MY BEST friend, aged 92, regularly stares longingly at the calendar I bought her for Christmas last year.
“I’d really love another one,” she says, as she looks at the monthly pictures of Labradors.
‘November’ shows an adorable golden puppy looking like butter wouldn’t melt.
“I really wouldn’t if I were you, it would be far too hard,” I tell her, “However lovely they are, you’d have to walk him and pick up after him, and all sorts of other things.” 
In a nutshell, I believe, and I have said as much, that she is too old to take on a dog.
Deep down she knows that I am right. Like all pets, dogs come with a certain amount of responsibility - as well as food and water they need regular exercise. Some breeds may be quite suited to a stroll around the block a couple of times a day, but others - Labradors for instance - need a good daily run, whatever the weather. It would be far too much for my friend.
I am in agreement, to some extent, with the opinion expressed by VIP matchmaker Lara Asprey who sparked a heated debate on Good Morning Britain after arguing that the elderly are ‘selfish’ if they get a dog because they don’t have the energy to look after one. 
The debate surfaced after novelist Jilly Cooper, aged 84, came under fire after saying she wanted another dog. The news prompted GMB hosts Adil Ray and Susanna Reid to ask: ‘Are you ever too old to get a dog or is age irrelevant when there’s tens of thousands of unwanted dogs needing a good home?’    
Appearing on the show aloingside Lara, ex-newsreader Jan Leeming, 79, who owns two dogs, argued that they are a lifeline for the elderly.
Of course it depends on how old is ‘elderly’ - when I talk about elderly I mean 80-plus - and also on the fitness of the individual. I know people in their early eighties who are far more active than me and could give a dog a good life, but I also know of cases in which dogs are confined to a life of eating, sleeping and the odd slow stroll around the garden due to the inability of the elderly owner to exercise it.
Also, by taking on a dog in your mid-80s you run the risk of you dying before your pet, in which case, unless adopted by family members, the animal will be left homeless.
There is no doubt that pets bring companionship and are a positive addition to a home. After a lifetime of cats my elderly parents vowed, after the death of their friendly tabby, to never get another. They even had a new door fitted without a cat flap. But not long afterwards my mum took on a stray cat with whom she developed a strong bond. Domino, as she called him, gave her a lot of pleasure.
My mum sadly died in summer, leaving Domino bereft. He wailed as he searched for her and, four months on, he still misses her.

His presence in the house keeps my dad company. Cats are more independent, but still demand attention. If Domino - who craves attention and food more than any cat I’ve known - had to be walked at least twice a day, it would be a different matter.

Cats live longer than dogs, so there's a good chance that felines adopted by very elderly owners could end up without homes.
It would wrong of me to say that elderly people shouldn’t have pets other than goldfish. Younger people don’t always make good, responsible owners and it’s the care that counts. But a dog and an elderly person, particularly someone with health problems, isn’t always a good match and sometimes making a decision to get one regardless is selfish on the owner’s part.

People who have owned dogs all their lives must surely realise that, as they get older, they are less able to properly care for them. 
There are many thousands of dogs in Britain needing good, caring owners, and I am not writing a huge swathe of them off as being incapable. But a good home is the priority, and it has to work both ways - for owner and dog.