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Having a dog can (pawsitively) change your life

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Paul David, Bentley and Wendy Rubin
Hindy Nosek Abelson and Sasha

Hindy Nosek-Abelson, 72, never had a dog – although she always wanted one –until cockapoo Sasha entered her life two-and-a-half years ago. While many of her contemporaries were taking on fewer responsibilities, Nosek-Abelson and husband David Weyman, 82, decided it was finally time to get a puppy.

“I was looking for a non-shedding breed that would be great with people and other dogs,” says Nosek-Abelson, who lives in a dog-friendly apartment complex. “Sasha is all these things, plus she’s a character.  She goes into my purse and steals things or she grabs clothing, like our hats, and hides them under the sofa.”

Weyman had dogs before but luckily for novice Nosek-Abelson, Sasha wasn’t too difficult to train. “Although I have to confess, I’m not much of a disciplinarian,” she admits.

Sasha has filled the couple’s lives in ways Nosek-Abelson couldn’t imagine. Besides her sweet disposition and funny antics, Sasha, like all dogs, requires exercise and a daily routine.

“There is no way I would go for a walk three times a day if I didn’t have a dog. It’s a reason to get up off my chair,” says Nosek-Abelson.  “She’s also wonderful with my five grandchildren. It’s lovely to see them with her.”

Nosek-Abelson, a semi-retired event planner and translator of Yiddish poetry and songs, notes the closely related Hebrew spelling of the words “dog” and the expression “all heart.”

“Kelev is ‘dog’ while Kol-lev is ‘all heart,’” she says. “The spelling in Hebrew is so similar, it can’t be a coincidence.”

Besides having the time and patience to train dogs, as well as the income to afford looking after them properly, seniors like Nosek-Abelson are benefitting from adopting dogs as much as the dogs benefit from being adopted.

“Having a dog gives you someone to care for and to love,” she says. “As long as you have your mobility, I think dogs are wonderful for seniors. And seniors can be wonderful for dogs.”

Now that she has Sasha, Nosek-Abelson can’t picture life without her.

“She brings so much affection, fun and energy to my life,” she says. “Dogs really are wonderful company.”

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Six years ago, Wendy Rubin, now 62, was newly transplanted to Montreal from Toronto, and living with her partner Paul David, 64, and his son Michael. Rubin and David had dogs before and knew the amount of commitment they required, especially puppies. However, Michael, then 20, wanted a dog and managed to convince them to consider it.

A few months later, they found themselves bringing home a golden-doodle they named Bentley.

“The minute we saw him, I knew he was ours,” says Rubin of the tiny pup they first met wrapped in a blanket in the breeder’s arms.

Much of the puppy-raising responsibilities fell to Rubin, who wasn’t working at the time. Luckily, she discovered a nearby dog park and a whole community of dog parents.

“Before Bentley, I knew very few people here,” she says. “Because of him, I met so many people who became good friends. He’s already done more for me than I could ever do for him.”

When Michael moved out years ago (and adopted his own doodle), it didn’t affect Bentley’s life because he already belonged to Rubin and David.  “We’re a threesome,” says Rubin.

“No matter the kind of day I’m having, just seeing Bentley is calming,” adds David. “Recently, Wendy had the flu and Bentley lay by her side all day. He wouldn’t leave her.”

There’s no doubt that caring for a dog is a big commitment. But for Rubin and David, it’s been more than worth it.

“He looks at you with that little face and he’s so trusting and loving,” she says. “We drive down to Florida in the winter so he can come too. We could never leave him behind. He’s family.”

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