The Truth About Cats and Dogs
....and birds, and ferrets. Here's a story about what can (and does) happen in an assisted living facility (ALF) where the residents are permitted to bring their beloved Fido or Fluffy with them when they move in. Is this wise? Maybe not. Interesting? Always!
I've always been an advocate for pets in long-term and residential care, but after some of the occurrences I've witnessed recently in my assisted-living faciity, I've begun to wonder if it's really a wise thing to do.
Maybe it's because the staff wind up caring for the residents' pets when their dementia has rendered them incapable of remembering to clean the litter box or take Fido for a walk, with predictable results. Or maybe it's because there's an annoying little Yorkie in apartment 10B that barks incessantly when his owner goes out to activities, which is pretty much all day, every day.
Then there's the ferret in 12A that chased my son down the hall a couple of weeks ago. Her owner named her Fanny Brice for some inexplicable reason, but there's nothing funny about this 'girl'.......she's meaner than cat dirt and sneaky as a snake! She's been known to nip caregivers who had the nerve to try to pet her when she first moved in with Mrs. Smith, a jolly woman who you'd think would have preferred a nice warm kitty or a lap dog for companionship.
Needless to say, this critter is the terror of the first floor, not just because she bites but because she likes to bolt whenever she gets a chance. Makes it interesting at mealtime when she zips through the dining room with eighty-plus residents and five servers......I just hope it never happens when the state surveyors come in, or they'll shut us down in a heartbeat.
Anyway, one day recently my son, who works as a CNA at my facility, had just brought in Mrs. Smith's breakfast when Fanny, who was apparently lurking under the bed, decided to do her thing. She has never liked him---not that she likes anyone---but I think she senses his fear, as she bit him hard on the chin when he attempted to pet her shortly after move-in. He was just about to set the tray down when Fanny saw her opportunity and made a beeline for him.
Well, nothing on the tray got broken, but I think a couple of track records might have been as my son took to his heels, screaming for help and followed closely by Fanny, who was fortunately intercepted by one of the other aides before she could reach him. After that, Mrs. Smith was ever-so-politely asked to keep Fanny in a cage during the day when staff were in and out; it remains to be seen if this arrangement will be satisfactory, as the cage in question has not been purchased yet.
The menagerie doesn't end with the various canines, felines, and Fanny the Ferocious, however. Mr. Jones has a parrot, appropriately named Captain Morgan, that not only cusses like a sailor but actually laughs. This is a hoot, if only because his laughter is so unusual---it sounds like a cross between a cackle and a yelp. A typical "greeting" from the Captain when staff enters the room typically goes something like "Alleluyer, ya slimy(profanity)!!" followed by that hilarious burst of laughter.
One time I went up to deliver a package for Mr. Jones, who was out of the apartment at that particular time, and the bird began to swear horribly. I promptly broke up, not because I find this avian behavior hysterically funny, but the combination of bad language he used was actually very creative, blending traditional curses with aspersions on my ancestry. He sounded for all the world like a mechanic who's just dropped a tire iron on his toe.
Whereupon the Captain went "AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" in that inimitable voice of his, which in turn made me laugh even harder, as did the bird........causing residents to give me some very odd looks as they went by on their way to bingo!
Yes, life with pets in a residential care setting can be interesting for both residents and staff alike. While the occasional cat may trip up its human and cause her to fall, or a long-beloved dog goes to the Rainbow Bridge and sends its owner into inconsolable grief, the sight of a ferret chasing a caregiver or the sound of a parrot cackling madly more than makes up for all the hassle.Last edit by Joe V on Aug 6, '12
About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide
Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 26,719; Likes: 43,451
RN and blogger extraordinaire; from OR , US
Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psychAug 6, '12This absolutely made my day!!!!!!!!!! I'd give my right arm to see a cussing and cackling parrot.Aug 6, '12If a resident is no longer able to care for a pet, then it should be taken away from them. We barely have enough time to care for our residents, let alone walking a dog or emptying a litter box. Seems pretty cut and dry to me....Aug 6, '12Quote from timmedicoThat would be such an awesome addition to my household!This absolutely made my day!!!!!!!!!! I'd give my right arm to see a cussing and cackling parrot.
I would love to have a parrot around to curse at the cats, hehe!Aug 6, '12Quote from BrandonLPNAnd what do you propose to do with the "inconvenient" pet? The nations' shelters are already overflowing with unwanted pets. Since the OP is talking about pets in an ALF and not a SNF the level of care requirements are different. The animals residing in the ALF do add more joy than trouble overall and I feel pretty confident that both staff & residents enjoy having the furry and feathery set enough to offset any inconveniences and encounters with fierce ferrets or foul mouthed fowl.If a resident is no longer able to care for a pet, then it should be taken away from them. We barely have enough time to care for our residents, let alone walking a dog or emptying a litter box. Seems pretty cut and dry to me....Aug 6, '12Quote from BrandonLPNHmm, seems I missed the point of the "Nurses Rock!" forum. Must be a new forum they just started. Anyways, my apologies for being all grumpy and serious and stuff.If a resident is no longer able to care for a pet, then it should be taken away from them. We barely have enough time to care for our residents, let alone walking a dog or emptying a litter box. Seems pretty cut and dry to me....
Having animals around could be amusing. For example, having a parrot around would add a whole new layer of drama, as much as some of those girls like to gossip about each other!Aug 7, '12Quote from BrandonLPNFor some people their pet is the only thing that makes their life worthwhile. To take it away, often after they have had it for many year, would be cruel & unacceptable!
We look after a cat, a dog, a cockatiel and 2 rabbits!! There are always volunteers to walk the dog as staff can then have a smoke! The cat does not leave its owner's room, it takes 5 seconds to feed it & not much time to clean litter tray.
We had a situation recently where the dog was going to be removed. Her owner, a youngish client with HD was inconsolable. She has had the dog for 8 years. The general consensus of opinion amongst the staff was that having a pet is just as important as any therapy or treatment when considering a persons needs.Aug 8, '12I think pets are a great idea in the ALF. Granted there will be the inconveniences, but I imagine they are well worth it.Sep 2, '12I worked at a residential care as the director in brain injury facility and the residents adopted a house cat for our unit and named her.....they loved having her....she slept in all their beds like goldy locks and was patted often. There's nothing more homelike then having a pet. I personally have 4 a dog 2 cats and a newborn 3 day old kitten....my dog visits were I work now on a daily basis the residents enjoy pets and they may not remember the care needs of the pet ie litter boxes walks food but as staff we are there to assist with improving the quality of life if someone loves a pet that can do the trick helps with depression.Sep 5, '12Quote from nursing_06We had a cat where I worked. Activities and house keeping took care of him and all the residents loved having a pet.I worked at a residential care as the director in brain injury facility and the residents adopted a house cat for our unit and named her.....they loved having her....she slept in all their beds like goldy locks and was patted often. There's nothing more homelike then having a pet. I personally have 4 a dog 2 cats and a newborn 3 day old kitten....my dog visits were I work now on a daily basis the residents enjoy pets and they may not remember the care needs of the pet ie litter boxes walks food but as staff we are there to assist with improving the quality of life if someone loves a pet that can do the trick helps with depression.
For haloween we died him purple (with animal safe dye, of course) and put a littleorange shirt on him. It was so cute and the residents thought it was hilarious.
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