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I can't decide if getting them another dog is cruel or not

(9 Posts)
PastGrace Wed 12-Oct-11 21:49:13

My grandparents (late 70s/early 80s) have had dogs forever - they used to have a farm so when I was growing up there was always at least four sheepdogs around. Now they are older they've stopped having sheepdogs because they no longer have the farm, but they have a corgi my parents bought them ten years ago - she is fairly old and a bit overweight, and to completely honest I'm not sure how much longer she will last. She's been quite ill recently, but keeps pulling through.

This would have been sad, but they could have coped. Except they had a second dog (a puppy of an old dog of theirs) who died suddenly of a heart attack when he was still fairly young. My grandparents are heartbroken, and it is unbearable watching them miss him so much.

My parents are thinking of buying them another dog from a rescue centre. Obviously a puppy is not a good idea, but an older dog would be fine. They have lots of outdoor space, and are still fairly active. My grandfather has cancer, and I genuinely think if they stopped having dogs it would be like him accepting he is ready to die. But is it cruel for a dog to have two owners who, in all reality, may die before them and who will become less active?

My parents or I would of course always look after the dog if my grandparents began to struggle, but they live far away and it would be pretty much in their sole care.

I suppose what I'm trying to ask in a roundabout way is - is it cruel to rehome an elderly dog with an elderly couple who in a few years may not be able to cope? I would feel terrible about putting a rescue dog through the process of losing its owner in a few years, but I can't watch my grandparents (and my mum who is worrying about her family) be this sad. My loyalty to my family says they need another dog, but there is a little voice saying they shouldn't have one...

RedwingWinter Wed 12-Oct-11 22:32:54

Do your grandparents want another dog? One part of the equation has to be whether they want one.

It's not as simple as buying a dog from a rescue, as a reputable rescue will want to home-check. You could talk to the rescues you are thinking of to find out what their policy would be. There are certainly plenty of senior dogs wanting good homes.

PastGrace Wed 12-Oct-11 22:59:51

They definitely want another dog, but we don't want to suggest that it's a possibility if it's going to be completely shot down. I understand about rescue centres coming to do home checks, and we would definitely be using a reputable rescue.

I just wasn't sure if we're maybe only seeing it from the human point of view, and not the dog point of view as well iyswim.

DooinMeCleanin Wed 12-Oct-11 23:00:45

You can foster oldies too you know? Just for a few weeks/months or over the winter or long term if you want.

It sounds like it might be a good compromise to me. However your GP's would have to be assessed themselves and home checked by the rescue, not you or your parents. This is to make sure they don't end up with a dog who would be too much for them or their resident dog.

PastGrace Wed 12-Oct-11 23:12:28

I didn't know about fostering, thank you Cleanin. We might look into that.

DooinMeCleanin Wed 12-Oct-11 23:20:41

You could start here

feelingratheroverwhelmed Wed 12-Oct-11 23:23:43

Have a look at The Cinnamon Trust (pop it into Google). They do short and long (ie the life of the dog) fostering. They are a charity for older and terminally unwell people who have difficulty either short term or long term looking after their pets.
I've done short term fostering for them before when clients have gone into hospital, and dog walking for those who can't manage it any longer.
People bequeath their pets to the charity, so when they pass away, the pet will then be long-term fostered with another household. The pet can then stay there for the rest of their days all being well.
The charity are the the ultimate owners with responsibilty, and pay for vets bills (and possibly food too though that could be wrong) but the pet lives with the family / individual as they would if they were their own.
They obviously get a lot of older animals, who could be perfect for your grandparents. They need a loving home but also need people who understand the needs of an older pet and also accept that they don't have too many years left.
It really is a great little charity so check it out and see what you think. smile

saffronwblue Wed 12-Oct-11 23:29:44

My parents took on a small middle aged rescue dog when my father had terminal cancer and they were both in their late 70s. It was the best thing they did - so life affirming, gave them something to focus on during Dad's treatments and now is the best companion for my mother. If she gets to the point where she can't cope one of us will take the dog on for the rest of her life - we owe her a lot.
It is a wonderful way of changing the dynamic from a focus on health problems and aging. I would just recommend a reasonablylow maintenance dog.

PastGrace Thu 13-Oct-11 15:11:28

This is all brilliant - thank you so much. Saffron it sounds like you were in exactly the same position, I'm pleased to hear it helped and I'm sorry to hear about your dad

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