August 23, 2018

Retirement and Pets: Do They Limit Your Lifestyle?

Bailey at 9 weeks
I may not be entirely objective. Two dogs while growing up and five so far after getting married makes me officially a dog person. For a good part of our 42 years together, Betty and I had two dogs, one designated as our "emergency backup" pet. She was trained and an important part of our family, ready to assume the alpha role when an older pet passed away. We went for one miserable stretch of six years without a dog. Not having a furry friend by our side did not make us happy. 

After a tough day of RVing
One of the reasons we bought an RV and spent nearly five years traveling around the country was because of our dog, Bailey. Having a motorhome means no worries about finding a motel that will accept pets. It means no hassles at meal time when one person stays with the dog in the room while the other runs to a fast food restaurant for take-out. Traveling with a pet is a natural conversation-starter in RV parks, where virtually everyone has at least one dog on a leash, often two or more.


Adler (known to her friends as Adi)
Our youngest daughter spends a good portion of her year traveling. When she is gone for a week or two, her dog, Adler, stays at our house and becomes a companion for Bailey, sleeping on our bed, and behaving like she belongs (which she does!).

There are some trips Betty and I would like to take that would keep us away from home for three or four weeks. Longer cruises, long distance train trips, or even a road trip or two beckon us. 

Unfortunately, that is much too long to put dogs in a kennel and even too much to ask our daughter to babysit two dogs at our house for a month. Honestly, we would miss the dogs terribly over that long a stretch, too. So, we have decided that type of extended travel just isn't in the cards. The tradeoffs are too severe. Two weeks is our limit.


Bailey probably has another 6 or 7 years with us, while Adler will be likely with us for another nine or ten years. Since we think we will be ready to move to a retirement community in the next ten years, the doggie timing actually works well.

Will we get another dog for our time at a retirement community? Probably. The costs, worries, limitations, and heartache when a dog dies are so insignificant in comparison to what a pet gives us in return. 

I do know some retired folks who like the freedom to come and go as they please without having to think about the care and feeding of a pet. Part of what makes their retirement so satisfying is the spontaneous nature of their travel and adventures. A dog (or any pet) makes that too difficult.

I completely understand. As I noted above, there have been times when I have been frustrated by the inability to plan for something because of our dogs. But, for us, it is been a simple decision: Bailey and Adler bring way too much joy and love and laughter into our home to ever want to trade that for a vacation. If that means no 28 day cruise to Tahiti or a month-long road trip to New England, so be it.

Do pets impose some limits on a retirement lifestyle? Yes. Are they worth it to us? Absolutely. Beyond measure.


"I heard something. Are They coming home?"



48 comments:

  1. I love my pets (cats and dogs) and I miss them when I am gone. To be real, I use that as an excuse to not travel, because I just do not enjoy it that much. A trip to the beach by car in three or four hours (and staying about four days) is great. A plane flight is awful. I enjoyed my sleeping car train trips but two weeks away is too much for me.

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    1. I can relate. I would never take our dog on a plane flight. There are too many horror stories to ever feel good about turning her life over to an airline.

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  2. I don't have any pets at the moment but am spending 4 months in England - I live in New Zealand - and have been house and pet sitting during this time. There are many websites connecting owners with sitters. No money changes hands and so far I have completed 4 sits and cared for a dog, 4 cats, 4 hens and a hedgehog. It's a win win as owners can go away knowing their pet is happy and cared for in their own space and as a sitter, I get my fix of furry critters and to visit new locations. I have enjoyed it very much and in all cases the owners were lovely people. So owning a pet does not have to preclude travel!

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    1. I am aware of pet sitters but in our area, there is a daily charge. It is less than a kennel though food and extra air conditioning probably make it about the same. It is something to consider. Bailey would be happier at home.

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  3. About five years ago we lost our cat after 14 years as a part of our family. It was heartbreaking. My wife said she needed a good long break from pets after that. About 8 months later she left work at the end of the day to find a tiny kitten huddled on the ground near her car. With no sign of an owner or a mama cat around, she decided to bring her home, with a plan to take her somewhere that would care for her until she could be adopted. When no place like that materialized, we had no choice but to keep her ourselves (though we both suspect that was likely to happen anyway). Four years later, she is the most amusing, personality-filled, loving cat we have ever encountered. We can't imagine life without her around.

    We are fortunate that she does not place too many constraints on our lifestyle. I think cats by nature are a bit more independent than dogs, so we can leave her alone for a while. We are lucky that we have younger friends in our neighbourhood that also have cats, so we trade cat-sitting duties with them if we are away for longer periods. In fact, we are starting four days of looking after their cats today, and next weekend they will return the favour for us.

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    1. I have never owned cats but I think you are right: cats are more independent by nature and can tolerate longer periods of no contact. Someone has to empty that cat tray on occasion, though.

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  4. When our last pet died, my DH wanted to be pet free. It's been 4 years now. I was involved in animal rescue so we always had several foster animals in addition to our own. He was kind of burned out in pets so I'm giving him his pet-free space and getting my animal fix by volunteering at the animal shelter one day a week evaluating dogs.

    Sheila

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    1. That sounds like a good compromise and the shelters can certainly use your help.

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  5. Boy, you are singing our song. We have given a great deal of thought to this. Our last cat died around 6 years ago. We prefer cats mostly because of a lot less work and no need to walk them. It sure makes traveling easier with a cat, rather than a dog, at home. For a couple of days they can take care themselves.

    About a year ago a stray cat, in my favorite color (red), wandered into our lives and hearts. We took him in and can't imagine life without him. I honestly want to travel less because I miss him so. My husband is crazy about him also, but still wants to travel. I have a good friend who comes every day when we're gone and feeds him fresh food and changes his litter box. He's pretty shy but sometimes will let her pet him. I pay her $20 a day which I have to force her to take. I feel lucky that we are doing well enough that I can afford to do that. It would break my heart to kennel the little dude.

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    1. Isn't it amazing how pets can place themselves so deeply intro our lives in such a short time.

      The neighbor arrangement sounds like a great deal. Not only is your cat cared for, but someone is checking on your house on a regular basis.

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  6. Bob, I agree about the tradeoffs definitely being worth it. In my case, I have a nearby sister who loves my Golden and welcomes the chance to be a temporary pet owner. However, she travels a lot and is frequently unavailable, and I haven't found a satisfactory alternative for multi-week care. My plan is to do a lot of traveling once my dog is gone -- she's 10 now and will probably live another three or four years -- and then get another dog and happily accept the compromises again. (Which brings up the not-unrelated topic of making a long-term commitment to pet ownership when you're over 70. My daughter suggests getting a four or five-year-old adult dog as a solution.)

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    1. Your approach is one we have discussed. I just hope we aren't too old to enjoy more extended travel when both dogs are gone.

      Getting a several year old rescue pet after a certain age is wise advice.

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  7. Right after I retired I (my husband was not too enthusiastic) got a goldendoodle. Not having had dogs in a very long time, I went a little crazy at first because of the demands of having a young puppy. I felt as if I had a small child in the house again and was very stressed. However, that puppy is now 1 year old and although he drives me crazy at times as he is very high energy and is attached to me at the hip LOL, I would not trade him for the world.
    True, I had not factored in the expense of grooming, vet bills ect. DH and I LOVE to travel and this has been hindered somewhat because we now PLAN instead of do things spontaneously. We use a service called rover.com and have found a delightful sitter when we do go away but it is expensive in our area ($35/day). So this is also a consideration. But honestly our pup is a delight, albeit a very demanding one. He is so affectionate and no one loves you like a dog does. So my impulse decision has turned into a very good one and on the plus side, DH now LOVES our pup and can't imagine being without him!

    Teri

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    1. My other daughter's family got a Goldendoodle about 6 months ago. It is as if he spends his life on a pogo stick. He is so full of energy he picks me up when we visit.

      I will take a look at the rover site. At the moment when everyone is gone we use a kennel, but it is very expensive and I'd like to find a reasonable alternative.

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  8. We have a cat and typically don't take long trips because we'd miss him so much but also because we're basically homebodies. So, it's not all that much of a compromise for us. We can pass on travel, but we'd be miserable without our feline friend.

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  9. We have two dogs both labs (one 10 and one 9 years old) one by choice and the second a gift from our youngest daughter when she could not take care of her...the older lab has issues with fatty masses that has grown in her shoulder making her walk with a limp. I am amazed how much it costs for VET visits with blood tests, medications ,etc. Should have taken out pet insurance I guess. In any case as the dogs age and have medical issues it becomes harder to leave them at home and they are not kennel dogs. Finding someone that can watch them with the extra care required becomes more of an issue. We have to plan trips out a lot longer in advance and limit the time away. I say we will take a break from pets in the future as we are very new to retirement but that remains to be seen. There is always a balance in life as the pets age with us and all our needs change..

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    1. Yes, our needs and the place of a pet in our lives does change. I anticipate we will have a dog when we move to a retirement community in nine or ten years, but that could change.

      I am glad Teri mentioned the rover.com site. Our dogs are not kennel dogs either. If we can keep them home and safe, that would be preferable.

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  10. We had dogs when our children were at home and I either stayed home or worked part-time. We loved them dearly. Then our life style changed. Our children grown and in other towns, we both worked long hours and traveled for work. We decided it would not really be fair to the animal to be alone so much so we gave up the dog habit. By the time we retired we had been without animals for a long time. Our daughter, who is a dog-lover, is now close by. We dog sit a lot but are not really tempted to be tied down to pets again. I just enjoy other people's animals... and our freedom.

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    1. Sounds like the grandkids situation: lots of fun to have around, and very nice to send home to mom and dad at the end of a playdate.

      I support your decision based on what is best for the animal. For a dog to be left alone 8-9 hours a day, every day, is counter to the social needs of a dog. Cats are probably fine, but dogs aren't built to be alone a lot.

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  11. I take my dog with me almost all the time when I travel. These days a non dog friendly hotel is as rare as a dog friendly one if not rareer. I have stayed in Drury Inns, Marriot Courtyards and Hilton Garden ins with my dog. no longer is it the "best western/comfort in" option. Admittedly I am not flying but taking road trips, but I do have have family who have no problem taking my dog for multiple weeks if necessary, just as I would take theirs. on the other hand, my daughter has a lovely sitter. Sometimes she just comes a couple times a day , but most of the time she stayes there and goes out and does her own thing during the day just like the kids would if they were there. On some level I understand the plane paranoia, but my dogs both went into crates in the belly of a plane for thirteen hours more than once. So I would not do it as a regular things, but traveling with a pet planewise should not be discounted as such. Almost all animals arrive healthy and happy at their destinations. I would also add that the dining situation with pets (admittedly I'm talking dogs here, I don't get the cat thing), at least in the warm weather. We almost always find pet friendly patio restaurants when traveling. When in doubt hit a beer pub!

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    1. We were in Prescott, AZ a month or so ago, with Bailey. There were two restuarants we sampled that welcomed her with water bowls and treats on their outside patios. The Airbnb welcomed her, too. I agree it is much easier than it used to be.

      Bailey was badly traumatized at 8 weeks old when she was shipped to us in Phoenix, by plane, from the breeder in Missouri. Never again for her.

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  12. We just had our 12 year old golden retriever put down twelve days ago. He was the love of my life, and we're still crying. We have a back-up dog whom we love dearly, but she's not the same. Eventually we will get another smaller dog. Now when we travel our sons are able to care for the dog, but soon we'll be moving to an active adult community. One of the things I looked into before making the choice of where to live was that there are several people in the community who do pet sitting, as I'm not comfortable leaving my dogs in a kennel.

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    1. I am sure most people would consider us nuts, but when we are forced to use a kennel, Bailey gets a private suite. It is a couple of hundred square feet, has its own doggie door and play area, 24 hours of Animal Planet on TV, and 2 private play times a day. At $80 a night, she does better than we do sometimes. We are just not willing to take the risk of coming back to find her a nervous, quivering mess.

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  13. I guess I am going to be the different one in the comments. We had a dog whom we loved dearly for about 14 years. After he was gone, we decided not to get another dog for various reasons - at that time, we were both working long hours and it didn't seem fair to a dog to be at home all day alone. (Our children were married with their own pets by this time.) Now that we are retired, we have decided that we prefer the freedom to come and go without having to worry about proper care for a dog, so for now we choose to remain petless. However, we do keep our daughter's 2 dogs occasionally which gives us a bit of a dog fix.

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    1. Completely understandable, Addy. Pets do add complexity and some restrictions at a time of life when being free to be more spontaneous is a major plus. Being able to get your dog fix from your daughter's dogs without the total commitment is a very acceptable option.

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  14. I only scanned through most of the comments because pet ownership has been an issue in my retirement, not because I'm a pet enthusiast, but because I'm largely not. In retirement, I often enjoy doing overnight trips involving a hotel/motel stay, usually in connection to an evening concert or play. Frankly, finding that some places or brands of lodging where I've often stayed are now promoting themselves as "pet friendly" has been dismaying. On one stay I complained that my room even though obviously clean and sanitized nevertheless seemed to have a distinct dog smell. Many pet owners like cigarette smokers don't realize how the smell of their pet, like cigarette smell, can be pervasive to non pet owners, just as the cigarette smell lingering on clothes is highly noticable to me as a non smoker. With many motels or hotels now being non-smoking, some may not realize that attention to lingering pet odors might require the same attention as lingering smoke odors used to do. In one establishment, I was walking in the early morning in the inside hallway towards my room when I was confronted by three large, admittedly leashed, Dobermans I believe, which I had to make way for while they tried to surge and sniff at me. I didn't find that pleasant at all. I've also been struck by the assumption or presumption by some of my pet owning friends who want to travel in their retirement, that I'd be thrilled at having the opportunity in my retirement to housesit their precious pets for two weeks, so they don't have to suffer a kennel and absence of human companionship. Turning down such an "invitation" once strained a relationship because I had received a kind favor from a friend involving a hospital stay, so soon after when asked to provide a week or so of in house pet care and sitting for two dogs, I felt uncomfortably obligated. Also, on a few occasions when I've wanted friends to visit with me or to travel with me, their pets typically arise as an issue. Is "I can't leave my cat or dogs" a convenient way to turn down invitations one doesn't want. If so that's a handy benefit of pet ownership. "Can I bring my dogs to your house, if I come," I've been asked. No is the answer, which squelches a visit. One person with whom I had discussed various major travel plans, also meanwhile decided she had to have a "companion" or possibly "therapy" dog, i.e. the type of animal who stays with one 24/7. While trying to acknowledge her presumed need for this, I tried to gently point out that having a companion animal accompany us on major travel trips could be a complicating factor, especially perhaps on international jaunts. And frankly I didn't want to travel with her animal constantly along. I probably sound like an ill tempered scrooge of sorts to all you pet adorers, but as far as I'm concerned, my opinion is that not everyone, or at least not me, is in love with either your grandchildren or your pets the way that you are, even if we smile and say "how adorable."

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    1. After Addy's comment right before yours, frankly I am glad to see the other side of the discussion represented. You are not a scrooge at all. Some of your friends and acquaintances need to be more sensitive to your feelings in this regard.

      One of my daughters and my wife are very allergic to cats. Even if my best friend in the world asked me to watch a cat for even an hour, much less a week or two, the answer would be "No."

      Even though we have occasionally taken Bailey into hotels on trips, I understand what reservations you are voicing. I have always been surprised that some rooms are not designated as non-pet rooms for the reasons you mention, just like there used to be smoking and non-smoking rooms for the same reasons. No matter how well a room is cleaned, pet hairs and odors will remain.

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    2. I read that it takes six months of cleaning, vacuuming, and wiping down to rid a room of pet smell and dander. Some people try to mask the odor and just add a layer of odor that will further complicate my asthma.

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  15. Hi Bob, this is a topic my husband and I have discussed as I prepare to join him in retirement in a few years. We have an 11 year old dog, 15 year old cat and a 5 year old cat. We don't plan to add any more to our family as we want to take those long trips once the older two are gone and I'm free from limited vacation. The young cat can stay with my son while we travel.

    Once we're done exploring, we'll definitely get another dog.

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    1. I think Betty and I will take the same path when Bailey is no longer with us. Pets are tremendous companions but the two we are responsible for do limit our travel options.

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  16. Our dog is ten and might as well be a child to us. She, definitely, limits our travel. My husband does not want anyone in the house, and my children are allergic to dogs. We used a kennel in the past, but we had two dogs then and they kept each other company. I don't know what we are going to do when we next travel. Such a quandary. Right now we do not travel together- one person staying home with the dog.
    BE has a point as well. My son had an asthma attack on a cross country flight. He was unaware that a small cat was under his seat. No peanuts- but animals are fine? There has to be a compromise- or at least a warning.

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    1. Personally, I am glad to see that some airlines are cracking down on the abuse of the "traveling companion" designation of virtually any pet. The number of people who require a pet for emotional reasons is probably quite small. Just like your son, if a cat were under our seats or probably within a few rows we would have problems.

      I understand your husband's feeling about having a stranger in the house. I don't like the idea of a stranger operating as a house-sitter, either, no matter how well they have been vetted.

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  17. We have two wonderful cats. They come when called and greet us at the door when we come home. I find the idea that they are independent largely untrue. They are are, however, far less destructive to houses when left alone than many dogs. We always have someone visit them every day when we travel.

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    1. Cats don't need to be walked or have a leash. Maybe that's where some of the independent reputation comes from. The few homes I have been in with cats (allergies) they do seem to like to snuggle or be close to their owners.

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  18. Some people are "pet people" and some are not and that's the first consideration. If you are a pet person then you've probably got one already. Decision made.

    If travel is on your agenda for retirement then you are probably in a better position to realize those retirement dreams without a pet. A month traveling the South Pacific or Europe probably isn't going to work well if you have a pet at home. I often say that a pet is like having a small child that never grows up and they'll always need someone around to care for them (parents with small children tend not to be big travellers either).

    If you don't want to travel, or can do all your traveling in your own vehicle, then a pet makes more sense. I do find most people want to travel in their early retirement years but that slows down significantly in later years so maybe delay a bit if you start retirement without a pet.

    Companionship is also plus for pets especially if you've lost your partner of many years. As you age into your late 80's then caring for the pet properly might become too much so think about that if you are considering buying another pet that might be around for a decade or more and you are in or nearing your 80's.

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    1. I know the retirement community we are likely to eventually move to accepts pets in both their independent and assisted living facilities. Obviously, pets are not allowed in the Nursing Center. You are very right about assessing one's age, health, and future when deciding on a new pet in later years.

      Betty and I have had some discussions about getting another RV, not only for the freedom and fun, but as a solution to at least part of our pet problem. That talk usually ends quickly when we realize how much money we are thinking of spending just to keep a dog or two happy.

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  19. Hello, Bob. It’s been a long while since I’ve commented but I can’t let this one pass. I wanted to comment the day you posted this but pretty quickly it appeared that only the pet owners (who felt pretty much as you) were having their say so I didn’t want to come across as “oppositional”. Now that a few others who feel like me have commented, I’ll jump in, too. My wife and I had an indoor cat for 13 years during our 40s and early 50s and loved her dearly. When she died, we all—even our 20something son—cried like babies. BUT, we didn’t get another pet right away and now we’re both glad we didn’t. After 8 years of retirement I can say that we really enjoy that freedom of not owning a pet. It sort of feels like it did after our son grew up and left. At first it felt empty and sad but after a pretty short while, it felt like “happy days are here again”. Now, I wouldn’t want him OR our beloved Mindy back living in our house. And, I totally agree with B.E. (Commenter) that, while I totally honor and respect the right of pet owners to love their pets, too many of them expect others to feel like they do about their pet. And we don’t. I spent 36 years in a career in public education and thoroughly enjoyed teaching and working with student of all ages. But, I don’t want another kid either! And while I’m on my rant, what is it with otherwise sensible adults these days not wanting to go anywhere—store, out to eat, friends house, library, church (yes, church!)—without taking their dog??? I’m around your age, Bob, and we didn’t see that growing up, or at least I didn’t. And, yes, my family always had a dog. But no one ever considered taking the family dog to any of these places. A dog is perfectly fine at home for a few hours. This sort of reminds me of the way many young parent seem to operate as if their children dictate everything. Now it’s the pets dictating the lives of the owners. I can just hear my Grandfather and what he would have to say if he were here now :).

    Great post, Bob! Got my juices flowing!

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    1. Welcome back to the land of commenters, Don! I am glad we have had some folks who aren't on the "pet at all costs" bandwagon. A post that only generates comments on one side of an issue aren't nearly as interesting.

      While I obviously feel differently about pets at this stage of life, I am with you 100% about people who take their pets everywhere. There is a time and place, and shopping or church are not it. We have a doggie door that allows Bailey to be alone for the better part of a day if it comes to that though normally we try not to be gone more than 5 hours.

      If you had, loved, and cried over the loss of a pet, you are a pet person...just not at this time of life. Thanks for your thoughts..you have added to our exchange.

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  20. We had pets all our lives, mostly dogs, but there was my cat. I am allergic to cats and sensitive to dogs. So, I am pet free and no one would even be welcome at my house with a pet. About ten years ago, I had four chickens who gave me eggs as they free ranged. When I could not be home for a day, a neighbor was glad to feed them for the eggs that day.

    I visited a friend who allowed her dogs to lie on my feet even after I moved backward six feet from the dining table. I waited about five years before I visited again. She was an hour away. She said, as the dogs lay on my feet and I complained, "Oh, the like you." After not visiting her for five years, I finally went back and gave the dogs the evil eye. She put the dogs outside. s

    One friend who should know better, a PhD who knows exactly how we should all live (sarcasm font) refused to discipline her do because he was a member of the family. Actually, she had three huge dogs. One pulled the Christmas ham off the table and drug it around, threatening to bite people near the ham. He also dragged sliced turkey off the table at thanksgiving.

    I am not amused by animals in the house. I am not amused at the pit bull loose in Walmart.

    Really, I do want a Border Collie but have no fence. But, I am alpha here. I was training my first Border Collie when the undisciplined brat behind me got her in his yard and my dog was killed in the road in front of his house. Yes, I loved and cried, lying in the road beside him with car still running.

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    1. There are a few points to emphasise in your comment, Linda. It is the owner's responsibility to train and control a pet. That includes house training, manners involving jumping up on people or grabbing food from a table. It also includes removing pets from the vicinity of a person who is allergic or disturbed by that pet.

      If these basics aren't being observed it is no different than a person who keeps serving you meat even after telling her you are a vegetarian. They don't value you enough as a friend to adjust to your visits.

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  21. We have an 11 yo rescue dog (chocolate lab/german short hair) and he's been a great dog. He's recently been diagnosed with heart problems and is on heart meds with a 6-24 month life span predicted. He's still pretty hardy though. He's always loved paper products (all our waste baskets have to be behind cabinet doors), and this week he found some outgoing trash from my office and ate half of it. He's none the worse for it that we can tell. ha!
    We have discussed whether we would get another dog when he goes, and in the immediate future, I don't think we will. He stays at a pet spa in a private suite when we travel (DH insists) and that adds quite a chunk to our travel costs. And, as others have noted, he restricts our travel now that we're both retired. We've discussed taking him on road trips (we do take him to visit family if they're dog friendly), but I am not keen on pet friendly hotels. I have a severe cat allergy and can tell within 10 minutes if a cat has been in a hotel room. Plus, in my experience, hotels that don't allow pets seem cleaner unless the hotel is brand new.
    I think we are likely to get another dog at some point, though, as they add so much energy and laughter to our home. There isn't a day that passes that he doesn't make us laugh. He's a great companion in general.

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    1. Like your husband I insist on a private suite for Bailey at an upscale Scottsdale pet resort during those rare times when she has to be left behind. Yes, it is a silly expense but she is a nervous animal who doesn't do well around unfamiliar dogs. The constant barking and smells of a normal kennel facility would be very damaging to her mental stability.

      I predict Betty and I will follow the same path after Bailey dies: go pet free for awhile to get in the trips we still might want to take and then get a small companion dog for the retirement community.

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  22. Our kitty companion,Grace,died just a few months shy of our retirement.We had many travel plans, but ended up being more “at home-bodies” than we expected! So a year later, we did get another kitty. Our travels picked up a bit and now I have to get a house/pet sitter if we are gone more than 3 nights.But the house probably needs looking after anyway—and I have an incredible house/pet sitter who loves to relax here, and is a quiet,retired woman who loves animals. I would not have a dog at this point in life.. my friends with dogs seem to have a lot of issues.One neighbor has a dog who “nips” (SHE says—I call it biting!! And he scares the pants off all her friends so she has to lock him up when we go there to play cards. Other friends have dogs who jump bark and generally do not like house guests. Some of my friends can’t stay out too late cause they have to let a dog out. And I have some friends who would love to do some girlfriend weekends away with me, but can’t, due to their dogs. Our kitty is quite independent but affectionate. Can be left home for 2-3 days with food and litter pan. The best of both worlds,for me.I understand the love and companionship people derive from pets— but a dog in retirement seems like it does hold back a lot of activities..

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    1. Yes, a dog has more affect on one's life than a cat. The decision whether it is worth it during retirement is strictly personal. AS you note, how a pet interacts with guests should be taken into account in making a decision.

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  23. You said it -- A dog does limit your retirement lifestyle. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Beyond measure.

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  24. My son came back to live with us off and on during the last few years as he was finishing his education and establishing himself in his career. Now he has moved out into his own place that is a day’s travel away, and we are discovering that we miss our built in pet sitter! We have an elderly cat and elderly dog (we are a household of retired people and pets). We still travel regularly. We have found a wonderful local house and pet sitter who loves the pets, and does a great job of watering the garden etc., when we are away. It does cost us money, but not any more than an ordinary (not deluxe) kennel would, and the pets are happy, and the house is looked after. Now we only use the kennel as a last resort.

    Jude

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    1. Recently, we started using a pet sitting service recommended by a blog reader. The young woman we interviewed is very nice and competent. Having her live at our home for a week is about half the price of a better kennel and the dogs are much happier.

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