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It's been four years now since we moved my now 85-year-old mother in with us. Thankfully she is still fairly mobile and shows no signs of dementia or anything like that. The difficulties with my mother have more to do with her very ingrained habit of denying reality and her unwillingness or inability to respect my home and how I want things to be.


This has been coming to a particular head as of late because of her pets. She has a small dog and a cat, both over 10 years old, who are becoming more of a headache each day. My mom's dog is a nightmare who would rather urinate on the couch than step on wet grass to go. After a recent bout with a bladder infection, we agreed that he would wear diapers in the house so as to avoid this kind of behavior. However, after a few weeks, my mom has grown tired of it and insists "he's fine now." So, she's lax with the diapers and, big surprise, today I come home for lunch and he's relieved himself all over the couch again. There is no other animal in the house who does this, yet she insists it couldn't have been him. Her sense of denial has been a problem throughout her life; this is just an extension of it. But now it affects me directly.


I plan to discuss all this with her this evening, but I feel like a jerk because I'm basically at the point of telling her that either her dog needs to go because she can't care for him, or she needs to go somewhere else. I don't think the latter is even possible at this stage, and the former is sure to start a fight and a ton of resentment. I've given my feelings a lot of thought and what it boils down to is that I often feel disrespected by her. That my wife and I have opened our home to her, given her a beautiful place to live, a relationship with her grandson, and all that I ask in return is for her to clean up after herself, make sure her dog goes outside and not on the couch, etc. It feels like these things aren't important enough to her to do. If she was anyone other than my elderly mother, I would have kicked her out long ago.


Any advice on how to approach this would be much appreciated. My brother tells me I shouldn't be so accommodating and basically tell her she needs to get rid of the dog. To take a "this is my house and this is how it's going to be" approach. I really don't like to put things like that but I'm starting to feel like he's right.

Curious why she moved in to begin with? No dementia (are you absolutely sure?) No issues with mobility. Why is she not living in her own place (condo, apartment, IL or AL)? You say you're not sure it is "even possible at this stage." Curious what you mean by that as well. Maybe not a good idea to move to a home, but an apartment, IL and/or AL? She isn't that old and is mobile, seems to be caring for herself, why not somewhere else?

Sounds like you've been around the block already about this issue, several times even. She's denied her dog was responsible for the last incident. I don't see her listening to anything you say and if she's not willing to take the dog out to do it's business or diaper it, this will continue.

NeedHelpWithMom mentioned Cushing's. My son's wife's dog developed that (he is older, also not a little dog.) But that was more like just peeing wherever, he couldn't hold it (there is treatment for it.) This sounds more like a behavioral issue. A couch isn't a normal place for a dog to pee.

Little dogs usually live longer, so 10 isn't that old. He could be around for many more years. A vet visit would be a start, to rule out any conditions. I would be sure you are there or at least make sure the vet clearly understands this dog has issues, so that it won't be excluded or whitewashed by your mother. It can also be a behavioral thing or it could be something he did before moving to your place that you weren't aware of.

I have to deal with one cat (not old) to avoid her going inappropriately. She still manages sometimes to go on the floor, esp if I delay putting her in a cat Playpen with a litter box, 3 times/day. I would NOT ask anyone else to put up with this behavior. I don't like it myself! For the last few weeks of my Katie's life, she forgot the litter box, so most of the time it meant multiple clean ups during the day. She only stayed in the kitchen, and it was mostly on the floor, a few times in her bed/chair. I tolerated that only because of her age (not quite 22, lived with me over 21.5 years!) and condition.

But, this is your house, your furniture. NOT your dog! IF she can't take proper care of the dog and can't abide by the house rules, either the dog finds a new home or she finds a new home and takes him with her. If she uses the couch, I'd leave multiple flyers from AL on it, for her to see, otherwise, leave them in a place she will see them. Hint, hint. If you do draw that line in the sand, don't back down. You've asked and she complied... for a bit. If she agrees to diapers again, it won't last. You know it won't.

Hard as it is, she won't likely get any better or more compliant as she ages. Furniture is just "stuff", but it is YOUR stuff and you don't want to feel like you're living in an outhouse or have to replace furniture all the time! Another 5 or more years of this? Nope. The other problem is no matter what you use to clean up, THEY can still smell it. Once this has started, it isn't going to stop.

Good to see that your brother is somewhat supportive. Making her get rid of the dog is likely going to lead to resentment, and that could last for years. Can you live with that? BTW, I'd ignore the suggestion for euthanasia. Most vets won't put down a healthy animal and there are plenty of rescue groups that can find homes for older dogs.

For me, if the dog is deemed healthy and it is a behavioral issue, either she diapers it or she moves.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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Seems like it is time for a series of family discussions.
Start with discussion your spouse. Together decide what are the expectations that every member in the household must uphold. Together decide what are the consequences of not meeting those expectations. These expectations and consequences are for EVERY member in the household.

Then, write up those expectations and have a discussion with your child(ren).. Get his/her/their input and modify the expectations as you - the adults - agree with reasonable modifications. Make sure each child gets a copy of your agreements.

Lastly, have a discussion with your mom. Explain your expectations and the reasons for them. Get her input and her reasons for any modifications. Modify the expectations and/or consequences that you have agreed upon. Make sure she gets a copy and post a copy someplace prominent - like the refrigerator door.

Please consider a 3 strike rule for infractions of expectations over the first month. 1st strike is a "reminder of what the expectation is", 2nd strike is a "reminder of consequence when expectation is not met." 3rd strike is that the consequence must be imposed since you have already given 2 reminders about expectations.

I had a similar issue with my mother 77 year old who lived with me for six months. She was supposed to be with us "for only a couple of months" while she looked for a new place. I gave her a bedroom and bonus room for her use. She "expanded" into a bathroom and our patio. I put my foot down and said she needed to curtail her stuff to the areas I had originally given to her for her use. She went to visit my sister for a long vacation and we came up with house rules in her absence. When I presented her with "the house rules," she was all of a sudden very motivated to find a "new home." We had her settled into a condo in 2 months where she could live according to her own dictates. I visit her weekly and so fare she is doing OK.
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Reply to Taarna
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I’m having a similar issue with my grandmas 2 dogs. Not going on the couch but going in the house. I just keep trying to train them in hopes they figure it out. Unfortunately, they can’t be more than a foot a or two away from my grandma or they freak out and she freaks out too. She thinks we are going to leave them out all night. Definitely not going to do that.

I hope lots of people comment with advice on this one. I can’t stand my grandma’s dogs and can’t bare to take them away.
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Reply to Homecare123
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The dog needs to be taken outside for a walk a couple of times a day. She is not capable of taking care of her own dog anymore. Can you hire help to take care of her and her dog? Hugs 🤗
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Reply to CaregiverL
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I have heard that a small dog can be litter trained. This one is probably too old for that though. At one time they had rug type things that looked like grass a small dog could use. I think it drained into something underneath u emptied.

Your couch. Very hard to get the smell out once its in the cushions. Cat is the worst. There are slip covers you just throw in that all dog/cat friendly. Just throw them in the wash. I have one I am sitting on right now. It was put on there to protect my couch from grandson.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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My youngest daughter rescued a darling french poodle when she was in college.

Occasionally, I would dog sit for her when she needed me to.

As he aged he lost control of his bladder too. At first we suspected that he had diabetes but when my daughter took him to the vet she was told that he had Cushing’s disease.

I put diapers on him. Must be a thing with wet grass because neither of the two dogs I had liked wet grass, nor did my daughter’s dog.

It would be extremely hard for your mom to surrender her beloved pet at this stage but I truly understand your frustration too.

I have never had an animal pee on my sofa. They went on the floor and I was so afraid that my mom would slip and fall. I did slip and fall on the ceramic tile when my daughter’s dog would pee in my kitchen.

In my opinion, diapers are the only way to go. The dog has lost control of his bladder.

Good luck in getting mom to cooperate!
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Order from Pet Smart or Chewys the doggy blue sheets and see if the dog can be trained to pee on the sheet.

As for the sofa, one can order blue sheets that are used in hospital for humans. They actually cost less per sheet then the doggy blue sheets. Only difference is that the doggy sheets has a nice flowery type smell to them. Put the blue sheets on the sofa.
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Reply to freqflyer
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If she refuses to “diaper” the dog can you crate the dog while you are gone? When you return you can let the dog out and then it can visit mom until it is time to let it out again. Mom can tale it out and watch the dog until it is time for bed. If the dog can “behave” this way it should work out. If the dog still has “accidents” while under moms watch then crate the dog again.
This sounds like I am punishing the dog but this would be more like “retraining” both mom and dog
Another option to give to mom would be to help her find an apartment in a senior building that is pet friendly. My guess is no Assisted Living Facility would welcome an untrained dog
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Dog pee on my furniture would definitely be a big no for me. You’re being very generous to your mom, no need to accept this. At all
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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To Alva, ALs only allow pets as long as the resident can care for them. Taking care of residents animals is not the responsibility of the staffs.

I would take the dog to the vet. Does he drink a lot? If so, he may have diabetes. That would mean shots every few hours. While there, ask if there is a no kill shelter or someone who would foster the dog with u paying for food and Vet bills. Or, if someone would take an older dog.

My husband loved his Mom but if her dog was ruining our furniture the dog would have to go. I would also have Mom pay for a new sofa.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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helpwithmother Nov 16, 2020
Thank you JoAnn. I have suspected he is diabetic, and I'm sure his steady diet of toast, cookies and other "people food" my mom loves to give him doesn't help. He drinks a lot of water for his size and is quick to pee it out. So yes, I think another vet visit is in order.
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Oh her dog reminds me of my Penny. She is a Corgi Pom cross and thinks wet grass is the worst thing in the world. I live on the Wet Coast and the grass is wet about 4 months of the year. I have a pet door, she pops out then pops right back in and will piddle on the floor, luckily not on the furniture. What I tend to do is put her out the pet door, then block it. Leave her out for 20 minutes or so, then let her back in on the deck. She has to get her feet wet to do this and generally will piddle.

It is a royal pain.

You do have the right to tell Mum diapers on the dog or no dog.
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Reply to Tothill
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I am assuming that this little dog has had a complete workup with the vet. Some animals do have problem controlling their bladders, just as some people do, and this worsens with age. A diaper is a very reasonable request. I don't feel that you should have a situation when your furniture is completely ruined, and that is apparently what is happening. I am an animal lover, but if Mom cannot keep the diaper on then the animal would have to be euthanized (difficult to place a 10 year old) and no other animal got to replace OR Mom can move with her animal to ALF. Many do accept pets. How they manage that I cannot imagine in cases like this, but they seem to. Sad, this, because there is a solution and your Mom is refusing it. Time for a real sit down talk. I don't know if you also have carpeting, but dogs can be trained, even late in life, not to get on the furniture, and given a life or death situation Mom may decide that a lovely WASHABLE bed is a good thing.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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helpwithmother Nov 16, 2020
Thank you for your response. Her dog needs to urinate frequently, and as long as she guides him to the stairs and ensures he goes down to use the dog door, we don't have problems. But left to his own devices, he'll go where it's convenient, either because it's raining, or the grass is wet, etc. I feel like my mom needs to understand and accept that her dog requires an increased amount of attention and care first and foremost, which she doesn't seem to want to do.
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