“Off the top of my head I can think of four single people who have dogs,” says Harry Gordon, who lives in a retirement community in southeast Florida, near Fort Lauderdale. Count Mr. Gordon, and you’ve got five. His own canine pal is Toby, a 7-year-old American husky.
“Toby has been an extraordinary companion for me,” says the 84-year-old Mr. Gordon, who brought Toby home when he was just a 3-month-old puppy. “I can’t imagine the suffering he would endure if for some reason I would not be able to tend to him. I can’t imagine the suffering that any pet would go through after a single day of being alone. He would certainly feel abandoned.”
Mr. Gordon is lucky. He has a wife, three children, and two stepchildren to immediately look after Toby should something happen to him. But not everybody is in that position. Indeed, as the number of single people with dogs has been rising (by 17 percent from 2006 to 2011), men and women of all ages, not just the elderly, would do well to think about who would take care of their pet should they suddenly become unavailable, like the man in Tokyo mentioned at the beginning of this article who suddenly suffered a fatal stroke at the age of 54.
To that end, Mr. Gordon devised a sturdy “Pet at Home Alert” card that people can keep in their wallets in the event of an emergency. On the card there’s a place to put the name of your pet, the breed, the name of someone who has access to your residence, the name and phone number of your dog’s veterinarian, and special feeding and other emergency instructions.
You don’t need a special card to keep this information in your wallet; a piece of paper will do. But the small cardboard rectangle, only as big as a business card, is handy and will hold up. And having it will goad you to fill it out and put it in your wallet or purse.
Mr. Gordon is selling the card to the public for $2.95 but has put it on sale at a discount to subscribers at Tufts’s Your Dog. Send a check for $2 with a note saying you read about the card in this article to Nationwide Marketing & Management Corporation, PO Box 451876, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33345-1876.