TLC Meals on Wheels started our “We All Love Our Pets” (WALOP) program in 2007, following the lead of the Banfield Charitable Foundation and the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Each holiday season, the Banfield Pet Hospitals in four area PetSmart stores collect donations of pet food, which we gather up to share with our homebound clients whose best friend is a dog or cat.

During the past year, we have established a program to assist disabled pet owners with their veterinary expenses—whether preventative or remedial. One of our clients requested such assistance for her 13-year-old dog, who, she says, once scared away someone who was assaulting her. She’s not the only client who has shed tears of gratitude when one of our drivers brings pet food and a toy for a dog or cat. Pets add to an individual’s cost of living, but they add even more to their quality of life. So we’re glad we can help lonely people keep a pet.

If you were housebound day after day, would you want the companionship of a dog of cat? What do you see as the special challenges and benefits our clients might face as pet owners?