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A narrative exploration of the meaning of companion animals throughout the lives of non-institutionalized… Stokowski, Teresa Angela 1994

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A NARRATIVE EXPLORATION OF THE MEANING OF COMPANION ANIMALSTHROUGHOUTTHE LIVES OF NON- INSTITUTIONALIZEDELDERLY WIDOWS LIVING ALONEbyTERESA ANGELA STOKOWSKIBA., The University of Victoria, 1990A THESIS SUBMITfED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Counselling PsychologyWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standard2THE UNiVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBiAMAY 1994@ Teresa Angela Stokowski, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.Department of (\\ f.The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate_____________________DE-6 (2/88)11ABSTRACTThe purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of companion animals throughout thelives of non-institutionalized elderly widows living alone. Three widows ranging in age from70 to 85 were recruited from friends and acquaintances for participation in this study. Themeaning of companion animals in their lives was studied by using a narrative approach. Thedata was analyzed for emerging themes and integrated into a list of common themes of themeaning of companion animals. The results of this study will hopefully assist people inunderstanding the meaning and value of companion animals to non-institutionalized elderlywidows living alone.inTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractTable of Contents iiiAcknowledgements vChapter I INTRODUCTION 1Rationale 1Purpose of the Study 3Definition of Terms 4Chapter II LITERATURE REVIEW 6Theories 6Positive and Negative Aspects 9Attachment - The Human/Companion Animal Bond II)TheElderly 11Widows 12Summary 12Chapter III METHODOLOGY 14Methodological Approach 15The Process of Narrative Inquiry 14Pre-Interview Process 15Procedure and Data Collection 15Rationale for Interview Questions 18Field Notes 20Interview Process 21Pilot Study 21Participants 22Data Analysis and Reporting of Findings 23Interpretation in Narrative Inquiry 24iVBeyond Reliability, Validity, and Generalizability 25Risks, Dangers, and Abuses of Narrative 27Narrative Audience 28Chapter IV RESULTS 29Pam’s Story 29Summary 42Themes 44Martha’s Story 48Summary 72Themes 74Dora’s Story 79Summary 128Themes 131Common Themes 138Chapter V DISCUSSION AND SUMMARY 141Theoretical Implications 141Limitations of the Study 143Implications for Future Research 143Implications for Counselling 143References 145Appendix A Participant Informed Consent Form 151VACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank my committee members, Drs. Norman Amundson, Mary Westwood,and Carl Leggo for their support and encouragement. and for allowing me my freedom andindependence during this project.I would like to thank my friends for taking an interest in my work and providingconstant support and encouragement. In particular I would like to acknoviedge LorriJohnston and Paula DaPonte.I would like to thank my family for their never ending patience. support. andunderstanding.Finally, this work is dedicated to Trudy. my dog, who generously and continually gave 16years of love and inspiration. This thesis was written because she had taught me theincredible and important value of companion animals.CHAPTER 1introductionRationalePeople 65 years old and over is the fastest growing age group in Canada. Currently thisage group accounts for 11.5% of the total population. Provincially, in British Columbia thisage group accounts for 13% of the population (Statistics Canada, 1991). Based on currentprojections, this group will account for greater than 20% of the population by 2030 (Health &Welfare Canada, 1989). people aged 75 years and older will increase from 19% in 1991 to anestimated 24% of the older population by 2001 (Health & Welfare Canada. 1983). and thoseunder 20 years of age will account for less than 20% of the population (Novak, 1988).These demographic changes mean that health care costs will increase to meet the needsof the elderly (ie. more institutional support. household maintenance, medical care, andcommunity health care supports), while there are relatively fever people to contribute. Costsaving strategies need to be developed. Busta.d and Hines (1983) suggest that studies need tobe conducted to determine if animal companions can contribute to reducing the costs ofhealth care. Research has suggested that companion animals may permit the elderly to liveindependently in their own homes longer and to experience better health (Katcher. 1980) orreduce their dependence on drugs (Corson & Corson, 1980).As veIl, it is estimated that almost 6% of men and 9% of women in Canada aged 65 andover reside in institutions (Novak, 1988). As the population ages the numbers and percentageof older people who spend time in an institution will increase, which may increase morbidityand mortality and decrease life satisfaction (Bustad & Hines, 1983 Gutman & Blackie, 1985).Bustad and Hines (1983) suggest that the degree and quality of animal association in eachsituation could modify this grim prediction.Statistics also show that problems in old age are magnified for women. Due to a decreasein mortality rates, by the year 2001 there will likely be 134 women to 100 men aged 65 to 79.and women aged 80 and over will outnumber men 218 to 100 (Health & Welfare Canada, 1983).2This has a broad range of consequences, among them a greater likelihood of older womenbeing widowed than older men. Current statistics show that for men 65 and over 76% aremarried and 14% are widowed, while only 40% of older women are married and 49% arewidowed (Statistics Canada, 1991). Also, this difference increases with age. A major problemwith being elderly, female, and alone is the high risk of poverty. As well, the loss of a spousepresents serious rIsks to the physical and psychological health and well-being of thesurvivor (Glick, Weiss, & Parkes, 1974: Morris, 1974; Parkes, 1972). Numerous studiesdocument excess mortality and morbidity among widows and widowers when compared totheir age and sex peers (Barkson, 1962, Cox & Ford, 1964; Helsing, Szklo, & Comstock, 1981;Maddison & Viola, 1968: Rees & Lutkins, 1967). Much of this excess mortality and morbidityhas been attributed to the stress, anxiety, and loneliness frequently experienced bysurviving spouses (Akiyama, Holtzman, & Britz, 1986). Increased use of medical care servicesand drug consumption were also reported (Parkes, 1964). Companion animals may be oneway to reduce these problems.Burnside (1979) provides valuable insight into the general needs of the elderly. Shedescribes the basic characteristics of the elderly and some of their most important needs.needs that to some extent could be met through relationships with an animal companion. Shesuggests that companion animals might have a positive effect on the loneliness andemotional isolation that the elderly may experience, a feeling of being locked into oneselfand unable to obtain warmth and comfort from others. Animals might also reduce the stressassociated with moving from home to home. In addition, she posits that life review is animportant aspect of working with the elderly, and encouraging reminiscence is an effectivetool. Animals are helpful because they can trigger reminiscences. Therapeutic touch is alsoextremely important. Nonverbal communication can decrease the elderly’s sensorydeprivation. The sensory loss, immobility, living alone, and loss of significant othersexperienced by the elderly may increase the need for touching. Touching animals, as well asbeing touched, could be therapeutic.3Levinson (1969) focused specifically on the non-institutionalized elderly and theirrelationship to companion animals. He found that the elderly often suffer from a loss ofrelatives and withdraw from active participation in human affairs. Objects and animals thatprovided security in early life may assume greater importance in later life. The animals mayserve as an anchor for good mental health. He also explains the fragile defense structures ofthe elderly and the reversal of roles they experience. En this reversal, companion animalscan be important allies because the animals depend on the owner and offer them a measureof security. Companion animals can help the elderly adapt to their change in status andaccept their new role. Companion animals do not offer competition and can lead the elderlyto find new interests and move out into the environment to walk and to talk with others.Companion animals can also be important love objects and can be loved without fear ofrejection. In this article he provided an excellent summary of the potential benefit ofcompanion animals for the elderly:A companion animal can provide, in boundless measure, love and unqualified approval.Many elderly and lonely people have discovered that pets satisfy vital emotional needs.They find that they can hold onto the world of reality, of cares, of human toil andsacrifice, and of intense emotional relationships by caring for an animal. Theirconcepts of themselves as worthwhile persons can be restored, even enhanced, by theassurance that the companion animals they care for love them in return, (p. 368)Purpose of the StudyThere are a number of reasons why I believe this study is important. As I havepreviously discussed, the elderly experience a number of potential problems. There aremany benefits associated with companion animals and my own belief is that everyone couldbenefit in one way or another from companion animals but because of negative aspects orcurrent lifestyle it may not be appropriate or practical for everyone to own companionanimals. This is why I wanted to explore if companion animals are actually beneficial, in4what ways, what widows might benefit from companion animals, and what are the negativeaspects associated with companion animals.Although these same questions could be asked in relation to widowers, because elderlywidows greatly outnumber elderly widowers and this population is rapidly increasing. I havechosen to focus this study on elderly widows.Wilson and Netting (1987) suggested that based on life course development anindividuals personal history becomes a variable in determining the pattern of subsequentlife events. Based on this statement, life course events (such as personal history withcompanion animals, previous attitudes toward and attachments to companion animals,childhood experiences, and so on) are all part of an individuals personal history. And it isthese life course events that could be a determining factor as to the pattern of subsequent lifeevents (such as current attitudes toward and attachments to companion animals, positive andnegative aspects associated with companion animals, perceived role of companion animals,and the degree to which companion animals have an impact on an individual’s sense of wellbeing). Bearing this in mind, the present study was designed to explore the meaning ofcompanion animals in the lives of non-institutionalized elderly widows based on eachparticipant’s personal life experiences.Definition of TermsIn this study the meaning of companion animals refers to participants’ perceptions ofthe influence or impact companion animals have had on their lives. This could includepositive and negative aspects, their role, value, importance, and so on.The term companion animal refers to any living non-human animal. The termcompanion animal is used rather than the term pet for a couple of reasons. As stated byMugford (1980), companionship is undoubtedly the most commonly cited reason for “pet”ownership emerging from surveys of both owners and non-owners. Today domestic animalsare valued for love, companionship, and other intrinsic qualities they provide, and not juStowned and treated as an object or possession that the term pet infers.Attachment, and the term human/animal companion bonding, refers to a lastingaffectional tie between a person and an animal (Poresky & Hendrix, 1988).56CHAPTER IILiterature ReviewAlthough much has been said about the potential health value of companion animals,most of the research relies heavily on anecdotal reports or on psychiatric case histories(Wilson NetLing, 1987). Studies have been conducted on the effects derived fromcompanion animals and their ownership, and the value of companion animals to theinstitutionalized and non-institutionalized. Several studies and theories will be discussedbelow with an emphasis on the elderly. Because of the limited amount of research done inthis area this study includes literature from a broader time framework.TheoriesIn 1984 an invitational conference for research on the interactions of animals andpeople was held in Washington, DC. At that conference it was apparent that no conceptualframework dominated this area of study (Netting, Wilson, & New, 1987). Based on thisconference and previously published literature on the topic, there are several theoreticalframeworks which may be helpful in understanding the roles and relationships companionanimals may play in a person’s life.Social role theory. A role has been defined as any set of behaviours that has somesocially agreed upon function and for which there exists an accepted code of norms (Wilson& Netting, 1987). Four dimensions characterize the effect of social roles on the individual:(a) the number of roles, (b) the intensity of involvement, (c) the pattern of participationover time, and (d) the degree of structure the roles impose (Wilson & Netting, 1987). In oursociety, each stage of one’s life may be characterized by varying roles that assume these fourdimensions.As a person ages multiple roles develop. Companion animal ownership may be one ofmany roles and depending on life circumstances it may remain very important or it maybecome less significant. However, when approaching an advanced age a person mayexperience role losses through widowhood, retirement, incapacitation, and so on. Some7persons rapidly replace lost roles with new ones, others may rejoice in their newfoundfreedom, and yet others may mourn their loss. Companion animal ownership may become aburden to the older person who wants to travel, but it may become a more significant role forthe isolated elder. For the latter type of person, when creating roles with other persons maybe less an option, companion animal ownership becomes a role that can be filled simply bybuying a companion animal (Wilson & Netting, 1987).ExchanRe theory. Exchange theory suggests that people continue to engage inrelationships only as long as the benefits of their interactions outweigh the costs (Blau,1964). For the elderly, pets may provide valuable relationships that serve functions such ascompanionship, tactile stimulation, safety, and nonjudgmental emotional support. Thesepotential benefits may be especially important to persons who have limited interactionalopportunities. Therefore, the benefits may greatly outweigh the cost in certain situations(Wilson & Netting, 1987).Life soan develoomental theory. This theory focuses on the uniqueness of the individualas he or she progresses through the stages of life. Because each person’s experience andperceptions vary, no one has the same personal history (Newman & Newman, 1984). Based onthis theory, Netting et al. (1987) contend that a person’s interactions and experiences earlyin life may affect. later attitudes toward companion animals. If this is the case, each personwill respond uniquely to companion animals, Some people will enjoy these relationships, andothers will not.Wilson & Netting (1987) contend that based on life course development an older person’spersonal history with companion animals (ownership, experience, attitudes, andattachments) may influence: companion animal ownership and potential benefits in laterlife, how he or she perceives the role of companion animals in his or her life, and the degreeto which companion animals have an impact on an older person’s sense of well-being. Inaddition, an older person who had a strong attachment to companion animals earlier in lifemay have a strong attachment. to companion animals in later life. As welt, companion8animals may mean different things to the same person over time; that is, the companionanimal’s value as a developmental asset will fluctuate, depending on individual needs, age,and sex of the owner. Therefore, theoretically, previous relationships with companionanimals during other phases of one’s life course may serve as indicators of potential futurerelationships.Sociobio1oical perspective, This theory is based on the belief that caring for anotherperson or thing may help preserve health (Katcher &Friedmaiin, 1982). It may be thatcaring for another facilitates a pattern of psychoendocrine organization which results ingreater resistance to disease. An example given to support this theory is that depression isassociated with an unwifflngness both to take care of others and to form close socialrelationships. This lack of caring results in psychoendocrine responses which increase theprobability of disease and death (Friedmann, Katcher, Thomas, & Lynch, 1984; Katcher &Friedmann, 1982).Transitional objects, A transitional object is something that allows a person to transferaffections from one person or group of people to another, In later life a companion animalcan act as a transitional object. Older people who have been depressed because of the loss ofrelatives and friends can learn to love others again through first learning to love and carefor a companion animal.Animals as a connection to nature. Contemporary society with its declining importanceof nuclear families, high geographic mobility, and rapid changes can result in feelings ofanomie and isolation (Feldmann, 1979). As our societies grow ever more technologized therewill be an ever increasing need for more contacts and exchanges with other animals for thismay help to lessen the potential psychic damage of our technologies (Drengson, 1987) andprovide a link to the natural world. This contact with animals will help us to be in touch withour own feelings and hurt, and this it turn helps us to approach the world in a no-harm wayby means of sympathy, love, and compassion (Drengson, 1987). Through a companion animal9we can relate to the non-human environment which can give us a sense of unity to all livingthings (Woloy, 1990).Social interaction, According to this perspective, companion animals satisfyinteractional needs of people by providing sustained companionship. Argyle (l%9) foundthat a balanced personality ultimately depends on satisfaction of peoples’ need for socialinteraction,Positive and Negative Asoects Associated With Companion AnimalsCompanion animals help meet people’s needs for affiliation, self-esteem, safety throughphysical and emotional security and protection, and a sense of belonging (Fox, 1975,Friedniann, Katcher, Thomas, & Lynch, 1984; Katcher & Friedmann, 1982; Mugford, 1980;Norman, 1980; Walster, 1982).As well, companion animals also provide social, psychological, and physiologicalbenefits, Taken from anecdotal evidence, case studies, and experimental studies the followingtable summarizes the positive and negative aspects associated with companion animals.Positive Aspects Negative Aspectsaffection responsibilityresponsibility housing limitationsego satisfaction transmit some diseasespower creating nuisancesnormality of the physical process creating pollutioncompanionship destructive habitsplay and recreation bitingattachment overprotective naturesomething to care for needs attention and affectionsomething to touch and fondle needs disciplinesomething to keep one busy threatens peopleexercise animal’s life spanpurpose in life/reason to live veterinary fees and caresport allergiespride dependence on the companion animalfacilitate social interaction with others restricts mobilitypleasure worry about animal’s fate upon death ofbeauty ownerunconditional lovesomething to lovesense of being worthwhilesense of identitycontact with nature10sense of importancefeeling of being neededextension of how you see yourself or anextension of how you want to be seenenhanced self confidencepositive emotional supportnonjudgmentaltakes ones mind off their troublesopportunity to give & receive affectionobviates lonelinesseducational functions eg. nutritionstatusrelaxing focus of attentionstimulus for a daily routineincreased survival rate after myocardialinfarctions or anginadecreased blood pressuredecreased heart rate & respiratory rateattentivenesswelcomingsomeone to talk tofew diseases transmitted to humanssense of being neededhumour & entertainmentreduced alienation & social withdrawalreinforce feelings of Independencesolace in bereavementattenuates the pain of social isolationattenuates the pain of depressionimproved physical health & longevityreduced stressimproved mental well-beingincreased verbalizationimproved reality orientationa means to help others(Support for this information can be found in: Arehart-Treichel, 1982; Bossard, 1944; Brickel,1980; Brodie, 1981; Bustad, 1980; Carbary, 1975; Corson, 1981; Faircloth, 1981; Feldmann, 1977;Friedmann, Katcher, Thomas, Lynch, & Messent, 1983; Grossberg & AIf, 1985; Jenkins, 1986;Katcher, 1981; Katz, Atlas, Walker, &Crossman, 1982; Kidd, 1982a; Kidd, 1982b; Lago, Kafer,Delaney, & Connell, 1988; Levinson, 1982; Montagu, 1978; Quigley, Vogel, & Anderson, 1983;Selby, Rhoades, Irvin, Carey, & Wade, 1980; Slovenko, 1983).Attachment - The Human/Companion Animal BondAs described in Rynearson (1978), the need to form close individualized attachmentserves the ubiquitous function of nurturaiice, alliance, and parenthood. Although it is mostintense and focused between mother and infant, with maturity the need for attachment11assumes equivalence with other developing needs and gradually diversifies to involvemultiple attachment figures. In adulthood the need for attachment continues to be ofprimary psychobiological value. Rynearson suggests that humans and companion animalsare significant attachment figures for one another.Several studies (Lago, Connell, & Knight, 1985; Ory & Goldberg, 1983) have foundsignificant associations between companion animal ownership status and various health andwell-being measures after the affectionate character of the relationship with the companionanimal was taken into account.The importance of bonding was also reflected in a study that found different patterns ofphysiological responses to petting an unbonded dog and a dog in which a bond had beenestablished (Baun, Bergstrom, Langston, & Thomas, 1984).The ElderlyCusack and Smith (1984) and Levinson (1972) have found that for the elderly person wholives alone and is no longer a working and active member of the community, the world canseem to be a bleak place. They often have few visits from friends and family. Limitedmobility, physical impairment, or poor health can make it difficult to go on even shortoutside excursions. Without meaningful activities there is little incentive or reason to keepspirit or morale high. Without companionship or purpose the lonely elder can easily sinkinto a morass of despair and depression that is as debilitating to health as the worst disease.The aged not only face the problem of a loss of status on retirement from work or frommanaging an active household, but they begin to find that the greatest source of frustrationis within themselves. They often have incorporated into their self-concepts the idea thatonce retired from previous occupations, whether voluntarily or not, they are no longer ableto do many things that previously were very easily managed. Whether this is true or not doesnot matter because once they believe this is true they will act accordingly. Because theirbody no longer corresponds with the idealized self-image they have carried within for somany years they become convinced that their body is damaged or diseased. Because being12young is also equated with being desired, loved, and wanted, the aged feel like a superfluouscommodity. Like any other human being they want to be needed, admired, and approved of.They wish to transmit their knowledge to others, to Leach new things, to create, and bechallenged. A companion animal such as a dog, which acts like a perpetual juvenile, may bejust what the elderly need. A companion animal can provide a boundless measure of love,companionship, adoration, and unqualified approval, Many elderly and lonely individualshave discovered that companion animals satisfy their needs and enable them to hold on to theworld of reality, of care, of human toil and sacrifice, and of intense emotional relationships.Interactions with companion animals promotes physical and emotional good health, andtheir self-concept as worthwhile individuals is restored and even enhanced when they findthat the companion animal they have been caring for loves them in return.WidowsThere are a limited number of studies that have focused on widows in particular. In astudy investigating the impact of companion animal ownership on the health status ofrecently widowed urban middle-class women (Akiyania et al., 1986), analysis of the dataindicated that non-owners experienced significantly more symptoms (especially those withpsychogenic components), and a significantly higher use of medications.SummaryA review of the literature shows that many publications in this area rely heavily onanecdotal reports and psychiatric case histories. Although this type of informationhighlights the sociopsychologica.L value of animal companionship for the elderly, they havebeen characterized by casual measurement and observation (Beck & Katcher, 1984; Robb &Stegman, 1983). Many studies did not take attachment into consideration. As previouslydiscussed, when this variable was considered the results shoved a significant difference(Lago et al., 1985; Ory & Goldberg, 1983). Many studies, even those that had taken attachmentinto account, used closed response questions. Although doing so made the informationquantifiable, it also restricted the type of information that could be obtained. Because no13studies used open response questions, additional information may be unknown, such as otherpositive and negative aspects associated with companion animals, the significance of thecompanion animal in daily life, and so on. Therefore, in exploring the meaning ofcompanion animals to non-institutionalized elderly widows living alone this study utilizes in-depth interviews with open-ended questions so as not to restrict the amount and type ofinformation obtained.14CHAPTER IIIMethodologyMethodological AporoachBecause the fundamental purpose of this research was to explore the meaning of anexperience, the influence of companion animals on the lives of non-institutionalized elderlywidows living alone, a narrative methodology was used. The central value of narrativeinquiry is its quality as subject matter. As Connelly and Clandinin (1990) state: “Narrativeand life go together and so the principal attraction of narrative as method is its capacity torender the experiences, both personal and social, in relevant and meaningful ways” (p. 10).Connefly and Clandinin (1990) define narrative as a way of characterizing the wayhumans experience the world. Narrative is both a phenomenon and research method. Thephenomenon, or the experience to be studied, is called the story. The inquiry into thephenomenon is called the narrative. People by nature lead storied lives and tell stories abouttheir lives. As Schon (1991) states, “Storytelling is a natural way we represent experiences(p. 237). but people are not always aware of the meaning of their experiences. As Schonstates, ‘Everyday experiences are continually imbued with meaning, rendered morecoherent, more vivid, even more real through storytelling’ (p. 237). Using narratives bringsto light the meaning of these experiences.The narrative approach was used in this research so as to capture the true essence of thephenomenon. As a research method narrative takes into account the emotions andbehaviours elicited during the interview that enriched the story, gave it fullness and depth,and gave it life beyond being merely words on a page.The Process of Narrative InquiryAs Manning (1983) states in relation to qualitative research, “There is no single ‘correct’reading of the external world,’ no proper way in which facts must be selected and presentedand no arrangement, empiotment or presentation, or encodation that is uncontrovertiblycorrect or valid” (p. 225). As a result, the narrative process used was chosen as the method13which would achieve the purpose of the study and would be consistent with thecharacteristics of a qualitative research framework and a narrative research methodology.As described by Lancy (1993) the characteristics of qualitative research include: theinvestigator has chosen a topic or issue to study and the task is to discover and let hypothesesemerge; the topic governs the sites and individuals chosen for the study and these arerelatively few in number; the investigator is the principal instrument for data collection; theresearch process is designed to intrude as little as possible in the natural, ongoing lives ofthose under study; the investigator is aware of his or her own biases and strives to capturethe subjective reality of participants; the investigator uses a broad perspective to recordcontext surrounding phenomena under study, but the focus may shift as analytical categoriesand theory emerge from the data; typically a study lasts for months or years; and thereporting of the results uses a narrative format of a story with episodes.As Gergen and Gergen (1986) describe, “The narrative essentially structures events insuch a way that they demonstrate first, a connectedness or coherence, and second, a sense ofmovement or direction through time” (pp. 174, 175).Based on these characteristics and the purpose of this study, the research process usedfor this study involved three major stages or processes: 1) Pre-interview process, 2)Interview process, and 3) Data analysis and reporting of research findings in a writtennarrative form.1. Pre- Interview ProcessThis stage included reading research literature to become familiar with the topic anddesigning and verifying the research methodology with the researcher’s academic advisor.Procedure and Data CollectionIn this study the participants were the primary source of data and the researcher wasthe primary instrument. Data was obtained by collecting verbal descriptions of thephenomena through the use of minimally structured in-depth interviewing and taking fieldnotes.16These techniques were selected to elicit varying kinds of information such as attitudes,perceptions, behaviours, and positive and negative aspects associated with companionanimals. The collection of different types of information from different sources at severaltime periods contributes to the validation of data by permitting ongoing corroboration, orcorrection, of information.Two minimally structured in-depth interviews were conducted with each participant. Ageneral theme was introduced at each interviewwhich was intended to focus participants’thoughts but allow them freedom of expression; however, the substance and direction of eachinterview varied with the participants’ responses. In the initial interview the researcherdescribed the purpose of the study and established the theme for that interview by saying:I am doing a study to understand the meaning of companion animals in the lives of non-institutionalized widows 65 years of age and older who are living alone, Because bothpast and current life events and experiences with animals contribute to the way youcurrently view companion animals, I will be asking questions about your lifeexperiences. I would like to begin by getting some background information.I then asked or clarified information in relation to each participant’s family of origin andwhat it was like growing up and previous life experiences with companion animals. Theselife experiences included both companion animals they had owned or had only come intocontact with. The life experiences were discussed to get information about when theyoccurred, what happened, what thoughts and feelings the participants experienced at thetime, what these events meant to them today, how attached they were to each companionanimal, and what these companion animals meant to them then and today.As Seidman (1991) outlined, “In the first interview the interviewer’s task is to put theparticipants’ experience in context by asking him or her to tell as much as possible abouthim or herself in light of the topic up to the present time” (p. 11). I asked participants todescribe previous life events because “people’s behaviour becomes meaningful andunderstandable when placed in the context of their lives and the lives of those around them.17Without context there is little possibility of exploring the meaning of an experience”(Seidman, 1991, p. 10).The second interview was focused on the present, In this interview data was obtained inrelation to significant life experiences they had with their present companion animal(s) andthe meanings of those experiences, their current lifestyle, in what vays their companionanimal(s) positively or negatively affected or influenced their lifestyle, what theircompanion animal(s) meant to them, and how attached they were to their current companionanimal(s). As Seidman (1991) described, the purpose of the second interview is toconcentrate on the concrete details of the participants’ present experience in the topic areaof the study.Different kinds of probes were used to direct the interview. These included probes toelicit information about the timing and details of events, and for further exploration andclarification (Schatzman & Strauss, 1973). Silence was used as much as possible to allow theparticipants full expression before probes were used. Topics that required probing weretracked and participants were redirected to these only after they had finished expressingtheir thoughts. Tracking was used because it minimized the interviewers interference withthe natural flow of the participants’ conversations. The interviews were more or lessstructured depending on the information that was previously collected and unsolicitedinformation from the participants. More directed interviewing was used to validate data.Initially two, two to three hour interviews (allowing for time to establish rapport and explainthe research topic and theme of the interview) were to be conducted with three to seven daysbetween each interview. Given the population being studied and the depth of the interviews.more time was required to allow for establishment of rapport, memory lapses, reminiscence,interaction, the number of stories the topic generated, and clarification. Each interviewlasted from two to five hours. The spacing of interviews allowed time for the participants toreflect on the preceding interview, but not enough time to lose the connection between thetwo. Also, the spacing allowed the interview process to continue over a week. This passage of18time reduced the impact of possible idiosyncratic interviews. Interviews were conducted inthe participants’ homes and were audio taped. The tapes were erased at the end of the study.Rationale for Interview QuestionsRationale for the interview questions was based on a review of the literature. Inparticular, I had asked about family background, previous experiences and attachments tocompanion animals, ascribed characteristics, and achieved characteristics because a person’spersonal history becomes a variable in determining the pattern of subsequent life events(Newman & Newman, 1984). More specifically, I had asked about family of origin becausechild development theory and particularly Freudian psychoanalytic theory stressed theimportance of the timing of critical events in a persons life on psychological development(Poresky et aL, 1988). A person’s current attitude toward companion animals may have beeninfluenced by the presence of companion animals during previous critical events.I had asked about previous experiences with companion animals for several reasons.Childhood companion animal experiences had been reported to be a predictor of adult petownership (Serpell, 1981), so early pet experiences were likely to influence the developmentof adults’ attitude toward companion animals (Poresky eta!., 1988), As well, a review of theliterature by Wilson and Netting (1987) found that an older person’s personal history withcompanion animals (ownership, experience, attitudes, and attachment) may have influenced:companion animal ownership and potential benefits in late life, how an older personperceived the role of companion animals in his or her life, and the degree to whichcompanion animals had an impact on an older person’s sense of well-being,In a retrospective study of adults’ pet attitudes as a result of childrens’ companion animalbonding, Poresky eta!, (1988) found that pet attitudes were more strongly related to and morepredictive of childhood bonding scores than contemporary bonding scores, and currentattitudes toward companion animals were positively correlated with childhood bondingscores. As well, current attitudes were most positive for those who had a first companion19animal when they were younger than 6 years old, and least positive for those who had a firstcompanion animal when they were over 10 years old.I had asked about the level of attachment to previous and current companion animalsbecause La.go et a!. (1985), Ory and Goldberg (1983), and Baun et al. (1984) had foundsignificant associations between companion animal ownership and various health and wellbeing measures after the affectionate character of the relationship with the companionanimal was taken into account.As Wilson and Netting (1987) described, questionnaires had been developed thatattempted to analyze current attachments to and attitudes toward companion animals, andhow intense those attachments were, but no attempt had been made to ask if these feelingshad developed over the life course and why they had or had not developed. As they stated,without knowing this, we did not know if these were lifelong patterns or only incidentalrelationships that become more important in the life course when the loss of humanrelationships occurred.I had asked the question, “How attached are/were you to your companion animal(s)?” inthis way because Ory and Goldberg (1983) had used this single-item attitude question in theirprospective survey study of adjustment to widowhood in late life. While no reliabilityinformation was reported, “low attachment” owners reported significantly lower morale than“high attachment’ owners.I had determined ascribed characteristics such as age and gender because Davis andJuhasz (1985) found that the companion animals value as a developmental asset fluctuateddepending on individual needs, age, and sex of the owner. Ethnicity was important becausethe way animals are thought of and treated varies culture by culture. For example,Europeans and the British do not consider the dog as a source of food, while for the Chinese itis a delicacy (Fox, 1984).I had asked about current lifestyle because this could influence the effects derived fromcompanion animals. Several studies (Brim. 1974: Larson, 1978; Palmore & Luikart, 1972)20reported a positive association between measures of psychological well-being and lifesituajon variables such as socio-economic status, health, physical activity, and socialparticipation. House, Robbins. and Melzner (1982) discovered that individuals reporting ahigher level of social relationships and activities (adjusting for age and a variety of riskfactors) were significantly less likely to die in the follow-up period of their communityhealth study involving a cohort of 2,734 adult men and women. These results were invariantacross occupation, age, and health status groups. As well, the presence of supportive socialinteractions is thought to have a direct impact on psychological well-being as well as amediating influence on negative life situations and role losses (Kahn, 1979; Linn, 1979),However, studies of survival rates of persons treated for myocardial infarction and anginapectoris had found that a one-year follow-up on mortality comparisons indicated thatsignificantly more survivors owned companion animals, and this finding held true evenwhen the researchers controlled for companion animals (dogs) with whom exercise might bea factor. A discriminant analysis of physiological severity and companion animal ownershipon patient survival indicated that ownership was significant in predicting survival(Friedmann, Katcher, Lynch, & Thomas, 1980; Friedmann, Thomas, Noctor, and Katcher, 1978).These studies also found that none of the other variables, such as the number of people thatwere talked to each day, the amount of daily contact with neighbors, the participation incommunity activities, or living alone or being married explained as much of the variance insurvival as did companion animal ownership.I had asked how their current companion animal(s) affected or influenced their lifestylebecause this provided information as to the positive and negative aspects derived fromcompanion animals.Field NotesData from field notes included descriptive and reflective notes. Descriptive field notesattempt to capture a world-picture of the setting, people, actions, and conversations asobserved. Field notes represent “the researcher’s best effort to oblectively record the details21of what has occurred in the field” (Bogden & Biklen, 1982, p. 84) Descriptive field notesinclude: portraits of the participants (such as physical appearance, dress, mannerisms, styleof talking and acting): reconstruction of dialogue (verbatim notes of what was said); adescription of the physical setting; accounts of particular events (such as getting a photoalbum); depiction of activities (such as patting their companion animal); and the observer’sbehaviour (such as the researchers own behaviour, assumptions, and whatever else mightaffect the data that is gathered and analyzed) (Bogden & Biklen, 1982).Reflective field notes captures more of the observers frame of mind, ideas, andconcerns. As Bogden & Biklen (1982) outlined, reflective “field notes contain sentences andparagraphs that reflect the observer’s more personal account of the course of the inquiry.Here the more subjective side of the researcher’s journey is recorded the emphasis is onspeculation, feelings, problems, ideas, hunches, impressions, and prejudices” (p. 86). Bogden& Bikien stated that reflective field notes included: reflections on analysis, reflections onmethod, reflections on ethical dilemmas and conflicts, reflections on the observer’s frame ofmind, and points of clarification,Both types of field notes were used to add clarity and depth to the research study and arereflected in the written narratives.2. Interview ProcessThe interview process included a pilot study, obtaining participants, and conducting theInterviews.Pilot StudyA pilot study was conducted to assess the clarity and effectiveness of the interviewquestions, to determine the amount of time required to complete the interviews, and to allowthe interviewer an opportunity to familiarize herself with the scope and flow of theinterview responses. The pilot interview data was not included with the data analysis for thisstudy.22First, two colleague researchers were asked how they would respond to the interview andpilot questions and then they were asked if these questions were clearly stated. Both hadagreed they were and the answers they provided were consistent with the anticipated type ofresponses (ie. they had not misinterpreted the questions). Then, using the interviewprocedure and questions previously described, two interviews with a 65 year old widow wholived alone and had two budgies and three turtles was selected. The volunteer participant wasobtained by word of mouth. At the end of each interview the participant was asked threequestions: a) Were the questions I asked clearly worded so you knew how to respond to eachquestion? b) Do you think that I understood what you were saying and feeling? c) Are thereany other questions that I could have asked that would give me a greater understanding ofthe meaning of companion animals in your life? For both interviews the participantanswered yes to the first two questions and no to the last question. Based on these responsesno changes were made to the interview questions or format,ParticipantsThree voluntary participants were interviewed in this study. They were recruited byword of mouth (snowballing effect) through friends and acquaintances. Participants wereselected on the basis that the person was a widow 65 years of age or older, had a companionanimal, was living in rented or owned accommodation other than an institution, and wasliving in this residence without other people. As well, because each participant was requiredto describe and communicate life experiences in detail it was important they could articulatean understanding of their experiences in English.After obtaining potential participants names and telephone numbers they werecontacted by telephone. After confirming their eligibility, each person was told the purposeand nature of the study and what would be required of them. They were also told that theirparticipation in the study was voluntary and they could withdraw at any time. Interviewswere then scheduled with individuals who were willing to participate in this study. All23participants agreed to be audio-taped and the interviews were held in each of theparticipants’ homes.At the beginning of the first interview each participant was given a duplicate consentform (see Appendix A) which was read aloud outlining clearly that: the study involved twointerviews of about two to three hours in length with brief (half hour) sessions to providefeedback and analysis. They were told the interviews would be audio-taped but all data wouldbe confidential and tapes would be erased upon completion of the study. They were also toldthat their participation was voluntary and they could withdraw at any time. All participantssigned the consent form in duplicate and kept one copy for themselves.3, Data Analysis and Reoorting of FindinasThe data obtained from the interviews was analyzed using the following process:Transcribe. Each interview was transcribed verbatim.Establish meaning units. Initially transcripts were read and reread to get a sense of thephenomena, in all its subtleties and nuances. This was largely accomplished by reading andreflecting upon what was read. The transcripts were then broken up into natural meaningunits. These were statements which summed up or made known a particular idea, theme,concept, or description. Meaning units were attained through reading the transcripts anddelineating each time a transition in meaning was perceived.Establish categories. After reading the transcripts and identifying meaning unitstemporal meaning categories became quite evident. Lists were made of emerging categoriesand were refined as more categories were established. Meaning categories included: familyof origin (personal description and childhood experiences up until marriage); description ofprevious companion animals (physical description, personality, and how she had obtainedthe companion animal); previous companion animals (experiences with previous companionanimals, positive and negative aspects for animals in general, positive and negative aspectsassociated with their previous companion animals, and attachment); meaning of previouscompanion animals; widowhood (including the transition to widowhood and widowhood itself.24effect of having a companion animal during the transition and as a widow, and speculationon getting a companion animal if they did not have one during that time); old lifestyle(married lifestyle and influence of companion animal); current lifestyle (lifestyle sincebeing widowed in relation to self and companion animal); description of current companionanimal (physical description, personality, and how she had obtained the companion animal);current companion animal (general positive and negative aspects, specific positive andnegative aspects, and attachment); meaning of current companion animal; societal factors(positive and negative factors affecting companion animal ownership); and generalstatements. Each meaning unit was then coded according to the category it represented.Organizing meaning units into temporal sequence within categories. This involvedorganizing the meaning units in the categories according to the sequence of events whichactually occurred.Reflection. This step consisted of reading the statements and field notes within eachcategory to get a sense of the experiences.Prenare narratives, A narrative was written for each participant.Summarization of narratives. A summary of each narrative was written.Establish themes for each narrative. Themes were identified for each participant inrelation to the phenomenon under study.Validation. Narratives were read to each participant for corroboration and/orcorrection.Revisions. Corrections were made and new data was incorporated into the narratives.Preoare list of common themes. A list of common themes was written incorporating datafrom all of the participants.Interoretation in Narrative InquiryHuman experience has a stored quality. The descriptions people give of theirexperiences are a way of telling a story of their experiences (Connelly & Clandinin, 1991). Inrecounting an experience a person will communicate their interpretation of the experience.25A narrative researcher is concerned with description. He or she is concerned withrecording events in field notes, recording participants’ talk in interviews, and recordingtheir stories. But contained within these descriptive records is the researchersinterpretation of the experiences. Interpretation is part of the field observations,interviews, and participants’ stories. This interpretive quality also appears in the writtennarrative as ways of giving an adequate telling account (Connelly & Clandinin, 1991).To verify his or her interpretation and to try and get as accurate an account of thephenomenon as possible requires a collaborative effort on the part of the researcher andresearch participants. One of the main functions of narrative research is to foster reflectionand restorying on the part of participants. The interpretive relationship between theresearcher and participants leads to a mutual, collective telling and retelling of theparticipants’ stories (Connelly & Clandinin, 1991).Beyond Reliability. Validity, and GeneralizabilitvLike other qualitative methods, narrative relies on criteria other than reliability,validity, and generalizability. As Connelly and Clandinin (1990) state, “It is important not tosqueeze the language of narrative criteria into a language created for other forms ofresearch” (p. 7). Sieber (1976) concurs when he says:The quantitative view of reliability (inter-observer, inter-rater, inter-instrumental, orintra-response over time) is in many respects inapplicable in qualitative data collection.Certain kinds of reliability must be intentionally violated in order to gain a depth ofunderstanding about the situation (ie. the observers behaviour must change fromsubject to subject, unique questions must be asked of different subjects. . . there is aninherent conflict between validity and reliability -- the former is what fieldwork isspecially qualified to gain, and increased emphasis on reliability will only underminethat unique function, (p. 126)The language and criteria for the conduct of narrative inquiry are still under development.As Connelly and Clandinin (1990) state:26We think a variety of criteria, some appropriate to some circumstances and some toothers, will eventually be the agreed upon norm. It is currently the case that eachinquirer must search for, and defend, the criteria that best apply to his or her work.(p.7)Instead of reliability, validity, and generalizability Connelly and Clandinin (1990), Guba andLincoln (1989), and Sieber (1976) suggest other criteria that could be used. It is suggestedthat appearance (something that is seemingly true) replace reliability, verisimilitude (anappearance of being true) replace validity, and transferability (results vhich could beconveyed or applied to someone else) replace generalizabiity (how much results apply tosomeone else). Other criteria they proposed that could be used include:1) Intertwining of analysis and data collection. In narrative inquiry data is donethroughout data collection rather than something that is done only after all the data isgathered.2) Formulating classes of phenomena. This is a categorization process subsumingobservations under progressively more abstract concepts.3) Identify themes. This process involves making linkages between concepts.4) The principle of time defeasibility rather than the illusion of causality. Instead ofcreating an illusion of causality whereby when a sequence of events is viewed backward ithas the appearance of causal necessity, and when looked forward has the sense of ateleiological intentional pull of the future, narrative writers frequently move back andforward several times in a single narrative as various experiences are narrated (Conneily &Clandinin, 1990). Instead of causality Clandinin and Connelly (1990) state that narrativeexploration derives from the whole. ‘Narrative inquiry was driven by a sense of the wholeand it is this sense which needs to drive the writing (and reading) of narrative. Narrativesare not adequately written according to a model of cause and effect but according to theexplanations gleaned from the overall narrative” (p. 7).275) An invitation to participate. Narrative may be read, and lived, vicariously by others. AsPeshkin (1985) wrote:When I disclose what I have seen, my results invite other researchers to look where I didand see what I saw. My ideas are candidates for others to entertain, not necessarily astruth, let alone Truth, but as positions about the nature and meaning of a phenomenonthat. may fit their sensibility and shape their thinking about their own inquiries. (p.280)ConneiLy and Clandinin (1990) suggested the narrative writer has an available test by havinganother participant read and respond to the account. They said, This allows a researcher toassess the invitational quality of a manuscript already established as logically sound” (p.8).6) Authenticity. “A reader of a story connects with it by recognizing particulars, byimagining the scenes in which particulars could occur, and by reconstructing them fromremembered associations with similar particulars. It is the particular and not. the generalthat triggers emotion and moves people and gives rise to authenticity’ (Connelly & Clandinin.1990, p. 8).7) Adequacy and plausibility. Narrative truth consists of continuity, closure, aestheticfinality, and a sense of conviction. As well, it is also plausible in that it “tends to ring true. itis an account of which one might say, I can see that happening to me’ (Connelly & Clandinin,1990, p. 8).In this research project each of the above suggested criteria was used as a measure ofreliability, validity, and generalizability,Risks. Dangers. and Abuses of NarrativeAs previously stated, “The central value of narrative inquiry is its quality as subjectmatter. Narrative and life go together and so the principal attraction of narrative as methodis its capacity to render life experiences, both personal and social, in relevant andmeaningful ways” (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990, p. 10). However, a danger or abuse would beto substitute falsehood for meaning and narrative truth. In addition to fake data, the data28could be used to tell a deception as easily as a truth. To try and safeguard against this and toensure as accurate a representation as possible the narrative was a collaborative effortgiving the participants the opportunity to corroborate or make corrections to the data.Another danger is to portray the narrative as a “Hollywood Plot” where everythingworks out in the end (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). This has also been referred to asnarrative smoothing. A safeguard against this was to obtain data on positive and negativeaspects of the phenomenon, and having the participants and a colleague read the narratives.Narrative AudienceAs Connel.ly and Clandinin (1991) discuss:One purpose of narrative research is to have other readers raise questions about theirpractices, their ways of knowing. Narrative inquiries are shared in ways that helpreaders question their own stories, raise their own questions about practices, and see inthe narrative accounts stories of their own stories. The intent is to foster reflection,storying, and restorying for readers. (p. 277)And in this particular case reflection and storying in relation to what companion animalsmean in their own lives.A reader of narrative is drawn into the story to find a place or way of seeing throughparticipating in the story. To facilitate this researchers attempt to have the readerunderstand enough of the participants’ experiences so that the reader can share somethingof what the experience might have been for the participants. As Connelly and Clandinin(1991) state, ‘In order to do this a reader must make a genuine effort to share in theexperience of the participants” (p. 277). At best it allows a reader to share some qualities ofthe participants’ experience.29CHAPTER IVResultsIn each of the following narratives all names have been changed to ensure theconfidentiality of those mentioned.Pam’s SLoryWhen I drove up in front of Pam’s house I was immediately impressed with what I saw,The huge front lawn with its short length. neatly edged perimeter, and rich green colorshowed the care it had received. The house was older and was smaller than thosesurrounding it, yet it did not look out of place. It was a one level bungalow made of wood andbeautiful hand laid masonry work.In preparation for my visit Pam had closed Sammy, her nine year old Sheltie, in a frontbedroom. When I rang the doorbell I could hear Sammy barking a welcome. I was greeted atthe door by Pam, a recently widowed woman in her mid eighties. With her neatly styledgrayish hair, upright posture and quick gait she could easily be thought of as much younger.As I entered the house there was a beautiful long-haired white fur rug laying in the cornerof the front foyer where I thought the dog must like to lie. As we walked into the livingroom, which was located in the back of the house, I saw it was carpeted in a rusty brown colorof a medium shade which would easily show dog hair. As I was being seated I noticed thatthere was not a. trace of dog hair on the carpet. After Pam and I got to know each other for afew minutes she let. Sammy a beautiful multi-colored (brown, tan, and white), medium-sizedSheltie out of the front bedroom. He was so happy to be free he came running up to mewagging his tail as if he was happy to see me. As I was patting him I noticed he had thickclean hair which had been brushed so his coat flowed down around him. I was impressedwith how clean he was. Having allergies to cats and dogs I am very sensitive to their odorand I could not detect a “doggie” smell coming from Sammy or from being in the house ingeneral.30Pam and I spent the first half an hour talking about the purpose of this research study,getting the consent form signed, and talking a bit about ourselves so we could get to knoweach other a little. After Pam made tea and brought in cookies we started our interview. Iinitially asked Pam to describe her family of origin and what it was like growing up. Shegrew up in an “average family situation” with six brothers and sisters. Pam was the middlechild and said she was considered to be the peacemaker of the family. She had a closerelationship with her brothers and sisters and particularly enjoyed playing and being withone of her younger sisters. When describing her family life Pam said, “Growing up in alarge family you don’t need a lot of friends.”When describing herself Pam said, “I’m of Scottish stock myself and I’m veryindependent.” From her statement, “The way I feel about it I’m not a pessimist and I just keepgoing one day after another and make the best of each day,” Pain seemed to be a strong willedand optimistic person.Pam was born in Eastern Canada and before the age of 10 her family moved several timesto Saskatchewan and Alberta before settling in Vancouver. During her childhood, and upuntil Sammy, Pam said she “never had a real pet.” As a very young child her parents hadcows, chickens, geese, and ducks when they lived on a farm in Saskatchewan but Pam saidshe was too young to remember them. Her parents liked companion animals and had a dogfor a short time when Pam was eight years old but although she loved dogs Pam was tooyoung to remember being that close to this dog. She said, “It was just there. I didn’t feel thatit was my dog because I do remember that my brother was the one who used to take it walkingand all the rest of it.” As well. Pam remembered having budgies and canaries when she was ayoung child. Although a budgie was fun Pam did not consider it to be a real pet. She said:A bird is fine but it can’t compare with a dog. Somehow or other you don’L have the samefeeling about it as a dog, you can’t pet it. You cant pet a bird. I thought that a budgie wasa lot of fun and they used I.e fly around the room. And even the canary would come park31on my shoulder. But this is what I call a good companion, a. dog because I can go walkingwith him and I do every day unless the weather is so horrible.When she was in her latter twenties Pam gotmarried. They had a good happy marriage.“We talked a lot and enjoyed each others company.” They had a fairly active social life’which included playing golf, belonging to a club and being quite involved in it, and playingcards with friends on a regular basis. They had one daughter who is now married and livingin another part of the city.Because of working, raising a family, travelling, and having an active social life Pamand her husband did not own any companion animals until nine years ago when they boughtSammy, which was three years before her husband died. Pam and her husband had talkedabout getting a dog because she loved dogs and would pat them all when they went outwalking and he had high blood pressure. They had read an article that companion animalsare noted to lower blood pressure and thought a dog might help. They did not, however, haveany intentions of buying a dog on the day they went shopping.We had been out to Richmond and we saw some dogs in a pet shop out there and one ofthem was a Sheltie and oh 1 just fell in love with this little thing, So we asked the girl ifthey had any. That one was taken. And she said no we vont have any until the springbut she said I had a friend who has some right now and she said if you want I will giveyou her phone number. So I said okay. And we phoned and it turned out to be way out onnumber seven road in Richmond and so my husband and I went out there and here therewas these four or five little pups. And this was the mischievous one I tell you. And soshe said now she wanted to keep the little female herself! guess for breeding purposesbut she said of any of these others you can take your pick. So we could see that this littleguy even as we were watching would grab hold of a tail of one of the others and we couldsee that he was the aggressive little guy. And she said if you want being older, myhusband and 1, if you want a quiet dog she said I vouldn’t take this one. If you want alively dog this is your dog. I said to my husband oh lets get the lively one. I have wished32on occasion that we hadn’t because he can be yen’ lively I tell you, bark bark bark. Andbarking when people come down the lane he runs down to the house to let me know.And the post man and the paper boy comes around five o’clock in the morning nov andhe barks regardless of how early it is in the morning. So he can be pretty lively. Sothat’s what we did so we decided and brought the little thing home. He was only six weeksold. Re had just been weaned.From the beginning Sammy was thought of and treated as a member of the family. Pam said:I just assumed naturally that when you get a dog you had a dog house. He never had adog house. I wanted my husband when ‘we bought him to build a little dog house and myhusband said oh no he’s got to be a part of the family, we don’t want him out in a doghouse. So he sleeps in the house.When describing Sammy Pam said:He is from the Shetland. His ancestors were from the Shetland Islands so he is Scottish,very independent. That’s true. . . Shelties are independent little creatures. He will cometo me and put his head on the chair and I pat him and he lets me reach down and just fora minute or two and then if he could talk he would say okay that’s enough now and awayhe would go.She went on to describe him as being “feisty” and “a good little watch dog.” She said. “He’sbetter than any alarm system he really is because he has a sharp bark.” To this she lateradded. “I really think that he gives me a good feeling of security having him in the house. Ijust feel safer.” He also tries to be helpful by alerting Pam when the telephone rings bybarking and running up to her. Also, Sammy is a dog who loves people and hates to be leftalone.Sammy loves them all. My dog is not a racist. He loves them all regardless of color orethnic background or whatever, He loves everybody. He just loves company. He couldhave people over all of the time.33While we were talking before the interview Pam said Sammy would love to put up a signsaying Pam’s inn because when a group of women she has over every week go to move offthe couch be barks because he doesn’t want them to leave.Although Sammy loved them both Pam felt that he was predominantly her husbandsdog. She said:Well that’s what I thought but my husband didn’t agree with me at all. No he said heloves both of us equally. Well I know he loved me too but some dogs I think just take to aman. I really do feel that. As soon as my husband came to sit in here [the living room Ithe dog was right beside him and he would stay there for the evening. He doesn’t do thatwith me. Although he loves me and I know that ye alvays had the feeling that hewas more partial to my husband. 1 just have that feeling you know. And I wasn’t jealousor anything because I was delighted because my husband just dearly loved Sammy.Only six years ago Pam was widowed after 50 years of marriage. Her husband had beenin the hospital for several weeks before he passed away. Pam said the transition towidowhood was not only hard for herself but for Sammy as well. She said, “Sammy missed myhusband when he died, When my husband vent into the hospital my dog would be constantlywalking around. He was wandering around wondering where my husband was.” To helpSammy adjust Pam said:I gave him an old sweater of my husband’s and when he vent to bed, when he beddeddown at night I would put that up against him and he used to put that beside him. Andthen after a few months all of a sudden I guess the scent vas gone and he just ignored it.He didn’t want anything to do with it after that. That’s the way they are they say.Pam found the transition to widowhood difficult as well. Going from being a marriedperson to being single Pam said:It vas all the difference in the world, I think you will talk to any woman who has losther husband or any man who has lost his wife and your life changes unbelievably. Youhave lost your life’s companion. And you just somehow have to get on with your life and34make the best of it and make the most of it. It’s hard and it takes quite a long Lime andyou never forget the person. butyou just carry on and do the best you can.Pam found it difficult because they had had such a long and happy life together yet this wasalso a source of comfort as well. “If you’ve had a happy marriage youve got that toremember and it gives you that comfort that you did have a good life, a good marriage, a goodrelationship, and that’s enough.’Pam found it very helpful having Sammy during this transition time:It helped. I don’t know if I would exactly say it made it easier but it did help. He was asource of comfort for me. definitely. And I could cry. I’m not one given to crying andmaking a big spectacle of myself in public but I could cry in private and there werenever incriminations from my dog. He was definitely, put if this way, it would have beenmore difficult for me if I hadn’t had him particularly the first year. It would have beenmuch more difficult. I don’t know what I would have done because he was a greatcomfort to me.Even though Sammy had been a part of both of their lives Pam said having their dog was asource of comfort to her rather than being a painful reminder of the past. During this LimeSammy was a source of comfort in a number of ways:When I go out and come home he is there to greet me and he runs around the house...delighted to have me back.. . . It’s wonderful just to have something live to come home to.It really is. It can’t take the place of the one you lost of course but it’s just great to havesomething, not just to come into a dead house without any life in it at all. For that reasonI think it is wonderful.A little later in our conversation Pam said that after her husband died she found pettingSammy was very comforting. She added, “If he had been a smaller dog it would have beencomforting to have had him on my lap.” When she was initially widowed and in the yearsfollowing Pam said:35I think patting a dog or even a cat it really has a kind of a relaxing effect. I really dothink thaL...I’m not a hyper person anyway really. I think it’s more of a comfortingfeeling. I comfort him and he in turn gives me comfort. It’s sort of a two way thing.Later Pam added that patting Sammy is “a pleasurable thing” and “it’s an affectionate thing.’If she had not had a dog when she was first widowed Pam speculated on whether thiswould have been a good time to have gotten one:No. If I hadn’t had him and I had lost my husband then after awhile I would probablyhave gone on some trips and then if I felt I had had enough trips then I would havegotten a dog. But if I didn’t have a dog I would probably have gotten maybe a canary, justsomething, I think it’s important to have something else that is alive not just yourtelevision.In discussing how much she missed her husband Pam said, “But now as years go by thateases up. I still miss him terribly. I miss a great companion. We talked a lot and enjoyedeach others company. Now I just feel I guess it’s a need in me, I want to have something tohug.” To satisfy this need Pam demonstrated as she said she viii ‘every once in a while I justcall Sammy over and I just reach over and give him a good hug and he licks my hand. I findit is a comforting thing”Widowhood is not easy and from what Pam said it takes time to adjust. She said, “It’s hardand it takes quite a long time and you never forget the person.” Even though she has Sammyas a source of comfort Pam said, “It’s taken six years to start to get my sense of humour backwhere I find myself laughing at things again.’In talking about her lifestyle as a widow for the last six years Pam immediatelyresponded by saying “boring.” On a personal basis Pam misses the companionship. She said,“We talked a lot and enjoyed each other’s company,” Now this is a major role Sammy plays inher life:He is my little companion, he’s all I’ve got to Jive for. I’ve got my family, my daughterand her husband and my two grand daughters,. ,.but this is my all time companion day36and night he is here with me. So he means a lot to me in that way and that’s really aboutthe most important thing that I can tell you.”She wonton to say that:He means a lot to me because I can talk to him, Whether he understands me or not I’mnot sure, sometimes he does because I think that what a dog does is they latch on tomaybe one word and then his ears go up and he knovs what that word is. Like Ill say,‘Oh look at the rain’ and he knows what that means and away he’ll go and look out thewindow. And that’s just the way he is. I do feel that you can communicate with a dog.And I read once that dogs are unlike some animals they make eye contact. And they lookup at you intelligently and they appear to be either understanding or trying tounderstand what you are saying. Sometimes its just like having another person. Ireally mean that. . . . I think that they are intelligent little creatures.After getting up in the morning Pam said she starts her day by doing the householdchores. Pam vacuums every day because Sammy sleeps in the house. When asked if this wasa negative thing Pam said:Actually that’s no problem. I don’t consider that, it’s not really a negative thing likelosing my dog or not being able to go on a trip. But it’s just a fact of life because youwould be absolutely amazed the hair doesn’t shov except for the white hairs but theothers seem to be blending in with the carpeting. But when I empty the bag it isabsolutely full of hairs. I could make a pillow, He is shedding all the time. And there isan awful lot of hair. I think that if I ever did get another dog I would probably get ashort haired dog although they are not as patable.After the chores are done the two of them go out for their daily long walk:My husband and I used to walk around the park up there.. . . When we first got the dogwe would go around the golf course.. . .We used to walk around there but my dog being afeisty little guy every time another dog came along, we had him on a leash and peoplehad theirs on a leash, but he would kick up such a fuss that it got to be a nuisance so37then we started just going around the park. And at that time you could let your dog offthe leash and let the dog have a good run. And he used to go absolutely crazy runningaround the football and soccer field up there. He just loved it. And now of course you arenot allowed to do that. But 1 still take him with the leash and walk him around there andtake my little plastic bag and pick up after him, and not everybody does that... 1’ d loveto be able to take my dog down there [Stanley Park] but I wouldn’t.dare. He’d be terrifiedof the bikes. I used to get terrified of the bikes too. Sammy doesn’t get mad he getsterrified. He doesn’t like anything with wheels. Sammy is a funny little guy. He isafraid of anything unusual like he doesn’t. like babies in strollers. He doesn’t likeanybody carrying a balloon or an umbrella. He is terrified of umbrellas. He is reallyweird. And skateboards are his mortal enemy, he is terrified of them.The rest of the day is spent doing any number of things associated with the house, friendsand family, or Sammy. As we talked about the house and the district with it’s beautiful treesand huge sized lots Pam said:My husband built this little house in 1949 and I’ve lived here ever since. . When wemoved here all east of Heather Street was all C.P. property. There were no houses thereat all, it was bush and scraggly stuff and then about two or three years after we moved inhere the C.PR. sold that property to the city and then they subdivided it. And if they haddone that in 1949 when we decided to buy this property ye would have bought therebecause at that time it was all new homes. As it was we bought on this little street andthere was an awfully old dumpy little house right next to us but we liked the propertyand we liked all the trees up there. This used to be like a big acreage. And somebody hadplanted all these ornamental trees and we loved that and we decided just so we could getthe benefit of all that look out there we would have our living room at the back of thehouse which is what we did. This is a big lot and right now with the taxes I’m going tohave to pay I wish it was smaller. It’s not the house I’m paying taxes on it’s this big oldpiece of property. However, if I didn’t have Sammy I would probably sell and get into a38condominium and then I’d still have some money left over. . . . So if it wasn’t for Sammy Ithink that’s what I’d be tempted to do because it’s gotten to be a bit of a burden with thegarden and now I have to get somebody to come and mow the lawn at the front. I manageto do the back myself but I have a fellow come and do that. and then there are otherthings. But the upkeep of a house, the maintenance and everything, and if I was in anapartment well that would all be looked after. I don’t know so much about condos but Iunderstand there are some townhouses that allow dogs. But then when you have atownhouse its just almost the same as being in a house. I have a daughter and twogranddaughters and she says mother why don’t you just stay put. Because I like thedistrict and I like my little house it means a lot to me. I’m sentimental about it becausemy husband built it after work and on weekends he built this little house, And I’d like tostay really but it’s just getting to be a bit of a problem looking after it.Activities associated with friends and family included a number of things, such astalking with the neighbor, volunteering at. the church or having a church group over,occasionally going out with friends, and visiting relatives.Pam’s time is also spent doing a variety of activities with and for Sammy. In addition totheir daily walks Pam grooms him at least once a week, goes and buys dog food, and:Every year he gets his shots and every third year he gets his rabies shot. And I tell youhe keeps me going. And I don’t drive so I have to take him down. And when he has histeeth cleaned they knock him out and give him general anaesthetic so then I have totake a cab home, So he costs me money that little guy but he is worth it.She did not, however, consider the costs of buying or keeping a dog to be a negative aspect:Well that is just a fact of life. When my husband and I decided to get a dog we never gavethe cost a thought. We never gave it a thought. And then all of a sudden we realizedafter we got him that we had to go take him for shots and we had to look after his healthand we had to buy food regularly but we were prepared to do that. And I figure if you aregoing to have a pet you’ve got to be prepared to look after that pet and to put out money39to keep it healthy and to have a vet to go to and have the regular shots and whatever elseis needed to keep that dog in good condition. And when you decide you want to have a petI think that you should think of that before you get it. And realize that it is going to costme every year for these shots and every say once a month you have to go and get a newsupply of food, and it costs a fair amount. And then of course the teeth cleaning whichruns into money and a licence. You have to get a licence every year and all that. So youshould think about it carefully and if you feel well I don’t think I can afford that thenyou better not get a pet. If you feel you can afford it then I think it is worth it,definitely.When asked about negative aspects in general Pam had replied, “It is far more positive thannegative. There are very few negatives in my opinion.’ However, being restricted fromtravelling is one negative aspect associated with owning a dog. Pam said:They are like an albatross you know. I did get away in 1988 my daughter and I went overto Britain and France and one of my granddaughters came and stayed here and lookedafter him which was fine. We were away for three weeks. But now they live in NorthVancouver and she works over there and she has a boyfriend and all the rest of it so it’snot convenient for her to go way over here and then go way back over there. So afriend of mine wants me to go on a cruise with her and I said what about my dog. I can’ttake my dog, I’m going to think about it and ill can get somebody to come and stay andlook after my house and look after him I’ll go on another trip because I don’t want to puthim in a kennel. We had one experience when he was a year old. He hadn’t been welllooked after at all and he was very unhappy. They are wonderful but they can be a kindof a problem. They hold you back there is no doubt about it particularly if you do want totravel. I’ve got to think of him just as I would think of a child because he’s thatimportant to me.After describing her lifestyle Pam said, “So all in all the time goes I just keep goingone day after another and make the best of each day.”40Throughout our conversation every once in a while Pam would turn to Sammy and talk tohim or reach over and pat him as he walked by. It seemed like they had a strong attachmentand they meant a lot to each other. When I asked her about her attachment to Sammy. Pamreplied:I am very attached to Sammy. Yes I am because he is really, as my only housecompanion, he is very important to me. I am very attached to Sammy. And if I am out Ilook forward to coming home and seeing him and being greeted by him. And sometimesI don’t sleep too well at night and I’ll go into the kitchen, like two o’clock in the morningI vent into the kitchen and made myself some hot milk and a shredded wheat and somefruit on top of it and a cup of tea. So he trots in to see what I am doing. So he is my littlepal. He means a lot to me. 1 am very attached to him no doubt about that, I am veryattached to him. I love him.Pam said she expresses her affection to him by hugging and patting him, telling him heis a good boy and a good little guy. She said, “1 call him my Little guy.’ She added. “And I lookafter him well. That’s my way of shoving him that I love him because I take good care ofhim.” She said. “He is a good looking little dog.” She laughed as she said, “Maybe I’m justbiased. . . you get so attached to your own dog you look at others and say they are okay butthey don’t compare to my own dog.”Because she loves Sammy so much Pam said she would worry about Sammy if somethinghappened to her. I don’t lie awake worrying about it but it would be a worry if thathappened because I would want him to be well looked after.” As well because of their strongattachment she said:Now that he is getting older one thing is a bit of a worry. I keep my fingers crossed andhope that he doesn’t become ill because I know that dogs do. I know that everybody 1know who has a dog had to face that. And then they have to have their dog put down andI dread the thought of that. It’s the ill health I worry about. And it would be terrible if Ihad to put him down. But if I found out that, God forbid, but if I found out that he had a41terminal illness I would just have the vet put him to sleep. I couldnt face having a dogsuffer. No I couldn’t do thai.After Pam said this I asked her if she would get another companion animal. We had aninteresting dialogue for the next few minutes which illustrates an internal conflict betweenwanting another dog and doing what is practical:I Would you get another one?P I would go on a trip first and then probably get another one.I You mentioned about wanting to move into a condo.P I’m not ‘ust sure really because I’m old and I don’t know if that would be a wisething to do because unfortunately my daughter. she doesn’t want a dog. She’s got acat. She likes cats better than dogs. Then I would have the worry of another dog.What if something happened to me, what’s going to happen to my dog. It’s justpossible that I wouldn’t.I So you would like another one but it might not be possible?P I would like another one but I would have to think it over very very carefully and Iwould have to make some arrangements just in case. And I’m not being pessimistic.I’m being realistic. And that’s what I would just have to weigh one thing againstanother and decide well should I or shouldn’t I and I think to be practical about it itwould be better not to get another one. He’s getting old too and he might live foranother three, four, or five years.If she did get another dog Pam had earlier said:I would love a mongrel. In fact if I ever had another dog somebody told me that it’s ashame so many of these dogs down at the pound or the SPCA if they are not. picked up andif nobody wants them they are after a certain time they are just destroyed which is sad.During our conversation Pam very eloquently made several statements that illustratedthe importance and meaning of companion animals in her life. These included:42He’s a great source of comfort to me because I’m alone. I love him dearly and he means alot to me. Hes a big part of my life, he really is. He is the main thing in my life now. Hereally is.I am glad I’ve got him. He has been a great source of comfort and enjoyment for me andI can’t imagine living without him really. He is my every day companion and I hate thevery thought of anything happening to him.When I asked Pam about companion animals and widowhood she replied: “It depends onwhat you want, It is a very individual thing I think.”SummaryPam is a recently widowed woman in her mid eighties who is independent, strong willedand optimistic. She likes to take care of things properly and actively takes care of her houseand companion animal.Pam comes from a large close knit family where there was always someone to play with,Although she never had a real pet as a child she always had a love for dogs. As a child she didhave contact with budgies and farm animals, but she did not have much to do with them andwas never really attracted to them as companion animals because a real pet is something thatyou could pat, was a good companion, you could go for walks with, and you had a certainfeeling associated with it.Pam did not have a companion animal from her twenties until her seventies due toworking, getting married, raising a family, travelling, and having an active social life. Pamhad a good happy 50 years of marriage.Sammy was purchased as a puppy three years prior to her husband’s death because ofher love for dogs and as a health benefit. Right from the beginning he was thought of andtreated as a family member. He has always been a very lively and mischievous dog who lovespeople and is a good watch dog.43The death of her spouse was difficult for Pam and Sammy. Having Sammy during thistransition helped her to adjust and he was a source of comfort because she could cry withoutany incriminations, he was something to hold. hug, and cuddle to. He was also a comfort,especially during the first year, because he was something live to come home to and hewelcomed and greeted her, happy to see her come home. Although she said she would nothave known what to do during this transition time without him, she thought this would nothave been a time to purchase a dog if she had not had him.Widowhood dramatically changes a person’s lifestyle. As Pam’s social life decreased hertime spent doing things with and for Sammy increased, and his role as a companionincreased. Although Pam has family and friends Sammy is the main part in her life becausehe is with her all of the time.Pam is very attached to Sammy and says she has got to think of him just as she wouldthink of a child because he is that important to her, Pam spoke of many positive aspectsassociated with owning a dog in general and with Sammy in particular: having peace ofmind and feeling safe and secure on walks and in the house because he is a good watch dog;he is comforting and relaxing; he is something live to come home to; she is uninhibitedcrying in front of him: he is something to pat, hold, and cuddle; he welcomes and greets herwhen she comes home; he is something to live for; he is a major part of her life; he is her dayand night companion; he is something to talk to and communicate with; he is something tocare for; and he is something to Lake for walks,Pam also spoke of some negative aspects as well: Sammy restricts her from travelling,she is concerned over who will take care of him and what kind of care he would receive ifshe did go away, she is concerned about him if something should happen to her, she isconcerned that something might happen to him and dreads the day he has to be put down.and housing would be a concern if she was not in her own home.44Although taking care of a dog can be considered costly and Pam vacuums her house dailybecause of dog hair, she considered these aspects as just a fact of life and not as negativeaspects to owning a dog.There are aspects or services which could make owning a dog easier or more enjoyablefor Pam. These included: affordable help for yard work and other chores, an affordable andreliable house sitter, a pet taxi, places vhere you can let your dog run off leash, peoplepicking up after their own companion animals, affordable pet insurance, having aveterinarian in the vicinity which is reasonably handy, and having a pleasant walkingenvironment.Although Pam loves Sammy and is very attached to him, she was of the opinion thathaving a companion animal is an individual thing that may not fit with every widowslifestyle.ThemesWhen reflecting on our conversation about the meaning of companion animals in Pamslife I identified 23 major areas or themes;I) Independence. Pam is an independent person. She thought this was in part due to herScottish ancestry. Her independence is illustrated by her desire to do things for herself liketaking care of her house and living on her own so she will not be a burden to others.2) Compassion and caring. Pam is compassionate and caring for people and companionanimals. This is seen in the way she takes care of Sammy and her concern that he isproperly taken care of, how she talks to him as if he is another person vhile using namesand words of endearment, her volunteer work associated with the church, and herwillingness to voluntarily participate in this study.3) Optimistic and positive attitude. This is evident during the transition to widowhood andin the years folloving. When Pam was going through the difficult time of adjusting towidowhood she would tell herself that you just some how have to get on with your life andmake the best and most of it. You just carry on and do the best you can. As well, she was45positive and Wok comfort in having had a good life together, a good marriage, and a goodrelationship, rather than focussing on what she had lost. As a widow she takes one day at. aLime and tries to make the best of each day.4) Previous love of dogs. For as long as Pam can remember she has always had a fondnessand love of dogs.5) Family of origin. Pam grew up in a close-knit family with six siblings. Because of thesize of her family Pam said there was always somebody to play with.6) Parents’ love of companion animals. Pam said that her parents had also loved companionanimals.7) Absence of companion animals during childhood. Pam’s childhood was spent playingwith her large close-knit family. They moved a lot and during these years Pam never had a“real pet”.8) Type of companion animal. A dog, rather than budgies and canaries, were considered tobe a “real pet” because they could be petted, taken for walks, they gave companionship, theywere intelligent, they could be communicated with, and they gave her a certain feeling. Pamloved any type of dog and would own a purebred or a mixed breed.9) Absence of companion animals during her middle years. Due to working, gettingmarried, raising a family, travelling, and having an active social life it was not possible orpractical to own a companion animal until her seventies,10) Reason for getting her current companion animal. Pam and her husband wanted to get adog because of her love of dogs and for health reasons. They had read an article that saidcompanion animals are noted to lower blood pressure so they thought it might help Pam’shusband.11) Help and comfort during transition to widowhood. An existing companion animal is asource of comfort when initially widowed in that it provides companionship and comfort inmany different ways.4612) Acquiring a new companion animal during the transition to widowhood. Pam thought itwas not a good time to get a new companion animal when a woman is recently widowed, Shedid think that it would be appropriate after about a year after being widowed so that therewas something live to come home to.13) Increasing importance during widowhood. Companion animals take on a greater role inwidowhood. Not only is Sammy her main source of companionship but Pam spends more timedoing things with and for Sammy than before when more time was spent in social activitieswith others.14) Current lifestyle. As a widow Pains lifestyle consists of taking care of herself, her house,and her companion animaL In addition to household chores Pam talks to and visits herfamily, goes for walks with Sammy, volunteers at a local church, and watches television.15) Widowhood. When a person is widowed their lifestyle changes dramatically. Becausethere is nobody else to do things with, to talk to, and to take care of, Pam has more time tospend doing things with a companion animal. They are a source of comfort andcompanionship and they become a major part of your life.16) Importance of current companion animal. Having Sammy means very much to Pam.She said he is the main part of her life and she couldn’t imagine living without him. This didnot mean, however, that Sammy replaced her husband because she still missed him butSammy became more important to her and his role as a companion increased.17) A strong attachment to current companion animal. This was illustrated both verballyand nonverbally. Pam discussed how she worries if anything would happen to him, shewould worry about him if anything happened to her, she said she loved him and was veryattached to him, and how she considers and treats him as a member of the family, when shegoes out she looks forward to coming home and seeing him, she considers him to be her dayand night companion, and she talks to him using endearing names and words. Nonverbalindicators include the cleanliness and care Sammy receives through grooming, feeding, and47veterinary care; cuddling him and giving him hugs; and many Limes during ourconversation Pam would reach over and pat Sammy.18) Positive aspects associated with companion animals. Pam spoke of many positive aspectsassociated with companion animals. For owning a dog in general positive aspects included:you feel closer to a dog than a bird, you can pat it, a dog is a good companion, you can gowalking together, patting a dog is relaxing and it lovers your blood pressure, it Is somethinglive to come home to, they are intelligent, they make eye contact with you, you cancommunicate with a dog, and they appear to understand what you are saying.Associated with Sammy in particular, Pam identified: that he was a great source ofcomfort especially vhen she was recently widowed; she has a feeling of security or safetybecause he is a good watch dog; she looks forward to coming home because she likes the wayhe greets and welcomes her: it is relaxing, comforting, pleasurable, and affectionate pattinghim; he is affectionate; he provides her ‘with companionship; he is with her day and night;he is something to talk to and have two way communication with; taking him for walksprovides her with exercise; he is active; he is something to care for in relation to feeding,weekly grooming, shots, and teeth cleanings; you get very attached to your own companionanimal; he is something to love; he is something to hug: he makes her feel better when she issad or physically ailing; he alerts her when the telephone rings; he is more patable than ashort haired dog; he is a source of enjoyment; there were no incriminations from him whenshe cried; and he made the transition to widowhood less difficult.19) Few negative aspects associated with current companion animal. There are very fewnegative aspects and factors that are typically considered negative are not thought of assuch. She did not consider having to vacuum every day or the cost of keeping a dog to benegative factors. She said that it is just a fact of life and you know that before you buy a dog.Pam did consider being restricted from travelling to be a negative aspect. As well, shethought “losing her dog,” as when he passes away, would be a negative thing.4820) Societal aspects or services. There are aspects or services which could make owning adog easier or more enjoyable for Pam. These would include: affordable help for yard workand other chores, an affordable and reliable house sitter, a pet taxi, places where you can letyour dog run off leash, people picking up after their own companion animals, affordable petinsurance, having a veterinarian in the vicinity which is reasonably handy, and having apleasant walking environment.21) Age. As she gets older Pam is concerned if she can remain independent and take care ofherself and her house. Also because of her age Pam said if something were to happen toSammy it would be a tough decision whether she would get another companion animal.Although she would love to have another one she would be concerned that she would be ableto take care of it properly, and she would need to make arrangements should somethinghappen to her. She said she would need to be practical when making that decision.22) Companion animals and widows. Pam was of the opinion that this is an individual thing.She felt some people may need the companionship, love, and so on that a companion animalprovides but others may enjoy their freedom to travel when and where they want withoutthe worry and responsibility of a companion animal.23) Socio-economic status. Financially Pam is able to properly take care of Sammy in herown home.Marth&s StoryWhen I arrived at Martha’s condominium complex for our first interview she releasedthe security doors and I took the stairs instead of the elevator to the second floor. Thecomplex was huge and as I walked down the many corridors it seemed like I was walkingthrough the halls of a hotel. The plush carpeting was medium grey in color, the walls werecream colored, and the halls were lit with brass wall lights, Because of the many hallwaysthere were directional room number signs on the walls. As I walked to Marthas suite I was49impressed with how quiet it was in the hallways. Nearing her suite I noticed that the suitesthemselves were labelled with brass numbers.As I rounded the last corner Martha was standing in the hallway outside of her suite. Allof a sudden a small black dog with a diamond shaped white patch on her chest came runningout of the door to greet me. After she greeted me she ran back into the suite and was runningaround as if she was very happy and excited to have company. Martha. a widow of 25 years inher later seventies, warmly greeted me and showed me into her suite. Martha had neatly setgrayish hair and walked leaning slightly forward. As I made my way to the living room Inoticed the condominium was spotless. There was no sign of black hair on the beige coloredcarpeting or any “doggie” odor. The living room was very clean with blankets covering thefurniture and a few squeaky dog toys laying on the floor.After I had been seated we spent the first half hour or so talking and getting to knoweach other. We discussed what would be involved in the study and Martha agreed toparticipate saying she would do whatever she could to help me and make it worthwhile forme. As we talked I was patting Mandy who was a black 18 month old Lhasa Apse who had bigbeautiful bulgy brown eyes. She had a short little tail and her coat, which had been clippedvery short, was quite soft to the touch. As she jumped up on me and wanted to play I could tellshe had been bathed recently because the smell of shampoo still lingered in her hair. I couldtell right away that Mandy was a very energetic and happy dog who just loved people. Shedid not make strange to me at all and like a little child she wanted her share of attention. If Iignored her for longer than she liked she made her presence known by running up to me orjumping on the couch beside me so she could either climb on my lap or paw at my hand.I began the interview by asking Martha to describe her family of origin and what it waslike growing up. Martha was born in Ireland and spent the first three years of her lifethere. Her mother, eldest brother, and herself were visiting relatives in ireland when shewas born. They did not return to Canada as soon as Martha was born because her brother hadan illness and the boat customs people would not give them permission to travel until they50had a doctors approval. After they had returned to Canada Martha only lived in EasternCanada for a year and a half before her mother became ill and “couldn’t cope,” Martha saidher father “didn’t know anything about little girls and what you do to do things for them.” Asa result Martha was sent over to Ireland to live with an Aunt. During the 18 months Marthawas living at home she remembers her mother having yellow canaries. Martha “found themdumb and very dull.” they were “messy” and “noisy.” Martha said, “They just went on and onfor no reason.” and they would “bounce around in their cage and screech and squeak at you.’Martha had not been attached to the canaries. She said. “I like them. I wouldn’t do any harmto them, but I wasn’t that interested in them and I still don’t find them interesting.’Martha went to a boarding school for girls in Ireland until she graduated from highschool at age 18. Martha would visit her Aunt on weekends and return home to Montrealevery summer. Martha had two older brothers and they were “basically good to me” butwhen she was home she “didn’t spend a lot of time with them because I had a lot of friends.”Growing up Martha said she was “always a busy person” and “always bad.” She said:I was brought up in a boarding school and half the time I didn’t get home because I wasbad. I’d keep doing those sorts of things and Id get into trouble. I was a little devil, Iwent for months on end where I didn’t get home to my Aunt. Sometimes I went threemonths at a stretch without getting near anybody’s home, My Aunt would come to get meand I wasn’t allowed out. But it did.n’t matter I had a good time. It was a lot of fun, Ienjoyed it.When Martha was about 3 years of age until 17 years of age her parents owned a GermanShepherd, Because Martha lived at a boarding school in Ireland after the age of four sheonly saw the dog when she returned home every year for summer holidays. Martha saidbecause this ‘was her mother’s dog she “wouldn’t listen to anybody else but my mother. Mymother was crazy about her and she was crazy about my mom and she wouldn’t let anyonetouch my mother or she would go for them. She wouldn’t bite them but she would show leaveher alone,” Martha added that both of her parents loved this dog and they had always had a51love for dogs. When Martha was home in the summer she used to play with her and “take herto the vet.” In return the dog “was very good with me.”Martha described this dog as being “very good and smart. My mother used to talk to heras if she was a child and she never did anything wrong in the house. She never piddled orpooped anywhere.’ She was a very good dog and Martha said there was nothing negativeabout her. Because this dog meant so much to her and because she had been very attached tothis dog Martha “wouldn’t have another one for a long time after that because nothing wouldmatch her. She was so good.”Martha “always loved dogs” but her fondness for dogs grew because of this dog. “She wasone of the first ones [a German Shepherd) that I remember seeing.” Because Martha hadbeen informed of her death by a letter sent to her in Ireland from her parents Martha said.“She never died as far as! was concerned. She is still alive in my head.” Although Marthaloved a German Shepherd she never had another one “because where we moved andeverything it wasn’t always convenient for that type of dog.”Martha’s Aunt in Ireland always had four or five dogs and whenever Martha was at herhome she loved to play with them and take them for walks. There was one dog in particular,Jerry, that Martha had been very attached to. Because of Jerry and the other dogs Marthasaid her fondness for dogs grew because of them.At 18 years of age when Martha returned to Montreal she took a few courses to see whatshe wanted to do. “I went and learned typewriting.” After graduating she “tried a few placesthen went to an English firm.” Martha liked it at this firm and over the course of severalyears was promoted to a “well paying job as secretary of the company.” The job involved a lotof travelling and at times Martha would “go down and work in new York for six months.”Martha did not have companion animals during this time because:I was working and I was so busy. I was getting calls from New York. I was having to geton a plane the next day and go there, I couldn’t have animals then. I missed them but it52wasn’t fair to the animals. I could understand why I couldn’t have them but theycouldn’t understand why I couldn’t have them.When Martha was in her twenties her mother became very ill so Martha told her boss“I’m going to have to go home to see about my mother.” For the next six years Martha stayedhome and looked after her father and her mother, who was paralyzed from a severe stroke.Her father was in his eighties and lie died a few years after she went home. During this timeMartha worked very hard.I did all the paying. I had to work in order to make the money to pay it out. And theexpenses for my mother were terrible. But my brothers never gave anything to it. Ipaid for every damn thing, I didn’t let my mother and father want for anything. And Idid everything for them. 1 don’t regret it, I’m glad I did it because they were goodparents, My parents were good parents to all of us and my brothers basically didnothing. And as a woman in those days you didn’t make as much as they do today. I diddo well because I had a good position with them, mind you I worked hard for it.Martha could not keep doing everything herself. So, as she explained:I used to pay people to come in to look after them because my doctor said to me youcannot stay at this level, you’re going to drive yourself crazy, and you’re not going to doyour parents any good, And he was right. So I had people who came in.During this time Martha also paid for one brother’s university education. “I put my brotherthrough university and he graduated and he never did a thing with it.” She added, “I don’ttalk to him. I don’t even know where he is today, And you know what, I don’t care.”Soon after Martha started taking care of her mother she bought her blue, yellow, andgreen budgies. Martha bought them so they would take her mother’s mind off herself.Martha liked the budgies better than the canaries she had as a child because, “They werebigger, They were more substantial looking,” and “they had more pep than any other birdthat I’ve ever seen.” Although the budgies “did a lot of squeaking too” this did not botherMartha as much as it did with the canaries because she “felt as if they were trying to talk and53tell me something unlike the canaries who seemed to screech for no reason at alL” Marthaalso preferred them better because she could let them out of the cage whereas she could notdo this with the canaries. Martha liked the budgies because “their colors were beautiful,they were quite smart in their own way,” and they were “something to talk to.” She dislikedthem because “they were messy.” She said:I liked to keep them very clean and I couldn’t stand the mess in the cage and I’d clean itout and it was more work than I had expected because I was tired. And I don’t think youshould have anything and not keep it clean.They were “a bit of a nuisance” because she was tired from all the work she did taking care ofher mother. As well, Martha said, “Although they are clever they were not clever enoughfor my liking.” Although they were company for Martha and she enjoyed them while theyhad them and she “missed them when I didn’t have them” Martha did not buy any more andwould not want to get one now. As well, she said that if it had not been for her mother she‘would not have bought one for herself,”Martha got rid of the budgies before they moved to Calgary with the intention of buyingmore for her mother once they had settled in. Martha’s mother died three weeks after theyhad moved to Calgary. It was shortly after this that her eldest brother was killed suddenly inan automobile accident.Several years after this when Martha was in her mid forties she got married to a manalmost two decades older, She said, “I had been engaged three times before that to otherpeople but I said I’m not going to get married until I am alone now because I had my motherand father stifi living and both sick,”Martha and her husband lived in his “big, beautiful home” with Martha’s sister-in-law“who was very demanding.” Because of his position as a lawyer they had “a lot of people comeinto the house for one reason or another.” They were quite active socially because her‘husband was also a city councillor and when the Queen was coming and anybody else in theRoyal family was coming they always got him to do the honors.” There were always dances54and functions they would attend associated with this. They also did a lot of travelling eitheralone or with good friends of theirs who lived in Toronto. Martha said, “I used to go to theBahamas a lot with my husband.” If they went on any long trips or did any driving aroundMontreal Martha used to do it because her husband “used to drive a car and then he stoppedand he didn’t go back to it and I was doing all the driving.” During their marriage togetherMartha and her husband never had any children. Although she wanted a companion animalMartha did not have one while they were married “because my sister-in-law didni like them.She didn’Lwantone. Itdidn’tmatter that I wanted one.”After only six years Martha was widowed when her husband suddenly passed away ontheir vacation. He had not been feeling well before they left. “He saw a doctor before we leftand the doctor said there was nothing wrong he would be all right.” After a week into theirvacation he passed away in his sleep the first night they were in the United States. Marthasaid, “It was difficult to deal with when you are away from home.” Martha flew back toMontreal and had to make all the arrangements. “It was dreadful. I was upset. God I wasupset.”When discussing the adjustment to widowhood Martha said. “It was terrible. My husbandwas a good husband and Id just been married six years. It was a good marriage. It was just asif my world had been torn apart again.” Martha said it took “at least three years” before shereached a point “where you could handle it, where you felt you could handle it.”When asked what helped her to adjust during the transition to widowhood Marthareplied:Getting out and doing things helped to take my mind off the hurt, I was busy. I alwayskept busy. I always did things. I was busy with this and that and the other thing becausemy husband died suddenly and I went to his office and cleared up things and got thingson the go. I got things going. I was there three years simply because we wanted to get itall straightened out.55When asked about getting a companion animal during that transition Lime Martha said:I would not have wanted to get one at that particular time simply because you have somany things to think of, so many things to do. I was running all the time. It would havebeen something else to worry about. And itwasn’t my idea of consoling myself. And itwasn’t my idea of wanting to hurt any animal that I had because they might havethought God this is a terrible place, she isn’t a nice person. And I couldn’t lust cope ‘withit. My husband died suddenly in California so that didn’t make things easier. I had a lotto take care of and there was no point in getting a new pet and being missing most of theday. Its not fair to the pet and its not fair to you.Martha also felt that “it would have been hard if I had had an existing pet.” She said it tookher three years before she could start to think about getting a pet. She added that “well it alldepends on the person maybe.”Martha was quite busy doing a number of things in those three years:Once my husband died I was doing other things that I had to get done because we hadlived in a big house and all this kind of stuff and I had to get this all attended to. Ithought that ends that I’m going to go out to live in Vancouver. I didn’t want to stay inMontreal any longer.Martha bought a six month old brown female toy poodle shortly after she moved toVancouver when she was in her latter fifties because she wanted a dog. Martha got her“because the household split up, a marriage had split up or something, and he advertised herin the paper and I went down with my friend.” Lady was a “beautiful dog” who had “a lot ofsauve woi faire.” She was a “well mannered” dog and was “so precise.”Within the same year Martha bought another dog. Trixie was a two month old greyfemale standard poodle. Being just a puppy she was “naughty” and very “young and foolish.”She was a good natured dog who loved people and “she had a sense of humour.”Within a short time after moving to Vancouver Martha started working again part-timeat various places. “My girlfriend she knew people in the jewelry business and she was56always getting me to go to work someplace. I went to work at UBC for awhile. And I went towork in a jewelry store.” The job started out as being part-time, and it “got to become fulltime” Martha worked there “about two years or something because she was giving up thejewelry business because she ‘was going to retire.” Martha said it was not a problem vorkingand having dogs. As well, for the entire time she had Lady and Trixie Martha lived inapartments. She said, “it was not a problem at all.”From our discussion it sounded like there was never a dull moment, especially with Trixiearound. Whereas Lady was “a real lady” and she ‘was “veil mannered” Trixie on the otherhand was something else.She was a terrorist and she knows she was, For instance she seemed as if she had nobrains at all at times. She would look at you if you chastised her. . . . Lady was so precise.When she was out with you she stood up and would go along. Trine, one night I took herout it was 10 o’clock. . . and I took her out this night and she got off the leash. Nov Idon’t know how it ever happened. She got in the middle of the road and I said to herTrixie come on but she knew that she had done something wrong so she wasn’t going tocome to me in case I told her off. She didn’t like if 1 told her off but she was as cute as abutton. Everybody loved that little wench. She sat there and if I made a move, just onestep, she would go the other way. And I thought God it’s bad enough I don’t want her togo over to Granville. So I said airight goodnight, goodnight and I turned around to goand she would come back to her starting point. When that happened It was getting onmy nerves and I thought I’m going to kill you you little bitch.Whereas Lady was obedient and “never went off the track,’ Trixie did as she pleased. Marthalaughingly recalled an example:Well we’d go up the street and there was a park there and there was a bowling place andI’d go up there with her and she would dash around and she wouldn’t come back to me.So that day she ran along West 13th to this street and she’d run there and she ‘would godown and then she would come along. And I thought I’m going out of my mind with this57kid. I was out of my mind to buy the little bitch but I’m going out further. So she ranalong the street, she went up one street and came down the other. And there used to be ahouse on the corner there and you used to have to go up stairs to it. So she went up thestairs to avoid me. And I’d chase her because I knew she couldn’t go anywhere else. I’dgo up and when she found me it was just as if she was laughing at me. And I’d say oh GodI cant stand this, this is ridiculous. And I think she was six months old at that time.Martha did not like this mischievous, terrorist side of her. Her good friend used to getannoyed because she thoughtMartha was favoring Lady more. “It wasn’t that! favored hermore, I enjoyed her better I must say because she was well behaved. Whatever mommy saidwas the word and she did it,.” It was not that Martha was more attached to or loved one dogmore than the other as she said, “I loved them both on their levels.. . . I was attached indifferent ways.”The two dogs “were great friends” and they “got along very veil together.” It seems thatTrixie was not able to draw Lady into her bad deeds:Trixie got into a great big pot I had and it vas all over the carpet and everywhere. Icame home and said oh God don’t tell me and Lady looked at me as much to say it wasn’tme, And Lady didn’t have a thing to do with it. Trixie had it in her hair and everything.She was young and foolish. I couldn’t help but laugh. And I said what the hell have youbeen into again Trixie. And she looked at me like this and then she came over and gaveme a kiss on the hand. I said I tell you that’s not exactly what I’m thinking right now. Idon’t love you right at this moment I’ll tell you that. And she looked at me as if to saywell I don’t care and raised her head high in the air. I thought if I had a camera andtook those shots of her it would have been priceless. But dear old Trixie was a doll, Iloved her dearly but she was so nonchalant about everything that she did. I tell youpeople who say that dogs are all the same are crazy because they all have their ownideas. Even the same breed, It’s they as a person that I like because they are like people,58While recounting this story Martha was laughing at Trixies antics. She said, ‘There wasno harm done because I put it all back again.” Trixie outgrew this at about six months of ageand then she just did “the odd little thing once in a while. Even if she wasn’t going to do itshe was testing me,” Other than this incident Lady and Trixie never did any damage.I’d buy my dogs young enough and I’m usually with them and they don’t do certainthings and its a no no if they do and I tell them so. I’d say mommy doesn’t like you forthat, that is rude. Not that they understand me but it’d get through to them. It’s the wayyou say it, it’s not what you say altogether. No I’ve never had too many problems.Martha only had Lady for seven years when she was killed in an automobile accident:I was walking with Lady and Trixie . .. and we were going past a lanevay and this womancame out with her car in the morning and hit her right on the head. And I said to heryou don’t see well. I didn’t see it she said and she ‘was so nasty about it. I said look don’tget your high horse up at me because I’m going to get mine at you if you start this. Youkilled my dog I didn’t put her in your spot to kill her. You came down and you shouldhave stopped. You don’t come out of the lane into a Street without stopping. Where didyou learn to drive. I was so mad at her. So that’s how I lost her.After this Martha “had a terrible time of Trixie for quite a while after that.” Trixie cried for“at least eight weeks” before she got over it. Even though Martha still had Trixie it took her alot longer. “I would say seven or eight months at least and I still think of it.” It was difficultbecause of the way it had happened and because Martha had been so attached to Lady. Afterreflecting on it for a moment Martha said, “I never really got over it.. . . I was sick formonths after. I still see it. I’ll never forget about it. It’s just the worse thing to get over andthere is nothing you can do about it when she is dead.. . . I feel as sad as I did the first day ithappened,”In the latter part of the 1980’s, or about four years ago, Martha was still living in anapartment with Trixie when she went out one morning and collapsed on the Street from a59stroke. Since then her life has changed dramatically. Before the stroke Martha was used todoing many things on her own:I did all the painting in my home when I was well. I’ve always done things on my own.I’ve got tools in there I tell you that nobody else has. And I could fix this and fix that anddo this and do that. That came about because I was always a busy person.As a result of the stroke Martha was put on medication, she got a hearing aid, she required aneye operation, and she has a painful back, As well, she said:I cant remember things. That is why I keep this here and mark everything down on itbecause if I don’t I get all fouled up. It’s affected a part of my brain and there’s nothingin it as far as I am concerned because I don’t remember, And another time I’ll be sittinghere on my own and it will all come back to me.It had restricted her life in other ways as well:I had driven a car for 50 years. I stopped driving after I had the stroke because I wasafraid I could have another one at any time. . . . The doctor said no don’t vacuum. I’m notallowed many things. I’m not supposed to lift my arms up that high so I have someonewho comes here every week to do it.When this happened Martha was kept in the hospital for a month. Although Marthas friendand a neighbor looked after Trixie, Martha said. “It was a big concern. Who’s going to takecare of my dog.” Martha also worried if she would be able to properly take care of Trixiewhen she was released from the hospital. At the time she thought, “I’m silly I shouldn’t haveanimals it’s not fair to them.” Martha worried about this and said she recovered better andfaster than her doctor had expected. When Martha was released from the hospital she wasable to take care of Trixie herself. Even though Martha has had a stroke she does not worryabout something happening to herself. She said, “I hope it doesn’t happen but I have nocontrol over it.”60Itwas aboutayear later when Martha had to have Trixie putdown at the age of 13 or 14due to cancer. “God the day she died I cried my eyes out. Nancy took her in and came out andsaid she has to be put to sleep. And I said I’m not gong in. I just couldn’t take it.”Martha really missed Trixie. It was ust as bad as when Lady died because Martha was leftwithoutadog. She said:Wefi I missed not having a dog and especially nov. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasyounger but now that I am older and I don’t get out as much to go anywhere I liked tohave a dog. It was company. I don’t feel as if I am talking to myself.As well, Martha missed having a dog because “it was something to love” and in return “theyloved me.” They were also “something to take care of,” It took Martha at least seven or eightmonths to get over her death. “Sometimes Nancy would talk about her and I would say don’ttalk about it tonight 1 don’t want to hear about it. And I was never like that.”When asked about negative aspects associated with Lady and Trixie Martha said therewere none. Martha did not consider the costs associated with keeping two dogs to be anegative aspect. She had replied, “No. I’ve had dogs long enough to know that it costs to keepthem.”Within a year after Trixie died Martha bought Mandy, her current companion animal,because she was lonely, to help her get over grieving the loss of Trixie, and because shemissed having a dog:When I bought her I didn’t think that something was going to happen to me any morebut these are things you have to plan for at any age. I gave it a lot of thought before Ibought her. And Nancy said you should have her, you miss Trixie, and you are alone. Ithink you are going the right way, don’t worry about it. So that’s the way I got this one..I figured that I was miserable up where I lived because I didn’t like it. And as you getolder you are not about to go here there and everywhere like you used to do but I’ve hada dog when it was possible. I enjoy them because I feel I’m not talking to myself.,. . AndI think it helps you with your sanity because I find this is a bore to just live here,61Martha bought Mandy with the help of her good friend:Nancy chose this dog for me. I would never have chosen this type of dog because shedoes, not greatly, but she does shed and that’s why I keep her hair short. I would neverhave chosen this dog but Nancy has been good to me in her helping me make decisionsand that so I didn’t want to turn her down. She took me though to see it but it neveroccurred to me about that Lsheddingl. . . ,She was $200 or something. I got all the stufffrom them but I wasn’t interested in keeping papers or anything. I just wanted to makesure I had a good dog. I have no intentions of showing her or anything like that. All Iwanted was something that was decent. I’ve always had that type of dog but she is goodnatured really.Martha bought a female puppy because, “I always buy puppies. I only had females, I’mused to the females.’ Martha wanted to get a poodle rather than a Lhasa Apse for a couple ofreasons. One reason is because of allergies:Well the only reason I say poodles is because they don’t shed. .. . My doctor said I couldhave a dog but don’t get one that sheds. I bought this one.. . and they said she didn’tshed but I beg to differ. The hair makes me weep and my nose runs. I’m just allergic toit. It’s not as bad now as it used to be. It’s still there, it exists but some nights it’s worsethan others, or some days it’s worse than others. That is why I try to keep her clean. Ican’t over wash her. That’s not fair to her either. But I brush her two to three times aday.The other reason is that she is just more familiar with poodles:It wouldn’t matter ‘what type of dog it is as long as I have a good animal. I love them allbut now at my age I’m not used to the others, I’ve only been used to these other kind Ihad.Because Martha never had a Lhasa Apse before she went and bought a book about the breed:I’ve never had one of these breeds before and I don’t know if this is what I’m supposed todo. I bought a book about her breed. I looked and saw my God their skirts go down to the62ground and I said no no unless you are showing them but that’s not for me. I justwantanice little doggie, a nice little girl that! can keep clean. I find it hard enough keepingher clean like this and I don’t like smelling dogs or dirty dogs. Whether they are humanor otherwise.Her allergies to hair is also one reason why Martha never had a cat. “I was never allowed tohave cats because of the hair. I was only allowed dogs, I don’t dislike cats, but they are veryindependent.” Independence is part of the second reason she never had a cat. “I don’t carefor cats they are too independent number one, and I don’t trust them..I’ve always likeddogs more.”Even though Mandy is not a poodle Martha said, “I’ve never had one of these dogs. I’vealways had poodles but I certainly don’t dislike her. I love her dearly and I’m not sorry I gother but she is different than my poodles.” Martha said she would, however, get anotherLhasa Apse. When Martha was describing Ma.ndy she laughed as she said to Mandy, “Thoseeyes are so funny. . . . And she has an overbite.” Martha went on to say that “her eyes waterand I don’t like that because I wipe them 55 times a day. I can’t stand dirty wet eyes. ThankGod she’s black.”Martha went on to describe Mandy as a dog who is “young and foolish, she loveseverybody, she is independent, and she knows how to get what she wants.” She is a good dogwho “never complains,” and she has “never made a mess in the house.” She is affectionatelyreferred to as “my love bird.”Within a year after getting Mandy, Martha moved to another location. Martha hadmoved so she would have greater access to stores and services:That’s why I moved down here. I lived up there and God there wasnt a store within amile at least and I didn’t know where they were. I hated it over there. .. . I don’t like torely on people too often. I insisted on coming here and the reason was because I canwalk down the street to the grocery store. I don’t want to be carried around.63Because of restrictions Martha had a hard time finding a condominium that would allowMandy. The strata committee at her current complex required her to submit a writtenstatement requesting permission. “1 had to wait three days and I finally said to them look youeither let me know at twelve o clock today or I’m not going.” And Martha is not allowed to getanother one if anything happens to Mandy. Martha was still mad about this as she related itto me. She didn’t like these housing restrictions “simply because I do not let my dog bark.And when she is alone she is quiet. I think she is a good dog.” In fact Martha was quiteannoyed because as we were talking about this a dog across the Street was barkingcontinuously. Martha said:I think that is vile. There is nothing worse than a dog that barks and you don’t knowwhat in the hell it wants. I think it is dreadful. . . . She [Mandyl doesn’t bark ordinarily.I don’t let her bark because I don’t. want that.Because Martha is quite restricted in what she is allowed to do Mandy plays a big part inher life. “I enjoy her.. it is a long day and I can do so little now.” Their day together beginsat seven a.m. “I start at seven in the morning and I go out with her. I was never a longsleeper.. . Then we come back and I give her some breakfast.” Then Martha goes into herbedroom and makes the bed:I bring her in with me. Sometimes I allow her to sit on the bottom of the bed for a while.She loves the bed. She would be in there every night with me but no no she stays in thekitchen and I put the gate up and she is as good as gold. I never hear from her.After that Martha’s day is unplanned, I get up in the morning most times without planningwhat I’m going to do this or that because I have nothing but time in my hands.” The rest ofthe day is spent doing activities associated with the house, friends, or with Mandy. Eventhough for health reasons Martha is not allowed to do very much around the house she willdust once in awhile:Well I’m not allowed to vacuum. I’m not allowed to do many things so I have somebodywho comes here every week to do it. ... . The people you get in aren’t very good though.64I’m sure they never wiped that television screen off. I do that. I don’t like to do it but Ido it. I don’t have much in this place. I’ve gotten i-id of all my good stuff more or lessbecause I haven’t got room for it any more. But I don’t know what in the hell she does...They don’t move furniture or anything. I’m not supposed to lift my arms up that high.A person could dust every day, and especially vhen you have a dog. But there is plentyto keep me going.She then went on to say that she does her own grocery shopping “a couple of times a week.”Martha said because she is limited in what she is allowed to do around the house that is whyMaady is such good companionship.Martha does a number of activities associated with friends. At least once a day Marthawill talk to her very close friend Nancy. “Once in a while” Martha will go with Nancy to keepher company when they visit Nancy’s father in a nursing home. Also, once in a whileneighbors from the apartment Martha used to live in will come and visit her. As well, once amonth or so Martha goes into Vancouver for a doctor’s appointment or goes to her bank. Onthese occasions Nancy drives her into Vancouver and Martha goes out for breakfast beforeher appointment and then returns home by bus. Martha said:As you get older you are not about to go here there and everywhere like you used to do.But it is just a relief. I can’t sit here seven days a week especially when I am able to goout. It might come a day when I won’t be able to go out. I don’t like to be running for thesake of running because when I’m in my ovn place I’m happy. I like to go out though.Even when she does goes out Mandy is on her mind. Before she goes out she makes sureMandy has fresh water:I leave her in there and I put the gate up here and I always make sure to leave her freshwater. If I change her water even in the morning when I get up, which I do, I change itwhen I leave. I go out I lock the door I put her in there [the kitchen]. I put the gate upthere and I say I have to go out. I say mommy has to go out nov m going out and itwon’t be long before I’m back sveetie and I say you are going to kiss mommy and I kiss65her. I always kiss her before I go out. And I’m usually not more than two hours..because I don’t believe that I should. I think if you are going to have an animal it’s notto stay alone every day of the week and all day long by themselves and then you comehome at night at 9 or 10 o’clock at night they don’t bother with it.When Martha does not feel like going out she will watch television for something to do or justto have some voices on in the background to listen to. “I put it on and I hear the odd thingbut I’m not concentrating on it half the Lime.” Martha laughed when she recalled whathappens when she falls asleep watching television:Sometimes I sit here and maybe the Lv is on and sometimes I fall asleep and she’ll be overthere or over here and the next thing you know she comes up to me and very gently onme [paws her arm], and Ill open my eyes and there it is standing so glad that. you wokeup.Martha’s time is also spent doing a variety of activities with and for Mandy in addition totheir morning walk together. Throughout the day Martha will talk to Mandy:I speak to her I just don’t let her lay all day doing nothing. I talk to her because I thinkit makes her happy. I say you’re mommy’s best blossom, She doesn’t know what the hellthat is but it’s not what you say altogether its how you say it I think,...I’m not sittinghere with my mouth closed all day and saying I didn’t talk to a soul today because she is asoul. I can talk to her and I don’t feel as if I’m going mad.. , . She looks at me and sheseems to know what I’m saying. I’m sure she doesn’t but she looks at me and say’s that’salright, that’s okay. She sort of looks at me and shakes her head at me. But I don’t thinkthere is anything better than an animal for a friend.As well, Martha said talking to her makes her “feel alive. It makes me feel as if I am living, Icould sit here and read but I get bored with that.” But in talking to her Martha felt sheshouldn’t burden her with her troubles:I talk to her and it changes my mind, It takes my mind off of what I was thinking. I’mnot very often upset. I thank God for that. And if I get upset she would be the last one66that I would want to let know because she is still just a little dog and I love her dearly andshe is a good little guy.Many times during the day Martha will pat Mandy. “I pet her because I want her tothink and know that I love her so it is a sign of affection for her.” She said that although sheenjoys doing it she does it for Mandy, “I enjoy doing it because I think Im doing somethingfor her that she likes. . ,.I want her to know that I love her,” Then with much emotionMartha extended this by saying:I think a dog or an animal, maybe you shouldn’t compare them to grownups or kids, but Ithink it’s like when you have your kids. If you don’t pay attention to them they soon tireof you, and I think because I pay attention to her she loves me. And I’m glad that sheloves me because I wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt her. She didn’t ask me to buyher. And she has done gj for me, Just being a friend to you.As well, they will often play together. “I play with her. I kick her toys around like this,”Although this is fun Martha said:God I hate those squeaky toys. They drive you crazy.. . . They are so terribly noisy. Ihate them with a passion. And what can you buy, even the dog stores here don’t have toomany things for dogs. They have things but I can’t see any common sense to it. Andthose things are over $5 and they last not very long. And I’ve been trying when I go outanywhere to look to see if I can get something that’s different and more substantial andit’s just the same old garbage one after the other that you find...I’m so afraid that she’llget it [the metal noise makerl and swallow it and I don’t like that. It worries me becauseif she swallowed that it’s bigger than it should be. She plays every afternoon. She’s got alot of energy you know. But when she collapses she goes. And she goes in the kitchenand goes in her bed, She will sleep. I don’t tell her it’s time you went to sleep oranything but she does that on her own. And if it’s raining she will come up and sits uphere, I think she is quite happy and satisfied with things, This one is active but if shewants to run around and jump around she does her thing.67As we were talking about this Mandy had jumped up on Marthas lap and appeared to besniffing beside her. The next thing we knew Mandy had pulled a $5 bill out. of Martha’spocket and ‘was wagging her tail as fast as she could. It. was so comical we both laughed forseveral minutes. Mandy thought being a show off and the center of attention was great andshe did not want to give up her hard sought for prize. She eventually was willing to trade forone of her squeaky toys. This little episode clearly illustrated Martha’s point that Mandy isvery entertaining and she makes Martha laugh.Every day Martha brushes Mandy at last once but usually two or three times. “When Ilike something I like it and I like to show it. I take care of it. I take care of her. I do the bestI can at all times with her.” Martha also sends her to a dog groomer. “I get her washed andclipped every month and supposedly taken care of.” Although she is professionally doneMartha is not very pleased with the level of care she receives or the cost of the service:They didn’t take care of her ears. I shouldn’t have to do those. All the dogs I’ve ever hadI’d taken them. Now I paid thirty something to get her done. Now I think that is enough.And I think they should do her ears but they didn’t touch them. And I had to pay $100and something to get them done by the vet. So I wasn’t very happy. I dont mindspending the money.There are a number of reasons Martha would like to go someplace else but she has otherfactors to take into consideration:It seemed to me they used to complain about her. Well they put her in a little hole likethis and she goes there for nine o’clock in the morning and doesnt get out for three orfour hours later, I think that’s abominable frankly. Nancy takes her in the car andthen she goes and picks her up and she is so glad when she gets home. She is exhaustedwhen she gets home. I got the picture for a while that she was a bit of a pest to them.And 1 said to Nancy I’m going to change because I said I don’t like them anyway andmaybe she’s justified in being a pest. I don’t know what in the hell they are doing to her,I’m not there. And I have to be careful because Nancy takes her in the car m not68hung up on these people as far as I am concerned. I’m not too happy with them. I thinkI’ll be glad to get her moved but I have to be careful like I say because I don’t drive a carany more after O years.Another activity Martha and Mandy do is go for four walks a day. As with petting, the reasonfor the walks is to benefit Mandy and in the process Martha benefits as well. She said:I go out rain or shine, snow or blow with her. Many days I would shrink and say to hellwith it, I would, I may as well be honest with you because I would. And dont get the ideaI just go out for my benefit, I have no feelings about it. I got her and I love her and Iwant to do what is right by her and I don’t think that I should get lazy and say I don’t feellike going out today because it is helping me to go out too.After she said, “She goes along and does her piddle and her poops and I clean them up and putthem down in the garbage here,” she became quite annoyed because “not everyone cleans upafter their dogs.”Every once in a while during the day Martha will give Mandy a treat. “Not too large oranything because I don’t want her to get too fat it’s not fair she can’t help it.”Martha laughing said that at the end of the day:I put her down and say come on lovey you’re going to bed now and she gets down and shecurls up on her bed, I say goodnight baby I love you and she looks up at me as much tosay I wonder if you do. And I leave it at that.Other activities associated with Mandy include giving her a bath herself once in a while.buying pet food, and taking her for yearly shots. Martha did not consider the cost of keepinga dog to be a negative thing. She said:I’ve had dogs long enough to know that it costs money to keep them. . . . I think it is a lotmore than I ever used to pay before but I don’t care because I love her. I like my dog.Money is nothing if you are not happy.Martha did not consider a restriction from travelling to be negative either:69I have my dog in a year every day of the year. Now my friend is going up on a cruiseand she says I wish you could come. . . . I said no I’m not putting her away in a placewhere she has never been and expect to come back and find my dog is nice. I said she isa dog it’s true but I dont believe in mistreating them. And I think I would be mIstreatingher. . . . I don’t. know enough about the people who look after the dogs if they are kind tothem. 1’ve heard so many complaints.When asked if she would get someone she knew or trusted to come in and take care of her shereplied:Yeah but that isn’t easy to do any more, I’m not sure because I don’t know anybody whodoes that and I would just be going away because I want to go away. I have to think ofher. I don’t say they should run your life. I’m not thinking that way but you must bekind to them and you cant be kind part of the time and then say well to hell I’m goingwhether you like it or not. And I knew that before I bought her.In this regard she also said:I just figured I was responsible for the dog and all the while I keep her. If I was going toinvolve anybody else I would not have had the dog simply because she can’t have twoand three and four masters or different people coming and telling her what to dobecause I’m not sure that they know what they want her to do.Martha said she had felt this way with all of the dogs she has had.Martha responded to my question asking in whatways does Mandy negatively influenceher lifestyle by saying, “Nothing. She doesn’t negate my lifestyle at all in any way, shape, orform. She is as good as gold.”By watching Martha interact with Mandy while we were talking it was obvious that theywere very attached to each other. Martha would pet her, throw her toys, hug her, kiss her,talk to her using endearing words and nicknames, and tell her she loved her. Martha saidshe loved and enjoyed all the animals she ever had. And she added that they all made her life70happier and that she was “happier having her” referring to Mandy. Her affection andattachment to Mandy is expressed in a number of ways:You have to do what’s right by them... . I think you must treat them well. You must feedthem well, not over feed them. You must make sure they are bathed and kept clean.And I think you have to be kind to them. I don’t. let her just run around and not botherwith her. I talk to her as if I am talking to you. I know she doesn’t understand half of itbut at least she knows she is brought into the conversation.Later in our conversation Martha elaborated:This is a little dog and she has feelings and you must do what is right by her. And needs,needs that she cant do anything about herself. She can’t. wash herself so to speak. Andif I am going to have an animal I like a clean animal. I don’t want one all knotted up andeverything else. I don’t think it is fair to them again. If you are going to have ananimal you must treat it properly or else. It’s like a child, you shouldn’t mistreat a childeither.This does not mean, however, that Mandy is allowed to do anything she wants:I think that these little guys have feelings the same as we do and just because they don’tspeak to you they do the next best thing really. They can tell you when they are happyor unhappy. And I didn’t buy her to make her an unhappy little guy. I want her to behappy. I like her to be happy. She doesn’t always do everything that is right. And I’mnot going to take it out on her but I tell her. I talk to her and I say that’s not nice you’rea naughty girl for doing that. I don’t know if it goes in or not but it makes me feel betterI told her off, and she looks at me as if she knows what I’m saying. , .. It’s amazing shemust understand because she doesn’t do it again when I say it is a no no. The odd time shemight repeat it but not once after the other.Later she added:They are like a kid. . you train them properly. You have to start young with these guysthe same as you do with kids,. . . You have to correct them at the right time. There is no71use constantly don’t do this, don’t do that because it gets too used to it and it goes overtheir heads.But when disciplining her Martha said she never shouts. “1 never shout at her. I don’t shoutat her. I don’t believe in shouting at her.” Because Mandy knows right from wrong except atnight she is allowed to go where she pleases including on the furniture;I’m not going to have a dog and say you can’t go here and you cant do this, you can’t dothat. It is airight to say certain things are that’s a no no. .. . But I don’t want to keep heroff here or off there. To hell it is my furniture and she is not ruining it, She is notchewing it, She is not piddling on it. I wouldn’t stand for it.Taking proper care of her also meant never beating her or mistreating her. Martha said:I would never beat mine.. . I despise it when I hear someone is mistreating them ormaltreating them in any way, shape, or form because if you don’t want it get rid of itsomewhere where someone is going to enjoy it but don’t tantalize it. People are not niceto animals. I don’t like that. I like her. I like all animals but! don’t believe in beingterrible to them just because they are animals doesn’t make it any different. .. . I hatepeople who buy pets and mistreat them. And if you’re going to enjoy your pet you haveto do what is right by your pet. Some people don’t and I don’t understand. You can’texpect them to take care of themselves, Youve got to be kind to them.Even though Martha is very attached to Mandy she does not worry about somethinghappening to her, “Iwouldn’twant anything to happen to her but! don’t dwell on it. Idon’tbelieve in dwelling on it because if I dwell on it it might make it happen to her.”Although Mandy means a lot to her Martha said if something happened to her she wouldnot get another one, “1 am getting too old myself to get another one.” She didn’t think shewould get another type of companion animal either:I doubt it simply because I don’t think I could do it justice. I don’t think I would be fair toit. I think I’m fair to her, I take her out four times a day, I play with her now. .. But youare not taking it on just for a couple of weeks. And it is not fair to the animal.72Martha also did not think she would want to get an older dog:Sometimes all people aren’t fussy the way you bring up your dogs. See I check her whenI dont like something. If they are older dogs you aren’t going to be able to train themunless you go to someone who knows what the hell they are doing. It would be mymisfortune to get the wrong dog and then I would be very mad at myself. Not at the dogbut I would be annoyed with myself for doing that. So that’s the only think I wouldworry but we must take into consideration that we are not the only one’s who count.SummaryMartha is a woman in her latter seventies who has been widowed for 25 years. She is anindependent, caring and compassionate woman.Martha comes from a small family but spent most of her first 18 years living in aboarding school abroad and spent her summers with her family in Eastern Canada.Whereever she was she always had a lot of friends to play with. As a child she did notparticularly like the canaries and budgies her mother had because she thought they weremessy and noisy. Like her parents she loved dogs and especially the German Shepherd hermother had. It was because of this dog and a dog her Aunt owned that her fondness for dogsgrew.Other than having the budgies she had bought for her mother Martha did not have acompanion animal of her own until her latter fifties. Until this time she had been busy witha career, taking care of her parents, getting married, having an active social life while shewas married, and then straightening up her husband’s estate.The death of her spouse was difficult for Martha because it had happened suddenly andunexpectedly. Because she was so busy and had so much to take care of Martha felt that thiswould not have been a good time to have gotten a companion animal. She said that this wouldall depend on the person though.Three years after her husband’s death Martha moved to Vancouver, got a part-time job,and purchased two female puppy poodles within a year apart. Lady was well mannered and73very obedient. Trixie was mischievous, naughty, young and foolish, and had a good sense ofhumour. Martha and Trixie had a hard time getting over Lady’s loss when she was killedsuddenly at seven years of age by a car.When Martha still owned Trine she had a stroke and was hospitalized for several months.Martha was doubtful whether she would recover well enough to be able to properly take careof Trixie. Martha recovered better and faster than her doctor had expected and was able toproperly take care of Trixie by herself.Martha found it very hard getting over the loss ofTrixie when at 13 or 14 she had to beput to sleep due to cancer. Martha missed having a dog, she missed the companionship, andshe missed having something to talk to.Within the next year Martha bought Mandy, her current companion animal. She is apurebred female Lhasa Apse puppy. She is a dog who is young and foolish, she loveseverybody, she is independent, she knows how to get what she wants, and she is wellbehaved.Martha is very attached to Mandy, as she was with Lady and Trixie. She spoke of manypositive aspects associated with these dogs and dogs in general: companionship,entertainment, enjoyment, something to talk to, something to love, something to receiveaffection and love from, something to take care of, a way to keep your sanity, something totake your mind off your troubles, something to pet, something to play with, a way of gettingexercise, they make her feel happy, they make her feel alive, and they are a good friend.Martha did not identify any negative aspects associated with owning these companionanimals. She said she knew she would be restricted from travelling before she bought a dog,and she had dogs long enough to know what they would cost to take care of,Because of her age Martha did not think she would get another one if somethinghappened to Mandy because she would want to be sure she could take care of it properly.Having a companion animal means a lot to Martha and she said, “I don’t think there isanything better than an animal for a friend.”74ThemesWhen reflecting on our conversation about the meaning of companion animals inMartha’s life I identified 22 major areas or themes:1) Independence. Martha has always been an independent person. Before having a strokeshe used to do all of her own house painting, fix many things with her own tools, and takecare of herself. Since her stroke she does as much as she can by doing her own groceryshopping, house cleaning as much as she can, and taking care of herself and Mandy whileliving on her own.2) Compassion and caring. Martha is compassionate and caring for people and companionanimals. This compassion and care for people was illustrated in many different ways. Shestayed at home and physically and financially took care of her aging and ill parents. Shefinancially helped other family members. Several times she postponed getting marriedwhile she was still taking care of her parents. She keeps a friend company vben they go tovisit her friend’s father in a nursing home. And it was seen in her willingness tovoluntarily participate in this study and to do whatever she could to help me so it would beworthwhile for me Her compassion and care for companion animals was also illustrated inmany different ways. This was seen in her concern for taking care of Mandy properly. Sheis kept clean and well groomed, always having fresh water, never being left for more thantwo hours at a time, getting four walks a day, never burdened with her troubles, and alwaysdoing the best she can at all times with her. As well, Martha would talk to her, pet her, andexercise her for Mandy’s benefit. Martha did this so Mandy would feel loved, well taken careof, and so she would be happy.3) Previous love of dogs. For as long as Martha can remember she has always loved dogs.4) Family of origin. After spending the first three years of her life with her parents shewas sent to Ireland to live with an Aunt until she was 18. Martha only saw her family whenshe returned to Canada every summer. Growing up Dora had a lot of friends and she wasalways busy,755) Parents’ love of companion animals. Martha said both of her parents loved companionanimals and particularly dogs,6) Companion animals and childhood. Until 18 most of her life was spent living in aboarding school abroad and she only came home for the summer time. During these yearsshe was happy and had a lot of fun being mischievous and playing with alot of friends.Martha’s mother had canaries and budgies before she went to boarding school. Although sheliked them Martha considered them to be messy, noisy dumb, and very dull. As a result, shedid not become attached to them, As companion animals were not allowed at the boardingschool her only companion animals during this time were her mother’s German Shepherd inthe summers and her Aunts dogs. Martha loved these dog very much and her love of dogsgrew because of them. The German Shepherd was very intelligent and never did anythingwrong. Martha had only been informed of her death by a letter so she was still alive inMartha’s head.7) Type of companion animal. Martha has always preferred dogs over other types ofcompanion animals. Budgies and canaries were messy, noisy, and dumb. Cats are tooindependent, Martha doesn’t trust them, and she is allergic to them. Martha loves all dogs.Since the dogs she had previously owned had been poodles she liked them because she wasmore used to them. Even though her current companion animal is not a poodle she still lovesher and would get another Lhasa Apso. Martha is restricted as to the type of dog and type ofpet she can have because of allergies. Martha has always had, and therefore prefers, femalesand puppies. She believes in properly training a dog and would therefore not get an olderdog because it might not have been trained properly.8) Companion animals during middle years. In her early twenties Martha had budgies shehad bought for her mother. Although Martha enjoyed them they were messy and too muchwork because she was busy working and taking care of her mother. Martha would not havebought them if it had not been for her mother and she did not want any budgies after that.From her mid twenties until her latter fifties Martha did not have any companion animals76because she was working and taking care of sick parents. Then she got married, had anactive social life, did a lot of travelling, and her sister-in-law who was living with them didnot like or want any companion animals in the house. In her latter fifties Martha boughttwo dogs within a year apart of each other. For the first few years Martha was working whileshe had the dogs and she said this was not a problem. As well, the cost of keeping two dogswas not a negative aspect. Martha said there were no negative aspects associated with thesedogs.9) Grieving and companion animals. Martha found it very difficult dealing with the loss ofher dog companion animals. It was difficult getting over the loss of lady because she diedsuddenly and accidentally, she was a good dog, and because Martha was very attached to her.Even today this loss ‘was difficult to talk about and it brought up painful feelings. Marthafound it difficult getting over the loss of Trixie because she was older, she had had Trixie for along time, she had been very attached to her, and now she was left without a dog. There weretimes when it was too painful to even talk about with her close friend.10) Acquiring a companion animal during the transition to widowhood. Martha did notthink it would be a good idea to get a companion animal when recently widowed, In her caseshe was very busy handling funeral arrangements, closing her husband’s business, sellingtheir house, and other estate related matters that she was too busy to devote any time to a newcompanion animal or to an existing one if she had had one. It. took her three years beforeshe felt she could handle things and was ready to get a companion animal. Martha did feelthat this maybe depends on the person.11) Reason for getting current companion animal. Martha got Mandy because she waslonely, she missed having a dog, and it would help her to get over the loss of her previouscompanion animal.12) Influence of previous companion animals. Because of allergies and because she lovedher previous companion animals Martha always had female poodles until her current77companion animal. As well, Martha said her fondness for dogs grew because of a childhooddog they had.13) Current lifestyle. Because of her stroke Marthas lifestyle has been restricted. However,she still does her own grocery shopping, a bit of house cleaning, she talks to and visitsfriends, she takes Mandy for several walks a day, she talks to and plays with Mandy, and shewatches television.14) Increasing importance during widowhood. Martha said companion animals inwidowhood take on a greater role because as she gets older she is not about to go out as muchas she used to. As a result, the companion animal takes on a greater companionship role withsomething to love, care for, and talk to. Also, Mandy is good company for Martha because shehas no family and few friends she communicates with.15) Importance of current companion animal. Having Mandy means very much to Martha.She said she does not think there is anything better than an animal for a friend. She lovesMandy because she has done a lot for her and she is a good friend. She loves Mandy andalthough it costs to take care of her Martha said money is nothing if you are not happy, andMandy makes her happy.16) Companion animals and health. In the hospital after her stroke Martha worried aboutbeing able to recover so she could properly take care of Trixie. She recovered better andfaster than her doctor had expected and was able to go home and properly take care of Trixieon her own. Martha believes her health benefits from having Mandy because of all of thepositive aspects associated with her especially the love, exercise, keeping her sanity, andmaking her feel alive and happy. Mandy is especially important to Martha because since herstroke she is limited in what she is allowed to do around the house.17) A strong attachment to previous and current companion animals, This was illustratedboth verbally and non-verbally. Martha always kisses her goodnight and tells her she lovesher. She always kisses her before she goes out and makes sure she is not gone more than twohours. She always does her best to try and take care of Mandy properly which included: four78walks a day, grooming, patting, talking to her, veterinarian care, playing with her, feedingher the right food in the right amount at the right time, telling her she loves her, trying tomake her happy, and not burdening her with her own troubles. When Martha would talk toMandy she would use endearing words and names. Many times during our conversationMartha would hug her, pat her, play with her, and tell her she loved her.18) Positive aspects associated with companion animals. Martha spoke of many positiveaspects associated with all of the companion animals she has had, especially Mandy. Theseincluded: companionship, entertainment, enjoyment, something to talk to, something to love,something to receive affection and love from, something to take care of, a way of keepingyour sanity, something to take your mind off your troubles, something to play with, a way ofgetting exercise, something to pat, feeling happy and alive, and having a good friend.19) Few negative aspects associated with previous and current companion animals. Whenshe had owned the budgies for her mother she found them messy and too much work becauseMartha was busy working and taking care of her mother at the same time. Martha did notidentify any negative aspects associated with Lady and Trixie. Martha said Mandy did notnegate her lifestyle in any way, shape, or form. She said she was as good as gold. Aspectschat others might consider negative are: not being away from her dogs for more than twohours at a time, being restricted from travelling, the cost of keeping a dog, and trying to finda condominium that would allow Mandy. Martha did not consider these to be negative. Shethought they were part of having a dog and taking care of it properly and people should notbuy one if they are not going to take care of it properly.20) Societal aspects or services. There are aspects or services which could make owning adog easier or more enjoyable for Martha. These would include: an affordable and reliablehouse cleaner; less housing restrictions; an affordable, reliable, and trustworthy dog sitteralthough Martha may still not use the service: people picking up after their companionanimals; people properly training their companion animals so they do not constantly bark79and annoy people; affordable, non-harmful dog toys; and affordable and reliable doggroomers.21) Age. As she gets older Martha is concerned that she will be able to properly take care ofa companion animal. Mandys importance increases as Martha gets older because she doesnot go out as much as she used to so Mandy is company and helps to keep her sanity. Alsobecause of her age Martha did not think she would be able to get another dog or another typeof companion animal if something happened to Mandy because she did not think she wouldbe able to properly take care of it so as to be fair to the animal.22) Socio-economic status, Financially Martha is able to properly take care of Mandy in herown condominium.Dora’s StoryIt was a bright, sunny, hot day when I drove up in front of Dora’s house. There was noanswer at the front door so I decided to go around to the back. As I approached the rear of thehouse I heard a dog barking and then a big, beautiful, black and white Dalmatian wasstanding and barking at the gate. Since she didn’t look or sound vicious I gave her a dogcookie I had brought and then I entered the big back yard. As I petted the dog and fed hercookies I saw tall fruit trees, a fenced garden, flowers, and a small plastic swimming poolnear the back porch. I made my way to the back door and my knock was quickly greeted by arecently widowed woman in her early seventies. Dora apologized for not hearing my knockat the front door but she had been busy doing something down stairs. As I followed Dora’squick pace through the kitchen into the living room Shasta a six year old purebred femaleDalmatian followed me not taking her eyes off me hoping she would get more cookies. As Isat down I gave her the last of the dog cookies I had brought and she seemed delighted as shewagged her tail. As 1 looked around the living room I noticed the light green carpet wasspotless and there was not trace of dog hair or doggie odor in the room. After Dora and I wereseated we talked about ourselves and then I explained the purpose of my research study, what80her participation would involve, and I had Dora sign the participant consent form. To beginthe interview I asked Dora how she would describe herself. Dora immediately responded bysaying:I’m tender hearted. Really I’m quite quiet and shy. .. . But since I have lived in thiscountry I’m not as shy as I used to be. But as a child I was very shy. And though thingsdo upset me at times I get over them quickly. I can sort of blow my stack and get overthem. But I am inside very tender hearted. Rather superstitious because I believe that ifyou are unkind to people or things or animals it all comes back to you in some otherform. That type of thing. . . . I suppose I’m athletic. I like to walk. Although I have a lotof friends and I talk a lot Fm also a loner on the other side.Being a loner to Dora meant that she Liked to be alone and she liked to do things on her own.Dora said she was not very good with people helping her. She said although she tries” to bedifferent and be patient” she does not like peoples help because she likes doing things acertain way. This pertains to all areas of her life including Shasta. “People want to take herIfor a walk] but I don’t want them to because I think of all the things behind it that couldhappen. Imsortofalonerin that way’Dora also felt she was independent and she dreads:the day when I cant do things for myself. . . . What am I going to do if I cant dig my owngarden or do things for myself. I know you keep gearing yourself that that’s going tohappen one day but you don’t want it to.Dora also considered herself to be easy going and she does not like arguments. She said,“I’m sort of easy going. As I get older I get disturbed easier but really I think 1 am quite easygoing. I don’t thing you get anywhere by panicking.”Mthough financially Dora said, “I don’t have any worries” she considered herself to beeconomical. “1 went through the war ... so there is so many impressions when you haveshortages and you still think of it that way.”81Talking about living through the war as a teenager lead into a discussion of Dora’s familyof origin and what it was like growing up. Although Dora had a brother she consideredherself to be an only child because her brother was nine years older. They did not playtogether and Dora said, “He gave me the discipline. He would say the things like mom shehasn’t done her homework.’ This did not, however, mean she was lonely:I always had friends. I never thought of it that way but my mother used to tell me that ifshe took me to the beach I’d be playing for a while and then I would come back withsomebody and say to my mother I want you to meet my friend.During her childhood Dora also had the companionship of dogs. When Dora was bornher family bad a black and white male bull terrier crossed with a fox terrier named Kipper.Kipper was very protective and possessive of Dora. ‘He was always beside the pram or on thepram. If anybody put their fingers on it he would push them off.” Kipper was a source ofprotection more than a dog to be played with. Dora was never one to play with dogs anyway.She said, “When I was little I just used to cuddle them.” Kipper was also a constant source ofcompanionship because “he went everywhere” with Dora. He was, however, a dog that “wasthe boss” and “had a mind of his own.”Although Kipper was her mother’s dog and Dora was too young to take care of him shewas very fond of him. Talking about Kipper she added as she started to cry, “And I’m stillvery fond of him.” She went on to say that, “I’m more fond of him than I probably would ofhumans even that I remember then.” She also cried as she said, “I was very attached to him.I cry now when I think about it.”Kipper was put to sleep when Dora was about five or six years old:I just remember then I was just heartbroken because I didn’t have a dog. I guess 1 didn’thave any brothers and sisters either. My brother was like a father to me but I didn’thave anybody close like that. I felt more alone then.Because of her love of dogs she said:82After that I used to go and visit people that had dogs. I was always walking people’s dogsall through my life. I used to go and have dinner at somebody’s house that had a dog. Butno end to dogs. We used to look after dogs for holidays and I used to walk them. So I’vealways been a dog lover. I like cats but I put up with cats.Dora remembered other dogs and cats from her early years. Before age five Doraremembered the neighbor’s cat had kittens in their house and Kipper would look after thekittens when the cat went out. “He would just sit there.” Dora said, There was a cat at onetime I’m trying to think of it that we had. I wasn’t much for cats that’s probably what it was.They are an animal so I wouldn’t hurt it.”Also before Dora was four years old her mother had roller canaries. Dora remembered:only the tales my mother used to tell because it’s only their singing. And when ‘we wenton holiday my mother used to take him to the butcher and when he sharpened his knivesthe birds used to sing and they rolled, so my mother used to tell me. And when we camehome she brought the bird home and it wouldn’t sing any more so she took him back tothe butcher and said here you may as well keep it. And he sang there.Dora said. “Really I didnt have much to do with them.”As a child whenever she went to visit people she used to be with the dog. “There was adog happy once that somebody else had when I ‘was little before I was five, The owner taughthim tricks and when I used to go stay there they used to get happy doing these tricks.” Doradid not particularly like this because, “I’m not very keen on performing animals. I don’t likecircuses, I don’t like watching that on tv” Dora just liked the companionship and it botheredher to think “what they must go through to do these things,”At the age of six Dora’s childhood was affected by the depression when her family movedand Dora’s father lost his job. As a result Dora’s mother had to go to work and was out untileight o’clock in the evening. This meant that at the age of seven Dora was responsible forgetting the meals ready and doing other things. Although Dora said, “I was quite young83seven you know to be alone,” she added, I never thought it was bad. I think I had anextremely happy childhood. . . . I never knew any unhappiness at all.’Although Dora wanted another dog they could not get another one because her mother“was away all the time so it wouldn’t have been fair to have a dog.” Even though she did nothave a dog of her own Dora fondly remembered a number of dogs. For a couple of summersaround the age of five to seven years of age Dora remembered a Dalmatian called Shasta on afarm she spent her summer holidays at:She used to exhaust me. I couldn’t catch her. I can remember almost crying because Iwanted to catch her and hold her and she was only a puppy then. She was so full of life,that.’s what I remember most. I can remember just being out of breath chasing her andfalling over her.Dora never knew of Daimatians before seeing this one and since that time she said, “I’vealways vanted one, always.” But she “never dreamed I would have a Dalmatian.” Doraremembered:My mom used to talk about them because when she was a girl you see if you had horsesyou always had a pack of Dalmatians. They always lived with the horses. And they saythat a Dalmatian can walk in amongst the feet of a horse and not get trampled. Sowealthy people who had horses in those days my mother remembers before cars whenshe was a girl. She remembers going in a horse and carriage places. And that impressedher that vealthy people had a pack of Dalmatians because they are a pack dog and theyare scavengers. Thats why they live on the junk that was thrown to them or they eatthe oats and all the type of thing. But I would say really that was the thing thatimpressed me, they walked behind the carriage of wealthy people. And all my life Iwanted one and I didn’t see many.Dora did not think she would ever have a Dalmatian because in those days Dora said, “Youwere lucky if you got a Heinz dog.”84Even though Dora only saw Shasta for two or three summers she knew she wanted aDalmatian and also “the type of personality Shasta was as well.” Reflecting back on this dogDora said, “I can still go back to that in my feelings for that dog. It was Shasta that lives inme. I can see her as though it was yesterday.”Dora remembered a friend’s dog called Nickie when she was between the ages of about 7to 10 years old:I used to go there at lunch time. I remember he always used to play with me because mymother was working this lady used to give me a dinner meal. And she was very good tome actually. And oh yes I just loved this little dog. Nickie was a bit like Kipper, He wasalways waiting and all wiggly when I came. I just I did love him. I was very fond of him.The next dog Dora fondly remembered was Chi Chi an aristocratic Chow Chow that Dora“used to look after at Christmas time and I used to walk.” This was when Dora was between 7and 12 years old. Because of this dog Dora said, “I have a great love for a Chov because of ChiChi. I guess if you asked me the second dog I would like I might say a Chow,”It wasn’t until Dora was 11 or 12 years old before her family got another dog. The manwho had owned Chi Chi bred Spaniels.They had four of them and oh I used to make a fuss over them. My mother was the sameas me anyway, and my father. One day Mr. Camps came up with the dog Del and saidwe’ve decided you can have Del. And my father said we liked Diana best and so he cameback half an hour later with Diana and took Del away. So my parents had Diana. Thatwas our dog from then on.Diana was a female black and white spaniel. “She was the family dog. I was very fond of her,well like all dogs. Yeah I was very fond of her. She was more my mothers dog.’ Reflectingback on Kipper and Diana, Dora said, “I was more attached to Kipper than I ‘was Diana becauseKipper was a male dog and he had a mind of his own. He was a dear little thing.’ Dora saidher parents had been great dog lovers. Because her father had grown up in an orphanagewithout companion animals he had always wanted one. Although both of her parents had85loved dogs her father was very tender hearted with them and her mother was more sensiblewith them.During her teenage years Dora “was very keen on sports” and ‘used to go to the footballgames” and other activities. She laughingly recalled that a teacher had called her “the Queenof the kids or something.” At this age as well Dora’s love of dogs and especially Dalinatianswas quite evident:This boy had a Dalmatian his name was John. He was two years younger than me and weused to call it going out with him. I didn’t really like him but I went with him because hewould let me walk his dog on a leash. Vista her name was. I always think of her now. Iwould have been 15 then. But I was very fond of Vista, but I used to have Diana at home,Dora was in school longer than most people in those days in England:Our schooling was different in England because we were expected to work really whenwe were 14. I went to a commercial school actually but. it was a bit higher than the basicschool’s education. And so I went until 16 whereas other kids only went to 14. The schoolleaving age was 14 when I went to school. So I went for the two extra years and then Iwent to work. I took the civil service exam and went to the Air Ministry.Dora worked with the civil service doing clerical work until they were evacuated due to thewar. Dora got married at the age of 19 to Ben, a Canadian soldier. She continued doing officework and was a bus conductress for a short time until her son was born a year after hermarriage. Dora stayed home with her son and three years later they moved to Canada.During these years Dora did not have a companion animal of her own although Diana,her mother’s dog, was still part of her life. Dora also remembered that “when I came toCanada my mother had a budgie.” Dora said the budgie did not mean anything to her. “It wasjust that I was amused when I went home and the things it did.”Dora also remembered a friend’s Dalmatian during those years:86I have another friend and her husband had a Dalmatian. This was during the war.Crystal was her name. And Pat wasn’t a dog lover but I used to love Crystal. Pat used tobring her over to me during the war when Tom was overseas.Dora left Diana behind when she moved with her family to Canada. Diana died soon afterwhen Dora was about 23 or 24 years old. Dora said, “She was pretty old I think when she died,but I have pictures of her with Dick.”When they first moved to Canada Dora and her family lived on an orchard farm and Doradid not start working again until her son, Dick, was six years old.Four months after they moved to Canada Dora got her first dog. “That spring Ben knew Iwanted a dog. He brought home this dog and I named her Diana because of the Diana athome.” Diana was a female puppy, a black and white Scotch Border Collie. Dora said:Oh she meant the world to us. She just went everywhere. . . . We were on the farm andshe was like Kipper was to me she was like that with Dick. She went everywhere withhim. Everybody knew us because of the dog.Several times during our interview when talking about her own childhood and her son’schildhood Dora said, “I figure every child should have an animal, I sort of feel that youbecome more considerate of other species and races and things like this, I had a very happylife because of those things.’ In relation to her son and dogs Dora said:Well I would say it makes it easier because the child had a companion. I had one childand I had a child who had my feelings about a dog. Dick was as fond of the dog as what Iwas.. . . I think all children should have a dog. I really think it made it easier because Ionly had one child it made it easier with the dog because there was alwayscompanionship and Diana went everywhere with Dick.Dora went back to work when Dick was eight years old. She worked in a local store for awhile but because she was good in bookkeeping in school she picked it up and ended upworking in an office doing bookkeeping. Dora continued working after they moved intotown and again after they moved to Dora’s current house in Vancouver when Dora was about8732 years old. Both Dora and her husband worked very hard. Sometimes Dora would work “12hours a day just depending. It. was all to do with the work. . . . I worked what hours wereneeded.” Dora’s husband worked long hours trying to establish his own business. Reflectingback on those years together Dora said:We had a very happy life, a happy lifestyle. We worked that era when you lived in aneighborhood like this with a little house and your time, when we came back toVancouver to live of course, and you spent your weekends keeping it looking nice,painting and doing the lawns. And it was the pride of your life to own a house and keepit nice, We’ve always grown a vegetable garden... . And we did on the farm and so wecanned and froze vegetables and did everything like that. My husband wasn’t much forgoing to the beach or camping. Well he was six years in the army and he said I campedand I lived without a fridge or stove and Fm never going back to that again. After sixyears in the trenches, he was in the infantry, he said no we’ve got a home and we’regoing to make the most of our home.Dora said they had always lived in a house because her husband had “lived in an apartment asa child so he never wanted to live in an apartment again.’During their early years together Dora and her husband did not take any holidays.‘When we were younger we were too busy basically keeping the wolf from the door. It wasnecessary to work.. ,.We had a contented life, always building for the future.” To Dora’shusband “relaxation was his home.”In those days their lifestyle consisted ofworking hard, raising their son, and spendingtime together with Diana, taking her whereever they went. When Dora was about 37 yearsold she had to put Diana to sleep. Dora cried as she said she had been very attached to her,Recalling her death Dora said:Well we had to have her put to sleep because she had cancer at the end but she was prettyold. She was about 13. And you know what crumpets are, English Crumpets the thingswith the little holes in the top. We used to have them for breakfast and we’d taken her in88to this vet and we were eating breakfast the next day and I can see us now we were allcrying and the tears were falling on the crumpets. And I don’t think we ever atecrumpets again.Dora did not have to wait very long before getting another dog. ‘In a couple of weeks myhusband picked me up from work. Well he said go and look out the vindov. And he had beento the pound and got a puppy.” Dora was delighted but her husband didn’t understand it. Hethought it was going to be just like Diana.”Diana did everything we said, We would say be an Indian dog and she would crawl. Shewould crawl across the floor and oh dear my husband thought this new dog was going tobe exactly the same. She was eventually but not as an eight week old puppy.Dora said getting another dog so quickly after Diana helped her get over her loss easier.She said, “I was okay, but it was my husband that could never, he never had the love for Sarathat he had for Diana,” That was because:Diana knew things. She knew the sound of his truck. She knew when he was comingand everything. She knew so much. I can remember somebody coming to visit andsitting in a chair and they were cold there and I gave her my cardigan to wear and Dianasat beside her the whole evening because she knew it was my coat.Part of this was because:Diana went with us more. We got wise when we got Sara, The thing is too we were on thefarm and then we went from the farm up to a place called Bralorne to live so wheneverwe got in the car Diana got in too. She used to lay on the floor by my feet and I knew sheused to edge over to Ben. And eventually she used to get on the foot that was near thebrake and he used to tell her to move while he was putting on the brake but she used totry to get closer to him. But she went everywhere with us. So we decided that when wegot another dog we weren’t going to do this because we couldn’t go out without Diana yousee. So Sara got left at home more, So she didn’t go in the car the same way.Even though she had another dog Dora said, “I still missed Diana because she had been older.”89Sara was a light brown, short-haired, female boxer. Sara did not get taken out very muchfor walks because they lived in town and both Dora and her husband worked. As a result Sara“was always fat.” Reflecting on this Dora said, “I feel a bit guilty that I never walked Sara.But then by the time I’d worked and got home, and then I had meals to get and all that type ofthing. But I was always busy that is why she got fat.” Because they lived on the farm whenthey had Diana “she didn’t need the walks. She got all the exercise she needed.”Dora had Sara for about 12 years when she had to be put to sleep. Dora said it was harderlosing Sara because “Sara was more my dog. Ben never took to her the same way. They wereboth very much my dog but Diana was much more his than Sara was. He took more interestin Diana.” Reflecting back on her loss Dora cried as she said, “It was terrible for me whenSara went because we never got another dog.” When Diana died they “used to talk aboutthings she did” because they had Sara “to keep us busy and to love. But when Sara went it wasa lonely house and nobody there to greet you.”Initially Dora said she had been more attached to Sara than to Diana but then she saidthat she was just attached to them “in different ways” because they had differentpersonalities and she had them at different times in her life. She loved them both because“of the companionship” and “just because they were dogs.” Other positive aspects associatedwith them included, “They were always there when you came home and pleased to see you,jumping up. To me a home is not a home without a dog.”Dora said, “Having a dog was always positive.” She added, “Dogs don’t answer you backand a dog is always faithful to you whatever happens,” As well, Dora felt “you get a lot ofpleasure out of them,” She also felt that all of these companion animals:made me more considerate of other people, unselfish because you have to consider them.And I feel that with other people. , . If a kid came to the door selling something I wouldhave to buy it not because I wanted it but because I think that poor kid if I say no thatwill disillusion him for the rest of his life, that style, that’s the thought. I feel it allcomes from being considerate towards animals.90Dora did not consider the cost of keeping Diana or Sara to be a negative thing because “inthe past we didn’t go to the vet or have shots. There was just the dog food to buy.” As well.because they always lived in their own home Dora said, “Housing and having a dog wasn’t aproblem.”Dora did consider working and having a dog to be a bit of a worry:Oh really it wasn’t very good because they had to be shut in. I don’t like dogs annoyingother people. I could.n’L leave a dog out barking. I couldn’t leave a dog tied up or thattype of thing. You thought of getting home to them when they had been shut in thehouse. Itwasatie. Itwasaworry.The dogs did not hold them up from travelling because her husband could not leave hisbusiness so he would look after them when Dora vent to England. They did, however, “stop usfrom doing things unless we could take the dog with us. But then we didn’t really want to goor we couldn’t afford to go that style.”In talking about Diana and Sara, Dora said, “I remember the dogs I had in Canada morereally than those early ones because there was a lot more going on in my life in those days.”But in relation to those early years Dora said, “I can see there were a lot more dogs I nevermentioned but you know even when I think of people in the past I see their dog.”Dora did not get another companion animal until Shasta her current companion animal.Dora said part of this was because “we were so upset when Sara died and we didn’t want to gothrough that again.” Dora said it took ‘a long while” to get over her loss “because she used todo things.” She added, “Well did we ever get over it. We didn’t really. I would say that’s it, wedidn’t really. We still used to miss her.” There were other reasons why they did not getanother dog. “We got house proud that everything was perfect. Nothing was out of place. Sowe didn’t get involved. We were selfish.” As well, Dora worked and her “husband’s businesswas very demanding and also my parents lived in England and they died around 1980 and Iknew my brother had died and I knew that I had to go over and look after things you see,And it was difficult for him looking after the dog.” They also “wanted to travel and a dog was91always going to be a tie,” And, “There were other things in our lives.” So although they, andespecially Dora, wanted another dog it was too impractical to have one. ‘But we grew away. Itwasn’t that I didn’t want a dog or anything. Life was easier. 1 just thought of the extra workit would be but of course really 1 was wrong as I found out.” Dora said:I always used to say I wish we had a dog again but it was all the work involved really.Keeping the dog hairs and all that and walking them. And it was because of business andme working we just weren’t able to have an animal.Dora said that her husband was a man who liked to have a perfect house:There wasn’t a mark anywhere and I guess this is because my husband was Canadian andhad these ideas you see. He didn’t like dogs peeing on the lawn or anything to makepatches. That’s 1 think one of the things Ben was happiest about when Sara died becausethere were no more brown patches on the lawn.Dora said she had not considered this to be a problem.Dora missed having an animal. “It was horrible coming home and there was no dog tomeet you... . Coming home to an empty house is dreadful.” Later she added, “The dog alwaysgreeted you. They were never mad at you. They were always pleased to see you and theynever beret you for anything.”In the years after Sara died except for “a little dog next door” that Dora and Ben used to“make a fuss of’ their lifestyle did not include very many companion animals. After Saradied their lifestyle changed to include more travelling. Dora’s husband liked gambling:He liked Las Vegas. So three times a year, and in later years, we would go for a longweekend to Las Vegas things like that. And we have had driving holidays down toCalifornia where ‘we always ended up in Reno and Las Vegas and that. We dreamed oftravelling when we were older.Dora also went on holidays on her own. “I actually have done a lot of travelling. But myhusband was very much involved with his business and you couldn’t leave it for more than aweek.” Dora “went home to England every year or two to see my parents” where she92generally stayed for a month. She also went on “longer holidays when I went to Australiaand things like that for three months.”One reason for not doing a lot of travelling was that they were both economical:We had avery contented life, always building for the future. We were economical. Imstill economical. I still can’t buy for the sake of buying them. And we were saving forour old age and that’s why today I don’t have any worries about old age or buying things.That is what we aimed for and this is what we got.Dora also described her marriage as a close, happy marriage. Dora said, “Ben and I discussedeverything,. .1 knew his views and accepted them . . ,because Ben and I had grown uptogether our views on sports or politics were the same.”As a young couple they “used to go to the beer parlour and dance.’ They also “were greathockey fans at one time we had tickets for eight or nine years.” Also, “We used to go out forsupper a lot to restaurants and different things.” Although they knew a lot of people they didnot go out very much with other people.He was never one to mix with other people very much. He was his own man and he didn’tmix with people after work. He had different theories that if somebody did something foryou then the next thing you knew they were asking you to do something for them.Dora added, “We did everything together. I didnt go out with the girls or go to shows withother people or things like that.”When Dora was about 57 years old her father passed away, Because her “mother wassemi-crippled and she couldn’t get around” Dora stayed in England for two months to settlematters and help her mother, The following year Dora went back to England to help hermother move into a nursing home but shortly after she passed away so Dora stayed for sixmonths. ‘I had to sell the house and get rid of everything so I was there six months.”Before she had gone to England she said:93My idea was that I had quit work but when I went back I found that they had beenkeeping things going ready for me to come back and put it all right again. That was in1980 so I worked until 1982.After she retired Dora. “quit and went to Australia for three months.”Then in 1986 after 43 years of marriage Dora’s husband started getting strokes and Doratook care of him at home. The process of getting another dog started about a year laterbecause of her husband’s condition and because some friends came over with their dog:I’ve got a friend, she is a Japanese girl and she is married to a fellow and Ben and hewere friends and Beth and I were friends. But Gord died years ago and they have a sonnamed John. Well this Christmas, my husband had had strokes and people really didn’tknow too much about what was wrong they didn’t understand it too much. Anyway thisChristmas Beth phoned could we come over to see you and so Beth and Tim her boyfriend,and John and his brother Jake and Dee and the two kids came. And when they came theyhad gotten this Dalmatian Isy, and he must have been a year and a half old. Well he cameto Ben. Ben had lost the use. . of his fingers. His brain was damaged. When he had thisattack thing he had lung failure, his heart stopped five times so his brain was damagedyou see. . . . And this dog went to him and Ben was stroking like this so John and Deethought this is just what Ben needs is a dog. You know he could stroke it and it could sitby him and all this. So going home they talked of this so Beth phoned the next day. Theywere living in Lillouet then. So they talked about it and Beth phoned me and told me thisand they knew when it was a Dalmatian. They didn’t know that I loved Dalmatians butthey saw it when they came here. I said to Beth I need a dog like a hole in the head but Ican never say no. I wanted a Dalmatian all my life. So John said well there is a litter duein May and we will go to see this Mrs. King. And then I never heard any more until theend of June, well the first ‘week in July. And there was a phone call. And as soon as Iheard it was Beth, heard Beth’s voice I said you got it. She said we’ll keep her do you wanta girl and all this. 1 said oh no I’ve always wanted aDalmatian. But really in some ways it94was the biggest mistake of my life because the dog was completely different to Isy withall this energy she had she was too much for my husband really. But this is how we gother. They came one day and I can see this little face looking out now. And we had ahome that didn’t have a mark anywhere and she just piddled all the way across the floorwhen she came in. Anyway that’s how we got her. I paid for her and I gave them extramoney.So after being without a dog for 17 years Dora got Shasta. She was an eight week old femalepurebred registered Dalmatian, Beth had called her Daily but Dora wanted to call her Shastabecause of the Dalmatian Shasta on the farm that she had fallen in love with in herchildhood.In talking about first getting Shasta, Dora said, “If John hadn’t have brought Shasta Idon’t suppose I would have had another animal as much as I’d wanted one.” Dora also saidthat:At the beginning it was a terrific adjustment getting used to a dog in the house. And Ithink had my husband not had the brain damage he had that I don’t think he wouldn’thave even considered them bringing Shasta here. No it was just the circumstances thathis mind didn’t work too well. He wanted her too yes but before he had the trouble hewould never I don’t think condescended to have a dog again. He would say all the workand walking it. Shasta has been a completely different dog to all the other dogs. . . Butyou’ve got to change your lifestyle completely, that is what I say now. I’ve got to take thebetter of the two evils, what do I want. Do I want a clean house with nothing out of placeor do I want the companionship of a dog. I can’t have both.Although they had gotten Shasta thinking she would be good for Ben, she was too energeticfor him and “she used to scratch him. She didn’t mean it. Well he had very thin skin. Andshe’d just go like that and it would tear his skin.” Dora added, “At the beginning it was aterrific adjustment getting used to adog in the house.” Because she was so energetic Dora95would take her out for a walk three times a day for “an hour or something” each time so “ittired her out.”But getting Shasta was, as it turned out, a good thing for Dora. “In lots of ways it madelife easier for the walking because you were sort of sharing your affection.” It also helpedease the strain of caring for her husband. “I used to go for a walk with the dog when thepressures got a bit great.’ Dora added, “But it was having her there the company and theaffection.” Having her companionship was particularly appreciated because “Ben had beensick for quite awhile” and they “got away from” people.Dora said Shasta was more her dog:He was very fond of her but no she was my dog because I had to look after her. I thinkthat’s how it works, the one that feeds her and walks her I think that’s how. No she wasdefinitely my dog. But she was very fond of him too. She used to get up in the bed andnuzzle up to him.Dora only had Shasta for a year before her husband died after 43 years of marriage:He really just drifted away sort of like an old soldier he just got weaker and weaker. Itwasn’t a shock, I expected it, I knew it., . .Although I mean he wasn’t bedridden or sickor anything and really I had nursed him say for two and a half years.Even though Dora had expected it and because her husband “had been sick for a little while”and a lot of things “had been adjusted,” it was still a big adjustment. Dora said:When you lose your dog the other things are all running smoothly and so you just getanother dog to replace the old one, it’s only the loss. But with losing a husband it’s muchmore involved than his companionship. Everything changes. Because this is what I’vereally said to people, until you’ve decided this is a whole new lifestyle I’ve got to startafresh it’s no good to keep harping back if Ben was happy if this hadn’t happened.You’ve got to settle your mind with the idea that you’ve got to start afresh on a new lifeby yourself.96Shasta did not seem to be affected by his loss. “She didn’t really notice that he wasmissing. She was too young I think for that.” In Dora’s case though because her husbandhad been sick, “he had been a trial in a way for a good year and a half and so it was almost abit of a relaxation.” Afterwards her friends said:You were so patient but how much longer could you go on. You can only be patient forso many years and then you start getting bitter because you are burdened with this. AndI knew what they meant. I could understand that because it was a great strain.In speaking about the transition to widowhood Dora said:I just felt I was lucky the way things turned out. We both worked hard but he workedhard and he was generous and yet he saved for our old age. I know nov he had a greatattitude towards life. I may not have thought so at the time. But I don’t know we werealways happy and we were content with very little and I suppose we weren’t greedy andwe didn’t want for a lot of things. No I had a very happy life. That’s why I can’t grievenow I mean I find the women that complain are the ones that weren’t happy because Ithink they cant make it up any more. I don’t have any regrets. This is what whendifferent people talked to me after Ben died I said I don’t have any regrets. He lived hislife and we were happy. He did what he wanted to do and he achieved what he wanted toachieve. I mean you can’t turn back the clock. You can’t bring them back again so whydo a lot of moaning and groaning.Dora added:At the time it happened Ben was sick but underneath it this is what I kept telling myselfjust the same as all adjustments even when Ben died you had to think of this that youcouldn’t keep looking back you got to decide it’s a new life and lye got to look forward.During this transition Dora believed it was important not to make any rash decisions:At the time when Ben died I knew that it’s important to stay in your house for about ayear and I was always against all these people that sold up and moved and they have had97nothing but trouble, Looking back now it would have been avery silly move to moveinto an apartment.This transition time was made easier by friends and other widows:But you find when you become a widow that nearly everybody you knew is a widow sortof thing and so you compare. People sort of gather around you in that way. Nov that’sperhaps that’s not the right way to put it. The people you can talk with are widowsbecause they know what you are talking about. You can’t talk to a woman who’s still gother husband because she says I understand but she doesn’t understand, she can’tunderstand. . . . Not that I don’t still have the same affections for my friends and all thatbut it is easier.. with widows, you have more in common... And I think that was it Igot to know a lot of people and a lot of people gather around you sort of to try and adviseyou how it’s going to be and things like this. But I really felt myself with all these peoplethat I got over it easier than they did. And I always felt I got over it because I had Shasta.Because of Shasta and taking her for walks Dora said:Because of Shasta I mean it might of been very different had I not had Shasta butbecause I had got Shasta I had made all these young friends like all these people I knowaround here that have dogs they are all sort of the fortyish age group, they are not oldpeople with dogs. And they all took an interest in me and they all popped in to see meand to make sure I was airight and anything they could do and company and sit and talk.And perhaps I don’t mean this is so, but perhaps had I not had them I would have beenlonely.Shasta helped to make this transition easier in other ways as well. Dora said havingShasta was a source of companionship. “Really it was the most fortunate thing in my life thatI did have Shasta because she has been such a companion.” And she was also a source ofcomfort:I just know that she was such a comfort to me. I just know I was so glad I had Shasta. Ihad to write and tell everybody in England. I had to write to a lot of people, it would be98up around 70 to 80 letters beyond the thank you’s and things but everybody I know Iwrote to all the dog lover people and said I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’tof had Shasta.Shasta was a source of comfort in that, “I wasn’t lonely. There was somebody else in thehouse. Somebody to do somethIng for. To go out for a walk and to feed her and to care aboutand to think about and to consider.’ It was also comforting to be able to “cuddle and strokeher.” And Dora found their walks together comforting. “I did more with my dog because thatwas my comfort in a sense. I sort of walked further... I went out with her more and I mixedwith people with dogs more.”Because of these things Dora said, ‘With me the attachment grey stronger. She almostreplaced Ben the affection that I showed Ben I showed to her.” Several comments Dora madeillustrated how much it meant to her having Shasta during this transition. Dora felt that shegot over the loss “easier and faster” because of Shasta, Later she added that she had said at thetime:I need a dog like I need a hole in the head but well then my views have changed now.You see like we were without a dog for so long. As I said we didn’t want the mess in thehouse and that again we didn’t want the problems. But as it turns out it was the bestthing that ever happened to me. Having Shasta when Ben died I couldn’t have asked foranything better. It’s funny how things work out.With tears in her eyes Dora said, “I had a very happy life that’s why Shasta means so much tome. I don’t know how I would have gotten on without Shasta because she took Ben’s place.”Speculating on whether or not a person should get a dog when they are initially widowedrequired much reflection. Dora said if you did not have a dog “it ‘was easier when you want togo away. And had I not had a dog I would have done a lot of travelling. And it is not easy tokeep leaving the house.” But having Shasta during that time was good because it helped tomake the transition easier and “Shasta has been a big excuse because 1 have been able to sayto people no I can’t come I’ve got the dog. ... 1 am much better for not going.”99In general Dora felt that a person should ‘wait a little while” before getting a dog:No I don’t think it would be a good idea, not right at that time. IL might when the initialsort of mourning period was over, maybe a few months when you’ve adjusted, whenyou’ve accepted it. I mean 1 believe firmly it takes five years to get over a losswhichever way it is, a child, or a divorce, or a husband. It Lakes a long time and willoften come back and hit you when you don’t expect it at all, but and everybody isdifferent. I found that by my experience a lot of people who weren’t very happilymarried make a lot more fuss about it than people who were happy. So no I don’t reallythink personally it would be a good time to get a dog because I think a little whileafterwards. While even to start with you are not lonely for a long while. At first you’vegot all the arrangements to look after, while this depends upon who you are I mean somepeople their kids come and do everything, but most people have things to do like thefuneral to arrange and letters to write and thank you notes and all that type of thing.That takes a lot of time and it’s not until that is all over and then gradually it hits you Iam here all alone. And I would think then, I mean some people it takes longer thanothers but I would think then would be the time to get a dog, when you start to feel lonelyand need something to occupy your time, of course some people find other things tooccupy their time like part time jobs or something.Dora thought that after you “settle your mind with the idea that you’ve got to start afresh on anew life by yourself” that “this is the time when I would think if you didn’t have a dog wouldbe the time to get one because that’s the way I look at time. It was a whole new lifestyle forme.”Dora also thought “a lot depends on the person maybe.” And “that would all depend onwhether you were a dog lover or not., . . I wouldn’t advise people who weren’t dog lovers tohave a dog.”Dora also felt strongly about people not getting a dog for you because “then after a fewmonths they might not want it.” In this situation, “It is the dog you are hurting.” She added:100Maybe the children could help in that way and say notice how things were going and saymom I think we should get you a dog or something like that. And the mother might sayno. But a lot depends upon the age of a person and what they want to do with the timeand their financial situation. Not I wouldn’t think right away. I must admit that. Andfor dog lovers sooner than people who never had dogs.Dora had quite a bit to say about widowhood as well:When you are left alone the first thing you’ve got to learn really is that youve got tostand up for yourself, stand on your own two feet and do what you want. And I knowwith my husband’s estate I asked Dick things what he wanted and oh goodness one day hewould say one thing and another day he would say another so I thought to heck with thatI’m just doing what I want to do if you can’t make up your mind. But you do you becomeindependent. You have to otherwise I guess you get unhappy. You have to make yourown decisions whereas before you’ve never made your own decisions, you’ve talked themover. . . unless you marry again or something Like that it’s different or if there are otherpeople involved with your life if your family lives with you or if you’ve got morechildren, but if you’re alone you’ve got to make your own decisions and until you do Idon’t think you’re happy. Although sometimes it gets testy because you’ve got to makeyour own decisions but you do. Well I think you are a better person for it. You get usedto it. You’ve got to be able to stand on your own feet. And as you get older too your minddoesn’t move so quickly the decisions don’t come to you so quickly. It’s your reaction tothings. But they’re the things I would say about widowhood.There were other things a widow had to learn to decide about as veil:Even to buy things, your own clothes or your furniture or anything like that. You haveto decide it all by yourself. . . . The finances too. I mean they might say well we can’tafford that but when you are alone you’ve got to make your ova decisions to start withcan I afford it.Dora said she found it important to have people she could rely on in a number of areas:101Another thing 1 found was very important to me was to have a plumber, a painter, anelectrician, and somebody to cut my lawns, people you could rely on * . . otherwise like apainter could come and fleece you. That’s all something you’ve got to learn on your own.1 tend to be trustworthy but you’ve got to think of people coming in your home,These days you think are people sizing up what you’ve got here and later are they goingto break in... But you are more dubious of people, you have to be if you are alone in thehouse.Dora also found that:In all those ways your work doubles because your mental work doubles too, In my case Ineeded a good accountant and a good lawyer too.. . So there is all these things aboutbeing widowed that make a difference like that.Dora did not experience some of the negative things that other widows had experienced:People told me that married couples ignored them and that I didn’t experience that. Andthe other thing I didn’t experience I didn’t have people making passes at me which wasanother thing they warn you about that other people’s husband figure you must need aman. Maybe I was too old or maybe I put them off but I never had any problem like that.Her friends continued to invite her to visit and ‘ito go to supper. People had been very verygood to me in that way... .1 get a lot of invites, lots of things like that. People bring methings and do things for me that they didn’t have to do when Ben was alive and working.”Dora did experience other things though. “The thing I experienced was a loneliness forconversation . . ,that’s what I miss the most. Ben and I discussed everything.” Although Doratalks to Shasta she said it was not the same because “Ben had views.” Now there was nobody toask about the things she could not remember. She missed talking to her husband becausethey had the same views on issues and she felt “1 can’t say things to other people” because ofdiffering views on things.Widowhood is also difficult because:102You are more busy from the point of view that you have to do everything. This is what Ifind. I mean I use this as an example but my husband always took the garbage out. Thefirst thing I had to get used to was I had to take the garbage out, that’s an extra job. And alot of jobs aren’t woman’s work, they are heavier. They are heavy going sort of thing.And a lot depends upon, my husband didn’t fix things in the house, but you think if yourhusband fixed electrical things and did that you can’t do it that means you have to paysomebody to do it. And your workload doubles, . .of course everybody is different, lots ofmen they say never do anything but my husband we worked together all our lives.It was also more difficult because:with my case too I didn’t drive which means extra. But then does it I mean if you’ve got acar to look after it is the same sort of thing it’s double the work there too. But this is whatI found that all the jobs around the house you’ve got to do all of them.Dora did not find widowhood to be all negative though:I don’t have to eat anything I don’t like, and if I feel I want a shrimp sandwich I have ashrimp sandwich it doesn’t cost much. I don’t eat a lot anyway. Of course this is part ofmy nature when I was young my mother was great for buying me I loved Brazil nutswhen they first came in she would buy me four, or the first tomatoes just one, That wasthe way we lived over things, And this was something my husband didn’t understandwhen I first came to Canada we were together. But he grew to be exactly the samebecause that’s the way I like things. I can have one of something I like,Other positive aspects included, “You only have to consider yourself what you watch on Lv iswhat I want to watch, , . . you can do whatever you want to do.” Dora said when you aremarried:you lived for your husband so you did what he wanted, But nov it’s all different youdon’t have to do these. When Ben was alive he was the boss and we always consideredeach other. We did everything together anyway but he was still the boss. But now I haveto make my own decisions and do my own things sort of thing. If you want to go on a103holiday you go where you want to go and when you want to go, you go to bed when youwant to and get up when you want to, everything is lust for you alone unless you marryagain or something like that its different.Later Dora added, “Really you are your own person really for the first time in your lifebecause even when you were young before you were married your parents were in control,”Dora felt that widowhood was like childhood:I went back to my childhood I figured because of Shasta I made all these new friends allwith dogs. And that’s like when I was young you see and I was my own boss again, I didwhat I wanted to do. .. . I have a dog and lots of friends and I only have to please myselfwhat I do and that type of thing,Dora, said, “To me getting the dog was just a whole new lifestyle especially when I was alone.And this is why to me it is so important to have an animal.” Dora said in widowhood herattachment for Shasta grew stronger “because it was all I had. And I had more time for her.”Companionship was also important:because when you had a husband to look after too they were just more work. Anotherperson to be considered. But it is somebody to do things for, to me anyway. A reason forliving because I find a lot of widows get very depressed and complain about not havingtheir husband. But when you’ve got a dog I don’t know it fills your life, There issomebody else to consider.Dora said she was so glad to have the house and have everything the way it was and to haveShasta’s company. “I don’t know how I would have reacted otherwise.” Dora cried as she said,I used to say that after Ben died my home is my sanctuary and my dog Shasta is mysalvationBecause her husband had been sick for a while they had gotten away from a lot of socialactivities:We had grown away from all those things so they weren’t things I missed very much,And because of his health situation even driving, we didn’t go for drives and things. All104those things sort of died in the past. So there was nothing like that that I missed.Although I’ve heard of other women whose husband’s had a heart attack and gonequickly and they were people who went out and did a lot of partying and then they weresort of left high and dry because if you are a party person and you are alone nobodywants you. I never experienced that.In talking about her current lifestyle Dora said:I do grow a garden. i’ve very interested in my vegetable garden. I’m not much forflowers but I put a few things in.. . And I am a bit of a mathematician there everythinghas got to be equal and even and all that type of thing.Dora grows tomatoes, pole beans like the ones that grow in England, peas, and corn. Becauseshe is economical Dora said, “We were economical like I was never very interested in flowers.I’m interested in vegetables but i’m not so much on flowers. I put a bit in because you haveto.” Also because she is economical Dora said:Because I lived with people here who baked and everybody made their own cakes andpies and did their own canning. That was a way of life and it’s stayed the same today. Istill couldn’t go to the store and buy a jar of spaghetti sauce. 1ve got to make It fromscratch because that’s the way it’s done otherwise I don’t. want it.Another activity Dora enjoys is watching television:I do like tv, Tv is a companionship just like the dog is. I sort of almost talk to the Lv,. 1watch a lot of these programs on tv. Well I tell you I am one of those people that if it is acrummy day I would turn the tv on. I mean I don’t worry I’m not one of those people thatsay you mustn’t watch Lv in the day time... . But I like those education and natureprograms on Lv. And there are a lot of things that you can enjoy and people say to mewhere did you hear that and I say oh I must have heard it on the tv.But Dora does not enjoy watching all nature programs about animals. “1 get upset aboutmovies if I think a dog is being, or an animal is being ill treated, a horse or a cat or a dog. Idon’t want to watch those things. Even though I am a dog lover I don’t want to watch those105things.” Dora said, I didn’L want to see things where animals are going to get hurt.” Like herfather, Dora had always been sensitive to the well-being of animals. She recalled severalincidence from her childhood:When I was eight or nine when I came out of school I used to get the bus. . . I used tohave to wait for her [mother] outside this store. Actually they sold grains but they oftenhad puppies. . . And this one time my mother always used to tell people that I was cryingand crying and as soon as she got there, she was always a bit late I guess she had metsomebody, and I would cry don’t you leave me here again I’ve had to look at those puppiesall this Lime in that window. . I was just so upset I wanted to buy them all.. . . And alsothere was a film... . I was probably eight or nine too. We went to see this movie withClark Gable And he looked in and this little dog jumped up and he walked away andthen he came back and he looked at it and I was yelling buy it, please buy it, please buyit, and my mother was saying quiet. Oh he must buy it I said. And of course he did. I’msure he did. But oh I was in an awful state. And even now there is a pet store down onWest Broadway and I sort of peer in hoping I don’t. see any puppies in there.Dora said she also likes hearing about the way other people live. Dora enjoys gettingtogether with her next door neighbor who is from Sri Lanka, “She tells me so much aboutother countries and I find it all so interesting.” After telling about this Dora said:The one thing I have found without a husband I can be friendly like with Betty next doorand neighbors. I couldn’t do that not when Ben was sick it was different, but when hewas normal he would want me home and us together. He never liked this going out. Andso Betty will phone and say have you eaten supper come over and eat supper with us....But when you have a husband you are home with him and I think of that when I popover next door well I wouldnt be able to do this if Ben was alive.Dora is also busy with other activities. “But then there is housework to do and shopping.Because I don’t have a car things take longer.” Dora wished she did drive a car. “I learned to106drive and I got my licence but I was scared to drive.” Because she doesn’t. have a car Dorasaid:To get places if it is in the evening, sometimes I see things I’ve forgotten what I saw theother day and I thought I’d love to go to that but then it’s seven to nine o’clock at nightand I’m too scared of coming home on my own, And I’m too cheap to take a taxi sort ofthing.Dora said she writes a lot of letters. She said she still writes to the friends she had at school.Also “we lived in a mining camp and you always know those people, you never lose them,”And she also writes to “people from my old early days in Canada when you were young andyour children were young and you made a lot of friends.”Although Dora does quite a bit of travelling like visiting relatives down East, going to LasVegas for a week, going back to England every five years. or going on a big trip for threeweeks to a month every year, Dora said, “I’m a bit of a loner. I like to be on my own.” And sheliked to go on a holiday on her own. “The best time I ever had was when I went to Austria....I went off on my own on the train and with a suitcase and I loved that, oh yes I just loved itgetting off one train and organizing my way around,”Even though Dora is a loner it seems like a fair amount of her time is spent with others.Many of her friends from her early days in Canada ‘come and stay with me for a few days,” aswell as people she knows from England. “I’ve quite a few people come and visit.” In fact Dorasaid, “In the summer Cindy down the road kids me she says is the Henry Hotel open yet. Ihave quite a few visitors in the summer time.”Going on her holidays is the one thing Dora said she does without Shasta, “I don’t reallydo too much without Shasta unless I go on a holiday and put her in the kennel.” In relation toputting her in the kennel Dora said:Lots of people say to me that they think I am wrong about putting Shasta in the kennel.They say it is much nicer for the dog to be iii its own home. I think they are probablyright but I feel more confident when Shasta is in the kennel, I know she is safe and107she’s got people who would know what to do if there was anything wrong with her, andshe can’t sort of get out and get on the street... I say too that they know her there andshe knows them and I think that is the kindest way. . . I know nothing can happen toher. She is quite happy there. She goes to a place where they exercise and they loveher. They make a lot of fuss. My mind is at ease when I know she is in the kennel. Andif you have somebody in the house you also have to worry about things on the housegoing wrong like the washing machine and all that. So I think at least the house isclosed up and I can forget about it if I go away,But even though she said her mind is at ease Dora added, “But I feel that I have to brainwashmyself of the thought that she has to go once or twice a year she has to go into the kennelbecause otherwise I can’t go away anywhere’ As well she said, “But I must admit partwaythrough the holiday I sort of miss her and I wish I was with her. Its so nice to have her tocome home to. I can’t get over there quick enough to get her.”In our interview Dora had a lot to say about Shasta and their life together. Dora saidShasta has always been an active dog and like Kipper she is “demanding” and “is the boss.”Because Shasta is active Dora says she still continues to take her for two or three walks a dayfor about an hour each time. “I always go first thing in the morning when I first get up.And you gear your whole life around this, If I’ve got an appointment well I’ve got to get upearly so the dog can go first.” For their evening walk Dora likes to take Shasta to the park:I like to go out later when it is light. Late because if you go early all the people are inthe park playing. If you go a bit later then its clear and there is not so many dogsaround, This is one of the things that amazes me. I go out in summer or winter say about8 o’clock, . or I can go out later 9 or 10 o’clock at night and I’m never afraid whenShasta is with me. I go there and I walk all around the park. It’s not that she woulddefend me I don’t know what it is. But if I was to go on my own and walk around the parkI would be scared silly. But I go, I never think of it.108Dora likes to go to the park with Shasta, but gets annoyed when people are inconsiderate ofothers:It annoys me when I go to the park and somebody takes up the whole park throwing theball and then all the dogs get aggravated....I’ve often said vhat a pity there’s not afenced in area in the park that you could go with the dogs and not be worried by theseother things.When the park is full, “It means you’ve got to keep the dog on the leash all the time. I do formy own protection and that but I like her to have a run too. A dog needs to run,”Dora makes sure Shasta gets her walks rain or shine:If it is pouring fain you’ve still got to go. So the only thing to do is to buy a lot of raingear. I know she’s got to go out. And if you are sick, and fortunately I’m not sick verymuch, but you know you’ve still got to go. And they’ve got to do their jobs and this is allpart of the walk. You know even if you are half dead you’ve got to go. And often this isthe best thing to do,Dora considered the valks to be a positive thing:Health wise it is the best thing that could happen. I mean it keeps you active. They keepyou young because you have to walk. I mean I wouldn’t go out and walk around the parktwo or three times a day if I didn’t have Shasta. I might, say anything happened toShasta, I might say at the beginning well I’m still going to walk and this would go on fora little while and then I would think oh I don’t want to go out tonight because there is ashow on tv or its raining or it’s cold or it’s hot or something. And the same thing in themorning. I don’t consider it, I get out of bed and get dressed and then I take her. I don’tshower or do anything until she has had her walk you see.Walking is also positive in that:When I am out with Shasta I meet so many people. I’m always meeting people so thereare lots of people around. Most of the people I’ve got to know are young. That is what109has made life so good for me because it has brought young people into my life, whereasinstead of mixing with a lot of elderly people all the time.Dora said these people “are people I can talk to and it takes the loneliness out of life.” Shefeels people are more approachable when they are with a dog. As well, the conversations shehas with these people are happy.Because you’ve got a dog every time you go out people talk to you. If you are alone theydon’t know you. But I mean I really never go out without somebody has a little dogconversation. Now if you go to visit friends you get politics and that sort of thing. And Idon’t want to talk about it because I don’t agree with what they say to start with. Butwhen you go out with a dog you get dog talk, what does your dog do and all this. Younever get politics. . . . You don’t talk about those things to people with dogs. You talkabout dogs and that type of conversation. You very seldom talk about politics or religionsor races that upset, everybody gets upset about one way or another because you cannever solve them.. ,. It is always a happy conversation. These other things just get youdown, they make you miserable.Dora also feels safer when she’s out with Shasta:I know in the middle of the night, 10 o’clock and it’s jet black and people will say hi andhow is your dog tonight or something like that whereas if you were alone nobody, you’dcross the Street SO you couldn’t be near them or something. I feel safer and I’m scared togo on my own.Later Dora added:The actual walking is a big job. Lots of people hardly bother with that they just go up thelane or put them out the back.. . . I know that if I go out with somebody for the evening,go out for supper, well then I have to walk her first. These are all things that otherpeople don’t really understand that. But to me it is important. The walking is veryimportant because I started her off that way.110Dora thought that “lots of dogs don’t need the exercise Shasta gets. Lot-s of little dogs the yardwould be plenty of exercise.’ Dora has arthritis in her legs and because she can not drive shecan not take Shasta up to UBC any more:She loves to go to the forest as I call it up to UBC oh she loves it up there. We used to gothere quite a bit., but with my legs now they’ve got weaker and I can’t walk that far, Iwould like to it grieves me that- I can’t. You’ve got to walk up there first and then walkin. But my legs have got better again anyway. But I like the exercise. The exercise isgood for me. I mean if I didn’t have Shasta I wouldn’t walk. I wouldn’t have the friendsthat I’ve got,It was a great concern to Dora when her legs were really bad:I had a great problem this year because I had a very painful knee, arthritis they said.Eventually I went to the physiotherapist and I got treatment and exercises and it is a lotbetter now. But I still had to walk Shasta and it was very hard because she is so strongand she pulls and every time I put pressure on my knee it was so painful. The pain wouldshoot up and down my leg but I decided well what had to come first. I had to leave thehousework, I had to leave everything else, Shasta had to have her walks. And that iswhy I got very depressed because I felt if it didn’t get better I had to make a decision. Ieither had to get rid of Shasta because I couldn’t walk ....I’d have to have her put tosleep I couldn’t stand to think that somebody else had her and I think they might becruel to her or something like that... .But one thing the physiotherapist told mealthough it is painful, walking with the dog is probably the best thing you could do to getyour leg better. - . , She said she advises people to get a little dog because you’ve got towalk them and this is what makes you go out.Dora thought a dog walker is a good idea but “not with her because well I guess if it was a dogwalker that understood her but she’s so naughty sometimes.” Dora laughed as she said, “Insome ways I wouldn’t mind having a puppy again so I could bring it up properly.” Shasta is astrong dog and:111She pulls all the time. And if she sees something food wise she can nearly pull you over,That’s why I feel I couldn’t have a walker now, I wouldn’t with Shasta but I think if yourdog was well behaved then I would. But I can see I think that would be a very wise idea.from my point of view. People are much happier with an animal. Life would be dreadfulwithout an animal.Dora thought the cost would also be a consideration for some people:I mean if somebody is a pensioner they are too expensive. Unfortunately when peopleget older they get very sort of scroogy about money too because when you don’t earn anymore it is very difficult to accept the fact that you’ve got to spend your savings.Shasta has though “in the last year and a half really changed completely because she wasalways running away. If I took her to the park and let her off she would run away.” Now,except if she smells food, “she only goes a certain distance away and then she’ll look back andshe comes racing back again which is a boom.” Dora said a friend who has a trainedDalmatian “he didn’t think I’d ever keep her. But then I would never part with a dog. Icouldn’t give a dog to anybody I don’t think.” One characteristic of the Dalmatian is theirdifficulty in being trained:According to the dog books this is the Dalmatian that you can teach them what you likeand think that you’ve got them trained but when it comes to it they are the boss, Theyare still the boss and they do what they want. And I met a lady when she was a puppy.and this lady said they had two.,. . This lady was saying well we had two and my daughtertook one and I took the other one to obedience classes and they were just perfect, theywere the best students in the class. But when they had the test they didn’t do a thing,they both failed because they weren’t going to be told what to do.Another daily activity is feeding Shasta twice a. day. Because Shasta had a bladderproblem since she was a puppy she has been on a special diet:She went on this special food and she’s not to have meat and all that. Mind you she getsit.. , . There again you can’t convince people. Like this Joan she will bring her bits of112meat you see. Well I just give her a little bit and when she’s gone I throw it all away. Butyou see Shasta knows that she brings it. But really I don’t give her meat, She’s happywith spaghetti and vegetables and all that. type of thing.Dora gives her vegetables and cookies as treats, There are several reasons why Shasta isspoiled. “Part of the reason she got so spoiled and got bad habits is because ... my husband heused to feed her or give her things, and to keep the peace I used to give in to her sort ofthing. And really feeding, this sitting by you when you eat, it is such a nuisance and now Icant break her. I find it really hard to be unkind, what I think is cruel. It. isn’t I’ve beencruel giving her things” And Dora was the other reason, “I should never have started thiseither, giving her a bit of what I eat later on.. , It’s gotten to be a bad habit. These are allthings where I was wrong” Because of getting too many treats Dora said she is “too heavy”and “I’m just weak as far as saying no to them.”Because by nature Dalmatians are scavengers Dora has a hard time with Shasta aroundfood. On their walks she pulls very hard i.f she sees or smells food, Dora finds it annoyingwhen people put food out on the boulevard or throw leftover food out at construction sites:There is a house down here and it is a very neat tidy house and they do a beautiful job butthey put all there old food out on the boulevard you know back bits and ham rind andthings like that for the birds and bones, But she picks it up and she’s got it before Irealize it... But to me it’s against the law to put food out on the boulevard but what canyou do about it I mean all you can do is avoid those places.And at home she will steal food. “She gets up at the counter and eats things.” Doralaughingly recalled an incident:Well I don’t know if it was funny, but my friend’s children think it is funny. Anyway, itmust be three years ago now and Martha had asked me out to supper and I said. . I wouldmake Paviova because I had some canned passion pulp that I had brought back fromAustralia. Anyway it is a meringue base and then you put whipped cream all over it andyou put fruit on top. Anyway I didn’t put it in the fridge because I never liked them so113much when they are ice cold so I put it in on the dining room table and I had shut thedoor because I knew what she wanted. And something happened, somebody came orsomething, and for some reason the door got opened and she ate nearly all of it. Shelicked all the cream, she licked it all out. And you know it was a pie plate like this.Dora said she has to be careful with what she leaves out or what Shasta can get into. “I cantkeep potatoes under the sink because she would eat them alL” Dora didn’t. consider this to benegative because it is a characteristic of the breed. “Other people would think it wasdreadful. But I can’t stop her anyway because it is food. If I do anything about it she wouldgo for me because it is her way of survival I guess.”Another characteristic of the breed is that they are very clean:I don’t have to groom her very much and she doesn’t have to be bathed. Dalmatianspreen themselves like cats, They lick themselves so it says in the book they don’t. reallyneed grooming. And she’s getting better now, she will let me touch her a bit. And I’malmost thinking I wonder if they put a muzzle on her whether I could have her bathed. Idon’t bathe her or anything. Well she gets into the water in the park.Shasta also rolls around in her plastic swimming pool in the back yard.Because of having a big back yard Dora’s weekends are always busy with other peopleand their dogs:You see all these people come to my yard because they’ve got nice lawns and they can lettheir dog do what they like in my yard. Well now if my husband ‘was alive I would neverhave done that, But I find on Sunday, Sunday’s the worst day, Saturday too when peoplearen’t working. If I’m outside I can never get anything done because one after the otherarrives and comes in for a minute and sits and chats. And many things they are alldifferent things that I talk about.Having these friends gives Dora an ease of mind knowing that she could count on them if shereally needed to:114And I know all these people would if I needed anything would do it for me. But I figurethere might come a day when I would have to ask them so if I can walk and look aftermyself I do. But people say why don’t you let me take you. but the time comes whenyou might have to do that. There comes a time when you will have to rely upon othersand this must be very difficult. I don’t know how I’ll be but it must be.Because these people bring their dogs over Shasta has company on weekends as well. ‘Lots ofpeople drop in Saturday one after the other with their dogs and they play in the yard. She isnot so good at playing now but she loved to play.” Shasta is good with people:She is good with children although she doesn’t want to be bothered with them, But whenshe was little oh they would all say can we pet her. And now she has got in the habit thatif she is good she want.s a cookie and she wants to go near the owners more than the kids.But when she was younger they always used to make such a fuss of her. She doesn’t bitechildren or do anything wrong like that.., . But I am careful because I don’t wantchildren to be scared by her. The kids next door come over but I always say I must bethere when Shasta is there because I would hate her to bite them and then they arescared of dogs for the rest of their lives because I have never been afraid of a dog in anyway.Another thing Dora does with Shasta is talk to her. “She understands every word I saybecause I talk a lot to her.” At home Dora said, “I talk to her about things like Shasta I’ve gotto get this cleaned up and I must do the washing and that type of thing.” Dora also talks toher when they go out for their walks. “I seem to always be talking to her. When I go for awalk with Shasta if something is on my mind I’m talking it over the pros and the cons.”Shasta will respond to what Dora says by looking at her, wagging her tail, running to thechair to look out the window if Dora said she is going out, or getting excited and wagging hertail if Dora mentions food.115In relation to this Dora said, “1 think English people really are silly about dogs. I am Iknow. I talk to her all the while. Perhaps that’s all part of it.” Dora did not get this samefeeling about animals from Canadians:There is definitely a different feeling. , . . If English people are coming here I neverhave any qualms I think oh they love dogs. But Canadians although I have been here allthese years I think oh I hope they don’t mind the dog. .. .English people are very fond ofanimals. You know treat them more like humans.Dora explained that in England, “You don’t have plain carpets. You have designed carpets somarks don’t. show in the same way,” and they ‘never take their shoes off.” Here, ‘mostCanadians take their shoes off when they go in the house” and “most people have plaincarpets that any mark would show,” Dora said, “No it’s a different way that English peoplelike their homes, That’s what it was here, there wasn’t a mark anywhere and I guess this isbecause my husband was Canadian and had these ideas you see. He didn’t like dogs peeing onthe lawn or anything to make patches,” Dora said another example of the differencesbetween England and Canada is that in England you could take dogs on the train and in stores:My mother said I would rather have some dogs in stores than I would some people. Shewas most indignant about saying this,., ,But that is the difference here, you wouldn’tdream of taking a dog on the bus or on a train unless it was crated.As well Dora felt dogs were more accepted in England:I never knew anybody in England where you didn’t knock on the door and take your dogin but here I wouldn’t dream of taking my dog to other people’s homes. I don’t knowthere is a completely different feeling to me.Dora said she has “never been much of a one to play” with dogs. In addition to the walkand talking to her Dora likes to “fondle, love them, and cuddle them,”Dora used to have to do a lot of washing because of Shasta, Right from a puppy she usedto have a bladder problem that when she was sleeping she would relieve herself and soakeverything. Since being diagnosed she has been on pills that control this problem. “But116because of the way she is getting up on things I do quite a bit of washing and that for her.”But not as much as when she had her bladder problem. Dora said she vacuums “twice a week”but she would do that even if she did not have Shasta. “She is quite good hair wise. But mostpeople with a dog have to vacuum every day because of the hair and that type of thing makesmore work... She is pretty clean, but lots of dogs get dirty where they lay and when theybrush against the wall it all makes extra house work,”In talking about her lifestyle Dora said:But as you can see it fills your day., Basically I don’t do very much without Shasta. Thereason being the same old story. Shasta does take up a lot of my time. Perhaps lots ofpeople wouldn’t make a dog so much work as I do.Dora did feel that, “I think a dog makes more work because you can’t say to a dog like a childdon’t jump on this or don’t do that, or stay out of there. They go where they want to.”After talking about their lifestyle together Dora said, ‘It just seems to be just so muchpart of my life. I would like to have more I know.” At one point Dora had said she wanted two,“I really felt that if I had two they would keep each other company and exercise themselves”but some friends had said, “they wont hear of it. They say Shasta is too much for you.” SoDora never did get another dog to keep Shasta. company.In addition to Shasta though the neighbor’s cat comes over quite often. “Tia comes inhere all the time but I really wish she wouldn’t. She gets all around me and hair gets in mymouth.” Dora said, “I put up with cats” but “to be truthful I am strictly dogs. I can be nice tocats or things like that but I wouldn’t really want them. It is dogs. Yes and I do love puppiesoh and they smell so nice.” Dora preferred dogs because “I think they are better than catsthat roam all over the neighborhood and dig in your garden and things like that.” As well,Dora said, “I think maybe it is because they don’t answer you back or something or other. Butthey are very dedicated anyway.” Dora also thought that it is because of a certain feeling shehas with dogs and she:117feels comfortable. I would probably be like a bit afraid of other animals. I don’t quitetrust cats. Well cats are a different type of animal aren’t they. They are veryindependent and they are loners. But no it’s hard to express it. I would much rather bewith a dog than with children and that type of thing.Dora has also “looked after quite a few dogs here since my husband died.” One dog inparticular she used to take care of quite a bit was Zac. She used to take care of him when hisowner ‘was away and they would often get together and let the dogs play. When it was time tohave Zac put to sleep because it was so hard on Jessy, Dora brought Zac over to her place andhad him put to sleep for Jessy when he went out of town. Thinking about this Dora said:I know it is hard to think about when I think if anything happened to Shasta... . My ideawas that I feel that if I had to part with Shasta I’d like to hold her but I don’t think Icould.. But I know it would, gee it would be an empty house againIn addition to the ones she had already mentioned throughout our interviews, Doraidentified a number of positive aspects associated with Shasta and with dogs in general. Shefelt that dogs “made me considerate of other people, unselfish because you have to considerthem.” She said, “To me it’s very important in life I think to have an animal around youbecause it gives you something to live for. Even to get the meals. There is company always.’Shasta was company in many respects. She was something to do something with and for,“It’s just like having another body in the house,” “when you go to do something they arealways there,” and by “having another body around not being lonely.” Dora added:There is always somebody there pleased to see you or waiting for you when you comehome and humans aren’t necessarily like that because if you are late home for a humanthey’ve been worried about you so as soon as you come in they react to being madwhereas the dog is just so pleased to see you.Dora liked the affection and the “cuddling and stroking,” She said, “It’s something that makesme feel good, warm, and comfortable,, , .Having a dog makes you feel better,”In addition to feeling safer when going for walks Dora also feels safer at home:118They do guard and they make a noise if somebody comes near the house. They warn you,I probably feel safer in the house because I know when I take her to the kennel Ithink oh Im going to be alone in the house tonight.Dora also identified some negative aspects associated with Shasta or dogs in general. Dorasaid her “only real problem really is to go on a holiday.” She elaborated by saying;And I’ve adjusted to that now but it was hard at first when I used to take her to thekennel, Once she is there I am okay. And I think if I drove and had a car and could takeher I would be okay but I’m dreading it for days ahead of time.Initially Dora said, “I would do more travelling.” But then added, “Yeah I y that whether Iwould or not because there is finances involved too.” As well she said, “But Shasta has been abig excuse because I have been able to say to people I can’t come I’ve got the dog.’ She is agood excuse because, “I am a sucker sort of thing. I couldn’t say no.”As well, it restricts the length of time Dora is away from home. ‘I couldn’t leave her shutup in the house for hours on end. That would really worry me.” Dora added:And really when I worked I never thought of leaving the dog all day but now I wouldn’tdream of leaving Shasta. I feel mean every time I go out. But this is because if you goevery day they know you are going out every day whereas if I go out it’s quite a rarityand I’m sure there is no reason why I can’t leave her for eight hours.Dora did say that, “I leave her more now than I did.”Another negative aspect is housing. Because she has always had a house Dora said thiswasn’t a problem. But now that she is getting older she said;I couldn’t move into an apartment because of the dog... . I wouldn’t move now because ofthe circumstances because I have so many friends, and I need a place for the dog. I usedto say I would go into an apartment. Ben used to feel we would have to when we got to a,certain age.119Dora wasn’t sure though because it has always been important to her and her husband to‘own your own home” and because Dora has lived in her house for a long time she said shehas a lot of memories and it means a lot to her.Another concern is if something happened to her, Dora does, however, have people whowould help her. “Joey this side he could come to do things for her in an emergency and I’vegot quite a few friends.” As well, Dora said, “Most people know now that if anything were tohappen to take Shasta over to the kennel.” However, Dora does “worry that you’re going toget old and leave them alone.”When Shasta gets sick is also a bit of a worry:I find a problem is if they get sick they cant tell you like a human what is wrong withthem. And I think you need a good understanding vet which I have. But it’s ratherworrying when an animal get.s sick because they can’t tell you anything.As well it is a ‘worry that you are “doing the right thing for them.”When Shasta is healthy though Dora said she does not worry about her getting sick eventhough she has a bladder problem:I said I can only look at it this way. I can appreciate that I’ve had her six years and ifanything was wrong with her I could accept that I had to part with her whereas perhapsother people couldn’t do this. But I would rather part with them than see her suffer.Related to this negative aspect is the fact that, “they don’t live long though. You do wish butthen it’s something you accept.”Another negative aspect associated with Shasta is related to her strength. Because “she ispowerful and darts off suddenly” this has created problems in a number of situations. Onetime it was a major problem was when it led to Dora getting hurt:my accident with Shasta it was two years ago last February. I have a friend I walkwith in the morning and I had her dog here. She had gone down to Las Vegas and theyhad come back that night, it was a Friday, and so I took the two, she was a Shasta too,Shasta’s out and that Shasta is a Doberman. I wasn’t going to take her home and then I120thought oh she would like to go and see her mother so I walked over to Ruth’s. And I putmy Shasta, I had put her leash over the fence and then I took the other Shasta up to seeher mother. Well as soon as Shasta heard. . . she started to do all this barking. So I wentback down these wooden stairs and tried to stop her barking but she wanted to see Ruthso I slid the leash off and for some reason I slid it over my wrist. And she pulled, and youknow she is strong. And 1 twisted around and I landed on my knees at the bottom of thestairs boom like this and I was like this and she was pulling and my head went down onthe stairs. I’ve got a bad knee still, And 1 smashed right across there [her face]. Thebone was stuck out. This the nerve is cut here and that’s why I have funny feelingshere. But I had 16 stitches, And Ruth says she still has nightmares. She said I looked upand there was blood gushing out of my nose and the bone sticking up. But that was thebad experience. Fortunately I apparently got the best plastic surgeon in Vancouver andhe did a wonderful job on my face.Dora said as a result of this accident she is more cautious with her. “But she is a verypowerful dog. People don’t realize how strong she is.”Her strength is also a problem on their walks when she sees or smells food she willnearly pull Dora over, And it is also a problem when they are around little dogs,She doesn’t like little dogs. She used to be very good but she hates little dogs. , . . She usedto be fine but she fights, she goes for them now,,, That’s why I don’t like anybody elsetaking her out because I’m afraid she will get into a fight with them.Dora recalled an incident about a year ago:She is unpredictable. You don’t know what dogs she is sniffing and then rurr she goes.And I think it isn’t really fighting it’s probably letting them know who is boss. Butpeople are so possessive of their animals they think my dog attacks them. And I had anepisode where she was off the leash in the park over here and a lady came along she wasacross the road from me and her dog was on one of those extended leads, And I calledover to her which way are you doing because I thought if she was going this way I would121go that way to keep Shasta away from the dog. I was thinking but as I get older I don’tput things into practice properly. And she didn’t answer me, perhaps she was deaf.instead of that the dog raced across the road and Shasta was in the field in the park andof course when the dog raced over the road, it was just a little thing, she raced towards itand then she attacked it basically Well of course this poor woman was in a terrible state.Well I was upset. And anyway she reported me to the pound and he came and I told him.I told him I didn’t think she was going to I mean because I said if there’s anything wrongwith the dog I gave her my name and address and I said you know I’ll pay for anythingbut there wasn’t any sign of blood or anything like that. But I was really upset becausethe dog was just a dear friendly little dog and it was Shasta that was nasty. But you knowhow friendly she is with you. She is very friendly. So this other side of her is sostrange. Anyway as soon as the guy came I said oh yes my dog definitely did it. And Iwas sorry. So he just said he had to give me a warning that if it happened again that shewould have to wear a muzzle and also of course she was off the leash you see. So that iswhy I’m more careful now.Dora also finds it negative when people come over and Shasta will not leave them alone:You know when people come to visit and she jumps up at them and wants to lick them....It annoys me. . . . She does stop but she’s very affectionate towards people and lots ofpeople I feel don’t like it. They don’t like touching dogs because they’ve got to wash theirhands before they touch their food and all this style of thing.Dora felt other people might not be as understanding and consider the Dalmatian’sscavenging characteristic to be negative. Dora said, “She’s got a mean streak underneath”because “she would never let me take food away she would attack me.” If she picks up a bonein the park I’ve just got to get her home shes going to eat it one way or another,”Another bad habit Dora finds annoying is barking:I get cross with Shasta about barking. This is something that aggravates me. But whenshe ‘was younger she didn’t bark a lot. But we have a dog over the back and he tells122Shasta everything that is going on so now she barks and tells him things. . . . I reallywish she didn’t bark but if you have a protection dog it needs to bark.She will also bark when she wants something. “I never taught her to bark to get somethingbut when Ken came to live with me that’s the first thing he did and I’m not very good attelling people not to do things,” Dora also finds it annoying when she wants to leave heroutside a store. “I’ve got to tie her up outside then she does all this barking which is a darnnuisance.”Dora did not consider the cost of keeping a dog to be negative:Well no because of my financial situation they aren’t any worry to me but they would beyes if I was on limited money they would be because vet bills are quite high. And this isit about putting your dog in a kennel that’s not cheap either.. . and then I’ve got to getover there and back. Yes it is quite an expense. The dog food I have to buy is expensiveit’s twice the price of the other one. I say it’s not something that worries me becauseof the situation and I don’t have other expenses. Now if you had a husband and childrenit would be a big expense. In fact I say this about Shasta she is treated better than a lot ofchildren. I spend more money on her than lots of people spend on their children.Another negative aspect is damage. One thing is in relation to outside:Some people have a lot of trouble in their gardens, wetting on the lawn or digging holes.I don’t have any of that trouble. The only thing she does is she wants to help me andthat’s why I had to have the fence put up around the vegetable garden because shepulled all the corn out and ate all the beans, The first year, you know how you see a birdwith a worm pulling it, well she was like that with the corn. And then when I cut it backin the fall, but she chewed it all because of the sugar taste to it. But she wants to help meis what it is. I let her come in the garden in the spring.As well she used to pick the blooms off flowers that were in bedding boxes so Dora planted lessflowers and put most of them in hanging baskets in the tree. “I just realized I couldn’t havethings like that. But although it saved a bit of work with all the watering in the long run.”123Shasta. also caused some damage inside as well. Dora said if she can get a hold of thingslike egg cartons or kleenex she will tear them up. Dora laughed as she recalled an incident:The first experience I had with this business of pulling out the stuffing was with a box ofkleenex when she was a puppy. There was a box downstairs in the bedroom. Shasta wentdown there and I realized she was quiet. It was so funny I wish I could have had acamera because she was just pulling them out one by one and they were all over and sheupset the whole box and as one came out another would come up and they were allaround her. And I’m kind of economical about things like that. I hate wasting things.And then she could get under the bed so she raced and got under the bed. I just regretnever having a picture of them because it was the funniest thing really. I was mad ather but it was so funny so see these things.Dora thought this sort of thing was funny rather than negative:I don’t say I’m right. I mean I think I am very wrong. 1 think when you read the booksthat dogs should be disciplined and they shouldn’t run the house but this dog runs thehouse. But then I’m that way with children too. I’m not a strict mother type. I couldnever be like that. I don’t like upsets. I don’t like arguments. I don’t like all thisdissention and it is the same with a dog. .. . They know that they can take advantage ofme because she is definitely the boss when she makes up her mind about something andit is only if I get really mad and yell that she knows.Shasta will also damage her toys by chewing them. One time Dora bought her a toy that wassupposed to be indestructible and “within two hours it was all chewed up. And this wassomething they said oh shell never chew this but she just worked and worked and worked onit until she had destroyed it.” Dora buys Shasta soft plush toys and she chews on those so shecan pull the stuffing out of them. “She didn’t destroy them but she had to chew at something,chew the tag off or chew the nose off.” As well Dora said, “She takes things that are mine likeshe takes knives and chews the handle and things.” And she still takes things off thecounter:124Yes that is a negative but then that is bad training. That’s my fault because I haven’ttrained her properly. This is the way I look at it. And it is negative in the fact that theyare an animal and you can’t neglect them its like a human. Even a child can speak upand say they want something but with a dog you feel responsible and perhaps more sothan a child in away.Another way she causes damage is by “rubbing herself all along the chesterfield and he hadto do so much work on it. That’s why I’ve got this thing on it because she rubs along thereand scratches her back.”Shasta also scratched the window seal and damaged it. A lot of it Idamage] was donewhen she was a puppy,” and “it’s all part of having a dog,” Dora added:But you know she chewed a lot when she was younger. But she is good now. I mean somedogs do damage if you leave them whereas she doesn’t she just sits and looks for you tocome home. But yes it is a problem but there was a lot of things it’s like a child you haveto think ahead.In talking about all of these negative factors Dora said, “We owe them because we areresponsible for them.” She added:I think people that have dogs have them because they want them and don’t make hardwork of it. I mean they adjust to all these problems that you have. It’s only people thatdon’t like dogs and don’t want a pet that don’t adjust to things.Dora also said, “I wouldn’t advise people to get one that didn’t understand them or love thembecause of being cruel to them.” And:I would have said to everybody get a dog but now I’m much more weary because I thinknot everybody likes dogs or appreciates them. They get annoyed with them instead ofunderstanding that they are only dogs. They are not human beings.. .. And it might notalways be a good time to get one especially if you are going to be out a lot and you arebusy.125Dora said she is very attached to Shasta. Dora said she expressed her affection bycuddling and stroking, feeding her, and giving her cookies. Doras love for Shasta and fordogs in general is so strong she said:I like dogs more than children sort of thing. I’m not a child lover either but I amdefinitely a dog lover I’ve never longed to have children or have a lot of childrenaround me but dogs I could have a whole lot of dogs and be quite happy.Because Shasta means so much to her Dora said, “I sort of dread with Shasta the day she has tobe put to sleep. I know the day is to come but I must admit that I dread it coming.’ But ifShasta got sick Dora said she would put her to sleep:I’ve had six wonderful years that if there was anything that it was going to make herunhappy then I would have to put her to sleep. I wouldn’t muck around anything thatcaused her pain or unhappiness because you can’t explain to a dog to stay still yeconvinced myself now that if anything happened to her that couldn’t be helped in anyway then I, you may think this is cruel to think of having the dog put to sleep but.. it’sthe last kind deed you can do for them to put them out of any misery that they are in.Dora felt losing a pet is very traumatic and that “there is maybe not the importance thatthere could be placed on “how difficult it is and how much it can affect people.” Dora added,‘It’s a very traumatic time. . . . It must be as big a wretch as losing your husband because youmake them so much part of your life, Like I say you center your life around them,”Should something happen to Shasta Dora thought she would experience loneliness:1 must admit that when I think about it I think, I’m great for thinking ahead of what’sgoing to happen anyway, but I do wonder how, you know the day is coming and I mean Ihope Shasta will live to be 13 or 14 but I sort of prepare myself for the fact that well I’vehad six years so if anything did happen that it would be a very lonely life.Dora thought:126It must be hard for any widow if they’ve had a dog and then they’ve lost it because you’rebound to get older and then you think oh I cant start afresh again now, Or if you are inan apartment its hard to train a dog so it behaves and doesn’t bark.Dora reflected on a lot of factors as she was thinking whether or not she would getanother companion animal if something happened to Shasta:I know different friends of mine whose dogs are sick 10 years old and especially the onewho’s a lab. And I know Cindy wants to breed Bopper so maybe she’d have one ofBopper’s puppies. I don’t think I would do that. No I think I would just start afresh. Ithink you become attached to any dog in time.. . . Especially if you had them as a puppy.They do grow on you. Even if you had a male and a female and you bred them so youwould have the puppies, they have their own personalities. Another Palmatian won’t beShasta.Dora felt that while “Shasta is my whole life” so were Sara and Diana.So I’m sure when she is gone if I had another one in time they get used to you. You arejust as attached to them. I’m not saying you don’t look back and say oh Diana used to dothis or something like that but I think you can adjust to it if you let yourself, So manypeople fight this all the time.At the beginning of reflecting on whether she would get another dog Dora said:Well I say no now because there again about going back to the lifestyle of when I didn’thave to worry about a dog. I think I would try to get along without one because of thethings that worries me would be supposing you get old and decrepit and couldn’t lookafter the dog, I know my parents when they got old gave up having an animal becauseof that. They didn’t want to think of the animal being left alone. So I say no I wouldn’tbut the only thing somebody may come along and say would you take our dog... Youhave to think of them too I think, You have to think as you get older whether you will beable to give them the walks and what they deserve, So it will be soul searching but Iknow it is hard to think about when I think of anything happening to Shasta.127Upon further reflection Dora said:Depending upon my leg I probably would at this stage if it was as early as this perhapslook for a dog that needed a home more that style of thing not start with a puppy again.But depending how old I was the closer you were to 80 the less likely I would want to startbecause I wouldn’t want to leave a puppy again. Mind you I’ve more experience withShasta. then I would start out differently.But Dora thought:I would get an older dog if I could give it a home. As a matter of fact in a way older dogsare easier because puppies are alot of work aren’t they and they need a lot of training.That’s what I find. With an older dog you know their personality and habits.If she did get another dog Dora thought:I think I would take a mutt another time, a mixed breed. I don’t think I would go all out toget another Dalmatian necessarily. I would rather go 1.0 the pound and see a dog thatappealed to me to give it a home. I think that’s how I would feel. Mind you I can see I’dhave to think of a few things like long hairs and big paws and all that but I expect at thetime I would just want it if it appealed to me.As far as getting a purebred or not Dora added:I didn’t really care but I always did have a mongrel more or less. And I’ve always sort offelt a mongrel was less worry because they are not so susceptible to things to a breed.But then on the other hand I do admire the breeds. . . with a mongrel you’re not exactlysure what it will be like.The size would not really make a difference although Dora needed to think about this factoras well:I can see that well little dogs wouldn’t need all the exercise, And really when you getolder you wouldn’t be so keen on a big dog. Oh I don’t know I say that, Because I hadalways preferred bigger dogs then I still would.. . .But there again those are all things Ifind lots of things like this in life that people fight against and refuse to accept and if123they did accept them they would be a lot happier. They would still have a dog. But thereis lots of things like that that you’ve got to accept. . . . So I know because I know lots ofsmall dogs I could be just as happy with a small dog.Upon additional reflection Dora’s concern went back to her age:You realize as you get older that you don’t. know whats going to happen to you. Youknow you see things happen to people around you.. . . in my thinking I mean from thepoint of view of you thinking if the dog would live as long as you. I wouldn’t want to geta puppy because Im 70 and by the time I’m 80 the dog would be 10 years old but would Ibe able to look after a dog. You do realize your days are numbered more. More for thepoint of view of the dog. It would hurt me to think a dog was left. But perhaps I’mwrong. Perhaps I make too much of animals and I think I am hurting them... . It’s justsomething in my mind.In her final reflection nearing the end of our second interview Dora said:I’ve thought more from my age point of view if the dog would outlive me that style ofthing. But talking to you I wonder whether I am wrong about that. If I had another dogand I trained it a little bit different from Shasta so it could go to somebody else. I’vethought of that while I’ve been talking to you and the same I say things like I wouldn’tget another dog because then I could travel and do things I wanted to do but then I thinkas I get older do I really want to travel. I don’t want to travel so much now because I’vedone the things I wanted to do. There all these things make a difference. It woulddepend on when it happened. If it happened soon I think I would get another one but Idon’t think 1 would get a puppy. I think I would get an older dog.SummaryDora is a woman in her early seventies who has been widowed for five years after 45years of marriage. She is a tender-hearted, independent, easy going person.Dora comes from a small family with only one brother who seemed more like a father toher. Because of the war and the ensuing tough times at the young age of seven Dora was129responsible for preparing suppers for her family and doing other household tasks. Evenwith this responsibility Dora had a happy childhood with her family, friends, and a veryprotective family dog who still means a great deal to her today,After completing school at 16 Dora got clerical work with the air ministry. During theseteenage years Dora had another family dog which she left behind when she and her husbandand little baby immigrated to Canada from England.The next 20 years were spent working, raising their son, and saving for their future.During this time they had a couple of dogs which Dora fondly remembers and has cherishedmemories of. Like her parents, Dora said she has always had a love of dogs and hates to seethem being mistreated,Until her current companion animal Dora did not have another dog from the ages ofabout 50 to 70. During this time she and her husband were working, they had an active sociallife, she did a fair amount of travelling, she went to England several times to visit her parentsand eventually to settle their estate, and they became house proud where nothing was out ofplace.One year before her husband passed away due to ill health from strokes Dora got hercurrent companion animal. The intention was to have a dog that Dora’s husband could pet soas to make him feel better. It turned out Shasta was too energetic for him but she helped toease Dora’s strain of constantly caring for a sick husband.Shasta was a comfort during the transition to widowhood because Dora could cuddle andstroke her, talk to her, go for walks together, and she met other dog people who wereyounger. She was also a comfort and a great companion during that time which helped toease Dora’s loneliness and get over her husband loss, Although she was glad she had hadShasta during the transition she thought that if widows did not have a dog it would be betterto wait for a while before getting a dog. However, she thought this was an individual thing.Dora felt widowhood required a dramatic adjustment, Because she was alone for the firsttime in her life she had to learn how to stand on her own two feet and make her own130decisions. Dora found the adlustment difficult because she missed having someone to talk to,your mental and physical workload doubles, and she did not have a car so getting around wasmore difficult,Widowhood was also positive in that she could eat what and when she wanted, go to bedand get up when she wanted, she could watch what she wanted to on television, buy what shewanted, go on a holiday when and where she wanted to go, and she could stay out withoutfeeling guilty about leaving a husband at home.Dora’s lifestyle changed in that she did a lot more things with Shasta and spent more timewith her. Because of Shasta she met a lot of dog people who still come over to visit and let thedogs play together.Dora is very attached to Shasta and dreads being without her. Dora spoke of manypositive aspects associated with Shasta, dogs in general, and previous companion animals.Dora felt that they: were a source of companionship; because they were protective Dora feltsafer at home and going for walks; they were something to cuddle, stroke, and love;something to take for a walk and get exercise; amusing; make you more considerate of otherpeople and things and be less selfish; make your life happier; give you a lot of pleasure; makeraising children easier; help make the transition to widowhood easier: are comforting; aresomething to talk to; are something to come home to; are somebody to greet you: ease thestrain in difficult times; don’t answer you back; are always faithful; give you a lot of pleasure:are always pleased to see you; never berate you for anything; give you a good, warm, happy,comfortable feeling inside; are something to love; make a home feel like a home; provide anexcuse for not going places or doing things you do not want to do; keep you active; keep youyoung; take the loneliness out of life; make people more approachable; are a source ofprotection; are a catalyst for happy dog conversations; Shasta does not have to be groomedvery much: Shasta is good with people; they make you feel better: and they give you a reasonfor living.131Dora also identified some negative aspects as well: it was a bit of a worry working andleaving a dog home alone all day, dogs restrict you from doing a lot of travelling, the costwould be negative if you had financial difficulties, when you go out a dog restricts theamount of time you stay away, others may view breed characteristics such as disobedienceand scavenging to be negative, they are a worry when they get sick to know what is wrongand if you are doing the right thing for them, dogs have a short lifespan, Shasta is so strongsometimes she is hard to control, fighting with little dogs, sometimes being over affectionatewith people, barking when she wants something or is left outside a store, and doing damage.Dora considered a lot of these negative aspects her fault because of improper training. Shealso thought that if you have and love a companion animal you adjust to these things.There are aspects or servIces which could make owning a dog easier or more enjoyablesuch as: having a place to let your dog run free such as a fenced yard in the park: havingless restrictions so dogs would be allowed into more public places; people not letting theirdogs bother yours; people not putting food or bones out in public places; affordable medicalinsurance for your companion animal; having a good vet close by; having a pet taxi: havingspecial dog food available; dog walkers: house sitters; and having a reliable, trustworthy,affordable kennel.Although Dora loves Shasta very much and is strongly attached to her she thought that ifsomething happened to her because of her age she might not get another dog, or get an olderdog because it would grieve her to leave a dog behind if something happened to her.While Shasta gives her a reason for living and is a major part of her life, Dora thoughtthat each person would be different and they would have to decide if they wanted acompanion animal and would love it. if they were too busy to have one, and if they couldafford to keep one.ThemesWhen reflecting on our conversation about the meaning of companion animals in Dora’slife I identified 28 major areas or themes:1321) Independence. Dora has always been an independent person. As a young child she wasgiven a lot of responsibility in having to prepare meals for the family and other householdtasks. Throughout her adult life Dora said she liked doing things for herself and she dreadsthe day when she will be unable to do so.2) Compassion and caring. Dora is compassionate and caring for people and companionanimals. This was evident in a number of ways, In relation to people Dora looked after hersick husband for several years at home, she flew back and forth to England to look after herparents, she had a friend’s dog put to sleep when it would have been too painful for him to do,and she voluntarily participated in this study providing as much information as she couldwith no concern for the amount of time it would require. In relation to animals, compassionand caring was evident in Dora’s dislike of cruelty to animals whether it be on television, incircuses, or in pet shops. It was also evident in the way she took care of Shasta making sureshe had enough exercise even in ill health and inclement weather, buying her special food,talking to her as if she was another person, not wanting to leave her alone for too long,making sure her needs were taken care of before Dora went out, and if anything happened toShasta her decision to put her to sleep so she would not suffer.3) Optimistic and positive attitude. This was evident in Dora’s preference that people getalong and not argue or fight. As well, during the transition to widowhood and in the yearsfollowing Dora said she had to start afresh and set up a new life and not look back and live inthe past.4) Previous love of dogs. Dora said she had always loved dogs, that it was a feeling she hadinside of her.) Family of origin. Dora considered herself to be an only child but she was not lonelybecause she had a lot of friends in childhood and growing up. Even though she had a lot ofresponsibility at a young age Dora said she had an extremely happy childhood.6) Parents love of companion animals. Dora said both of her parents loved all types ofcompanion animals but they especially loved dogs.1337) Companion animals and childhood. Dora had quite a few companion animals in herchildhood. In addition to the family dog Dora used to play with and walk other dogs and theirfamily used to care for dogs when people went away.8) Companion animals during marriage. When they were first married they did not have adog of their own but. Dora was still able to play with her mother’s dog. Shortly after Doramoved to Canada with her husband and young son they got. their first dog. During thoseearly years of marriage Dora did not work. They lived on a farm and the dog went.everywhere with them. When they had their second dog they lived in the city, the dog didnot go out. with them as much, and Dora and her husband were busy working and saving fortheir future. As a result, Dora did not have as much time to spend with this dog.9) Companion animals and children. Dora felt every child should have a companion animalbecause they provide companionship to the child and they teach them how to be moreconsiderate of other people and things.10) Companion animals during middle years. Between the ages of 50 to 70 Dora was without acompanion animal. During these years they did not have a dog because Dora and herhusband were working, they had an active social life, Dora did a fair amount of travelling,she went to England to Lake care of her parents, and they got house proud.11) Grieving and companion animals. During her childhood when the family dog died Dorawas heart broken because she had no other companion animal and she felt more alonebecause she did not. have any brothers or sisters to play with either. Dora was also heartbroken when her first dog had to be put to sleep. Dora still feels the effects of this loss as shehas never eaten crumpets since that day. She was able to get. over the loss of this dog easierbecause within a short time they got another dog. Dora said it was terrible when this dog diedbecause they did not get another one. Dora found that the house was lonely and there wasnobody there to greet you. Dora felt losing a dog is a very traumatic time. As a widow shefeels losing your companion animal must. be as traumatic as losing your husband because youmake them such a part of your life. Dora said your life is centered around them.13412) Reason for getting her current companion animal. Dora got her current companionanimal because she thought it might help her husband because he had responded to afriend’s dog. Dora also got Shasta because of her love of dogs and Dalmatians in particular.Had her friends not made the arrangements Dora did not. think she would have gotten a dogon her own.13) Influence of previous companion animals. Previous companion animals had influencedDora in a number of ways. After seeing a Dalmatian for the first time Dora always wantedone, and the personality of this dog as well. Dora named her first dog after her mother’s dogand Shasta after the Shasta, on the farm. As well, Dora had really liked a Chow Chow as a childand as an adult she said that breed would be her second choice because of this dog.14) Type of companion animal. Dora had always been a dog lover. Although she wouldnever hurt an animal she did not want another type of companion animal. She would put upwith cats but they are very independent and she doesn’t trust them, they roam aroundneighborhoods, and they dig in gardens. She did not have much to do with birds her motherhad had when she was a child. In relation to dogs Dora said it wouldn’t make a difference if itwas a male or a female, a purebred or a mongrel breed, a small dog or a large dog. Althoughshe had preferred a large dog she thought she could accept a small dog if it meant she wouldnot have adog atall.15) Companion animals and the transition to widowhood. Having a companion animal easedthe transition to widowhood because Shasta was a source of comfort, companionship, she wassomething to cuddle and fondle, something to take care of, somebody to do something for, andsomebody else in the house. She eased the loneliness because of her presence and becausewhen they went for their walks Dora met other dog people to talk to.16) Acquiring a companion animal during the transition to widowhood. If Dora had not hada companion animal she did not think this would have been a good time to get one. Initiallythe widow has a lot to do and is not lonely for a while. Although having Shasta eased thetransition and was a big excuse for not going places or doing things she did not want to do135she thought she might have travelled then. Dora did feel that this would depend on theperson, Also, Dora did not think it was a good idea for someone to get a companion animal fora. recently widowed person because after a time the widow may not want it, they might nothave the time or the money for it, and then the companion animal would suffer.17) Increasing importance and attachment to companion animal during widowhood. Dorasaid during the transition to widowhood her attachment to Shasta grew stronger and shealmost replaced the affection she gave to her husband because she was all Dora had and shehad more time with her. Her importance grew because she took her husbands place. Dorasummed it up when she said her home became her sanctuary and Shasta her salvation,18) Widowhood. Widowhood is a time when your lifestyle changes completely and you haveto start afresh. Dora said you become more independent, stand on your own two feet, andmake your own decisions. Because now you center your life around your companion animalbecause there is nobody else, their importance and your attachment to your companionanimals grows stronger.19) Companion animals and widows, Dora felt this is an individual thing and people shouldconsider if they love them or not, have time to spend with them, and their financial situation.20) Current lifestyle, Dora leads quite an active lifestyle. Dora takes care of her own house,plants a garden, makes most of her own food, watches television, visits with neighbors andfriends, has a lot of friends visit and stay over, writes a lot of letters, goes on yearlyvacations, goes for two to three hourly walks a day with Shasta, takes care of Shasta, and talksto her.21) Importance of current companion animal. Dora dreads the day anything happens toShasta and said life would be dreadful without a companion animal.22) Strong attachment to previous and current companion animals. Dora is still very fond ofher previous companion animals. She is more fond of Kipper, her first companion animal,than of humans she remembered from her childhood. Dora cried when talking about howmuch Kipper and her other companion animals meant to her. Dora said she loved them all136and she was attached to them in different ways. Dora said she expressed her attachment toShasta by cuddling and stroking her, feeding her, giving her cookies, and taking her forwalks.23) Positive aspects associated with companion animals. Dora spoke of many positive aspectsassociated with companion animals. Dora said they: were a source of companionship;because they were protective Dora felt safer at home and going for walks; are something tocuddle, stroke, and love; are something to take for a walk and get exercise; are amusing; makeyou more considerate of other people and things and be less selfish; make your life happier;give you a lot of pleasure: make raising children easier: help make the transition towidowhood easier: are comforting; are something to talk to; are something to come home to;are somebody to greet you; ease the strain in difficult times; don’t answer you back; arealways faithful; give you a lot of pleasure: are always pleased to see you: never berate you foranything; give you a good, warm, happy, comfortable feeling inside; are something to love:make a home feel like a home; provide an excuse for not going places or doing things you donot want to do; keep you active: keep you young; take the loneliness out of life: make peoplemore approachable: are a source of protection; are a catalyst for happy dog conversations;Shasta does not have to be groomed very much: Shasta is good with people; make you feelbetter: and they give you a reason for living.24) Negative aspects associated with companion animals. Dora also identified some negativeaspects associated with companion animals. Cost had never been an issue because in the pastthey did not go to the vet or get shots. In recent years it has not been a problem becausefinancially Dora has no worries, As well, in the past housing had not been a problem becausethey had always owned their own home. Dora did think that as a widow it could be a problemif she wanted to move into an apartment. In the past it was a bit of a worry working andleaving the dog home alone all day. Dogs could be potentially restricting when married hadthey wanted to travel or go out a lot. A dog is restricting in the middle years if you want to domore travelling because you could afford to do so. As a widow dogs restrict you from137travelling and the length of time Dora is away when she goes out. Dora said others may viewcharacteristics of the breed as being negative such as their disobedience and their beingscavengers. Dora said she vacuums as much as she would even if she did not have a dog sothis was not a problem. Dora did say It is a bit of a worry when Shasta gets sick because shecan not tell her anything and Dora worries if she is doing the right thing for her. A dog’sshort life span is negative but it is something you accept, Shasta’s strength is negativebecause at. times she is hard to control. Other negative aspects are when Shasta fights withlittle dogs, sometimes when she is overly affectionate with people that come over, when shebarks when she wants something, and when she barks when left outside a store. Doingdamage, such as pulling things out of the garden, shredding things, chewing things, takingthings that are not hers, rubbing against the couch, and scratching the window seal arenegative. Dora felt that a lot of these bad habits were her fault because of not properlytraining her. As well, she felt it is all part of having a dog, we owe them because we areresponsible for them, and if you want them and love them you adjust to all these things.25) Societal aspects of services. There are aspects or services which Dora uses that makeowning a dog easier. These included: having a good vet who is close by; being able to givethe care they have now because of vets and medicine; having a reliable, trustworthy,affordable kennel; special dog food; a dog taxi service; and dog walkers. There are otheraspects or services which could make owning a dog easier or more enjoyable. These include:more considerate people who don’t let their dogs bother yours; people not putting food andbones out in public places; a place where dogs can run free such as a fenced area in parks;less restrictions so dogs would be allowed in more places; affordable pet insurance; andaffordable, trustworthy house sitters.26) Age. As she gets older Dora is concerned if she can remain independent and properlytake care of a companion animal by giving them the walks and what they deserve. Dorathought the closer she got to 80 the less likely she would want to get a puppy. As you getolder you do not know what is going to happen to you and you realize your days are138numbered more. For these reasons Dora thought she might get an older dog instead of apuppy. One of Dora’s fears is dying and leaving a dog behind. She thought with differenttraining perhaps the dog could go to somebody else.27) Socio-economic status. Dora considered herself to be economical as a result of growingup with shortages during the war, being English, and the way she was brought up. BecauseDora and her husband worked hard and saved for the future, as a widow Dora does not haveany financial worries.28) Companion animals and ethnicity, Dora felt the English have a greater fondness for dogsand treat them more like humans than animals, Dogs are more accepted in public places inEngland and in the homes of English people.Common ThemesReflecting on the themes derived from each participant there are a number of themescommon to these participants;1) All participants were independent and wanted to take care of themselves and theircompanion animals in their own home for as long as they could.2) All three participants were compassionate and caring towards people and animals.3) All participants had had a previous love of dogs stemming from their childhood.4) All participants had parents who loved companion animals and particularly dogs.5) All participants preferred dogs over any other type of companion animal.6) All three participants had an absence of companion animals during their middle yearswhen they were busy working, raising a family, having an active social life, and/ortravelling.7) For the two participants who had experienced the loss of a companion animal this wasvery traumatic and they said a person never really does get over the loss.1398) For the two participants who had a companion animal during the transition towidowhood they thought it eased the pain and the companion animal was a source of comfortand companionship during this Lime.9) All three participants thought if a person did not have a companion animal they shouldwait a little while after being widowed before getting one They thought initially a personwas too busy with other things, you might want to travel for a while, and you need time togrieve and decide to establish a whole new lifestyle for yourself, At this time, which wouldvary for each individual, the person could consider whether getting a companion animal wasappropriate for them.10) All three participants felt that companion animals Lake on a greater importance andyour attachment to them grows during widowhood because they are the main part of yourlife and you do more things with them and spend more time with them, All three felt thattheir companion animal gave them a reason for living and life would be dreadful withoutthem.11) All participants had a very strong attachment to their previous and current companionanimals.12) All three participants got their current companion animal because of their love of dogs.Two of the participants got their current companion animal for health reasons as well.13) All three participants identified a wide range of positive benefits.14) While all three participants identified negative aspects associated with companionanimals they all felt this was part of having the companion animal.15) All participants identified societal factors that would help to make owning a companionanimal easier or more enjoyable.16) All three participants worried about getting older and not being able to properly carefor their companion animal.17) All three participant.s had enough financial resources to properly Lake care of theircompanion animal.14018) All three participants said their lifestyles changed dramatically when widowed. They allsaid that their companion animal became more important during widowhood as they were amajor part of their life. They were a source of comfort and companionship, something tocare for and love, and something to talk to. As well, they did more things with theircompanion animal and spent more time with them.19) All three participants said that a major part of their current lifestyle was spent doingthings with their companion animal.141CHAPTER VDiscussion and SummaryThis study explored the meaning of companion animals throughout the lives of non-institutionalized elderly widows living alone. The results suggest that companion animalsmean a lot to these participants and there were a number of themes common to all of them.This chapter will present a discussion of the study’s theoretical implications, limitationsof the study, implications for future research, and implications for counselling.Theoretical ImplicationsIt is apparent from this study that each of the theoretical frameworks described inChapter 1 are applicable to these three participants. These women each had the role ofcompanion animal owner, and for Pam and Dora. because they were recently widowed, thisrole took on greater importance when they were widowed. Although a companion animal didrestrict these women from travelling they had thought of this as part of the responsibility ofcompanion animal ownership before they had acquired their companion animals. As well.they all had felt that the benefit of having a companion animal strongly outweighed thenegative aspects.Exchange theory is apparent particularly in the women’s discussion on whether or notthey would obtain another companion animal should anything happen to their current one.Although they loved having a dog and would want another one they had to weigh this againsttheir ability to take care of it because of their increasing age, how long they would live, andwhat would happen to their companion animal should they get sick or die before theircompanion.Life span developmental theory also seems relevant. For these women early childhoodassociation/attitude and attachment toward dogs seemed to influence their choice of acompanion animal later in life. Each of the women had a preference for and love of dogssince childhood and each of these women had obtained a dog later in their lives.142Although I did not measure changes In health status, there appears to be some supportfor the sociobiological perspective. This is seen in relation to Martha. After she had a strokeshe had been worried she would not be well enough to take care of her dog. To her relief andthe doctors surprise she had recovered better and faster than had been predicted. As wellfor Dora, the exercise she obtained from walking her dog helped her knee to recover faster.These companion animals could be serving as a transitional object for these women.After they were widowed these women transferred much of their love and attention to theircompanion animal. Because of this, according to this theory these women can learn to loveothers again by loving and caring for their companion animals.Support for the animals as a connection to nature theory is given by Dora when she saidthat her dog had taught her and helped her to be compassionate and understanding withothers.All three widows provided support for a social interaction theory in that theircompanion animals satisfy interaction needs by providing sustained companionship,something to talk to, and something to play with, As well, interaction needs can be met bycommunicating with others because companion animals, and particularly dogs. facilitatesocial interaction with others. In addition, when people interact with others they gain agreater understanding of themselves. By talking to their companion animals these widowsmay have enhanced their self-concept as worthwhile and lovable individuals because thecompanion animals they have been caring for love them in return.While the purpose of this study was not to determine the applicability of existingtheories or to formulate a new theory, the results of this study seem to offer support for eachtheoretical framework. It appears that further and more in-depth research into thesetheories is needed, It may be that each of these individual theories could be incorporated intoa more comprehensive or all-encompassing theory.143Limitations of the StudyThe results of this study are not decisive as no statistical hypotheses were formulated andtested, nor was the data obtained from the participants verified with external sources. Thereis no way of knowing if the data is an accurate representation of their life experiences or ifparticipants wanted to present themselves more favorably, The purpose of this study was toexplore the meaning of companion animals throughout the lives of elderly non-institutionalized widows so as to gain a greater understanding of this topic. Subsequentresearch with a quantitative methodology is necessary to produce conclusive results.Implications for Future ResearchThe results of this study identified a wide range of themes for these participants. Futureresearch could explore the meaning of companion animals to other groups such as non-institutionalized elderly widowers, As well, future research could explore more in-depth oneor several of the themes identified in this study such as grieving and companion animals,companion animals and the transition to widowhood, different types of companion animals.ethnicity and companion animals, level of attachment, and so on.Qualitative research generates information for systematic testing. To extend thisresearch study and to provide conclusive results a number of quantitative research studiescould be conducted. For example, research could look at the meaning of companion animals,using the common themes from this research, in relation to a greater number of widows or adifferent population such as widowers, AIDS patients, children, and a variety of ethnicgroups,Implications for CounsellingThe results of this study will hopefully assist counsellors in gaining a greaterunderstanding of the importance and value of companion animals to non-institutionalizedelderly widows living alone. This study has shown that companion animals can serve as awidow’s reason for living and can become a major part of her life. As this study hasidentified a number of themes, and many areas required much contemplation and reflection144on the part of the partIcipants, a counsellor should appreciate the complexity of this topicand explore this issue with their clients on an individual basis. 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Wilmette, IL: Chiron Publications.151APPENDIX AParticipant informed Consent FormI agree to participate in a study exploring the meaning of companion animals to non-institutionalized widows 65 years of age and older who are living alone. I understand that Iam required to participate in two interviews (each 2-3 hours in length), and in brief (halfhour) sessions to provide feedback on data analysis. I understand that all interviews will beconducted in private in a mutually agreed upon location, and will be audio taped. Tapedinterviews will then be transcribed. I understand that the interviews are labelled with arandomly selected number, and all of the information collected will remain confidential andunder no circumstances will I be either specifically or indirectly identified. At the end ofthe study these tapes will be erased.I understand the benefits and risks to be: by participating in this study my experiencewill allow an in-depth understanding of the meaning of companion animals in my life. Aswell, my participation will help to increase people’s understanding of the value ofcompanion animals. Although not an objective of this study, reflection on experience insignificant life areas enhances self awareness and personal insight. My feedback will beused to validate the investigators conclusions.I understand that my participation in this study is voluntary. I may refuse to participateor withdraw at any time. I am also aware that the interviewer (Teresa Stokowski, 263-8645) orDr. N. Amundson (822-5259) will answer any questions that I may have at any timeconcerning this project. Under these conditions I agree to participate in this project and Iacknowledge having received a copy of this consent form.Signature Telephone Number Date


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