Is it okay to even have a pet as you age?

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Dingfelder

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I killed my pet three weeks ago.  Through the vet.  It was time. But ... barely?  I don't know.  It's still crushing me.  I am confused in my heart about that.  Cried all the time, weeks later still do sometimes. People talking about dogs feels like an attack on my heart. I am sometimes scared at the thought of another pet, and that this time, in my years, it may be me leaving too soon instead of him.  And then my passing will be the coffin for both of us. My disappearance will probably be incredibly merciful compared to his if I am out somewhere on the road.  What would he do?  How long would he suffer?  How could I in good conscience subject him to that?

Is that just what people do?  What I do? Sacrifice another for myself?  A soul I have fully committed to love?  I don't want to depersonalize it ... is that who I am?  The soul that casually adopts another soul and then abandons it?

I feel like I am at the precipice of deciding whether I will live entirely unloved for the rest of my life, so I'm squishy about having another pet.  What is he or she going to do if I get that glowing angelic heart in my home and my heart and then keel over and leave that soul with that terrifying empty hungry thirsty nothing with no rescue likely?


How do you all square that practical and spiritual reality with yourselves?

I find that there is almost no discussion of this over years of reading here confusing in itself.
 

WanderingRose

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Because I travel alone but for my dog, I don’t go miles down dirt roads to remote spots where if anything happened to me my beloved pet could die of starvation and dehydration before we were found.

I also carry a card behind my drivers license that informs I have a dependent animal, also a sticker saying the same on the side of my rig.

It’s the best I can do, and I’m already thinking towards my outliving her and whether I would get another dog as my own lifetime inevitably winds down.

I’m thinking that I won’t, because of the distinct possibility that I could die suddenly and they would be left without care for however long it took someone to find me.

At home, she could drink from the toilet and get into her dog food in a desperate situation, but while traveling that would be much more difficult.

It’s a tough decision, but something we aging travelers need to think about,
 

cyndi

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I had to euthanize my companion and partner in crime in July. I am currently dogless. I have never been without a dog. She and I traveled together for 14 years; cross country 13 times.

The aging process takes so much. But, now I feel like I have lost the most important part of me. Dogs are a part of my identity: professionally, personally, financially and emotionally.

I have always had a backup plan for my partner if something happened to me. That plan won't work, anymore. I won't get another dog without an alternate arrangement if I was incapable of caring for it. So until I find that arrangement I'm dogless. One less reason to get out of bed in the morning

Yeah. I have no answers. But, I am so sorry for your loss, I get it
 

ForestRoadSurfers

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sorry for your loss-have been there before and will again.

There is also the option to adopt older/senior dogs-usually already trained and only got a couple years left but you could provide that love and comfort for them in their time left.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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It's too soon!
Give yourself time to grieve and heal.  While grieving you will not make rational decisions.  When I lost Simon it was 9 months before I knew it was time to start looking for another companion.  You will know when you are ready to make that decision.

As to what happens to Oscar if I were to die while boondocking (or anywhere):
I communicate with my family every night; I purchased an inReach for that purpose.  If my sisters don't hear from me for 2 nights they would start the search process; they know my last stop and where I was planning to head.  I make sure he has enough water to survive.  I trust my sisters to take care of Oscar.
 

MrNoodly

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My dog's ashes ride in a box on the dashboard.

Maybe you could rescue an older dog, give it a few years of the good life.
 

bullfrog

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I found, like you, I couldn’t take the pain of loosing another companion so I decided no more personal pets. I do focus now on seeing and observing wild animals in their own habitat. It is much more joyful to see them frolicking free and inspires me to do the same without the emotional baggage.
 

Cammalu

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I got a dog several months ago after saying for years I wouldn’t do it again. I get it.

If you are anywhere near me my dog would love to play with you and go for walks. She is the sweetest dog in the world just doesn’t want McChicken sandwiches.

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crofter

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Dingfelder said:
... live entirely unloved for the rest of my life...
This is not possible, because we love you. We however are not all that cute, warm, and fuzzy so you may still want to choose a pet over us.

I also was faced with putting down my awesome German Shepherd Dog who was suffering with a fatal illness, but he was hit by a car before I could bring myself to do the vet euthanasia. For his sake I wish I had rushed into the euthanasia instead of waiting.

I still do not have another pet, although a wild cat has adopted me, along with all his wild and bad habits the worst of which is loud cat fights in the middle of the night and spray marking.

If you cannot commit to a long period of pet care, you could consider a rodent as a pet, or a fish. They are both quite portable and the rodent has the advantage of being fuzzy.    -crofter
 

Stargazer

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Aw, Dingfelder, I am so sorry.

It is still too fresh to even think about this. I had my little girl put down on April 1, 2019, and swore I would never get another. I am 69 and you said exactly what I thought. After eight months, I decided to look around and found my now furbaby at the local shelter

He is the best dog I have ever had. I leave out extra food and lots of water for him, just in case. I am now in a S&B so it is easier.

Take time to grieve and wait. It is too soon to make that decision.

Fyi, my mother acquired a puppy when she was eighty years old. She just last month had her beloved companion euthanized. Mom is now 96.
 

tx2sturgis

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I think I need to keep a box of tissues nearby when reading this thread....

I have tried to line-up a couple of people who will adopt my little dog if something happens to me...I sure hope that she will be well-loved and spoiled by someone when I'm gone....

:(
 

Malamute

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When I lose a dog, I get another one right away. i dont think it takes anything away from the old dog, but it sure helps fill the huge dog shaped hole in life. Ive always felt it was a good decision, the dog certainly always thought so. The world is full of good dogs that need a good person. Most of mine have been rescues or pound dogs, and all have been awesome dogs in their own, sometimes quirky ways.

Age. Dad was concerned what would happen to his dog if he passed, he tried figuring it out, making arrangements, so and so would take him, good family, kids, blah blah, stuff stuff...then later he said maybe that wasnt the right place....I told him he just had to trust that nobody was going to let anything bad happen to his dog. As it turned out, he passed, and it took a little bit, but he was adopted by my niece who has 3 small kids, and hes in dog heaven there.

Surely there are ways to keep communications open if you plan, or emergency things, like the "help, ive fallen and cant get up" fobs, perhaps one of the smart watches that is a health monitor, can you set them up to make communication if your heartbeat stops or other signs of distress?

Chipped dogs have info on file, you could have them contact a friend or relative, or a rescue to get your pet if you were unable. No matter where you are, the chip people have your info on file. CHIP YOUR DOG!!! Its also the best way to ensure getting them back if lost or stolen. Keep your info up to date with the chip people.

And yes, the rescues ive been to had older or middle aged dogs that lost their person and needed a good home. I cant save the whole world, but I can save it one or two dogs at a time.
 

Dingfelder

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Thanks folks.

The older dog thing, or maybe an older cat, probably either would be fine though nothing brings the love out of strangers like a dog, sounds well worth considering.

Unfortunately everybody I know is older than I am, usually by 15 to 20 years or more, and my sister lives in Hawaii and couldn't help if she wanted to, my brother is a merchant seaman and isn't necessarily even in the hemisphere to help, and another brother is at least halfway estranged from the family and lives in Europe ... so if I could set up a contact, it would have to be through some sort of official channel.

I do recognize the importance of getting a pet chipped, and would do that.

I don't know about the smartwatch alerting-someone thing. Or who to alert. Any ideas if there is a service that monitors that and comes and finds people and/or their pets ASAP by reading your heart, as suggested? It sounds like something sensible enough to at least have been tried by some company already.
 

WanderingRose

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If you don’t have someone who can relatively quickly know you have had an emergency, and step in for your dependent animal, stay where you and they will be quickly found in the event of an emergency.

IMHO.

I don’t talk with one of my kids daily, but when I am going to be without signal for a period of time they know where exactly I will be, the start and stop of that, and I check in with them when I come out.

For me, the need for my dog to have care outweighs the benefit of being out in the wilderness by myself.

But, that’s me.
 

Dingfelder

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I'm not at all worried about the emergency that results in me not being found.  I don't really care about that.  I worry about the emergency of the pet not being found. 

I'm worried about a heart attack (heart disease common in my family) or a stroke taking me out and leaving the dog (or cat?) helpless and locked in a little hotbox to die horribly. It's not the long-term stuff, like cancer, I worry about.  That would at least give me time to let my pet out of life easily and without any surprises.  It's the bolt of lightning that leaves him or her desperate that frightens me.  You can love till the sky's the limit, but that doesn't change what happens the instant you're gone, I figure.  At that point it becomes something the real scope of the matter unfolds.  

I gotta ask, what did I do to make this friendly loving completely dependent heart, which never signed up for me and agreed to any of my crazy terms, safe?

My problem is I don't think I am in the spiritual position to answer that question in a way that makes me feel at all good about myself, and I doubt I ever will be.  

I just don't want to abandon an animal, physically or otherwise or however or whatever, I dunno.  But all my friends are older than I am, and being on the road means they wouldn't even be around anyway, so ... who's to know if I leave my dog to bake to death in the summer heat one day when I just might drop dead?  

It's just a nasty picture I'm trying to shake out of my head at the same time I'm telling myself, Whoa there, maybe I shouldn't.  Is the answer to whether I should be thinking so much about myself, selfishly, to just blow it off and congratulate myself for being even *more* selfish in the process, living my "freedom" come what may?  

Heck, I've known people who were even with their wives and kids that way.  Women with husbands and their kids too, same thing.  I don't want to become one of them. I am just not sure of the logic of putting myself and another soul into the position where that soul is disposable to me.  No matter how much I crave my own happiness or emotional balance and security.  It would turn my whole conception of myself inside out to think any soul was disposable. I wouldn't know who I was anymore. I would have to un-live my life.

But I still like dogs.  And I'm not young. That's a problem.

I realize it may not be solve-able.  I wish I were either a bit older or a bit younger, so the answer would be more obvious.  I'm just kind of in the middle, where all the questions live.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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I feel sad for a person who doesn't know anyone that they trust well enough to say, "can I text you every day and tell you I am ok?"  It doesn't have to be someone near, just someone reliable that will start the SAR process if you don't check in.  Of course, that means you have to check in reliably.

And it is not just about my dog.  My mother had a stroke and after things that she could do before she was incapable of doing, like dial a phone.  And her balance was off, she couldn't walk without help.

The thing I like about inReach is that my family get my GPS coordinates automatically; I don't have to try to explain where I am.
 

Dingfelder

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Spiff said:
I feel sad for a person who doesn't know anyone that they trust

I had some friends, a fair amount by my very modest standards, but they more or less turned against me, most behind the facade of the HOA, saying I shouldn't be here because I'm in a trailer.  Even though pretty much everyone here has one.  Mostly, for realzies, because they didn't want anyone coming in and out of our little area, from virus paranoia.  Others who were predatory, trying to oust me from the circle of an older lady I was the caretaker for so they could hone in on her money without my being around, including the poor dear's daughter and all her vampiric circle of druggie friends.  I was fine with older friends for quite a while, but now I realize I need younger ones too.

I'll have to make a clean break of it if I can ever get out of here, and find people I trust on the fly, or maybe through here.  Now that my neighbors have breached their trust with me here after knowing them a dozen years, it can never go back to normal again.
 

Dingfelder

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crofter said:
This is not possible, because we love you. We however are not all that cute, warm, and fuzzy so you may still want to choose a pet over us.

I also was faced with putting down my awesome German Shepherd Dog who was suffering with a fatal illness, but he was hit by a car before I could bring myself to do the vet euthanasia. For his sake I wish I had rushed into the euthanasia instead of waiting.

I still do not have another pet, although a wild cat has adopted me, along with all his wild and bad habits the worst of which is loud cat fights in the middle of the night and spray marking.

If you cannot commit to a long period of pet care, you could consider a rodent as a pet, or a fish. They are both quite portable and the rodent has the advantage of being fuzzy.    -crofter
Thank you. I used to have a pet rat.  Ran up and down the curtains, tearing them, peeing everywhere. But at the same time, I could carry it anywhere, on me or in a pocket, pet it, feed it with whatever I placed between my teeth, on my tongue, and I would even let it in my mouth to sniff around if she wanted to.  Yeah weird.  I'm a freaky animal dude, let them do what they want even if it's sorta bizarre, unless it gets damaging. Wonderful little girl, she was. Short-lived for sure.

Not quite the same though.  I'm not super old, but not something you'd bet your last dollar on.  I am so inspired to get something that will fit my likely age but ... I don't know what that is.  An often extreme amount of stress in my life, by my measure, anyway ... and for many years now ... will probably cut me short of my potential.  Maybe I should get a big dog, if I get one, not the type to last 15 years or more if you're lucky. 

The rodent idea fits well with that, but I don't want a rodent.  Just not my type of deal.  I was into that when I was a kid, but don't have the same level of love and intrigue for rodents that I used to.   Not a bad suggestion, though.

Fish means large amounts of loose water, so that's out.  Plus, they are more like a super cool painting that is alive and moves, rather than something that shares your life and your joys.
 
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