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HORIZON BLOG

Can Dad Handle Caring for Another Dog?

 

Question

My father lost his dog after a long, wonderful life. Bo was his constant companion, and I can tell he misses him so much. I realize that over time, the pain will lessen, but right now he’s struggling. I also miss Bo when I stop over to see Dad; he was a great dog. Bo was a border collie that followed Dad everywhere. He was the sweetest dog, and it brings me to tears just to write about him.

The question comes to this. Should Dad replace Bo with another dog, knowing it could actually outlive him? My father is 80 years old now. It seems unfair to risk my father passing before the dog, yet I know Dad is a loving dog owner. He’s reasonably able to care for a pet still, other than grooming. He takes walks every day.

What would you say to another dog for Dad?

 

Answer

So sorry to hear about Bo’s death. It sounds like it was a perfect match of man and dog. It’s so very hard to lose a constant companion that literally stays by your side wherever you go. That loss is felt deeply for some time. 

As you stated, the big question is whether you risk bringing another dog into a relationship with your father at this late stage in his life.

First, find out if your father wants another dog or pet of any kind. Some have a hard time replacing a lost pet, and he may not feel ready for months or years. His desire and readiness for another dog could be your answer right there.

If you do go for another dog, please, for the sake of everyone, make a rock solid plan for the dog’s life. By that, I mean develop an agreement where the dog will live if and when your father can no longer care for it. Please do not consider the local Humane Society as part of that plan. It’s no guarantee that a dog gets adopted, so you shouldn’t rely on it as a backup.

Consider yourself, a grandchild, a loving neighbor, or a family friend in the mix. The individual or family that would adopt the dog when the time comes should be part of the selection process when choosing it. As you know, not all breeds are the same, and Dad and backup need to be thoughtful about lifestyle and compatibility for this plan to work. The backup ideally is involved with the dog in some capacity from the start, too. Maybe they visit occasionally, become a second home when Dad vacations, etc.

Consider age of the dog, as well. Weigh getting a puppy versus an older dog. Either option can work. The pros with a puppy are the cute early months, and avoiding potential behavior issues. You get somewhat of a blank slate. You also get the work of training. Since Dad has had a dog, he already knows that.

An older dog is already trained, but less exuberant, and with a shorter life ahead of it. There could be potential health issues, not getting the exact dog you want, and also, the risk of more heartbreak, quicker.

Dogs are wonderful companions, and your father clearly appreciates them. If it brings joy to his life, he wants one, and you create a lifespan plan, I would go for it. With those bases covered, it’s very doable and a lovely thing.

You are clearly thoughtful in your approach to this subject. I’m certain you can make this happen and enhance the rest of your dad’s life.

 

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