DH's Grandma took on a rescue dog in her mid-80's when her previous dog died. The dog she rescued was about 6 at the time and she had him for nearly a decade, she outlived him by a couple of years. He certainly made her 80's and early 90's far less lonely than they might have been. He was a lovely dog and she had a beautiful house with a huge garden so he was in an idyllic situation. I think if your Mum is fit and well, and she takes on an older dog, and a breed which doesn't need a lot of excercise, then it is a good idea. Oh and as long as there is someone who would take the dog if your Mum became too frail to manage any more, or was in hospital. My Mum is 81 and I think a dog would do her the world of good as my Dad died in September and she is very lonely, but she isn't really in good enough health at the moment to take one on.
OP, your mum is most definitely NOT mad, very far from it. Having a dog to go out with for short gentle walks each day is a great way of keeping her mobile and reducing social isolation. Dogs are a wonderful social icebreaker, and she will find that many people will enjoy chatting to her and her little friend, who wouldn't dream of doing so if she was simply just walking along.
Many charities would be thrilled to provide her with a long term foster dog for example - in this case, it could be an elderly dog - generally, charities will do their utmost to ensure these dogs are not in kennels in the winter months especially. The charity would cover vets bills and would be on hand to ensure a home in case of illness or going into care. There is a wonderful charity called the Oldies Club - link which she could have a look at - specialising in older dogs needing a bit of love and affection in their senior years. I absolutely ADORE older dogs - we've got a houseful at the moment of seniors and there's a lot of love and fun in those wise eyes, grey muzzles and waggy tails.
I wish you and her all the best in a search for a veteran companion
Thank you! Very much heartened. I agree about the company and socialisation, I think it would do her the world of good. And my sis or me would have it if she was ill. She has a huge garden and access to miles of heathland....