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Tell me I'm not doing something stupid... (Long)

(23 Posts)
Frettchen Tue 11-Jun-13 09:28:39

As posted before here my beloved Dog is very poorly. She's on painkillers and anti-inflammatories to control the pain, but basically it's a waiting game until either the tumour(s) in her chest get her, or her leg gets injured causing her to need to be PTS.

Now, I'm sort of coping with this; except when I get tired and emotional and have a bit of a cry, but generally I'm dealing with the now and making sure she's happy and as healthy as can be, and she's getting treats and fuss. She comes to work with me, I've started sleeping on the sofa so she doesn't go up and down the stairs, so I'm sure she's as comfortable as possible.

The thing is, when I think of the future, and in particular the initial days after she goes, I'm bloody petrified. I live on my own, and although I do have local family, Dog's been my closest companion ever since I moved out, and I really don't think I'm going to cope waking up without her.

Now, the plan is always going to be to have another dog, in my desperation I thought 'why not get another dog before Dog goes?' and then the desperation passed, but the thought lingered on. Dog sees other dogs on a daily basis; we go to each of my parents' houses once a week for dinner (and to check up on them!) and they each have two dogs. We're a very doggy group of people, and our dogs have always got on well.

So basically I'm wondering if it's the worst idea in the world to be getting a dog whilst Dog's poorly, especially as I know the reasoning could be seen as rather selfish, but my absolute priority is keeping Dog comfortable and safe and I wouldn't let anything put her at undue risk.

Also - to add another level of complexity, the dog I'm looking at is currently in Romania. It's through the Action Aid For Animals charity (similar to Balkan Underdogs) and would be coming to the UK in the first weeks of July (so, realistically, I might not even have my Dog by then and this all might be moot, but I'm working on the assumption that Dog is still with me) - does anyone know anything about rescue dogs from Eastern Europe? I know I saw a thread on it a few weeks back, so will re-read that.

I know a lot about raising a puppy, and I'm confident it would be ok, having the two of them together; I would give Puppy a pen to sleep in so there's no risk of puppy hurting Dog in the night. Dog would continue coming to work with me, and Puppy would stay at my Mum's during the day, with people around it for most of the day, and with me returning at lunch times.

Am I seeing this all through determinedly rose-tinted specs? I'm about 99% certain that I'm going to do this, I just wanted to see if anyone was dramatically outraged by the idea.

1MitchellMum Tue 11-Jun-13 09:37:21

You poor thing. I sort of know what you're going through as I got my current 9 year old when my previous dog was getting on - the older dog lasted only 9 month longer. But if your old girl (is this the 11 year old?) is really poorly then I'd be tempted to concentrate on her while you still have her. We got our current 11 year old when my older dog was 10 (before we knew she had cancer). Older dog wasn't keen on young pup! When your girl goes I can't imagine how awful you'll feel (I had an OH and other dogs each time one of mine died) - but would it be possible for you to stay with one of your parents for a few days? Then when you do get a new dog (hopefully sooner rather than later), you will have 100% of your time and energy for new pup? Good luck whatever you do, it can't be easy. x

OhBuggerandArse Tue 11-Jun-13 09:41:12

My MIL did this, and the old dog hated and was really distressed by the new one. So her last weeks were anxious, unhappy and interfered with, and my MIL's attention was inevitably deflected by the new dog. I wouldn't ever recommend anything similar.

It is hard losing a dog, especially one that's been so important to you, but I think you do just have to keep on reminding yourself that it's not about you; it's about supporting your old friend as calmly and kindly as you can through the last days. You do know yourself that what's needed is quiet and love and caring, just like what you're doing now. Don't jeopardise that with an unknown and unpredictable undertaking.

Hang on in there - you will get through this, and it'll be much better in the long run to know that you really did do the right thing by your old dog.

hortensemancini Tue 11-Jun-13 09:58:32

I can absolutely see why you would want to do this, and it's such a heartbreaking situation to be in, but to be honest, sorry, I'd agree with previous posters. Without wanting to sound cruel, it's easier for you as a human to cope with a few weeks of sadness after Dog dies, knowing you're planning to rehome another, and the hole in your heart will be healed by another, different companion. Poor old Dog will only see a young new intruder coming into her space - and competing for your attention - at a time when she's feeling sick and vulnerable and grouchy. Even if you're determined to make Dog's comfort your priority, your attention will inevitably be divided looking after a new puppy.

It sounds as if you're making Dog's final days calm and full of love which is exactly what any devoted dog would ask for. Waiting a few weeks will be very very sad for you, but you're the centre of her world, and keeping it like that just for a little while longer would be such a kindness.

Floralnomad Tue 11-Jun-13 10:15:06

My mum got 2 puppies when one of her elderly dogs died . The remaining elderly dog hated them and we ended up having to separate the house with puppies in one half and original dog and mad cat in the other . The old dog lived for about a year and definitely would have been happier alone . In your position I wouldn't risk upsetting her in what is potentially her last few weeks , let her keep your undivided attention .

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Tue 11-Jun-13 10:26:47

To add to the other stories, I got a puppy 6 months ago, and already had two old dogs, one not in great health.

The old dogs really didn't get on with the puppy at all - the pup was determined to swing off their ears and chew their tails all day. And, I had anticipated this so thought I'd separate the puppy from the dogs but this proved impossible as pup wanted to be with the bigger dogs at all times, howling and panicking if separated.

Its OK now, and the healthier one of the older dogs does play with the puppy a lot, but I think we've been lucky. With hindsight, we should have either got another dog a couple of years ago before the health and agility of the older dogs started to go, or left it until we no longer had the old dogs.

Just a couple of other things - it is impossible to have an older well behaved dog as the focus of your attention when there is a mobile puppy in the room. Also you'll be spending a lot of time house training etc with the pup, all of which means the older dog sits and watches the new puppy get lots of attention, extra meals and treats. Really not fair on the old dog.

idirdog Tue 11-Jun-13 12:04:20

I think it is a great idea smile. You are an experienced dog owner and someone who will always want to have dogs in your life.

You are doing the best for your current dog (I hope I get care and love like this when my time comes).

If you are prepared to give the oldie some peace and quiet (you may find it gives her a new lease of life some old dogs love the pups) .

Only you know if you have the time to divide between the two but I would do it. (and have done it many times)

topbannana Tue 11-Jun-13 12:30:56

I'm in the middle (so no help whatsoever!)
The loss of a dog has always entailed a replacement (for want of a better word) sooner rather than later for us so I see exactly where you are coming from.
In you position however I would be tempted to register with a couple of local rescues, get the home checking, form filling and whatever out the way but hold off on the choosing a youngster till Dog goes. Planned in advance this would not be interpreted as a whim by a grieving lonely person, more a sensible option by somebody who already knows how desperately they will miss the companionship when the time comes.
You get to devote your time and energy to Dog when she needs you and have plans in place for when the time comes.

Scuttlebutter Tue 11-Jun-13 13:41:17

I'm going with the majority and saying this is not a good idea. Your current dog is terminally ill, and is particularly vulnerable to sudden leg breaks or a rapid (and painful) deterioration in condition. At the end you want her passing to be calm, loving and peaceful. I'd focus on the last time you have together and concentrate on making each day special and her passing as peaceful as you would wish.

Absolutely do the planning, preparation and paperwork - that's a good idea. smile

When the time comes, you will know how much time for grieving you will need and how quickly you will be ready to fill the dog shaped hole. When a new dog does enter your life, you will then be ready to give them your undivided attention. You will never stop missing your last dog but the grief will be eased if you can look back at this time together and know you did everything in your power to make this time special for both of you.

Also, in fairness to the new dog - taking on a puppy (which is what it sounds like) who may have been raised solely in a pound environment and therefore is poorly socialised will be a demanding and time consuming project. By waiting, you can ensure your new dog gets all the time and attention it deserves.

So sorry you are going through this.

moosemama Tue 11-Jun-13 16:43:13

Having just lost a dog to the same condition as yours, after she sustained a pathological fracture I would have to say I wouldn't do it.

My reason is that our girl broke her leg somehow, despite being supervised 24/7 and us never seeing her fall or trip or anything. The only thing we saw that could possibly have been it was when she wobbled slightly to that side whilst trying to wee. sad

I know your girl's cancer isn't as advanced as my girl's was, but I would be concerned that having a pup around might inadvertently lead to her injuring her bad leg.

Also, as things progressed my girl wanted peace, quiet and rest, which would be harder to facilitate with a pup around.

Also, as Scuttle said, you have the time and space at present to spend what time your girl has left giving her every scrap of your love and attention. You can give her all the love and peace she needs. With the best will in the world, having a pup around is going to change this, as no-matter what, the pup will need your time and attention. I think you could end up feeling like it isn't fair on either your existing dog or the pup.

In your position, I would go ahead and get homechecked and approved by whatever rescue you choose, but then hold off choosing a pup for now.

I know how hard it is, I have fallen for a few rescue pups myself since we lost oldgirl, but we are having to wait until September, for various reasons, not least of all because lurcherboy needs our undivided attention at the moment and we don't think it would be right for him.

OhBuggerandArse Tue 11-Jun-13 22:27:52

How are you feeling, OP? Have you had any more thoughts?

Frettchen Wed 12-Jun-13 10:09:38

Hey, thanks everyone for your input, it's been really helpful. Sorry for not getting back to you yesterday; I'm on a course this week involving a long train commute, so am spending 14 hours each day apart from my girl (she's staying at my father's, with a babygate to keep her off the stairs); and am tired and extra emotional - I got home last night, lugged a mattress into the lounge so I wouldn't have to sleep on the sofa again, and then slept.

To be honest, as soon as I posted it, I expected you all to say don't do it - I'd probably say the same to many people, so the single voice of idirdog was a surprise.

Contrary to the majority advice, I'm still considering getting a new pup sooner rather than later. I know my dog, and I know that she's always been used to new dogs coming and going (when we lived with my mum, my brother was always bringing dogs in due to his job) so I don't think she'll be distressed by the presence of a new pup. My main concern would be keeping the pup from bouncing around near her. Dog's quite happy at the moment to sleep, or be in her bed so long as I'm in eyesight, so it would be a case of managing the puppy - using babygates to be near Dog whilst playing with puppy. Puppy would be booked straight in to training classes

I'm still working things out; making sure I'm not missing anything, so am not rushing into anything, and it may be that the worst happens before I do anything and it all ends up out of my hands. But ultimately I am sure I can make this work without it being an undue stress on dog. I'm not sure, on the other hand, I could cope with not having any dog - my girl has been with me through some hard times and I often think I rely on her as much as she relies on me and the thought of her not being there scares me, even though I know it's going to happen. (Moving in with a parent isn't an option; I have other small furries in my house in need of feeding, cleaning out, watering etc)

mistlethrush Wed 12-Jun-13 10:26:21

We lost mistledog last October to bone cancer. It was hard at the end - she was in a lot of pain and we had to get the vets in - she went downhill very quickly - 3 weeks from limp to having to say goodbye.

We have an 8yo who has always had her around - she has always been there for him, right from the start.

In those 3 weeks we worked out what breed of dog we were going to go for that would suit us best (and suit the dog). We contacted lots (LOTS) of rescues with our requirements. The week after we lost her we got homechecked (we could have arranged this sooner but didn't) - then DS and I were away for a week so that wasn't a good week to get one - we got back on the Sunday morning and traveled to a rescue that afternoon and came back with a dog to foster - we've now adopted her.

It wasn't fair on our old lady to get another dog in during her last weeks. She was eating peculiar things - we didn't mind what as long as she was enjoying it (and a new dog would not be good starting out with this, particularly a puppy). We couldn't go out on normal walks - we managed to stagger a short distance and sit in the sun, but it was very short and not suitable for a new dog. She didn't have to worry about being barged or banged, or having her bed overtaken or anything. I know we did the right thing for her, although the two weeks without a dog were very hard.

OhBuggerandArse Wed 12-Jun-13 10:31:41

There is very little sadder in this world than the look in the eyes of a dog who has realised they are being replaced.

Resigned, despairing, betrayed.

Frettchen Wed 12-Jun-13 11:37:25

Thanks mistlethrush for sharing, I'm sorry for your loss. I know it's going to be hard for my girl, it's already hard for her; she can't run around and do the things she used to do, but she's still bright and happy, her appetite is good, and I'm watching her closely for the sign of the swift downhill turn you and others seem to have experienced.

The pup I've been looking at is abroad, and so it will be at least 3 weeks before he could arrive. It's horribly possible that my girl won't last that long, in which case none of this actually matters and I'll find some way to cope, and that may be the knowledge that the wheels have been set in motion.

OBaA - thank you for your thoughts; I'm really sorry for the experiences you had with your MIL's dog. However, I find your last comment a little cruel. My much beloved dog does not know she has cancer; she does not know she is dying, and I do not believe she would see a new dog as a replacement or a betrayal. I don't think it's very fair to be putting human emotions on a dog to make your point.

mistlethrush Wed 12-Jun-13 12:15:02

Mine went downhill very quickly - we didn't know anything until she had a slight limp which I actually felt somewhat hmm about whether I needed to take her to the vet or not about... My vet was hoping that we could get a biopsy that would show what cancer it was and that some sort of chemo would help her have a good quality of life for a bit longer, but it was clear that she was going downhill fast so we cancelled the biopsy op - as it turns out she wouldn't have lasted to get the results anyway so it would have been unnecessary upset and pain for her which I'm glad we avoided.

All I would say is, think of the last days with your dog - do you want these to be a juggling act with another dog's needs too? It does, however, sound as though you have an ideal situation with your mother in terms of her looking after the puppy - is there any chance that she might be able to be the first location for the puppy if its clear that its near the end with your dog?

Out of interest, what drew you to an out-of-country rescued dog rather than a UK one?

Frettchen Wed 12-Jun-13 12:57:46

Yeah, we went to the vets with a limp, expecting it to be a pulled muscle. This led to x-rays, and I was dreading a break or a fracture, so when the vet found the tumour it completely floored me. The funny (not funny-ha-ha, but y'know) thing was we'd been in to the vet the week before with a lump on her belly which the vet immediately dismissed as something fatty and pronounced her fit, healthy and in great shape; so I was not expecting anything bad to happen.

Re: the last days - that's the bit I keep coming back to; mainly because I have no control over when it'll happen or how it'll happen. If I have the pup by then I'll most probably ask either one of my parents to take it for a few days. They're always happy to take my dog if I need to go somewhere, and are close enough that I could split my time between the two dogs as much as my current dog needed (i.e. favouring her out of the pair for those last days; the younger one would get food, walks and fuss from whichever parent it boarded with.)

I'm not sure how I ended up looking at a European rescue rather than a UK one. Up to a couple of months ago I would always have said I'd go UK (it was always going to be a rescue though; that much I was definite on) but I'd seen things on facebook, through google etc. Then I saw a thread on here a little while ago about Balkan Underdogs, and was interested; not looking to get one at the time, just looking to see what they were about/window shopping. This led me to Action Aid for Animals, who work out of Romania. I followed both on fb and saw some of the pictures of the dogs they deal with and the state of care (or lack thereof) in the shelters there and I needed to do something. I donate money to a few UK dog/animal charities, which has lessened the guilt I feel for not being able to help a dog over here. I think it's easier for a person with no kids/with time to put in to training, to take a more-unknown dog from abroad, so it seemed to fit. Ideally I'd help them all, but that's not possible.

LadyTurmoil Wed 12-Jun-13 13:00:44

Another small point, I'm sure if you discussed your situation with Action Aid they would be sympathetic and could perhaps find a short term foster for the dog who's coming over in 3 weeks time. Then you would be able to devote all your time to your dog, knowing that the new dog was being well looked after in the meantime. I follow Action Aid on Facebook and they always seem to be amazing at finding solutions so I'm sure they'd help you. Just being nosy but which dog are you interested in? Good luck

Frettchen Wed 12-Jun-13 13:42:53

That's something I hadn't thought of, Lady. I'll mention it to them and see if it's an option. The emotional part of my mind is saying it would be nicer to have the puppy boarding with my parents, but the more practical part of my mind is pointing out that a foster family would be a very sensible idea.

The puppy is a Samoyed cross called 'Tisha'. He and his sister were up for adoption; she's already found a new owner.

LadyTurmoil Wed 12-Jun-13 13:49:52

Oh, I think I remember them - is he the one with a black and white face, while his sister was all white? They looked absolutely gorgeous... smile

Frettchen Wed 12-Jun-13 13:56:34

He's the fluffy white thing; his sister has the black on her ears and over one eye.

Turniptwirl Wed 12-Jun-13 17:18:58

I know you have the new pup picked out but would you consider an older dog? An adult dog would probably have less annoying (to your old girl) puppyish behaviours, and would take less of your time away from old girl.

Frettchen Mon 17-Jun-13 13:18:07

Didn't want to ignore your valid question, Turnip

I did consider getting an older dog, but my current situation, I feel, better suits a puppy. This is partly because I've not yet started TTC (won't for another year or two) so don't have any human dependents to distract from training, socialisation etc. Also it's because I have cats and ferrets (cats in the house, ferrets securely in the garden) and it would be easier to train a puppy not to chase them than it would an adult dog who already has cat-chasing tendencies (not that I'm expecting puppy to ignore them from day one, of course)

As it is, I don't think my dog is going to last the 3 weeks until Puppy arrives (I've confirmed I'm adopting him) so this thread is a bit moot now.

If I were doing it again I'd still consider 'overlapping' the dogs. I think it's a very personal choice, and I don't think it would work for most people/dogs, so I would be wary of advising it to others, but I would still consider it for myself in my current position.

Thanks all for your time and thoughts.

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