Nothing hurts me more than seeing an old pet turned into an animal shelter. It touches on two of my emotional wounds in life: abandonment and fear of being homeless. These loyal animals don’t deserve that kind of ending to their lives. But as I live with an old dog now, I can understand why some people will give up on them. It can be a struggle and quite difficult. However, I still don’t know how anyone can abandon their life-long friend.

Right now, my dog Gizzy is a challenge.  He is just a couple of weeks away from turning 14 years old which is very old for an 88 pound Golden Retriever. His spine is slowly deteriorating, causing weakness in his rear legs, occasional incontinence and a change in his bowel habits. He can no longer negotiate steps so he needs to be lifted to get in the car. My lower back is often stiff and sore as a result.  The change in bowel habits requires that he gets more frequent walks, so that means I must rearrange my schedule to accommodate him.  I had to leave Thanksgiving dinner early so that I could get home to him. And as for the incontinence, it only happens when he’s stressed.  When we visit my mom at her retirement community, he has recently been peeing in the elevator. Yikes! Not a good place to do that. I think he’s afraid of the slippery floor because he’s been coming to see my mom there for 9 years and never had a problem until a couple of months ago.  We consequently avoid stressful situations and he wears a diaper if he’s going somewhere stressful – yes, at my mother’s place.  

All of this sounds inconvenient and I admit can be difficult. But giving up on my guy is not an option. His quality of life is still excellent. He goes for long walks and loves to lie on the deck, especially on cold days because he has such a dense coat. He loves the cold. And he still plays – tug-of-war with his leash when he doesn’t want to come in from a walk and an occasional fetch with a stuffed toy. No matter how tough it gets for me, I will not let him go until he is ready. That’s the commitment I believe in when we bring a pet into our lives.