Old Dog Blues: A Rant on Assholes That Surrender Seniors to Shelters.

17 Feb

In the past month, BusyBee has seen two pairs of bonded senior dogs surrendered to her shelter along with countless other elderly canines.  The most recent one cycled her off into a rage that quickly set off the other Snobs as well, and given how often we’ve talked about this privately, it was naturally time to share it with the rest of you.  Look, we get that shit happens and sometimes people can’t keep a dog, but we would REALLY like to think that you’ve explored every last possible option before leaving your elderly dogs at a shelter.  Call us cynical (we like to call it realistic), but we simply don’t think that’s always, or even usually, the case.

We’re going to talk about two different scenarios that we’ve seen play out regarding senior dogs being dumped at shelters.

1) The first is when owners drop off dogs they’ve had for their entire lives because of “lifestyle”  issues. Can you imagine being in a home for thirteen years and given up because owners didn’t want to deal with typical senior health problems like sore joints or because the owners couldn’t find a way to bring along the creatures that love you more than anything to a new home?  Depending on the shelter that you drop a dog at, you may very well be dumping that dog at a shelter to be euthanized. And even at a no-kill shelter, you have to realize that senior dogs don’t fare well in shelter environments and can be more difficult to adopt out because many people don’t want to the emotional and financial cost of taking home an older dog.  And if you’re dropping off a bonded senior pair that needs to be adopted out together?  Let’s just say that thankfully there are some VERY kind-hearted people out there that will open up their home to such a pair, but they are few and far between.  Your life-long companions deserve better.

2) The second scenario, is one where a person drops off their dog, asks the shelter to euthanize it and walks away. When you get a puppy, or an adult dog, or whatever…. you commit to that dog. For the rest of it’s life, it is your responsibility. This especially holds true for the when the dog hits old age. We aren’t saying that we are against euthanizing old dogs. Sometimes that is the kindest route. But when you want to euthanize a dog for something that is easily treatable or for something the dog could live with for the two or three years it has left (see Daisy below)… well, we’d like to say we hope no one drops you off somewhere to die when you reach your final years, but we just aren’t that good of people.  If your dog is in the sort of health that calls for euthanization… don’t be a coward. Your dog has stood by you through thick and thin. Dogs are there for you on your worst days and your best days. It’s up to you to stand in that Vet’s office and hold your dog until the end. You hold that dog and you tell her how wonderful she was. You bring up the wonderful times you had. You let that dog eat whatever it wants the day of and you don’t get upset when that dog has an accident because she’s too old to hold it anymore. If you love your dog, you love it up until that last breath and you keep on loving it forever. Dogs enter our life and they love us and they do their best to do what we ask of them. Dogs are our partners and our friends. In that last breath, dogs deserve to be held by the person they have devoted their entire lives to. They do NOT deserve to spend their last hours in a kennel with dogs barking frantically around them and they do NOT deserve to die in the arms of someone they don’t know.

Daisy, the dog that inspired the original draft of this article. She has now been adopted.

Let’s be clear–we are glad that these dogs are brought to the shelter instead of dumped on the side of the road, given away to any old jackass on Craigslist, or disposed of in any other inhumane manner.  At least it gives some of them a chance to find a new home to live out their twilight years in.  Obviously we don’t  know the circumstances behind every story (we’re not psychic, sadly), but we have less understanding of the reasoning behind surrendering a 13 year old Golden who has lived with you their entire life than we do, say, of surrendering a 1 year old Cattle Dog when you realize that perhaps it was not a good match and that someone else is better equipped to raise that dog.  Shit happens, some dogs aren’t good matches, and we can’t even begin to know what is going on in the human end that could be equally heartbreaking.  Therefore, we want to be clear that we don’t advocate blindly shaming anyone who surrenders a dog to a shelter, but when it comes to seniors, forgive us if our hackles go up a little.  If you’ve basically raised a dog through puppyhood, past adulthood, and into their senior years and you can’t or won’t move a mountain to make sure that dog spends every last day on earth with with you, then yeah, we reserve the right to be uncomfortable with that decision.

**Hoping to help out a senior dog by fostering or adopting?  Check out the senior dog network to find local groups near you!  **

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93 Responses to “Old Dog Blues: A Rant on Assholes That Surrender Seniors to Shelters.”

  1. Karenanne Fitzsimmons February 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Amen!

  2. Kay February 17, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    One of my biggest issues as well. You nailed it so perfectly. I will do whatever I can to make damn sure any dog I have is well taken care of until the very end regardless of the costs or ‘hassle’ it may cause, they are my responsibility. Even if by some fluke I am unable to do it for any reason (god forbid) I have people (family and friends) that have sworn to care for my two dogs and have money set aside just in case.

  3. Ruth Nielsen February 17, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    Sorry Dog Snobs – I just accidentally sent you a blank email by touching my iPad in the wrong spot – my apologies!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. shelbylclarke February 17, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

    Reblogged this on clarkestudio pet photography blog and commented:
    Great post from The Dog Snobs, dogs are a commitment for life not until they get old and you can’t handle it.

    Shelby

  5. tvignogna February 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    *claps* As I get older, and enamored by dogs, this breaks my heart more and more. I remember the aging and ailing process of my last dog. I missed a lot of work. I employed the time of the only friend that my cranky gal would allow in the house without me there. I wiped out my savings, only to have to let her go. I held her in my arms, sobbed, and told her how much I loved her. Had she gone to the shelter, no one would have adopted her, loved her in those trying times, or given her a sunny spot to finish out her days. She earned that right to go in the arms of her human, and not be heartbroken and terrified in a cold, concrete shelter, without a loving embrace.

    Cesar preaches that dogs live in the here and now. Say what you will about him, that is true in the case of an elderly dog dumped for whatever reason. They don’t know why. They just want a life where they are loved and cared for. Once that is taken away, their hearts break. My heart also breaks with every photo of an old pet left at a shelter.

    Thanks for speaking out on this subject………………………..

  6. Janis February 17, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Great post. My husband and I adopted two senior dogs (one that had heartworms). They were both brought into the local Humane Society as strays but I believe that one was dumped (she had heartworms) and the other was just surrendered. A lot of people looked at both of the dogs but they weren’t adopted because of the health issues. They are healthy now and they are both so sweet. We love them dearly. We plan to adopt seniors from now on. Just about everyday we look at them and shake our heads. We can’t imagine why anyone would give them up in the first place.

  7. Marilyn Armstrong February 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    I want to say a couple of things about this. We adopted a senior dog a couple of years ago. She was 10, now 12 and her back is going as are her teeth. It’s more than a thousand (you heard that right) dollars to do the teeth and there’s nothing to be done for her back other than try to keep her from doing things that will make it worse.

    We don’t have a thousand dollars to do our OWN teeth and no there are NO places which will give us even a discount, though we ourselves are senior citizens on a fixed income. So her teeth aren’t getting done. The vet knows we can’t afford it. If everyone is so all-fired eager for us to keep our older dogs, how about throwing US a lifeline so we can?

    She’s a darling and I wish we had a few more good years. We break our backs lifting her so she won’t try to jump and further damage her back. But seriously … how far do we go with this? Where’s the help for people whose dogs need help and want to keep them?

    I’d like to hear an answer on this because I’m tired of the sneers pointing out we should never have gotten pets in the first place if we didn’t have unlimited resources for veterinary care. That’s not an answer.

    Not everyone has friends willing to donate lavishly to the care of other peoples’ pets.

    • tvignogna February 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

      Marilyn, try checking out some of these sites for assistance:

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

        Care Credit is a credit card that charges 24% interest. NONE of the other organizations offer help in Massachusetts. This was not always true. Once upon a time, there was assistance but no longer. We have many friends who have pets and are in the same position. No help even for vaccinations. If everyone is so concerned about the problem, it would be nice to address the root problem: obscenely high prices for routine veterinary procedures. It does NOT really cost $1200 to do a small dog’s teeth.

      • Lisa Drewing February 18, 2014 at 1:35 am #

        Care Credit has interest free programs. Talk to your vet about it.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 1:42 am #

        Credit Care used to have low or no interest special rates. Now they don’t. I no longer use them at all. When we originally got the card a few years ago, the first thing we used it for — my husband’s hearing aids — was low interest, but since then, the rates have just gone up and up and up. The rate was 24.9% last I checked, about a month ago.

    • LuvMySnrs February 18, 2014 at 12:34 am #

      Or how about you plan for the common medical issues that virtually every owner of a senior dog experiences – dentals, bloodwork etc, – and take that into consideration before you adopt the dog? Why should anyone else be responsible for your veterinary bills that you didn’t budget for? I get that sometimes sudden expenses happen, and unexpected vet bills … but to not budget for the common ailments of the old dog and get upset because nobody else will take responsibility for your failure is shameful. YOUR dog is YOUR responsibility.

      And incidentally, rotten teeth can be a life or death issue. They can lead to abscess, infection, heart disease and more, so delaying it is selfish and potentially abusive.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 1:07 am #

        Did I ask anyone for money? Did I suggest you assist me? You are rude, insensitive, thoughtless and arrogant, but I am sure your dogs love you. Dogs are good that way.

      • Cain February 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

        Stop with the judgmental BS….of course you are entitled to your opinion, but you are being just straight up an ass. If you want to be heard, you need to modify your tone.

      • angelashaefer@yahoo.com February 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        Care Credit has FREE interest options. We use them everyday at the clinic I work for. Your information is incorrect.

    • Gail F. February 18, 2014 at 2:40 am #

      http://www.gofundme.com/
      Have you tried the above link? I recently donated to help out a couple who had rescued Brittanys for years and have recently lost their home in a fire. Maybe you can get some help for your dog.

      I am indeed sorry for your situation. Maybe you adopted her because she would have been euthanized otherwise. My own opinion is that no one should acquire a dog that they plan to keep (rather than an emergency fosterage) unless they have at least a few thousand dollars in reserve; because dogs cost money, and there are always unforeseen problems and emergencies, and old dogs often have more issues than younger ones.

      Back in the 1990’s, I was alerted to the plight of a German Shepherd who was lying on the side of the road a short distance from my building. I went down to see him, bringing a leash. He seemed calm, so I leashed him (he had a collar), talking to him gently, and got him to my car. I took him to the local vet, which doubles as my town’s dog pound. (I could not bring him into my apartment, because I knew my own dog would not react well to the stranger). I hoped that the staff would be able to call the dog’s people (he seemed used to being handled) and they would come for him and help him. I called later and was quite saddened to hear that the staff had indeed called the phone number on the dog’s collar. Turns out that the GSD was 15 years old; his 94-year-old owner had died a week or so ago, and the dog had run off in the aftermath. The dog had some kind of serious liver or heart problem; the owner’s son did not want to have the dog cared for and told them to euthanize the dog; and did not even bother to come in and see the dog or be with him in his last moments. I am still glad that I took the dog to the vet; because no dog should die alone by the side of the road (or be hit by a car, which could have easily happened if he’d tried to cross it); and I’m sure the staff at the vet’s were kind to the poor old fellow, but I wish the story could have had a better ending.

    • Bunny February 18, 2014 at 3:31 am #

      http://fairydogparents.org/

      https://www.facebook.com/TheMicaFoundation

      those are both based in MA 🙂 good luck!

    • Bunny February 18, 2014 at 3:37 am #

      oh, also, http://www.merwinclinic.org/

      or http://www.afaboston.org/

      either of those might have some suggestions…neither of them do major procedures as far as i know, but i get my cat and dog their shots at merwin and they were able to refer me to a low cost spay option.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 4:04 am #

        They are a great organization and help a lot of people. But not teeth. But they do great work and unlike a lot of organizations, they don’t just take — they also give.

    • Nora February 18, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

      Shop around. I was once quoted $700 for a dental and extractions for a dog that I had done for <$200 at a different vet (and this was not a "low cost" vet, just a different vet). I've volunteered for rescues who have used local low-cost clinics for dentals that worked out very well–I find it hard to believe, when there are several in my area in Columbus, OH, that you wouldn't be able to find similar services in your area.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

        When I get back on my feet, I’ll have another go at it. Thanks.

    • jescargill February 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      Some things can also be learned and trained in terms of maintenance to avoid expensive procedures in the long run, as well. After shopping around for a vet and getting the extractions/cleaning done, you can even train your dog to allow scaling of their teeth, tooth brushing, etc. It’s a pain, but it’s saved me a LOT of money in the long run, along with allowing mine to chew raw bones that takes a lot of tartar off their teeth as well:

    • Suzanne Geer February 18, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

      Marilyn – even if you can’t afford the expensive treatment, you can certainly afford the least expensive and MOST important. You can be there. You can hold their paws and say you love them and give them treats if they’ll take them. You can do the best you can on your budget. I know I have had to say “no” to some treatment. I will never sneer at you for doing the best you can on your budget. No one knows what you can do except … well, you. I understand how hard it can be to not be able to “afford the best.” Believe me, “the best” isn’t necessarily pills and surgery. The best is love and compassion. As you give that to your friends, please take the same from me. Suzanne Geer

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

        Someone once told me that when she dies, she wants to be reincarnated as one of our dogs. I took it as the nicest compliment I ever got. They have a VERY good life.

    • romiona February 19, 2014 at 3:59 am #

      Marilyn, there are a few assistance programs in MA if you qualify as low-income. http://www.merwinclinic.org/ does free outpatient visits and free meds for sick animals (not surgeries). Second Chance in North Brookfield has recently gone from a s/n clinic to a full clinic. If you qualify as low income they have greatly reduced fees. Tufts also has a subsidized program if you qualify: http://vet.tufts.edu/tuftsattech/. There IS assistance out there but you do need to demonstrate need. If you don’t qualify, I would definitely call around. You could check Becker College in Leicester, they are a vet tech school and may have reduced dental fees. Hope this helps!

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 19, 2014 at 4:56 am #

        What we need is a lower price. We don’t need it to be FREE — but $1200 is too much.

        However, at this point, Nan’s teeth have to wait. I have heart surgery in two weeks. I’m out of time. Assuming I make it through surgery and recover on schedule, sometime around the end of April, I will be able to start calling. Again. I will call Becker College, the only place I have NOT tried yet. Tufts no longer does reduced rate dental work and full price we can pay anywhere.

        We’re handling everything else. They get their meds, good food, love, vaccinations, heartworm, flea and tick protection, regular checkups, grooming and exercise. We clean up after them, lift and haul their furry little butts as needed, feed them Greenies, etc. etc.

        Help is available only to the destitute. Which we are not — but we WILL be damned close by the time I get through with the medical bills for my surgery — which shockingly, I didn’t see coming any more than I foresaw the cancer 2 years ago. I probably should be shot for lack of foresight.

        Senior dogs have issues. So do senior people. As my mom used to say before HER untimely demise from cancer “All God’s creatures got problems.”

    • pommom101690 October 9, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Marilyn you are mistaken about the care credit card. They charge that high interest rate on smaller purchases. Typically, they have several promotions. When I had my cat’s eye removed, it was only $200 for everything, and I put that on the card. I have six months to pay it off without interest. My friend’s dog bloated. She got 18 months to pay that $1500 off.

    • AD December 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

      my thinking is this (it may not be popular but oh well), you adopted an old dog from an uncertain fate. kudos to you. You gave her 2 more years in a loving home. If you don’t have the money to care for her, well give her the best life until it is time and then be there for her in the end. 2 extra years in a loving home is far better than being euthanized at shelter by a bunch of strangers.

    • Paulette Blinch September 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

      I really feel for you, when the time comes you will know that you gave the oldies a place of comfort and when they go, they go with someone who cares. Nobody should feel they have the right to decide when you cannot carry the burden any longer. When the quality of life is not right and you are not able to do more, then it is time. You helped, maybe the naysayers did not.

      • Paulette Blinch September 1, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

        I thought a comment would still be relevant to others.

  8. Jo b February 17, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    That’s so sad, years ago we adopted a senior from the SPCA, we went looking for a dog and this old guy just happened to be the one we fell for, I never really thought about it at the time but looking back now we probably saved this poor guys life. We loved him for 3 and a half yrs when we had to say goodbye. Our next dog was a lively 5 year old that we had for 12 years. I urge people not to overlook the older dogs, they are much calmer and easier especially if your raising a young family.

  9. Bear February 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    I think part of this is the result of the disposable society that we now live in. When things get old and decrepit we get rid of it the easiest way possible. With older pets this is taking it to a shelter or a rescue because this way we can pretend that they go to a new home and we are not responsible for what ever happens.

    People just don’t want to take responsibility for caring for an elderly pet and certainly don’t want to be there at the end – it may all get a bit too emotional, or it might upset the kids etc. 😦

    Note: We in the above is generic and not referring to myself or other responsible members of society. 😉

  10. Chandra February 17, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Marilyn, maybe one of these links can help: http://jointanimalservices.org/MedicalHelp.htm

    • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 12:00 am #

      Sigh. NONE of these offer anything in Mass. Not that I haven’t tried. And teeth are not considered a necessity OR a life-threatening problem, even though it really is. I have tried every single organization and not one offers any assistance. They will, however, all accept donations.

      • Janet Ledford February 18, 2014 at 1:06 am #

        I have done rescue for over twenty years. I have taken in tons of senior dogs and fixed em up. I spent all my own money to do so and have a credit card reserved for big buck situation. Some get adopted out, most stay with us cause senior dogs can be a money pit nobody wants to take on. I ~have~ paid for other people to have their old dogs teeth cleaned or to have their dogs groomed or to get meds/heart worm preventative. In all cases the people said “Thanks” then let the dog slide back into disrepair. I have paid euthanasia fees and have taken dogs to be put down for people. Now, mostly have stopped giving out money, because “If there’s a will there’s a way”. I’m not rich. The money I make being a dog groomer goes to dogs. I choose to drive a old car and have a life style that lets me take care of my animals. If I can figure out how to do this others can too. Its a choice.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 1:25 am #

        I understand. When we had money, back when we had incomes, we helped other people. Ironically, we still do if we can. But this is a LOT of money. The original owner wasn’t willing or able to help. We’d only had this little girl for a couple of months and had been told her teeth had JUST been taken care of, no problems. Not true.

        I was concerned about taking in an older dog for exactly this reason, but I thought she’d be better off with us than dead which was her alternative. And she is. Even with bad teeth, she is loved and everything else gets don’t. But $1200? A small dog’s teeth don’t cost that much anywhere else in the country. I don’t understand why it cost 3 times as much for dental work here as it does in Texas. It would cost less for me to buy her a plane ticket and send her to my friends in Texas, have her teeth done, then ship her back than to have her teeth done locally. Except all that shipping would probably kill her anyway. It would certainly do me in.No one gives discounts on dental work. They will give you antibiotics, discounted vaccines, etc. Those things we manage.

        But not teeth. No one on a fixed limited income where there are no raises, no bonuses ever can budget for that big an expense.

      • Chandra February 18, 2014 at 1:16 am #

        The last link on the page takes you to a state by state listing. I’ve copied their listings for MA. And, being in New England, you have several other states near by that may have something that works:
        Massachusetts
        Alliance for Animals: Boston (spay/neuter and veterinary medical care assistance)
        Angell Animal Medical Center-Nantucket (veterinary care assistance)
        21 Crooked Lane, Nantucket, MA 02554
        508-228-1491

        Angell Animal Medical Center-Western New England (veterinary care assistance)
        171 Union St., Springfield, MA 01105
        413-785-1221

        Angell Memorial Animal Hospital-Boston (veterinary care assistance)
        350 South Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02130
        617-522-7282

        Animal Rescue League of Boston-Alice T. Whitney Helping Hand Fund: Statewide (veterinary assistance for pet owners receiving government assistance)

        Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society: Leverett and Greenfield (pet food, spay/neuter assistance, temporary foster program)

        Fairy DogParents: Duxbury (assistance with food, medical needs and general wellness for dogs)

        Phinney’s Friends; MSPCA (veterinary care assistance programs for senior, disabled or ill pet owners)

        The Sampson Fund: Cape Cod (fund to benefit companion animals of Cape Cod and the adjacent Islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard)
        PO Box 1756, Orleans, MA 02653

        Southborough Pet food Pantry: Southborough (pet food)
        508-485-2147

        Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine: Statewide (veterinary care assistance including spay/neuter)

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 1:36 am #

        Other than that you are clearly not from around here (Nantucket is an island a long boat ride off Cape Cod): Angell Memorial does not offer reduced rate anything and never has. I don’t know why they keep coming up in searches. When we lived in Boston, we used Angell for regular veterinary care. They have some really brilliant people there are save the lives of several animals. But cheap they are not. In fact, they are more expensive than most vets, but they have facilities that are far superior to most vets offices AND they are as real hospital, not just an office. They have specialists, surgeons, and will treat exotic pets … and are open for emergencies when no one else is. Many thousands of our dollars went to them during our long working years.

        They don’t do reduced rate anything unless you are officially destitute, that is, in public housing, on food stamps, etc. Even then, to get help, you have to surrender your pet which most of us are not trying to do. The whole point is that we don’t want to surrender our pets. We love them and want to keep them. But some things are simply unaffordable. N. is spayed. She is otherwise as healthy as any dog of her age could be. Her teeth need work and her back is not what it was (well, whose is?) … I’m not going to give her away or euthanize her because she’s got bad teeth.

        YOU are the one saying that irresponsible owners give up their dogs because they get old. Many of us hang on to our dogs and go without things we need to KEEP our dogs. But sometimes, you hit a wall. We hit a wall.

  11. Cathy February 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    I understand the difficulty in having to have an old dog euthanized (because I’ve had to do it more than once in my life) but you have cared for that dog it’s entire life and it’s your responsibility to see it through. I remember back when the breed club I was in was called by a guy with two dogs that he’d had since they were 7 weeks old. They were now 11 & 12 years old (in a breed that 12-14 is the average life span) and he wanted us to take them. Why? because he new wife didn’t want them! We told him that if he really didn’t want them then it was his responsibility to take them in and have them euthanized not just because they were old, but because our breed is so family centered and doesn’t adopt to new people well even when younger, they’d probably just pine away and die anyway. We also told him the dogs were there first and he should seriously consider getting rid of the wife since she knew they were there and had been all along. We took no mercy on him.

    About the only circumstance I can sort of understand is when an elderly person either passes away or goes into a nursing home and there’s no one to take their old dog. Too often they haven’t thought about it or assumed one of their children or grandkids would just naturally want their dog. Too often none do, or don’t have the room or just don’t have a suitable situation to take in an older pet. Please, folks, consider the possibility that your dog might outlive you, or at least the time that you can keep him and what will happen when you are no longer there to take care of him.

    Thank you for writing this. Right on target since one of our rescue groups is working to take in a senior dog. But at least this one was dropped off at a vet clinic. He was given a chance.

    • Diane February 18, 2014 at 1:36 am #

      Hmmmm . . . The new wife doesn’t want the dogs. Either the dogs or the wife has to go. Sorry, honey, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

  12. Stella and Rory from down under February 18, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    One of the closest moments I have had with my youngest son (aged 15 at the time) was when we had to help our old cocker spaniel to the Rainbow Bridge. Her kidneys had failed, she was deaf and mostly blind but after she deteriorated quickly we knew it was time. She was the most wonderful old girl ever. We cherished her in old age. My son could not remember life without her, and as we held her, cried together and told her how much we loved her, she left us. Old dogs are special. I’m not sure why people surrender their old pets and there are obviously genuine reasons for some.

  13. Stephanie February 18, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    How about this place Marilyn?

    http://www.merwinclinic.org/

    • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 12:59 am #

      Good organization even though 70 miles away. They don’t do teeth, however. Nor do ANY of the organizations. Really. Not kidding. NOBODY.

      • Stephanie February 18, 2014 at 1:11 am #

        The Tufts Dental School does:
        http://www.massresources.org/pet-care-assistance.html

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 1:13 am #

        I called them and they said they no longer do. I’ll check again, however. I am not unwilling to pay. I just don’t have $1200. If it were my own teeth, I still wouldn’t have the money.

  14. Laura February 18, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    Growing old ain’t for sissies. We just put down our senior dog yesterday. 15 3/4 years old (70 pound dog) with an inoperable stomach mass and resultant digestive issues. He still did great for a long time. Until he didn’t.

    • Gail F. February 18, 2014 at 2:21 am #

      Sorry you had to let your senior dog go, Laura. Sounds like he had a long, mostly good life.

  15. Janet Ledford February 18, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Thanks so much for this article! Dog Snobs rule 🙂

  16. Lise February 18, 2014 at 2:20 am #

    Marilyn – I use Care Credit for our animals and our teeth. They do have plans same as cash – depending on how much it is spread out. I think 1200 would get spread out over 18 months which works out to 67/month. I have no idea if that is still too much for you, but thought I would mention it.

    • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 3:05 am #

      Maybe it’s based on how much money is involved. When I tried to use it for my own teeth … a stupid check-up because I need dental clearance to have heart surgery next month … it was 24.9%. Which is NUTS. Or maybe it depends on who you are working with. Maybe some vets have special arrangements. I know it’s true for hearing aids … maybe it’s also true for vets and dentists. Maybe I use the wrong vet and dentist. Right now, I have a lot on my plate. In 2 weeks, I have surgery to replace a mitral valve and another valve repaired. I will be out of commission for several months. Nan’s teeth really are going to have to wait until I recover. I don’t have a choice. I’ve been trying to find a solution to Nan’s teeth for months. No one has offered a viable suggestion. The vet just sighs, like “Oh well.” I called her previous owner who was unable to help, especially after HER husband died out of the blue …

      It’s a different world when you are older, on a fixed income and unhealthy. The world changes. Things you never thought could happen to you do. Your friends get old too. And they are suddenly poor and then a lot of them die. Your family dies. It isn’t what you planned, what you expected or what you want. But it’s not up to you.

      NO ONE can plan for the unexpected. That’s what makes it unexpected. Sure, we had money in the bank and it got sucked up into medical expenses and repairs to keep the house going. I took Nan because her owner needed to go into senior housing and she too many dogs. She asked me to take Nan because she knew I wouldn’t say no and no one else would take a senior dog. I don’t regret it. She’s a sweetheart. With bad teeth.

      What I deeply resent is the characterization that we should have planned better. Really? How? Did I plan on heart surgery? Or the cancer I had less than two years ago? Do you have ANY idea how expensive it is to have major illnesses in this country?

      Or what it costs to fix a dying septic system?

      How do you plan for things you never even imagined? How well fixed are YOU if you are forced to stop work early? Or ever? How deep are YOUR pockets?

      We thought we were fine. Turns out, we were wrong.

      • Gail F. February 18, 2014 at 3:37 am #

        Oh heck, I’ve been hit by the unexpected in my own life. (cancer, totally unexpected, in my 40’s; necessitating surgeries and lots of follow-ups; if not for my insurance, the costs would have been far worse). You can’t anticipate everything.

        But you can anticipate that if you get a dog, he or she will need veterinary care throughout its life, and more of it when he or she is older, and there are emergencies that a dog is more prone to than a human.

        Since no one else would evidently take Nan, my beef would be with her original owner more than with you, for putting Nan in a position that she went to someone who could not provide for her in emergencies, the alternative being, by implication, that Nan would be euthanized. Why did Nan’s owner have so many dogs, too many to take into senior housing? Nan’s placement with you saved her life, and you are to be lauded for taking her, but perhaps if Nan’s owner had planned better, years ago, she would have had less dogs, or found another potential owner for Nan who could provide the funds for unexpected veterinary problems.

        I would also suggest, if it is possible for you, in the future, that you might consider moving from the house (houses are money pits!) to an apartment, providing you can find one allowing dogs, that would also fit your financial needs better than living in the house does. But in the meantime, you have to do your best to take care of yourself, and if Nan is not in pain, she will have to wait; and you can take comfort that you have given her two years more than she would have otherwise had. If she is in pain because of her teeth, then it would be best to euthanize her if no one can help provide the care she needs.

        I would love to get another dog. I would love to plan on definitely getting another dog when, in (hopefully) 7 or 8 years from now, my dog passes away. But my situation is rather uncertain; I will probably be moving within a year; I am in my late 50’s, and I have to be practical. I will see how I feel after my dog is gone; but I will have to take into consideration my financial situation, how long that dog might live (could it outlive me) and how physically strong I will be (probably able to take care of most small to medium dogs, but would I want to sign on for a young dog that could be around until I’m close to 80; or go for a middle-aged dog, or not get a dog at all? My bones will probably be more fragile, if I slip on the ice, break a hip and need a hip replacement/therapy, will I have the money to board my dog somewhere or be able to find a friend who will take him/her in for the duration, will the breeder take him/her back for a few months if I get the dog from a breeder? Will a breeder or a rescue group sell/adopt out a dog to a person older than 60 at all?) I do not ever want to be in the position of having to go into senior housing or a nursing home or whatever and have to suddenly scramble to place my dog in a good situation because I didn’t plan for that circumstance.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 18, 2014 at 4:01 am #

        She was a breeder earlier. Nan was one of the winning-est bitches of her breed. Ever. But I honestly don’t think her owner ever really liked her and I think this is the first time Nan has ever been genuinely loved. And of course, she swore her teeth had JUST been fixed. I would not have taken her otherwise.

        Money … well .. we had a chunk and it looked like more than enough. But shit happened. Medical bills, the house needed repair, cars needed fixing. You can’t spend it twice. When one is no longer working, money doesn’t get replaced. Gone is gone forever. There was enough, now there isn’t and there never will be again.

        I got sick when I was a lot younger also … but it is a whole different thing when your only source of income is savings and fixed pensions. Money used to come back after being spent. It no longer does. And you know what? It will happen to you, too unless you are shockingly rich — which, I suspect you are not.

      • Eveline Kjelstrup February 21, 2014 at 12:44 am #

        Marilyn, the best wishes for your surgery and the good outcome. Keep faith, don’t give up, something good will come your way. When you feel better something will pop up. I was quoted $1800 for dental surgery on my old guy, our local vet quoted $200. It sounds you’re the perfect home for Nan!

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 21, 2014 at 1:48 am #

        Thanks. I’m in the big countdown to surgery, less than 2 weeks. She’s getting older, as are we all. We will keep her with us as long as she wants to be here. You know, when they are really ready to go, they let you know. And she is nowhere near ready to leave us yet.

      • proudk911 May 20, 2014 at 2:31 am #

        Hey Marilyn & Nan-
        First, I hope that it is mid May, you are back up & around from your surgery! Our dogs give us much to live for… I would be sitting in a wheelchair if it weren’t for mine ❤
        Do pardon my most untimely reply- as a new minion I've only been reading for the past few weeks and am just now exploring.
        I am a vet tech, and also office manager (oh I so despise the people part of my job. Cringing is a reflex to hearing the phone ring)for the practice for which I am employed. In March (2014 of course), Care Credit renewed their financing offers they had last year: spend at least $200 in one transaction, you can choose 6, 12, or 18 months deferred interest. That way, if you get it paid off in that chosen time, you pay NO interest at all! Just be sure to tell the counter gal use "code 118" and you will get the 18 months to pay. It is standard policy to ask on all the $200+ charges at our clinic, but i know it isn't at most places who accept care credit! Hell, most places don't even breathe a word, just run it through like another card– even though before entering the charge, one HAS to enter the code/promo number!! They just get told, "use 102" which is the full interest from day one code- for any amount even if it does happen to get to that magic $200 mark!
        Oh, and on the price of a dental? $1200 is highway robbery even for the east coast (I live in the upper Midwest). A dog (we don't price by size- a hint hint- only pre-meds cost more, and the oxygen the dog breathes- the anesthesia really doesn't change) who is 70# and a GSD (notoriously deep rooted teeth as a breed) with 5 extractions of pre-molars/molars was only (the extractions are what get you- especially in big dogs since they have to be cut apart before extraction… Not so in little dogs!… Therefore cheaper extractions on all teeth) only runs about $400 with us, and only $600 at other practices. While I understand I live in the Midwest, so yes things are cheaper, but by 50%?? I don't think so!
        Also, your knowing from Nan's vet exactly which teeth need to come out will help you in getting a better price estimate. (The computers the receptionist reads quotes the absolute maximum that can be done- it gets slimmed down from there for billing). Also, when you make the calls to get prices- most often once you say she's a senior dog, they throw a comprehensive blood panel in for good measure… Usually an unnecessary $100 tacked onto the bill for a dog in good health, especially one with current CBC on file at the regular vet's office!
        Unfortunately, dental work is still considered to be an "elective" procedure, and even pet health insurances don't cover too much in the way of dental work. I think it is a real shame that more people don't see a healthy mouth as being one of the most important things they can do for their dog… Of course the #1 thing is diet (species specific and at least grain free to be doing good) but of course food goes in the mouth and both food & mouth health play major roles in the rest of the body… More than just the trip on the way out!
        I wouldn't know how I would make it without my care credit card! ("It's the dogs own credit card" I tell people. Lord knows a dime for myself has never gone on it!!). I pay for the pets' wellness exams, vaccines as necessary, and the small stuff but, being disabled and on fixed income until I got into a part-time gig (finally!) to make pin money, I don't know what I would otherwise do to care for my pets in the event of a disaster. Or even a dental if my dogs needed one. If you're daring, you can hand-scrape (scale) her teeth- dental scalers are the same for dogs and people actually, and can be bought pretty much anywhere online. So long as she trusts your messing with her mouth, you can get her teeth cleaned up surprisingly well on your own. The only difference between that and a doggy dental is that we do it while the dog (or cat!) is knocked out and we have a handful of different scalers (for all teeth & sizes) and can pull teeth. Then they get a nice polish and a fluoride foam too. Just like the people dentist!
        Being a tech and conformation exhibitor, I clean (scale) my dogs' teeth whenever they get tartar build-up anywhere… As a judge, there's nothing more exciting about it than a nasty dirty mouth with teeth that aren't even brushed (read: they're shit caked Mmmmm!) than to know that here's a dog who's being campaigned as a special and you can't get his/her teeth cared for? (For those who don't know, it costs $$$$ (or more, like in my breed where 90% are pro handled for (more) money) to be campaigned, and a bunch more to get there to being a special to campaign! Is showing worth more than your dog's health???)
        But really, if you can brush your dog's teeth, you can probably mostly clean them as well. Just remember that the string to the doorknob definitely doesn't work on dog's teeth…
        Cheers!
        Jen P & her Pack glad to show their pearly whites to anyone (and how well they work too! 😉 ) who comes to the door. Ya we're proud we're money pits and no man in his right mind will come into our house. Who needs a date or a warm body when she has us?

      • Marilyn Armstrong May 20, 2014 at 2:59 am #

        Not so untimely.

        I’m really just beginning to pull myself together. I had a cardiomyectomy, a bypass, a mitral valve replacement (tissue) AND a pacemaker. It’s taking a while to pull myself together. Nan is okay. She has other problems — age-related — that are getting worse and they aren’t going away. Arthritis and her back are problematic and sometimes, she isn’t all that sure where she is. We’ve blocked off a piece of the house because it’s hard to get her to come out from under my desk. It’s her cave.

        My husband carries her up and down the stairs, though sometimes she can handle them (but I think she likes being carried!). But he’s getting up there himself, though he’s a really good pet parent. Actually he’s better with them than with me.

        I thought $1200 was too high. I was going to try to get other information, but have not been able to get the dogs to the vet. Garry can’t do it alone and I can’t lift them yet. A few more weeks. I think I need to find a new vet. I like this guy but his prices are too much for me. Thanks for the CareCredit info. If you don’t know what’s going on, they really gouge you!

  17. Trisha February 18, 2014 at 2:44 am #

    Having worked in a very good shelter for many years, I assure you that a whole bunch of people don’t commit to the dog for its life – they are very disposable by many, many people, senior or otherwise, often for pretty trivial reasons.

    • Lucy Ohannessian February 18, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

      Very true. Hanging around long enough to become a senior because you were a naturally well behaved dog doesn’t change the formula. When you become a bother, it’s done.

      I think some people make the mistake of thinking this is senior specific. There is a reason why so many seniors who come into shelters, MOST, are extremely mannerly and nice dogs. It’s why their adoption has a good reputation, most of them ARE outstanding. They have been with disposible dog people, but were so lovely that it took them this long to be viewed as a “hassle.”

      Seldom, seldom have I assessed a shelter senior who wasn’t a saint. Those weren’t my heartstrings in place…they truly were that nice. I am always comfortable pulling them on the theory outlined above. Those who won’t dump dogs for trivial reasons don’t dump seniors. Those seniors who are dumped were from those with a dumping sensibility, but were just too lovely to have sparked that trait until now.

      • pommom101690 October 9, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

        I never thought of it that way, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t one of the saddest, most brilliant conclusions I have ever heard.

  18. SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) February 18, 2014 at 3:23 am #

    Our last three dogs have been seniors we adopted through rescue. One of them had been a service dog for ten years and was turned in when she could no longer serve. She had a fused spine from her neck to her tail that caused her daily pain and two improperly healed ACL tears. We pampered her for 3 years until she passed from osteoarthritis. Love seniors, love people who work with seniors – Kudos to you.

  19. Robin February 18, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    It always breaks my heart a little to watch a senior animal be surrendered. I understand it, I do, financially they are hard and emotionally even harder. My own dog was adopted as a senior and she cost nearly $2k in vet bills her first year – money we did not have lying around but we made it work and we would make it work again without hesitation – and I’m sure she’ll cost us another $2k again eventually. But we knew this when we adopted her. Her age, her history, health issues were a given.

    When you bring an animal home, regardless of their origin, you become not only responsible for their quality of life but also for their quality of death. It seems so obvious but the number of people not willing to deal with end of life stuff as far as their animals are concerned proves that it isn’t. No one said it was easy. No one promised that your animal will die peacefully in its sleep after living a long, full life. But you promised your animal that you would take care of it when you adopted it and that means being there until the end.

  20. BethK February 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Amen. Too often it is because the family doesn’t want to deal with incontinence (which can often be treated) or pay for pain meds, or another treatment. A friend of mine routinely picks up old dogs at shelters and sadly, finds out many of them have health conditions which were not disclosed, often things like cushings, addisons, diabetes, or cancer. Owners don’t want to pay to treat these things, or ‘just can’t bear to watch her fade away’ so they dump the dog on someone else. Thank god for angels like my friend. She has sat with over a dozen dogs the last few years that she’s bailed from shelters and taken into her home– some, with treatment, lasted a year or two. Others got a few days of love, warmth, all the food they could eat, pain meds, and a dignified end with someone stroking them gently. All dogs should be so lucky.
    I have three dogs who are seniors. Leaving them to die with strangers is something I cannot imagine. They will live their lives with us, and when they have more bad days than good, they will go with love.

    • pommom101690 October 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

      My most recent addition is a 16 year old Spitz who was dumped at the shelter because she was incontinent. It costs me $7.50 a month to manage it.

  21. Lucy Ohannessian February 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    We can rant all we want. This is just fallout from something that occurred on the day that a breeder, rescue, etc. said “yes, I would love to sell/adopt/give this puppy/dog to you.” All the lecturing, self examples, emotional testimonies in the world won’t do jack. Not everyone should have a dog. Not everyone should have a horse. I have seen aging horses who have served a family well, taught both the parents then the kids to ride with his patience and tolerance, be loaded onto a van where only silly fantasy would not let you feel he would end up in anything other than a kill yard, scared out of his mind and then brutally killed. And other horses who do nothing but cost money when no longer serviceable, but will be provided for by their loving people to their dying day.

    It’s just people and what they are and what they do. I run a lot of adoption applications through, and then my breeder mentors have a lot to say. The responses I get about what happened to their dogs range from “she died” to something like I just received a few weeks ago….the actual date she passed, like five years before, but they still remember it. In life or in death, the dog still very much matters and belongs to their heart.

    So we can be as uncomfortable as we want. Some people just won’t get on our page. They will do what they do. This is one of those areas where education doesn’t matter. It is if the heart is there or if it isn’t. And for some, love for animals doesn’t go quite as deep.

    That’s why if you deal with placing dogs, it doesn’t hurt to be a jackass.

  22. tide-eyed February 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Like I said in my post on your Facebook page… You guys were way too kind in this one. 😡

  23. Suzanne Geer February 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    I have not yet commented on any of your articles, despite laughing my ass off at most of them and being at least somewhat in agreement . . . but I have to say, this one brought me to tears. If you can’t be there for your senior pet, DON’T FREAKING GET A PET AT ALL. Because you are LUCKY if your pet lives to be a senior. I have held so many of my friends as they died. 2005 was my worst year, four of my friends got “the blue stuff” because there was nothing else to do — one was a 14 year old dog with systemic cancer, the others were three cats ages 15, 19 and 20. My good good good friends, and I cried for them and held them, and buried their ashes in my pasture. I had taken them to vet appointments for kidney flushings and acupuncture, and had poked pills down their throats and (in one case) fried steak every other day because that’s all that old kitty would eat. I loved them, and I tended them as best I could, despite diarrhea, pee accidents, greasy coats, icky eyes – they were my old friends. I have held their paws and looked into their eyes and told them I will be there for them at the bridge, just to wait for me. I’ve dreamed of them and had them come to me in my dreams… your old friends need you. They love you. If you ever loved them, love them in their senior years.

  24. Connie Kaplan February 19, 2014 at 3:32 am #

    This was a tough one and you were way too kind. I have a 4 year old dog now that I have had since 8 weeks old. The first dog in 20 years, the last dog was a shelter dog “bit a kid in the face” came home when I was 16 years old, took him when I moved out. I think Rocky would have been put down now. Kept him away from kids and he was good. I had a baby and he had to live outside and in the garage. When my daughter was 1 he got a minor health problem, he was 14 years old, still in good shape but I made a decision to put him down, took him to the vet and stayed with him, was sad about it but it was the right thing to do.

    • Stephanie February 19, 2014 at 4:25 am #

      Please don’t take offense Connie but how is making the decision to put down an otherwise healthy older dog with a minor health problem better than surrendering it to a shelter?

      • Connie Kaplan February 19, 2014 at 4:46 am #

        He had bit a kid in the face,
        I was never able to let him around kids and I decided he had a good life. He was 14, I thought it was way better at the time and still do. I didn’t want to wonder what happened etc, my responsibility.

      • pommom101690 October 9, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

        I don’t quite understand it either.

      • ProudK911 May 21, 2015 at 7:32 am #

        What is better is that this woman Connie took responsibility of a liability and did perfectly well that he was not a chronic biter, where yes today, he’d never have been adoptable…
        Should it have been better if this dog was still healthy and euthanized as a young dog never to get those 14 years with a new person?!? So you think it’s better to dump a known liability onto the innocent, and for this dog to spend his last days alone and frightened in a shelter instead of the owner staying and giving him a proper funeral? And didn’t just purely convenience euthanized them when she got pregnant rather than for him to actually begin to become infirm? He was a housepet for years and then relegated to the garage. Like that was any ideal already. Like it was ever ideal for this dog who was a management case. This owner did far far more than you think is good to do… When push comes to shove, you’d dump them instead of live up to the responsibility of owning your pet from beginning to end. But rescue has taught people that dogs are disposable and there will always be more. The responsible breeder teaches that a dog is an lifetime investment and they are to stay in the home or go back to the breeder. The problem is that there are people out there who haven’t a clue what the word husbandry means and aren’t breeders at all than mess it up for those who are real breeders.
        Just like all the people who don’t know the difference between animal rights and animal welfare got the idea all wrong.

        Regardless of where your pet comes from, in the end it ALL boils down to REAPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP. !!!!! And that does need to come with a plan for the life of the pet because we all know from the minute we meet that animal, we will one day be saying good bye. It’s not a contingency plan to have something set aside for your pet’s care, it’s a part of pet ownership and even short-term planning for your own life…
        And also includes the finial disposition of that animal and that you are the one who takes care of that too.
        I mean really!?! This blog is about how shitty people are for dumping their senior pets, and you think this pet was better off in the same lousy situation.
        I bet you don’t know the difference between animal welfare and animal rights either. Stephanie it’s mind sets like yours is why there are owned dogs in the shelters now. Buck up and be responsible for your property & charges from their beginning to end.

      • Stephanie May 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

        If you look at the dates of the posts you would see that Connie clarified her response after I asked her the question. Your personal attack against me is completely unfounded and offensive.

      • ProudK911 May 21, 2015 at 7:34 am #

        Shame on me I didn’t spell check!
        It’s RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP!
        Silly touch screens…

  25. Brave (most of the time) February 19, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    My first (non family) dog will be an elder. If I can treat an old dog as if he were and old human, love him, pay his vet bills and be there for him during his last breaths, only then will I know if I can have a puppy/young dog.

    • pommom101690 October 9, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

      Having adopted/fostered dogs of all ages, I can honestly say that having experienced what a senior dog has to offer, I doubt you will ever want a puppy or young dog. I know I will not be adopting anything other than senoirs.

  26. Sheila February 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Too many times you hear that the dog’s owner passes away then the poor dog just get abandoned or dumped at the pound. We have in our wills that leaves whatever dogs we have at the time a financial sum to a well known shelter that will either look after them for find them good homes. I could not imagine something happening to me and my dogs are not looked after.

    Other than that, I just could not imagine people getting rid of their dogs, just because they are moving, sick, or just tired of them. These are the people that think their dogs are no different than a tennis racket or an old shoe. Karma can be a “b**ch”, perhaps one day these people will be disposed of by their family when they are old and helpless.

  27. Jennifer Robinson February 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    There are heartless people out there. There are also heartbreak cases, like seniors whose health fails and leaves them unable to care for their dog or dogs.
    Special credit should be given to those who act to make the best of a bad situation. I like this place.
    http://www.peaceofminddogrescue.org/‎
    I’m sure there are other places worthy of mention. They merit support.

  28. Mary Mousseau February 23, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Oh for goodness sakes! How holy some of you sound, with all your money planning and superiority!
    So, according to you: by virtue of being poor or on a fixed income that no longer allows for 1200 dollars to clean a dog’s teeth, that person has no right to own a dog? Really? They have no right to that love and companionship because of their income? Oh, and Heaven help them if they age and have health issues like heart surgery and cancer: they should have planned for that!
    Have you no idea some people live paycheck to paycheck and are lucky to have a little set aside in case?
    As for moving to senior living and she should have planned for that by decreasing her dogs sooner: perhaps her health changed suddenly and she had to make the move. I don’t know about where you live, but around here senior living allows 1 dog or 2 cats. So start giving your other dogs and cats away now, just in case!
    I would expect more empathy and sympathy from dog lovers! I am happy to see so many offered places to check for possible help! To make a person feel defensive or guilty because they own and love and care for a dog as best they can but can’t afford more costly procedures is horrible! Dogs love their people and, if we are lucky, people love their dogs! Direct some of this shouldn’t have dogs to real abusers and not to sick older people doing their best.
    And hope someday other people don’t make the same judgements on you because your nest egg wasn’t quite enough to cover everything.

    • Marilyn Armstrong February 23, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      Thank you very much. You have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words.

    • Gail F. February 24, 2014 at 7:02 am #

      Of course the people here love their dogs. I maintain, though, that one can, when making life decisions (including whether to acquire a dog), try to consider practical realities and possibilities. I will have to make such choices in 7-9 years; after my dog is gone. My instinct will be to get another dog, a young dog. I’ll be in my mid-sixties. I will have to consider that in five to 15 years I might have to move to senior housing or even a nursing home if my health does not last; and I have no nearby family members who could take in a dog of mine. I will have to decide whether to take a chance on a dog that is out of puppyhood, perhaps four or five, or middle-aged, so that the dog won’t outlive my ability to care for it. I will also take stock of my situation, see if I have friends who could take the dog if something happens to me. And think about getting a dog from a responsible breeder who would be willing to sell to a person in her sixties and who of course would take the dog back if illness struck. Or, I could give up dog ownership and volunteer at a local shelter; or foster dogs, rather than own one full time. But I will have to think about these things, which I never have before when contemplating getting a dog. It costs me nothing to think, to consider the options, ponder what would be fair to the dog before I acquire him or her.
      Everybody can almost certainly count on at least a slight decrease in mobility and possible health reverses as we go into old age. It’s a good idea to try to plan for what you can plan for; because there will be unexpected events, and some of them could have consequences unpleasant as well as unforeseen. And of course, one cannot plan for every contingency.
      Marilyn Armstrong did a wonderful thing in taking in Nan. It is certainly not her fault that Nan has bad teeth, she was evidently told by Nan’s prior owner that Nan’s teeth had already been fixed. What I don’t understand is why Nan’s prior owner misrepresented the state of the dog’s teeth; and why that prior owner could not have got some help from breed rescue to get the teeth fixed, especially since, as a top winning bitch in her breed, Nan would have been fairly well known. If Nan’s prior owner was a member of the breed’s national club, perhaps Marilyn could appeal to them for help in fixing Nan’s teeth? I have seen breed rescue address the needs of older dogs whose owners can no longer be responsible for them.
      I certainly hope things work out well for Nan and Marilyn.

  29. Kitten March 6, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    If I had the resources, I would start a senior dog “farm” for the old dogs whose people abandoned them. Every last one of these dumped old sad dogs makes me cry. Dumping them is heartless.

    I also feel for the shelter workers and rescue people who have to live that pain everyday, God bless you, not many could do that work.

  30. pommom101690 October 9, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    I don’t know how I missed this when you first put it out, but this is one of my biggest peeves!!! I am the treasurer for a rescue, so we see this a lot. We currently have 40 dogs in rescue. Six of those dogs are seniors or terminally ill dogs that we will never be able to place.

    I received an email from a friend about a dog in our local shelter. I like to think she didn’t know what she was doing by sending me this, but I am sure she did.

    See, I have always adopted my pets. I will NEVER purchase from a breeder. It’s not that I think people that purchase from reputable, responsible breeders are bad. It’s just that I have no issue finding what I want (read Pomeranians and Chihuahuas) in shelters and rescues. I have recently tweaked that philosophy to only adopting animals over the age or ten and/or animals with special needs, but I digress.

    Anyway, this friend volunteers almost daily at our local shelter. I open her email to find photos of a SIXTEEN year old Spitz who was surrendered that day by her previous owners because they were afraid she would pee on the carpet in their new home. She looked so frightened. I had to go meet her.

    I new fully well that this wasn’t one that we would be able to pull through the rescue. The rescue just didn’t have the funds to take on yet another forever foster. The moment I met Miss Harper Louise (FKA Mia), I fell in love. I had six dogs already, three of whom are seniors, and four cats. I didn’t need another dog, but she needed me. I couldn’t bare to leave her. They temperament tested her for me while I filled out the paperwork, and then I took her straight to my vet.

    Harper smelled terrible. She was incontinent, and her owners obviously just let her pee and then sit in it. Her “pants” were stained yellow from the urine. Luckily, she had already been spayed, but she has several mammary tumors, so I know the spay was a little later in life. Her teeth are awful, The smell from her mouth will almost knock you down. Her toe nails were too long and she had awful arthritis, so she struggled to walk. She had a pretty nasty ear infection, and she is pretty much deaf. She has advanced cataracts, so she is nearly blind. She has a small tumor on her foot, which we chose to just leave alone. She also had raw sores on her elbows, likely from laying on them in her own pee. All in all, Harper was a hot mess.

    It has been three weeks since I adopted Harper. I have her on a quality, grain free canned food diet. She takes a 1/2 a proin twice daily to help with her bladder (costs $15 for 2 months supply). Guess what? She is totally housebroken. She got her toe nails trimmed, and she is on a joint supplement. Now, she runs around like a spring chicken. She is still pretty much Helen Keller in the sight and hearing department, but that’s ok. Her little elbows are almost totally healed.

    She had her pictures made with my other six dogs last weekend, and she was a total superstar. She is such a diva. She barks when she need something from you. She loves the orthopedic dog beds I have throughout the house, but she loves to nap in the recliner and to sleep in the bed by my feet at night. I recently ordered her a custom collar, harness, leash, and name tag from etsy.

    I feel like she is finally living the life she deserved all along. I am glad they dumped this sweet elderly southern belle at our local shelter, because if they hadn’t, I would have never have had the pleasure of opening my heart and home to such a beautiful soul.

  31. Matt March 16, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    Marilyn, what’s is it with this new age thing where if you don’t have enough money for something all of a sudden you lo to the state or county (us working taxpayers) to supply the money to you for free. What ever happened to putting money away for the future. That’s the problem now a days everyone wants a paycheck, but they don’t want to work hard to get it. I would spend every last penny I had if my dog needed medical attention no matter what and if I didn’t have money I would use credit until I was in debt up to my neck. Basically I WILL DO ANYTHING FOR MY DOG. He would for me. We don’t want to hear you rant back about about interest rates or whatever your a yuppee piece of shit who needs to get a job and quit asking the gov’t for money and go earn some yourself.

    • Marilyn Armstrong March 19, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      All the dogs are fine, thank you. Found a new vet who does food work for reasonable rates and golly gee whiz, turns out it wasn’t an emergency, just a routine cleaning. Imagine that. A vet who lies and jacks up prices, hoping to make a killing by scaring pet owners into unnecessary procedures. Now THAT never happens.

      Thank you for you kind support and your understanding. You’re a total jerk, with neither manners nor, apparently, intelligence. Nan is fine, still trucking along at 15, as are all the others. We have to carry her in and out of the house these days, but as long as she seems to be enjoying life, she is welcome to enjoy it with us.

      You’re the kind of person who gives dog owner’s a bad name.

      • AD March 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

        good for you Marilyn, often it is a simple matter of shopping around for a decent and true vet.

      • Marilyn Armstrong March 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

        I am incredibly happy to find this vet. She’s a little farther away than I’d like, but I’ll gladly go the distance. What a peach … and what a rat that last vet was. Hard to believe that someone entrusted with the care of animals could actually LIE like that. Straight up lies, not mere exaggeration. I was horrified.

    • Stephanie March 19, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      Matt, Marilyn has addressed her financial situation in earlier posts. She is not all all how you describe her. We all care about dogs here but it would help if you would read all the comments before rushing to judgment.

    • yellerlab May 21, 2015 at 3:21 am #

      Wow. Uncalled for. It doesn’t sound like you have ever faced an unexpected financial crisis. I said crisis. Sure, everyone should plan for the future as best they can. Sometimes, things don’t go the way we planned.

      At age 40, I was hit with a debilitating illness that rendered me bedridden for four years to start. I had a farm, an animal rescue, cats and dogs, dog training business, dog daycare and overnight camp etc. What happens when a person is completely bedridden?

      Everything falls apart very fast.

      I had to regroup very quickly while I was still sick. It was nearly impossible for me to get financial help for myself, much less my animals. I was in big trouble.

      I was able to get disability. The amount was so low, there was no housing affordable. Throughout this time, I kept my dog and cats as healthy as possible by selling things, my furniture, my house. That is the sacrifice I made to keep them.

      Yet, the amount I pay just to walk into any vet clinic is $65. I rarely get out of there under $300. Their prices aren’t reduced because my entire life went down the drain. Marilyn is right, some of those procedures, vaccines, and surgeries don’t actually cost that much. $400 for yearly vaccines is ridiculous.

      Right now, my cat is being treated for hyperthyroid. 12 years later, I am still sick enough that I can barely get him to the vet. We are at $1,500 for the procedure.

      Did I mismanage my funds? No, I had what is called a catastrophic crisis. I ‘ll be homeless before I will betray my animals.
      Sure, it’s my responsibility. A little help couldn’t hurt.

      • ProudK911 May 21, 2015 at 6:57 am #

        $1500 for a procedure for hyperthyroidism?!?
        What ever happened to the bottle of methimazole that lasts the average hyperthyroid kitty 8 months for $80?!? I just sold one today…
        When you ablate their thyroid they still have to take medicine to fix what got killed off- why not just treat the disease as it is, rather than to give her a new one (hypothyroidism) and then have to treat that?
        I am the proud owner of a hyperthyroid 17 year old cat I got last year as a convenience dump-she is on a double size dose and it’s still only $20 a month to treat her
        3 days of methimazole people get their cat back and kitty can live out their life with proper management (aka owner compliance in giving meds).
        Our clients don’t pay $500 in the diagnosis, first year’s treatment and including 2 blood level monitoring every 6 months! Probably spend $500 in getting the diagnosis and a lifetime of treatment…. But that’s River Country Animal Wellness too… We’re a good kind of crazy over there….
        There are options!

      • yellerlab May 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

        Ah. The second I pressed SEND I knew it was a mistake. Somebody is going to pick apart my post, take something out of context or misunderstand the point of the post. And there you are.

        Listen, You can’t judge what you don’t know. Did I write about the other thousands of ways we tried to fix him?

        What is the purpose of your post? Is it to imply that I am an idiot who doesn’t know how to go about things the right way?

        DON’T JUDGE! You don’t know anyone’s story until they tell it. People on this post care about animals. Many have spent hundreds, thousands on their pets and would do it again.
        I am grateful for all of us who do our best for our dogs and cats, etc..

        (By the way, thank you for bleeping over the part where I have been mostly bedridden. Love that)

        It is none of my business to know how they came to a write specific post. We are here to help and poke fun every so often. Nobody likes a smarty-pants.

  32. AD March 20, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    I agree for the most part however in the line saying it is better to take the dog to a shelter than to dispose of in another “inhumane” manner I sort of take issue with. I know of some “old school” dog owners that when the dog gets too old/sick they do it the old fashion way.. a quick bullet to the head. I’ve heard shelter directors say “well it’s better the dog comes here than be shot”. Really? So being dumped in a shelter surrounded by frantic dogs, lost and confused and being euthanized by strangers is better than a nice stroll outside with your loved one and being put out the quickest way possible? I know a guy who was the old fashioned type. He LOVED his dog, his dog was his world. When it came time when the dog was blind and sick the guy being very old school and not believing in paying a vet to do it asked his friend (he couldn’t do it himself) to take the dog out in the woods, a place the dog loved to be. The dog got to be relaxed and comfortable and happy in his last moments instead of being dragged to a scary sterile place like the vets office.

  33. Roseamry May 15, 2015 at 1:22 am #

    To change the topic a bit, to parting with our senior dogs: When our very old Norwegian Elkhound showed it was time, I went to the supermarket and bought a pound of trout. I nuked it just a little to take the chill off, although if he’d caught it in a stream it probably would have been cold. He had such a good time eating that raw fish just before he left the house for the last time. I smile when I look at his urn, knowing it contains not only Kodiak’s ashes, but those of some unknown fish that gave him pleasure.

  34. Unresting December 28, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    A lot judgmental people in this blog. Most people live paycheck to paycheck so saving sometimes is not possible. Sometimes people don’t have thousandths to throw on vet bills for an old dog, or even a young dog. People like this should not own pets and yes the best possible thing is surrending them. If the option comes to of a person can barely put food in the table what makes any of you think they can affor even $200 dental cleaning for a dog?. Like I said owning a dog huge massive responsibility, don’t judge. Just because you planned, just because you gave your dog your last penny doesn’t mean any reasonable human being would. An elderly person’s only concern should be their health, a poor persons only concern should be keeping a job and being able to feed their child, if they were dumb enough to adopt a senior pet or have a senior pet the best thing and most humane is to either have it euthanize in a respectful manner/or surrender it to the shelter and never get another pet again.

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