Updated: Feb 25, 2019
Mrs. Trudeau, steadying herself with her walker, greeted me at her tidy front door. From the entryway, I was introduced to Moopsie, her Miniature Schnauzer. He announced his importance with a series of short, emphatic barks.
For forty-two years, Mrs. Trudeau had lived in her home, the last eight as a widow. She led me through the home, pointing out her favorite features. “That’s Moopsie’s bed,” she laughed, pointing to her queen-size poster bed. In the family room, “that’s where we watch TV together.” Each room came with a Moopsie story. Mrs. Trudeau laughed again as her dog wagged excitedly for a tasty treat.
Settling into the living room, we talked about Mrs. Trudeau’s decision to downsize out of her big home. She had chosen an assisted living community nearby, and was relieved to have a ground-floor unit. “Our apartment opens to a lovely patio, so Moopsie can go outside,” she explained, scratching his head. It was clear that the decision of where to live next was guided by Moopsie’s best interests. Even the best senior communities would not do, unless Moopsie could live there with her doting owner. And the dog’s daily routine, exercise, and grooming were arranged even before Mrs. Trudeau had chosen furniture for her new apartment.
Decades ago, when she and her husband bought their home, Mrs. Trudeau was busy raising four children and working as a legal secretary. Now, life had a slower pace, and family lived far away. Moopsie’s presence filled the empty space and quiet of the home with joy, companionship, and loyal friendship. They shared every moment of every day.
Well meaning caregivers and professionals often underestimate the importance of pets when providing guidance to seniors. They direct clients according to the cost, location, services, and outings of a senior community, while all along, Moopsie truly has the final say. Years of experience caring for the aging have taught me this. Seniors are more willing to remain in an unsafe, isolated environment at home, than move into a supported community and lose their pet.
Why does the pet outweigh all of these factors? The answer is simple: pets are family. They are the main source of comfort and familiarity during the significant life step of downsizing and selling the home. Family and providers must be careful not to suggest that the pet “find a new family” during the downsizing process. To most seniors, this idea is as absurd as sending away one’s own child in order to enjoy a better life. Sensitive consideration of the owner-pet bond, and the continuation of their friendship in the next home, are essential components of the senior’s happiness and well-being.
When planning a senior’s home sale, put the pet’s name at the top of the list of priorities. Practical or not, this emotional bond will guide many decisions. And Moopsie will see to it that Mrs. Trudeau loves her new home.
© SASH Senior Home Sale Services, by Rebecca Bomann, CEO / Founder