replacing a beloved pet

budge1April 21, 2006

Hi everyone. I haven't posted in conversations b/f but am feeling the need for some objective advice and thought I would try the wise kitchen elders.

My father who is in his late 70's but is very youthful and active socially and athletically, lives alone just out of town. For the last 7 years he has had a chihuahua that has been his constant companion and best friend. My dad has always had trouble expressing his feelings but this pup got all the love and attention he could not show to people.

Well 2 nights ago the poor thing was run over and my dad is devastated. The only other time i have ever seen him cry was when his mother passed away.

He says he doesn't want another dog b/c he can't bear the thought of it being left behind when he dies.

I think he needs another pet and would like to wait a few weeks and get him one. He has always had animals and even when he had a busy medical practice kept a stable full of various animals that he took care of himself just for the love of it.

Now i could reassure him that we would take the dog if anything should happen to him the only problem being that he refused to train the last one. He treated it like a spoiled son. He papered his bedroom floor when it refused to go outside to pee. It wouldn't come when called (resulitng in the fatal accident) and it would nip my kids when it got aggravated.

I also am not too fond of chihuahuas.

So what do you think. Should I get him another one? Should I insist he train it? I thought about giving obedience lessons as a gift w/ the pup. And are there any breeds out there that he and i might both like? Something sort of chihuahua like but not so yippy and nervous?

TIA for any advice.

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If he doesn't want a new dog then no don't get him one till he is ready. In the mean time perhaps you can begin to look into Chihuahua rescue. You may find an adult that is housetrained. Though you are dealing with a difficult breed to housebreak, not impossible.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 9:57AM
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I don't think you should get him another dog. He's already said he doesn't want one (for whatever reason). And if he didn't train the last one, he's not going to train a new one, regardless of your "insisting" on it. Any trainer will tell you that they train the owner, not the dog.

If you do decide to get him another pet after a while, why not consider a cat rather than a dog? They're about the same size as a chihuahua, will gladly "do their business" in the house, won't nip your kids, and don't yip.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 10:59AM
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Thanks guys. I don't really want to buy him another dog but he seems soooo lonely. But your right it is soon.

He actually has a stray cat right now that has moved in, but while he likes it, it is just not the same as a dog.

He has issues with cats. When he was a boy he had a cat he loved that was just his own and in a family of 8 kids that meant alot to him. His mother thought he was growing too attached to it and drowned it. Ever since he has said he hates cats (my aunts have told me about this).

Your right though. I will wait and maybe teh perfecdt opportunity will come up - the neighbors dog having pups or something.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 11:32AM
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I agree to give him some time. Maybe he will change his mind. In the meantime, if he decides he wants to get another dog you should check out I am sure he would be able to find a rescue dog that fits perfectly.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 1:12PM
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budge, since your Dad was so nurturing to his dog, I think he might welcome another pet when he is ready. Since he is so concerned about a pet being ''left behind'' when he dies, perhaps you could suggest to your Dad that he'd be doing a great thing by going to a shelter to rescue an older dog that might not have as good a chance of being adopted otherwise. Older dogs are often well trained, and don't have the behavorial problems of puppies that need so much supervision. Also, shelters often know a little about their dogs so they might have an idea of which dogs might be a good fit for your Dad. Maybe you could just plant the seed of an idea for now, and see how it grows on him.

Good luck; I know it's hard to watch someone you love grieve.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 1:31PM
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When/if he does get another dog, maybe offering to sign him up for an obedience class might be just the thing? We go to one that is ongoing, every Monday night, and is just an awesome class. It has helped out our dog soooo much and she too is the type to run out into the street if it weren't for this class.

I wouldn't push it, but eventually he will probably want another dog. Not to "replace" the one that died, but as a new one. Take him to a shelter and you'll probably encounter a dog that will adopt him, not the other way around. :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 1:36PM
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Here's another perspective. I am not exactly disagreeing with the above posters who said don't get him a dog if he doesn't want one, because of course they're right. So don't anybody get mad at me for saying this.

BUT - about eight years ago, my mother was in a similar situation - widowed, living alone, and her beloved dog had died a couple of months before. My brother had given her a Lab puppy who had to go because he was much too big and rambunctious for her. I went against all conventional wisdom and everyone's advice and got her a little Lhasa Apso mix puppy for Christmas. Believe me, I know you're not supposed to do this! I chose him because he wouldn't shed and he's small enough that he wouldn't knock her down. My mother was dubious at first but tried to be nice about it. I told her that if it didn't work out, I would take him back. Now that little guy is the light of her life. She calls me up to tell me the cute things he does. He sits on the sofa next to her while she watches tv, and he puts himself to bed at night. She's crazy about him.

At my mother's age, I really don't know who will outlive whom. But I hate to think that she might have missed all of the love, joy and companionship that her little dog has given her.

If I were to do this again, I would look for a small rescue poodle. There seems to be a lot of them whose owners have died and they ended up in shelters. They're small and easily managed (whereas a big family dog like a Lab or retriever wouldn't be), they don't shed, they're already housetrained and socialized, and they're used to life with an older person. They're sad because they were "abandoned."

So though he can't imagine another dog right now, I think it would be the best thing for your dad after a bit of time has passed.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 1:38PM
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If your dad has a lot of love to give to a dog but can't bear the thought of the dog outliving him, maybe he would be open to the idea of fostering a dog. Many shelters are overcrowded and need individuals to care for some of the dogs until they have kennel space or until the dog gets adopted. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 5:30PM
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wonderlander, I love that story and I have to say that I sort of think that is how my dad will react, but I do think it is best to wait.

To everyone who suggest rescue shelter dogs, I totally agree. All my childhood pets came fr rescue shelters and they were all wonderful animals.

Dekeobe, if I do go for getting him a dog eventually I think fostering may be the way to go. I know once he had it he would never give it back but it would be a way of sort of sneaking it in if he only thought it was temporary.

Snookums, I will have to look into drop in obedience lessons that would be perfect. And like I said, my dad loves being socially active and I think he would see it as a social activity.

Clare de luna, thank you for your kind words. When others are suffering such great losses it seems almost foolish to mourn the loss of a dog, but I really think this has almost been as hard on my dad as it would be if he lost a child. This dog meant everything to him. Because he had such a hard life growing up it means alot to him to have the kind of unconditional love a dog can give.

But when I talked to him today, he said he went to play bridge and felt like he should keep busy which is definately a good sign.

Thanks again guys.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 10:39PM
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You've got great advice. I just would recommend that you wait for the simple reason taht dogs can sometimes go into a home, have a bad run, get returned, and then over again. Wait until he's ready, and if you're willing pick a pet with him that if he's no longer able to care for the pet that you will care for. That might mean a lot to him to have a pet like that.

I do a lot of rescue work, there are currently 27 chihuahuas that we rescued from a puppy mill nearby, shoot me an email if he's interested in the next few months. It will take a while to place all these pups.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 11:35PM
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I think if he loves pets so much you should get him one. He might not want one now because he will feel guilty replacing his other dog. But I think that people who live alone have a need to feel needed and would welcome the company. He might not be happy at first but once the dog is living in his home he will be very appreciative. My daughter has a miniature pinchter and she absoluely loves him. His name is Junior. He is small and sometimes wirey but I must say he is the best trained dog around. He did go to obedience school but during the day she cage trained him. At night he sleeps with her but is such a happy dog. We are all in love with him and I thought I would never love another dog.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 6:56AM
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Wooderlander's story reminded me of my mom's experience. She was a widow and always had a small dog for company, first a Maltese, then a dachshund. When the dachshund died, she was lonely and we all encouraged her to get another dog, but she was adamant that no, she did not want another dog. She would get upset with me for even bringing up the subject. One day as she stood in her doorway chatting with a neighbor, in walked Susy! Susy is a little white poodle who walked in and made herself at home. My mom put up signs and asked around the neighborhood but nobody claimed Susy. Needless to say, they became inseparable companions, and Susy truly brought a lot of joy to my mom in the last 10 years of her life. My mother passed away two years ago, extremely worried about what would happen to Susy. Well, Susy is going strong and has made herself completely at home with my husband and me, and our golden retriever, Meg. It is funny to see Meg sit at attention when Susy barks at her. Susy is such a sweet memory of my mom, and this story makes me think that sometimes the mind says one thing, but the heart says another (and wins out in the end). I hope your dad ends up adopting another little pet; I think it would be so good for both of them!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 6:25PM
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pattan ~ What a great story! I'm so glad your Mom had Susy. I think that sometimes when the grief is still fresh people decide they don't want to go through this pain again; and since, unfortunately, people tend to outlast their pets they know it's going to happen, so why put themselves through that grief again.

Of course, the upside besides being a companion is that pets affect our health - in a good way (i.e. lowering blood pressure, making us relax a little after a stressful day, maybe getting a bit of exercise by walking them, etc.)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 8:06PM
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I am sorry to hear about your dad's dog. I think getting him another is a good idea. Like others, I think it would be ideal to find a trained older dog- that way the training issue is fixed, and that puppy stage of chewing up everything has passed.
We have a delightful little poodle, and while they are bright and don't shed the grooming my prove difficult for your dad in the future as he ages further. If arthritis hits brushing a dog may be painful for him, and an unbrushed poodle is not great. IMO look for a dog with low brushing requirements.
Give it a few months. Then you could start discussing suitable rescue dogs you have sourced with him to spark his interest.
Between now and then, it might be a nice touch to make him either a small memory album or a perhaps a framed photo of his last pooch. If he was so attached he is probably feeling pretty sad.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 8:21AM
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Just a quick update. When I spoke to my dad yesterday he said he was feeling better and had stopped crying whenever anyone mentioned his dog. Good sign.

He also mentioned that he had tried to call this woman who had bred her female chihuahua with my dad's dog just after Christmas. Her dog had 2 puppies and she offered my dad one. At the time he said no, and she kept it for herself. He said he was just calling to see if maybe she was finding the puppy too much trouble and then he could take it, but only if she really didn't wnat it.

I think this is a good sign even if the woman doesn't want to get rid of the puppy, he is thinking about getting another dog.

I'm being a little selfish here. I don't just want the dog for his benefit but also my own. If any of you have had parents who are suddnely on their own or newly retired you will know what I mean. They suddenly want to share every detail of their lives with you. When my dad 1st retired he called me 6 times a day telling me who he had talked to (even if just the mailman), what he had seen on the street (a man in a very red coat), what he got in the mail that day (do you know I got a flyer that says butter is 10 cents cheaper here than there) and so on.

Now I love my dad, but we both need something to keep him occupied. Hopefully a "Susy" will walk in his door one day soon.

Thanks again for the advice and heartwarming stories everyone!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 5:20PM
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