Should you get a puppy for a terminally ill relative?
Recently, a friend was wondering if he should adopt a puppy for his mother, who had terminal cancer.
His mom really wanted one, but my friend wasn’t sure that it was such a good idea and wanted some advice.
So, I decided to share my thoughts with all of you on this sensitive subject if you’re in a similar situation.
3 Pros of Getting a Puppy for a Terminally Ill Relative
Hearing the word “cancer” can turn anyone’s world upside-down and make you reevaluate your priorities.
During such hard times, getting a pet might sound like an excellent idea, especially if you’ve never had the time before.
While therapy dogs are specially trained canines, all well-behaving dogs can be excellent companions for sick people. Let’s see why.
#1 Fight Depression
In today’s busy world, depression is a common ailment, and something many people don’t take seriously.
But depression hits hard when you or your loved ones hear the dreaded diagnosis.
Suddenly, getting out of bed is a chore, taking care of yourself doesn’t seem necessary, and fighting the disease appears pointless.
It’s a bleak state of mind that makes giving up a good idea.
A puppy or a dog with their playful nature and cheerful disposition can break up that ominous circle of dark thoughts.
It’s hard to stay sad for long when you have a puppy around the house to distract you and make you laugh.
Since puppies need to be fed and walk, suddenly, there is a reason to get up from the bed and make yourself presentable.
After all, you can’t leave the little one hungry or allow the puppy to soil the carpet.
Moreover, exercise is good for cancer patients.
Short daily walks allow you to fight fatigue, improve your physical state, and help you recover quickly from treatment.
#2 Comfort and Unconditional Love
One of the best things about puppies and dogs is that they love unconditionally.
They don’t care what mistakes you’ve done or what you’ve failed to do.
Moreover, you don’t need to do much to get a puppy to like you, and most puppies happy and content as long as they’re with you.
When you’re sick, and you know that you don’t have that long, having someone that loves you without expecting something in return can be comforting.
Families and relatives mean well, but sometimes their worry and tip-toeing makes things worse.
Moreover, it’s not always easy for cancer patients to speak to their families and relatives about feelings, fears, and emotions.
But dogs and puppies are great listeners, and they know how to keep a secret.
#3 Less Stress and Anxiety
Cancer treatment is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.
Doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy, going in and out of hospitals, being in pain, struggling with your stressful job – it all leads to anxiety.
Stress isn’t good for anyone, especially when they’re sick.
As studies have shown, dog owners have lower blood pressure and heart rate than people without pets.
Moreover, dogs reduce anxiety, improve the mood, and ease chronic pain.
That could be beneficial for cancer patients and increase their chances of getting better.
Petting a puppy feels good because the body produces endorphins.
If you don’t know it, endorphin is a “happy” hormone that will make your forget about how bad things are, at least for a few precious moments.
3 Cons of Getting a Puppy For a Terminally Ill Relative
Adopting a puppy or an older dog has pros and cons even when you’re healthy and in the prime of life.
You have to weigh them carefully before you decided to get one for you or a sick family member.
Puppies and dogs aren’t stuffed toys, and they might suffer if you make a wrong judgment.
#1 Taking Care of a Puppy Is Time-Consuming
Puppies are little balls of endless energies.
They need a person who would be willing to play with them, take them out for walks, and put up with their shenanigans.
Cancer patients not always have the energy to do these activities, even when they want to.
While some breeds are easier to train and housebreak than others, they still require a lot of effort to mature into well-behaving dogs.
It’s not fair for the puppy to leave them untrained.
That can ruin a puppy’s life when they go to live with someone else or if they bite/attack another person/animal on the street.
Adult dogs are a little easier to care for because they’ve already been socialized and housebroken.
However, dogs need regular exercise, or even the most laid-back canines will become destructive when bored.
#2 Someone Has to Care for the Puppy
“What’s going to happy to the puppy? Is someone going to take care of him after?”
That was my first question when my friend brought up the subject.
I could think of little worse than dying and knowing that no one will take care of my pets after I’m gone.
I’m sure that a lot of people feel the same.
It’s not fair for the puppy to adopt them and then send the puppy/dog back to the shelter after a couple of months or abandoned them on the street.
Judging on social media posts, relatives do these things far more often than you’d imagine.
As such, if you can’t re-home the puppy and find someone willing to take good care of them, there’s no point in getting one.
After all, when you bring a puppy home, you promise a forever home, and you should be able to keep that promise.
#3 Puppy’s Going to Miss Their Owner
While some breeds are less affectionate than others, all dogs love their owner even if they don’t show it.
Puppies, especially, bond quickly because they’re separated from their mother for the first time and need someone to love them.
So, you have to take into account the puppy’s feelings. While dogs can smell cancer, they probably don’t know what it means.
Even if they do, dogs don’t understand death as we do. But a puppy would know is that the person they love most is no longer around, and that could be traumatic.
Some people don’t think that dogs and cats can grief, but they do and can be miserable for months afterward.
That’s a risk you’re going to have to take if you consider getting a dog for you or your terminally ill relative.
Dogs can reduce stress, relieve pain, and improve your physical and mention condition.
They can be a great comfort and excellent companions for sick and dying people.
But getting a new puppy can be overwhelming and challenging even for healthy people.
I understand that people are reluctant to deny their loved one’s dying wish. But you have to make a choice that will make both parties happy.