Home > Daisy, Dog Park, Pet Ponderings > Leaving an older dog behind at home

Leaving an older dog behind at home

September 8, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Daisy close upDaisy’s age has been weighing on my mind lately. It’s hard to believe she is ten years old. Where did the time go?

Looking back on her early years over these past few weeks has made me realize how far we have come – both of us. We are as close as any dog and owner can be. She is my co-pilot, my friend, my cuddle-buddy and my companion. She has made so much progress in the six years she has been with me, more than I ever could have hoped.

And while she is still active and agile and happy, I have started to notice a little stiffness in her hips that was not there before. It is a reminder that our time is limited and that she soon may not be able to enjoy our long walks through the woods as she does now.

Maybe that’s why reading Carrie’s blog post (Separation Anxiety) on Tales and Tails this past weekend touched a chord with me. In it she talks about leaving her Greyhound, Bunny, behind so she can take their new and younger girl, Flattery, out to get some more experience with being in public. Her words “I know that sheโ€™ll be okay when I leave home without her, and she has been, but I feel like I canโ€™t even look her in the eye when I take Flattery and leave her behind.” so resonated with me.

I remember feeling the same way when I left Aspen behind while I took a much younger Daisy to the dog park. Aspen had always come with us when we walked. She had always been so happy to go, it was her favorite part of her day. But as she got sicker and weaker and was unable to walk long distances any more, I had to make the difficult (and heartbreaking) decision to leave her at home. I still remember the guilt I felt in doing so. Oh Aspen still got her own much shorter walk at home, but it wasn’t the dog park. It wasn’t what she loved.

Now as Daisy gets older, I worry about having to make a similar decision for her some day soon. I think it would kill me a little inside to do so. She loves the dog park so much. It is where she first learned how to be a dog; where she learned that people could be trusted. It’s where she learned about friends and the joy of running through fields, and playing chase, and sniffing out new smells.

How could I take that away from her? I hope I won’t have to make that decision, but still, after reading Carrie’s post, it weighs on my mind.

Have any of you had to face making a similar decision? how did you handle it? Did you feel the guilt too?

  1. Louise Sokolowski
    September 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    I can sort of relate to what you’re going though! However, I’m sorry, I’ve never read your blogs before, are you getting a new dog not that Daisy is getting older? I’m asking because I’m wondering if that’s why you are struggling with leaving Daisy behind…?
    However, back to how I can relate. My dog Butch, a 100 lbs lab. just turned 8 and we rescued another dog Cesar, a lab mix., now fully grown at about 60 lbs., when he was about 5 months old, a year ago on Oct. 12th.
    Butch is my heart! I love him more than I can describe! I was worried I couldn’t love another dog, but I love Cesar very much and having Cesar has livened up Butch and our household ๐Ÿ™‚ Butch seems more of a puppy now than ever ๐Ÿ™‚
    However, here comes the but. Butch had knee surgery when he was 5 and ever since I have to be careful for him, because he doesn’t always realize his own limitations, cannot play as much or walk as far, which he loves! Thus, I’m finding myself in the sit. where I can bring Cesar with me to places, but not Butch, and it tears my heart apart to leave Butch behind, even though that’s sadly the way it is…It doesn’t feel right without Butch.
    So, what I do is make sure that Butch never feels forgotten! Meaning, at home, I always cuddle with him when Cesar is sleeping, he’s a jealous little brother ๐Ÿ™‚ and just make sure that I spend quality time with Butch in the home.
    I don’t know if I’ve helped…I feel your pain(!)but it’s obvious how much you love Daisy and I’m positive she knows! Remember that dogs live in the moment and Dasiy will not think you’re taking anything away from her! See if you can have some friends bring their dogs to your home and create a little dog park ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mel
      September 8, 2013 at 10:28 PM

      It is great advice Louise. I am not getting a younger dog, but Jasper, her brother, is 5 and still very young and energetic and Cupcake, her sister, is a few years younger too. It’s just something I worry about as Daisy gets slower while the other two remain active. It’s always hard to leave one behind isn’t it?

      • Louise Sokolowski
        September 9, 2013 at 2:13 AM

        Thank you Mel! It’s especially difficult when we pull out of the drive way and Butch has his face in the window, watching us leave…but then I try to think he’s happy he’s “getting rid of us” for a while, so he can have the house for himself ๐Ÿ™‚
        I’m happy to hear you have Jasper and Cupcake too, as support โ™ฅ

  2. September 8, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Reblogged this on Clumsy Musings and commented:
    It may seem silly to cry from reading a blog post about animals but yours simply touched that cord…

    I remember the dogs and cats that aren’t here anymore, some of old age, some from car accidents etc. And I have a lot of GoodByes that I can’t even say, even now.

    I just just don’t wanna say them even though I know they are gone. I simply love them too much still and I am selfish too…That simply makes me not want to let them go.

    I know nobody else will remember them, even I started to forget how they looked, what they liked, why they meant so much but I still want to hold on to them, I don’t want to part ways!

    I’m sorry you all but, as much as I try, I can’t refuse to accept that you aren’t here anymore, that I’ll never see you stretching when you’re waking up or running around. I can’t accept that I can’t look at or hug you either because I’m sad or I’m just trying to tell you all ”I love you”.

    Would you ever be able to forgive me? I don’t even care that I can’t forgive myself for that. I should let you rest in peace and not disturb you and I admit, I loved some of you more than the others and I didn’t know how to appreciate you.

    Some of you died from my own foolishness! I can’t bear that but I don’t want to not bear that either. I have no idea what I want anymore besides, probably, your immortality outside my heart and head.

    I know I promised Alistair to reblog a comment to his post about the damage we do to animals and I wanted to write one too. I apologize for not being able to write one until now.

    I want to make a change about how the world treats the animals but, as much as I care for them, I’m just not strong enough. I got my own wounds to salt and my current animals future to worry about. I really wish I could but I simply can’t be stronger when I’m not. I admit to that.

    • September 8, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      I decided to post it as an individual post and not a reblog as some people are stiffy about that…and it ended up being a wall of text that wouldn’t format. Still, I stick by my words…

  3. September 8, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    I sometimes take Beryl to Greyhound events and I can’t take Frankie. I try and take him for a walk beforehand which means I have to endure sad faces from both of them on the same day. It isn’t at all enjoyable for me. And I can’t take a foster Greyhound to the beach with us so I’m getting very sad faces from Mambo every day. Then I get sad faces from Frankie and Beryl if I take Mambo out by himself for a walk. My life is full of sad doggie faces right now! But they do survive fine and I know they will survive when the time comes that beach walks are too much. I think they cope much better with being left behind than we do with leaving them behind. Enjoy the present with Daisy Mel ๐Ÿ™‚ The future will sort itself out. You might find Daisy will decide when she’s had enough of going to the dog park herself. I have had that happen when living on 40 acres with my Shelties and they have eventually chosen to stay home when our daily walk got too much for them.

    • Mel
      September 8, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Oh wow Sue. That is WAY more sad faces than I think I could handle. Oh my!
      I know you are right to just focus on the present. I think it’s just me being melancholy because Daisy is getting older. I want her always to be happy (it’s a promise I made her when I adopted her). Maybe she will opt herself out some day. For now, we will enjoy these lovely moments. Good advice Sue.

  4. whydowepaythem
    September 8, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    i worry about the same thing in terms of taking BJ on long walks and to Central Park. Before 9 AM and the off leash rule, the whole park is a dog park. BJ is 13 1/2 and I notice a little stiffness. So far he’s okay bur I worry for the future.

    In NYC dog strollers are sometimes more prevalent than baby strollers. I’ve put BJ in one just to try it. He was fine and did’t try to jump out. I’ll buy one when BJ has difficulty walking to the park.

    I don’t know where you live and if it’s feasible. You might try getting one and then you can take her to the park and let her run around as much as she’s able.

    • Mel
      September 8, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      Thank you. Not a bad idea. We drive to ours (it’s about 20 miles away), but it’s the terrain and young dogs I worry about (like you). I hope BJ can continue to enjoy the dog park for many months to come.

  5. September 8, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Obviously, I know exactly what yo mean! I remember when Lilac got older, we’d drive her over to the dog park with us, let her sniff around and then let her relax in the van (with the air on) while the younger dogs got their exercise. It was a concession I was never sorry we made.

  6. Karen DeBraal
    September 8, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    Sometimes all this guilt is just our stuff and not our dog’s stuff. When my dog Radar got too infirm to go on vigorous walks withe the other dogs we have, I think he was perhaps grateful or happy to stay at home napping. I think some dogs like strollers. He would not have. Bless you for caring and loving your friends so much.

    • Mel
      September 9, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      Really good point. I am sure the guilt is all ours, but saying no to a dog with a wagging tail and eager eyes is the worst isn’t it? I think I’ll just have to see how Daisy is when that time comes. I hope it won’t be for a while yet.

  7. September 8, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Wow. This hits close to home. Since Moses’ spinal surgery two summers ago, he hasn’t been able to take on the physical activities he used to like long walks or hikes in the mountains, which does mean Alma gets to go out and do things Moses can’t.

    There is some guilt or sadness about this until that odd time he’s pushed too far on a walk and is tired, sore, and trips – then it really hits home that taking it easy on him is best for him even if it’s not easy on us. And I think maybe I read my own emotions into it and he probably isn’t feeling as left out as I sometimes think he is.

    In any case, I do try to even it out and take him on solo walks to nice places and leave Alma at home – they’ll both get walked, just separately. It gives me one-on-one time with each of them, and the walks can be tailored to their individual needs. I don’t often have time to do this during the week, but I try to make the effort on weekends whenever I can.

    • Karen DeBraal
      September 8, 2013 at 11:59 PM

      Yes. That one on one can be very precious time. Sometimes I will do that anyways, even now with the ones left that are still pretty vibrant. They sure seem to like it.

    • Mel
      September 9, 2013 at 6:40 AM

      That’s wonderful Jen. I did the one on one walks with Aspen and Daisy that way too.
      Yes. I think the downside is seeing them trip or fall because they did too much. I still remember a doggie client being so sore the next day after I allowed her to go to the river with my dogs. She had a great time, but I felt horrible when how sore she was later. I think our own guilt is probably the bigger issue than what the dog is feeling. I just don’t look forward to that day. I am thankful Daisy is not there yet. I hope she won’t be for some time either.

  8. September 9, 2013 at 6:15 AM

    When we can’t take two dogs to the same place, we shift to “individual” time. Gambit LOVES going to the dog park or dog-friendly beach, but those places would have been too stressful for Eddie. So on days that Gambit would go to the park, Eddie might go for a run, walk, or swim. It still sucks to not be able to take everyone at once, but the individual time is a good training and bonding opportunity. When my Daisy got older and couldn’t run around in the yard anymore, we took her on “smelloramas” to the park where she got to choose her own path and just take in all the scents on a slow stroll.

  9. September 9, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    We have been tackling this issue too. I have had my modeling jobs and stuff where Katie stays home but we rarely leave her home when we go to do something fun. Sometimes when it is walk time she doesn’t want to go so we leave her home but as soon as we start walking, she is in the window so we go back and get her. We just can’t leave her behind.

  10. September 9, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    We had a dog with an autoimmune disorder – he couldn’t be vaccinated etc. So for a period of time we tried to restrict his contact with other dogs. However, eventually (as he was dying) we said, “whatever, he loves it so much here” and we took him. We often tried to go at slightly less busy times. I hope you don’t have to make that decision either.

  11. September 9, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    We’ve only ever had one dog at a time but I think I’d have to make two trips. One with the active young dog and one with the senior dog to a less busy park. I couldn’t take the sad eye’s

  12. September 9, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    I have been feeling the exact same way with Sherman over the last few months. I so miss taking both of Sherman and Leroy for a walk or out for an adventure together and it breaks my heart to leave him at home now. I know he wants to go with us but he just can’t.

    I’m trying to think of ways I can get Sherman out of the house, even if its just for a small ride in the car to keep him from feeling so left out.

  13. Candace
    September 9, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    When Maya was about 16 she started to show signs of slowing down, it was tough to watch but I saw the desire in her to continue to go to the farm where she could run free, sort of. Being a Siberian Husky she could never be off leash but she had 200 feet of leash and to her she was free. I was very careful with her but she loved it so I couldnt take that away from her. And, since she ran the daycare/extended care business with me she went to work when she wanted and that kept her body moving and her mind sharp. We used to walk a lot with Margie, a bulldog she raised and was “her puppy”. Margie is 10 years younger and of course had more energy, but Maya still wanted to walk. It was shorter and slower but I think it helped her psychologically. That kind of wore her out so once home and she fell asleep I would take Margie for a longer more vigorous walk. This went on until she was nearly 18 years old. It is such a difficult decision to make, but I gave her the opportunity and she did what she could and wanted to do. Not taking her was too hard on her. It wasnt until she was nearly 19 that she said enough and I respected that. Once we stopped going to the farm and taking walks she no longer wanted to go to work very much and 4 months later she said it was time to transition. I believe that those of us that are connected to our companions, know what is right. They tell us and if we listen we know what they want and need.

  14. September 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Roxy is older and starting to feel it, while Torrey is almost 3 and full of energy. Roxy is small enough to carry in a backpack though, so I take them both and let Roxy walk as much as she wants, then she rests in the backpack. That isn’t going to work the same way for you. But dog parks are good places to lay in the grass, or chase the ball and other dogs.

    • Mel
      September 9, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Roxy is so lucky to be able to still go with. I wish I could stick Daisy in a backpack. I would feel so much less guilty I think.

  15. September 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Always hard those first few weeks or months especially, when your two or more dog household starts to go off in different directions for exercise and play. I used to take both dogs running with me, and over time, the older just couldn’t do it as much as she wanted to. We make sure we still take them for short walks together because she seems to have that extra spark in her step as if she remembers fondly the runs side by side with her friend, but also it is important to keep the younger engaged at the higher level activity he needs and wants, so it is being fair to both by taking them out separately (or unfortunately, sometimes leaving the older at home)

  16. September 9, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    I work really hard to make sure my sweeties get plenty of one-on-one time, especially now that both are considered “old” (9 and 13), but there is that interesting transition when each dog does less out in the world at large.

    • Mel
      September 9, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      I bet it is Roxanne. It’s a whole different experience.

  17. September 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    The only time we left Jasmine behind was when she really couldn’t move/walk at all. Whether that was after surgeries or other reasons.

    When she could get around at least a little bit, hubby would take her out while I sneaked out with JD for a longer walk. Those were temporary, short periods. Otherwise, we couldn’t do that to her, she lived for her walks.

    When one of the dogs could only do a short walk, while the other needed a longer one, we played around with it, such as me staying out longer with one of them. But Jasmine always got to go on her walks, when she could at all.

    I think there is always some way to work around it so nobody has to be truly left behind.

    I know that for Jasmine, not being able to go out on the walks would have been fate worse than death.

    • Mel
      September 9, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      How wise of you Jana. I think I may end up following in your footsteps.

  18. September 10, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    I totally relate to this, as our older beagle is now 13 and can only do short walks. He has never been left home alone (not for 9 years now anyway) and I don’t want to start now. So I can really only take one dog at a time for walks or runs, unless my hubby is home too. It was OK when we had four dogs, and we could take two and two, but the odd number of 3 has been more difficult! Even though it takes more time, we’re working it out.

    • Mel
      September 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      I am so glad you have been able to work it out. I think it would be so much better if it was more than just me to balance. I don’t want Daisy to ever feel left out.

  19. Melissa Barthold
    September 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Mel, I have to agree —the only downside to having dogs is that they get older before we do. (though,I’m in my sixties now, so this may not be completely true anymore!)

    I think I saw most of the older changes in my basset hound. I think that Meggy had sundowners at the end of her life – she would get so confused most evenings, didn’t seem that she knew where she was all the time. It did break my heart to see my smart girl just forgetting where we were, where her bed was – it was so hard. No more walks – she just didn’t want to go anymore. She’d always come over and slept on my feet when I sat on the couch (lovely foot warmer!) – but she stopped that too.

    (We had just lost a rescued Choc lab to immune bowel disease – at age 3- that really, really broke our hearts). I think I held on a little longer than I should have with Meggy—-losing two dogs in 3 months was just awful and I just didn’t want to let her go.

    Now, we have one senior dog, two middle years (we’ve had them 3 years) and one puppy (15 months). Our senior has never been the type to go on long walks –just shorter walks work just fine, thank you. (He is an expert at napping!) While he loves to ‘go’ –it’s not exercise he wants, so short walks are ok with him. The two middle pups are good — so we can talk them together – and the puppy will go forever!!, so she gets walked by herself….then we get the guilt from the other ones. But, their tolerances are so different – we have to work with them where they are.

    • Mel
      September 10, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      It sounds like you have managed to work out a nice balance Melissa. I am so sorry for your loss of your loss. Two dogs in three months would break my heart in two. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • September 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Oh Melissa, you are strong.. stronger than me..Two dogs in a short time is so hard.
      There is love to heal the pain of the loss.

  20. September 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Oh how I relate to this. My Frenchie , Dari is almost 14 and until recently went everywhere with me.And I mean everywhere.
    Now, she just can’t walk distances anymore. Her tolerance to heat has lessened; if it is over 65 , it is too hot. And she just gets tired way too fast..A walk around the block turns into an hour. Just doing business is a chore. Not that she is sick or in pain. Dari is just old.
    We used to go shopping; to the fancy NYC stores and bring smiles to everyone’s face.Infact, people remembered “that little flat faced dog”..Now, they ask where she is.The joy has left the walk for me.Watching people walk toward us and seeing the smiles appear on their face.Knowing that they wanted to pet her..Seeing Dari respond with canine happiness that yet another person was entering her world.
    We still walk, short walks.To the liquor store, where her (late) friend Bongo the Bulldog resided. She hasn’t realized he passed a while back.Around the neighborhood.. Slow and steady..Visiting friends.. She has life and vitality; but slow..
    French bulldogs have a life span of 10-14 years , we are on borrowed time.Every minute is precious.Everytime I leave the house without her someone asks where she is.Every minute without her , is a minute lost.
    The gift is her health. her joy as I come home and her ongoing interest in life.But I HATE; HATE leaving her home..because it is time stolen from me..
    Sooner rather than later, she will be gone..so every minute is a memory…one I hold in my heart ..

    • Melissa Barthold
      September 16, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      Fran – I just want to hug you. I hear what you’re saying —and what you’re grieving. I do so understand…..I had to start leaving my Meggy as you did – it just felt awful. When I got divorced, I flew her down to Miami (from Chicago) to be with me – and promised her she’d never have to put her feet in the snow again….and she never did. And, boy – did we enjoy the weather! She just loved it – she’d go outside and the first two steps on our walks was standing for several minutes …she’d just lift her face up to the sun. I’m smiling as I remember her doing it. I still miss her….she was over 14 when we finally had to help her across the Bridge….really old for a Basset Hound.
      I’m not going to pretend there is a good answer….there isn’t. This is the only sad part about being owned by a dog….but I still can’t imagine living without one.
      Hugs to you —and to Dari. I wish you both warm, slow days…and a lot more of them.

      • September 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        I know you understand.. and that is a blessing..as I sit here with silent tears running down my face for YOU..because we share the same love of our dogs..and the same pain..
        I feel your arms around me and your comfort is a welcome..We will think of you and Meggie as we stoll ever so slowly down the street..for however long we are able to do so..

    • Mel
      September 16, 2013 at 9:21 PM

      Oh Fran. I am so sorry. And, I can So relate. It is the hardest thing when you know how precious every minute is and you can’t always bring the along to spend that precious time with you. You described exactly why I worry about the day I may have to do the same. Leaving Aspen behind broke my heart.

      • September 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        Mel, the ability to share is what lets me go on.. the very fact that you can relate helps..We know from the day we bring them home, what the eventuallity is.Thank you for sharing and giving me the space to talk about what is my fear..That you comprenend what is in the deepest recess of my heart..The love is all..

  21. Carrie Jones
    September 17, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Here’s my take on it. This is a different season for you and your older girl. She -and you need some special time together. She’s been there for you in her younger years. Now it’s your responsibility to do the same for her. Maybe a car ride or a trip to the pet store. Finding something new to do. I have a 10 1/2 yr old golden and I hope I can remember my own advice when the time comes. This is the hard part about being a good dog mom or dad.

  22. September 18, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    Good morning Carrie..Dari and me , well we have special time together everyday..your advice is spot on..We go to the liquor store( one of her favorite places.). I follow her lead..If she wants to play with a toy.. whatever it takes, I make the time..at her pace..Thanks.. and I bet you will remember..

  23. September 18, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I don’t think I’ll EVER be able to leave Sampson behind when we go for a walk, he loves it so. Even if he is a bit slower, being out in the woods puts a spring in his step, it would break my heart to leave him behind.

  1. September 8, 2013 at 10:49 PM

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