Dogs need part-time jobs. Okay, hear me out on this.

A typical dog owner works all day while the loyal pooch is bored and waiting. That dog would like some stimulation too. But he still wants to be home when the owner gets there, so how about a part-time job for the dog?

My idea is that senior living homes would have a side business of boarding and - here's the awesome part - training your personal dog to work with the seniors during the day. You drop off your dog on your way to work and pick him up after.

My idea is that the dogs could be trained for very specific duties, such as accompanying seniors for walks around the grounds. Someday motorized wheelchairs will be able to navigate like those driverless Google cars so seniors will be able to take long wheelchair adventures along special scenic wheelchair paths with their trained dogs as guides.

Dogs could also be trained to fetch seniors from their rooms for mealtime, to bring items back and forth, to carry purses and possessions, and generally act useful. The dogs would be happy and stimulated, the cost of boarding would be slightly discounted by the dog's "wages" and everyone gets some stimulation. It's a win-win-win.

On a related note, the ideal combination of businesses in the same location would include:
  1. Senior care
  2. Childcare
  3. Dog boarding
  4. Scenic forest/garden walk
  5. Soccer field
That way you could drop off your toddler and your dog at the same time, and both of them can visit grandma in the senior living area. The seniors get the benefit of some child and animal stimulation, but no more than they want. They can take long wheelchair cruises on the scenic walks with their trained dogs. And in the late afternoon and on weekends the seniors can watch high school soccer matches from the balconies of their own rooms.

The seniors could have small jobs such as taking tickets for the soccer games, feeding the animals, and watching the kids. Everyone wins.

Imagine driving into the facility to pick up both your toddler and your dog after work. You pull up to the curb and a senior loads your dog into one side of your car while another senior straps your toddler into the car seat. Maybe you also preorder your family dinner via Internet to be ready for pickup at the same time, and a third senior loads the packaged meal into your trunk. And maybe you also pick up your dry cleaning and groceries then too. It's like a racecar pit stop except with a very slow crew.

This is a subset of my larger idea that new cities should be designed from the ground up. Current cities are designed around transportation. I think new cities could be designed around lifestyle, with all of the transportation underground.

But for now I would settle for part-time jobs for dogs.

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May 1, 2013
repost: usually a typical midwestern family (Indiana, Ohio, where priecs are cheap) has a grandparent-childcare pairup, with a family dog in the picture. And since its the midwest, its possible its in a planned community with lots of greenery around.
May 1, 2013
The model you're describing already exists in many family homes. if you talk to a circle of mothers, you'll know that its extremely common, tons of parents already do the grandparents-childcare pairup -except more convenient - in their own home, 3 generations living in 1 house. and some optionally have a dog just to keep the child entertained. Usually if families can do something like that, they do
Mar 20, 2013
This sounds like an idea made without many visits to assisted living centers. This wouldn't work at all in a nursing home (the residents wouldn't be able to look after the dogs or kids), and would be very tough in an assisted-living center. It might have potential in a retirement community.

I once tried to interest a retirement community in bringing kids there to trick-or-treat on Halloween. They weren't interested; said it would be a safety issue.

I recommend starting out by taking kids to a retirement community on Christmas to go caroling. If that works well, take it to the next level.
Mar 18, 2013
Nice idea but my dogs are not really good at talking so if they were abused or misused by the firm that oversees this arrangement I really don't think I would know. When I go on vacation, they stay with neighbors who love them and I intrinsically trust them to treat them well, but I don't look at that as "outsourcing" and think this idea is misguided, similar to renting out your car for part of the day. Yeah, you would know if your car was cosmetically damaged but what about someone who purposely breaks too hard or accelerates too fast and ends up doing non-visible incremental damage over time. The ol' CBA (cost-benefit analysis) just doesn't add up too well.
Mar 18, 2013
@timmackey - Seniors go into homes not just because their brains don't work, but also because their bodies don't. It's rare you'll find someone in a care facility because they WANT to be there - most would have preferred to remain in their own homes, but were no longer able to deal with all the things that needed doing.

And as for combining toddlers and seniors in a care home? Eeep - extremely dangerous for starters. Seniors in homes are slow of movement and reaction, frail, and unsteady on their feet. A gang of toddlers in the same room is recipe for disaster. Not just that - most care home you'll see the Seniors sleeping a heck of a lot (just like the dogs do!). I can't imagine them taking too kindly to the noise that a dozen toddlers in the same room would make.

I've spent a lot of time in care homes (with relatives) and a lot of time in nursery/reception classes (as parent and governor) and I REALLY can't see the two intersecting - at least not for more than an hour or so, in a heavily monitored environment.

Maybe Scott and I have different ideas of what is meant by "Seniors". I suspect he is talking more about the 60-70s fit and active, whereas when I hear "Seniors" (esp. when combined with "homes") I think of the frailer and less healthy 80-90s.
Mar 18, 2013
Thanks a lot for ratting us out. Do you know how many lives I had to endure before I was reincarnated into this lush life? And you go and ruin it by bringing up this jobs for dogs idea. She thinks it's brilliant.

My life before: Sleep in the warm, cozy bed. Wag tail while she's getting dressed so she thinks I'm keeping her company. She leaves. I sleep on the sofa, pass gas, have relations with my stuffed toys, talk trash with my pals in the neighborhood. She comes home; it's all fun and games for a couple of hours. The usual - belly rugs, baby talk, dinner, treats, long walks if the weather's nice. I even like HGTV now. Then it's back to the warm cozy bed. Simple, serene.

My life now: Up at 5 am, longer walk, even in rain and snow. Then I have to have my hair brushed and feet wiped, harness on, and into the car. We don't even drive with the windows open! Apparently, we can't mess up the hair (hers, I think) before work.

Next, all day with seniors. If it was just one, mind you, it would be any easy gig. I could pick from a few who sleep as much as do it and are easy with the treats. But, no! I get passed around like a common trollop. Worse yet, way too many of these older folks are into "healthy living." More walking. Sit. Fetch. Work, work, work, with just a few "cat" naps in between chores. Need I remind you, sleeping like that is meant for, well, an inferior species? If I even get treats, they're dried sweet potatoes, kelp, and heaven only knows what other vegetable matter. Thanks to your blog, my anal glands will never be the same again. Do you know what the vet does to you when those things get impacted? Well, Scott, I hope you find out personally real soon.

Bailey the Dog
P.S. This may be my last comment for awhile. Toenails don't work on an iPhone. The seniors are always online, hogging the computers.
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Mar 18, 2013
Why not Rent-A-Dog?
The dog belongs to the senior care home, gets properly trained and has his "day job" there and everything and the hobby-dog "owner" gets to provide two meals and one walkie in return for having the dog overnight.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 17, 2013
One of my great joys when my kids were young (and before I yanked them out of the public school system), was volunteering in their kindergarten and first grade classes to read with the kids. I worked with many kids who did not get read to at home - and they soaked up the attention. It was deeply gratifying and very beneficial to the kids as well. I was limited in the amount of time I could dedicate to the program, because, in addition to raising three small children, I had a full time job.

Someday, when I'm retired, I'd love to volunteer again - but I already know there will be obstacles. Unless there is an official program in place, it is not easy someone who is not a parent or grandparent of a child in a school to gain access. Someone needs to do background checks, monitor the volunteers for safety, etc. That is important.

It's the same with this idea. Someone has to check the dogs for temperament, ensure the safety of both dogs and seniors, etc. It's a good idea. There is a lot that can be done when you connect people who have time and skills with people who need them - but it does take work and resources to make it happen.
Mar 17, 2013
The problem is that many seniors are only in nursing homes because their brains don't work. They are incapable of performing even the simple tasks you describe, and it could be positively dangerous to give them responsibilities involving children and dogs. Dangerous for the children and dogs that is. If their brains did work, they wouldn't be in a home, they'd be living by themselves or with their family, where they'd already be helping out with grandkids and pets. I am a carer of an elderly person whose brain doesn't work, she has dementia. Once someone has serious dementia, others don't like being with them, including, maybe even especially, children. The numbers of these people are increasing. A real improvement in the human condition would be a cure for, or at least better treatment of, dementia.
Mar 17, 2013
If Dogbert heard this, then we'd better hope that the "Sonic Obliterator" got destroyed. And that the gargbage man won't lend Dogbert his phaser pistol.
Mar 16, 2013
Didn't Far Side do this like 20 years ago? I feel like I'm reading a South Park script.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 15, 2013
In some way, we did this on a smaller scale. We called our dog a community dog. We'd leave the leash on the gate to our backyard, and several neighbours and friends would come and take him for a walk whenever they wanted while we were at work. This was elderly ladies in our 5-villa complex and the wives of guys at work (who had just moved to town and were struggling to find work). It would be great to organise this on a wider scale.
Mar 15, 2013
this is a great idea , and not only will seniors get the unconditional love of a dog , but the would become better behaved as a result of the extra attention. Most dog behavior issues are due to dogs not getting an outlet for their energy, so the get in trouble. If you have ever seen a German Shepard run full speed for hours on end , you know how much energy dogs can have
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 15, 2013
This is one idea that I think has practical and realistic merits. How about other combinations like gym/tanning/laundry?
Mar 15, 2013
I'm not sure how practical the dog part of this is, but overall, I think it's a great idea. I like the idea of a daycare facility integrated with an elderly care facility, with the soccer field balcony. Doggy-daycare sounds like a dubious inclusion, because of unsanitary messes and hierarchy issues that dogs have. I have 6 dogs. I'd guess that 3 of them would have the right behavior for this (all female). Two have anxiety issues around other dogs, and one has dominance problems (all male).
Mar 15, 2013
Sounds like a good idea. I especially like the community aspects of it.

Too often we live in our houses and have little to do with our communities. Many of the things we now pay for through taxes could be done through community involvement. Of course, we'd have to fight government and union workers, but I think over time they would come to see the benefit in their lives as well.

The other thing I like is making use of the abilities and wisdom of our seniors. Many cultures revere the elderly and look to them for their wisdom and sound judgment they've built up over the years. Not ours.

We treat our seniors as a burden on our society. Why? I'm not really sure. Part of the reason is the perfect storm intersection of technology and a youth-aggrandizing culture: If grandpa can't (or doesn't see the value in) tweeting, then how could he understand what his grandson or daughter is going through?

But that seems a little facile. There's got to be more to it, but I haven't been able to put my finger on the reason. Part of it may have to do with the seniors themselves, possibly believing what they've been told: they're old and technologically ignorant, so nothing they have to say could matter anymore.

My wife, who is now writing a book meant to assist seniors and their families in coping with the increasing complexity of being a senior (any publishers out there?), has met some truly fascinating senior citizens.

One of her clients was a musician who is still receiving royalty checks from work she did on movie scores. One was an original WWII 'Rosie the Riveter' who was able to relate fascinating stories about women supporting the war effort. One was a Julliard-trained former concert pianist. One had not one, but two doctorates. Can you imagine the depth of knowledge that person could bring to young people?

So maybe the first part of your initiative is to present seniors to the younger citizens of today as a valuable resource, and not just a convenient place to drop off the kids and dogs. Many seniors don't live in group homes, but they don't have access to ways to expend their knowledge. Perhaps an initiative to give seniors easy access to social media might be good as well.

The proportion of seniors in society is growing. According to a study done in 2005, a new sixty year old is celebrating a birthday every seven seconds on average, and that birthday rate will continue for the next fifteen years. The CDC calls our aging population "one of the major public health challenges we face in the 21st century . . . two factors - longer life spans and aging Baby Boomers - will combine to double the population of Americans aged 65 or older during the next 25 years. By 2030, there will be 71 million American older adults accounting for roughly 20% of the US population."

Tapping the huge resource that seniors represent can mitigate the impact of this demographic shift. Plus, it's the human thing to do. Maybe this larger question is something Scott could put his amazing creativity and intelligence toward assisting. Along with helping dogs live happier lives, of course. Another reason I have cats: they entertain themselves.

Again quoting the CDC: "One of CDC's highest priorities as the nation's health protection agency is to increase the number of older adults who live longer, high-quality, productive and independent lives." Not a bad priority for all of us to have.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 15, 2013
Sounds like a full-time job if the dog is doing this the entire time the owner is working full-time him- or herself. Most dogs sleep a big chunk of the day anyways, so I'd think the dog would be exhausted afterward and not much fun for the owner!
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 15, 2013
I think we should have dog carts and solve the global warming problem at the same time.

And in response to having cats work:
They already have a full time job, managing you.
Mar 15, 2013
Okay, but how can I put my cat to work?
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 15, 2013
I, too, am tired of dogs' happy-go-lucky lifestyle.
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