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The Newcomer

A happy alternative

by Frances Potts

An alarm clock can wake you up in the morning, but it can't get you out of bed. A friend can entice you to go for that walk the doctor said you should take...if the friend has time to spare.

Your kids can give you the hug that brightens your day, but not every day because they no longer share your daily space.

A clown might make you laugh when you're feeling kinda down, but who knows a clown that makes house calls?

Those who live the single life sometimes have to get creative to take care of the basic needs we all have, to one extent or the other. Needs like taking care of someone, feeling needed, being involved, communicating, being important to someone, loving and being loved, touched and touching.

Some singles have no problem meeting their needs. They golf, garden, play cards, have an active circle of friends or extended family, travel. Others, either by choice or forced by infirmities, seldom venture outside their homes.

Then there are the workaholics who thrive on work, but can't seem to get the hang of doing without it. They can get so submerged in the job they don't make room for anything else. That's great while they're still in the job market, but after retirement, then what?

Hey, you get a dog!

You not only have no need for an alarm clock, you get an energetic prod right out the door into the early morning sunshine.

And a walking partner every day of the week! Even a clown 24-7, and hugs and kisses in exchange for a meal.

Many singles and even the medical community are recognizing the benefits of what is known as a "service animal".

A service animal is more than a pet. It's a needed asset in the lives of many. It can dispel gloom, chase away the blues, provoke laughter, exchange affection and require and enjoy attention. And, yes, it can also cause a lot of extra work-enough to keep even a workaholic happy.

Service animals are adding a new dimension to the lives of the lonely, the depressed and the shut-ins. They are a new kind of therapy and good company.

A service animal is a success if it just gives its owner a reason to get up in the morning and get out of bed. Let's hear it for the animal kingdom!

Frances Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working for several newspapers in Washington state.

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