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Old Dogs (with possibly too much information for some)
Old 11-13-2017, 07:50 AM   #1
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Old Dogs (with possibly too much information for some)

Anyone else struggling with old dogs who need a lot of attention? We are going through some trials and tribulations with Darcy, who is a 13 1/2 YO Golden Retriever and to a lesser degree with Violet, Darcy's 11 1/2 YO cousin. Travel is a bitch because they have never been boarded and are not about to adapt to it at this age. When they were younger it wasn't a problem because our daughter was always eager to house sit while we were gone. But these days we are reluctant to leave them at the house with someone who works long hours during the day. We have made a couple of trips with our daughter staying at the house and a dog visitor coming mid day and letting them out in the yard. But our daughter has moved a few miles further away and has her own life which makes house sitting more difficult. We are looking at professional pet/house sitters, coupled with mid day visitors. But as the dogs enter their final days it becomes difficult to risk leaving them with a sitter. Too much likelihood of medical emergencies.

We just had the second episode of idiopathic vestibular disease with Darcy. This is colloquially known as old dog vertigo and something worth knowing about if you have an old dog. They wake up one morning with their head tilting and are unable to stand. During Darcy's first episode about 8 months ago, I was sure she had a stroke or brain tumor but no, it just resolves itself in a few days and then they gradually get back to normal over a couple of weeks. Darcy started her second episode yesterday morning. I took her to the 24/7 veterinary hospital to be sure - same diagnosis, same meds. This morning I carried her to the yard and stood her up long enough that she squeezed out a poop and a pee which is what I worry the most about in the early days before she can walk and squat effectively. (That's the TMI I warned about)

At any rate, it is getting to the point where travel may be a no go. When these two bite the dust DW and I figure on going dog free for a few years to enable unfettered trips. But eventually we will get another dog. We just love them too much to go without. Maybe a smaller one - it's not easy to get 70 pound Darcy up from the ground in my own declining years. It isn't the 70 pounds - it is the need hold her carefully while standing from a squat. Too bad they don't come with handles. Speaking of which, I have an overnight Amazon order coming today with a harness with a handle to help her walk while she recovers. Unfortunately, I can't just pick her up with that to carry her up the stairs. Still have to squat down and get my arms underneath her.
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Old 11-13-2017, 07:56 AM   #2
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Sounds familiar. We had two Shelties and once they were both gone, we got another pair of Sheltie puppies, so we had Shelties almost continuously for 30 years. They could be boarded when they were middle aged, but after two bad experiences when they got older, we never boarded our Shelties over the last 3-4 years of their lives. That meant no long trips, and few overnights even. Daysailing, and a couple of separate trips (one of us at a time), replaced long vacations for us for many years.

And we've been "dogless" for a couple of years now. And enjoying traveling and the occasion spur of the moment overnight or trip.

But for all four dogs, the puppy stage and old age were the best parts of their lives to us. Not that we didn't enjoy them during the years in between, we certainly did. At least for ours, they were sweetest when they got older and maybe a little more dependent. So any 'sacrifices' we made for our old dogs were always worth it to us.

And we'll have dogs again (30 lbs or smaller so we can lift them when we're older), but we're going to enjoy a few years off...
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:41 AM   #3
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Luckily, we have a worker at our vet clinic who house sits and our dog loves her! We feel comfortable leaving up to two weeks, but that is about it. Our dog is a rescue and has some abandonment issues. He is a SharPei/Pit bull mix and too big to be able to travel with us. He is our 3rd pittie mix and our last; wonderful, loving dogs but too muscular as we age, and too big to be the lap dogs they think they are!!
When he is gone, we, too, plan to be dog free for a while to be able to take off on a whim if we want.
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:50 AM   #4
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Find a local dog training club and make inquiries about dog-sitters. Our club has several younger members who are happy to make a few extra bucks looking after dogs in their or the dogs' own homes.
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:56 AM   #5
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Sounds familiar. We had two Shelties and once they were both gone, we got another pair of Sheltie puppies, so we had Shelties almost continuously for 30 years. They could be boarded when they were middle aged, but after two bad experiences when they got older, we never boarded our Shelties over the last 3-4 years of their lives. That meant no long trips, and few overnights even. Daysailing, and a couple of separate trips (one of us at a time), replaced long vacations for us for many years.

And we've been "dogless" for a couple of years now. And enjoying traveling and the occasion spur of the moment overnight or trip.

But for all four dogs, the puppy stage and old age were the best parts of their lives to us. Not that we didn't enjoy them during the years in between, we certainly did. At least for ours, they were sweetest when they got older and maybe a little more dependent. So any 'sacrifices' we made for our old dogs were always worth it to us.

And we'll have dogs again (30 lbs or smaller so we can lift them when we're older), but we're going to enjoy a few years off...


We love having a dog, and we have a good pet sitter. Even so, I don't like to leave him for more than 3 or 4 weeks. He's a small dog and will probably live another 10 years. If we're still able and have the desire for long trips at that point, we'll probably go dogless for a while.
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:57 AM   #6
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We have a family member who happens to be an 11 YO re-homed Peke. Like many Peke's, he's aloof and standoffish (unless one has a toy, treat, or leash). He thinks we're his staff and are to attend to his every whim and want (I plead guilty).

Anyway, assuming he predeceases us, we'll go dog free from there. I'll still need my fido fix, so may pet sit, volunteer at a shelter, or do some other activity that keeps 4 legged friends within my inner circle.

Edit - typo.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:13 AM   #7
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We have two smaller dogs and they're getting up there. The Maltese is 11, the mutt 10.

They've been boarded and travel well but it's a lot of work and space.

The Maltese is having problems with arthritis, perhaps from being obese as a young dog. When we walk around a mile circle I end up carrying him almost half way.

Seems like there was a thread here talking about doggy dementia a while back. I'm sure he's starting down that path. There's some meds, but they're expensive. His vet's also concerned about Cushings. I understand what she thinks, he hyper while he's there, everything I read says the definitive test is his water consumption. That's normal.

Good luck in whatever you decide. When we have the dogs at the groomer for a day it's awful quite.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:19 AM   #8
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Our 55 lb. dog had vestibular syndrome. We used a large towel around her middle to help her outside. The vet said that most people with dogs over 30 pounds or so tend to euthanize rather than deal with the issue of getting them outside. Thankfully, our dog came out of it within a couple of weeks and managed to live a few years longer.

After our last dog (out of four) and cat (out of three) died, we chose not to have pets so we could travel. I do, however, volunteer at the local animal shelter weekly doing dog behavior evaluations, something I've done for quite a while. It satisfies my need to be around animals, yet I don't have the responsibility of having one in my home. Yeah, it can be a little heart rending when you work with a dog that you really like. But if everyone said, oh, I can't do that because I'll want to take all of them home, there would be no volunteers.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:31 AM   #9
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BTDT, with older dogs. When needed we use an in-home pet sitter, but also have dog door so the dogs can go out on their own during the day. If a bad medical episode, just have to modify plans for travel I guess. We have a motorhome and take our dogs and most trips, so that keeps them with us. May not be the solution for you, but it works good for us.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:33 AM   #10
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We have had good luck with finding sitters/boarders through Rover.com. Many of these folks will have qualifications for tending to older animals including those who need medicines administered. Our pooch enjoys the home environment these sitters provide.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:39 AM   #11
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Our 55 lb. dog had vestibular syndrome. We used a large towel around her middle to help her outside. The vet said that most people with dogs over 30 pounds or so tend to euthanize rather than deal with the issue of getting them outside. Thankfully, our dog came out of it within a couple of weeks and managed to live a few years longer.
Our vet told us it typically resolves significantly in 72 hours. If it doesn't you are dealing with a much bigger problem. I would not put our dog through this for a protracted period but a few days is worth dealing with. She made a quick, complete rebound last time so I am hoping for another good rebound.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:31 AM   #12
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We have had good luck with finding sitters/boarders through Rover.com. Many of these folks will have qualifications for tending to older animals including those who need medicines administered. Our pooch enjoys the home environment these sitters provide.
+1 OP check to see if there are pet sitters signed up with Rover in your area. I had a old dog with Cushings Disease who was also lame. I was able to find a sitter who had experience with senior dogs, knew what to watch for with Cushings and could administer medication. I also wrote a note to my vet giving the sitter permission to take my do go the vet while I was on vacation.

Something to consider. That said, I also didn't travel as frequently, just because I knew our time together was limited.

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Old 11-13-2017, 10:38 AM   #13
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Until 5 months ago we had 3 Maltese ages 12-20 and a 80lb husky/shepherd mix that is 12. WE lost the 12 yo in June and the 20 yo the end of Aug. Both of those needed 4 meds- 3x's a day administered in various ways. It was a lot of work and we only trusted my son to move in and do it. The longest we leave for is 10 days. WE have a motorhome and take the dogs in that. The big guy is on arthritis meds but is starting to have problems with slipping/sliding, getting up, etc. His blood work is excellent so I am suspecting that mobility may be his downfall. If it was short time re a few days I would struggle with the big guy but if longer I would put him to sleep. WE have a 13yo Maltese with no health issues and got a puppy 3 months ago. As the dogs die we will just have 1. He is 4 lbs so can fly with us, etc. My son had an 80lb dog that could not pee so he had to manually express it for him many times a day. That would have been above my pay grade. 4 months later he couldn't poop and was skinny so put him to sleep. I think he waited 4 months too long.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:48 AM   #14
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rover.com is a good source for a pet sitter.

To me it is better than a kennel in that you can get a better idea of the treatment to be expected and more personal attention for an older dog.

Some want dogs that are crated, others are ok with non-crated (like mine). Your house, their house, drop-in, dog walks, etc.

We have used them successfully.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:22 AM   #15
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I don't have any pets but I read threads like this to remind myself of the down side of pet ownership. I bought a teddy bear instead of a pet. It is so tempting to just go buy a sweet little puppy (who doesn't adore puppies!) but I know I am not ready for that responsibility. Thank heavens for pet owners like the others on this thread, who take that responsibility seriously and care for their pets so well, even when it isn't easy.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:36 AM   #16
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My dogs bring me far more pleasure then the work I have to do to have them. I could never be without at least 1 dog. My DH did not want any because he did not want to do the work so I do it all. He will help if I am really sick or gone. When the 2 old ones died with all the meds I noticed that instead of taking an hour in the AM to get everything done I was done in 10 min's. Many of our friends once retired did not replace their dogs because of traveling.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:09 PM   #17
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We have a 15 year old australian cattle dog. She is still hiking with us, but for no more than 6-7 miles now. We used to do 13-14 miles regularly. She usually has some trouble that evening with stability, but we give her lots of rest, and massage her rear quarters. Also have some acupuncture done to her, which also has helped. We have found a good housesitter for both our dogs (other is a 9yr old border collie), but it took a lot of time and vetting. Many said they were staying there overnight, but we found out they weren't. In other words they were lying - BUH BYE. Now we have a sitter that stays there overnight, and spends time with them. Could not possibly fathom boarding them in a kennel - the barking/noise and general chaos would be too hard on them. I agree with a previous post that said when they are in the puppy and old age phase are the sweetest times to have them. We will do whatever is necessary to make their lives comfortable in their golden years.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:13 PM   #18
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My lab is closing in on 15 yrs and has slowly become an old dog, still getting around and generally healthy but noticeably more frail of late. Last year he had some issues getting up/standing at times, but after putting him on Cosequin DS, he has done quite well. He still goes on walks with me but sleeps a lot more.

I have decided to cut travel until he passes as he has never been kenneled or really even away from me for very long. He has been a great companion so I don't mind staying around while trying to make his last days more comfortable. As others have mentioned, when he passes I will likely go without a dog for a while in order to facilitate travel. I'm certain I will have dogs again but not right away.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:39 PM   #19
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...after putting him on Cosequin DS, he has done quite well. He still goes on walks with me but sleeps a lot more.
+1
Yes, it made a huge difference when we put our older dogs on it. Yes, sleep seems to be a priority for our 15 yr old. She's certainly earned it
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Old 11-13-2017, 01:42 PM   #20
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Not struggling with an older dog per the OP's original question, but as a new dog owner I'm certainly concerned about our pup inhibiting our travel.

My DW had always wanted a dog, but I refused during our working years because I didn't like the idea of a dog being home alone for 8+ hours per day. The deal we made was that once one of us retired, we'd get a dog. Well, I retired last August and we got our Golden Retriever puppy in March of this year. He'll be one year old in December.

We had a previously planned two week trip to Europe this past May and my SIL was good enough to take our puppy for those weeks. She has a 9 year old Golden of her own, but found it VERY challenging to deal with our new guy at only five months old. She made it clear (in a nice way) that this was her first and last time dog-sitting for us.

Fortunately, we found a woman who would dog-sit at her house. She is a dog trainer who fell in love with our boy during his puppy training. She has a couple german shepherds and the dogs all great along great. We've gone away for a couple long weekends and he's done well with her. We will be going to Mexico for a week shortly and she will be taking him.

We've decided to head south over the winter for a month and made the decision to take our boy with us. We'll be on the road in an SUV for 3 days and 2 nights traveling to our destination, so the drive should be "interesting". We've found pet-friendly hotels along the route to stay. Plan on taking a lot of breaks during each day. Going into it with a positive and upbeat attitude but certainly have some anxiety about the drive south and back up.

As I write this I realize we haven't allowed dog ownership impede our travel to this point, but I do believe that as he gets into his later years, we will most likely be more hesitant to leave him or subject him to long trips. Then again, DW and I have already discussed our diminishing desire to travel by plane; particularly to other countries. So I guess we'll all end up growing old together (knocking on wood) close to home.
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