals and pets. They bring so much love into our lives! However, in your grandmother’s situation, you want to use common sense.

The big question is: can your grandmother care for a dog? Can she let the dog out, or take it for a walk? If she can’t manage these tasks, the answer may be no. Even a loved pet can become neglected if its owner can’t keep up with caregiving.

As a side note, consider fall risks with animals. If your grandmother is unsteady on her feet, a dog can be something she might trip over.

No can become yes if your grandma lives with your family or has in-home help. Then the helper can help provide this care to the animal.

I don’t want to start an online controversy between “dog people” and “cat people,” but I will weigh in by saying that sometimes a friendly cat is a better option for people like your grandmother. Cats are usually much less work and they seem to know how to stay out of the way when your grandmother is walking in the house, hopefully reducing fall risk.

My 89-year-old dad has a cat and loves it dearly. I think his cat, Pearl, has kept him motivated and provides him with an endless source of amusement, but it’s really his caregiver who makes sure Pearl has food, water, and clean litter.

If your grandma is not up for caring for a pet, and you move ahead, be sure to keep her off the caregiving schedule.

Even if your grandma can’t have a pet, there are still ways you can bring animals into her life. Take her to a dog park to watch other people’s pets romping off leash. Ask a neighbor with a well-behaved dog to bring it over for half an hour.

Access to animals, not ownership, may be the best solution.

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