What are my options when my elderly mother can no longer take care of her blind/diabetic dog? - AgingCare.com

What are my options when my elderly mother can no longer take care of her blind/diabetic dog?

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My mother has a 12 year old blind and diabetic dog that needs insulin twice a day, 12 hours apart and 4 kinds of eye drops four times a day (She also has another dog with teeth problems, but that is something else). I don't have pets because I don't want to have to take care of any ( I know my limitations). She lives a half hour away from me and 10 minutes from my sister. I also have a husband and 2 children who must be driven to school a half hour from my house in the opposite direction from my mother's house (naturally). My husband takes them one way, but I have to do the other direction. My sister has a husband (children grown and gone) and while she is between jobs, needs to get a job for financial reasons. My mom has never been active. Then she broke her upper arm, and my sister and I split shifted taking care of her after surgery for 4 weeks. She ended up needing oxygen 24/7 due to the surgery. She has congestive heart failure, COPD and "bones like eggshells" as the doctor put it. No sleep, because my mother catnaps all day, leaves the TV running until midnight, the dog needs to go out at 2 and 4 am and my mother gets up at 5 am. Food, insulin and drops (4 kinds, 5 minutes apart) for the dog at 6am, 10 am, 2 pm and food insulin and drops at 6PM. After 4 weeks, we no longer stayed at the house 24/7 (as we needed sleep). My mother is able to take care of herself (for the most part), but she will not do her arm exercises and insists that it is no use, she will never be able to use the arm again. Enter the problem: the blind/diabetic dog. My sister, because she lives closer, does the eye drops during the day, and I try to take as many nights and mornings as I can. My sister is exhausted, I cannot afford the gas money to drive there four times a day, and I cannot stay all day three to four days a week. My mother isn't even trying to improve to the point where she can at least put the drops in the dogs eyes during the day. I keep trying to tell both my sister and my mother that we should hire someone to help out with the dog, but I cannot afford to pay for it on my own, and my mother has plenty of money to do so, but won't. Both my sister and my mother seem to think we are all going to take care of the dog for the rest of it's life, but I am very resentful that my family is getting shortchanged because of my mother's dog, especially since I don't have pets for EXACTLY this reason. I have even told them so. Putting the dog to sleep doesn't seem to be an option (which I get). What responsibilities do I have to this dog, and how do I deal with it? FWIW, I have no problem going to my mother's house once a week to pick up the dog doo and take out the trash and recycling, and/or other days to buy her groceries, vacuum or take her to the doctor. It's the every day, every four hours for a dog that is getting priority over my own family that I am having issues with.

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To Captain:
"when one of those beasts cause your mom a fall and a broken bone you might regret your failure to make effective decision". I agree. I don't think it is safe for my mother to be in that house alone. However, I lost that argument to my mother and sister. It's on them now.

To Countrymouse: I actually found myself saying :Wait. Why is the dog more important than my sister and I and our well being? (not to mention the other people we have to drag into it when neither of us can be there). She has the money to hire someone. I do not want to be tied down so that I cannot go on trips or with my children because of a dog that is not mine. That's when I decided I was setting a time limit. Good luck to you. I hear your frustration.

To frqflyer: I hear what you are saying. But when does the beloved pet become more important than the well being of a person's own children? (Did I mention that it is 6am and 6pm that the dog needs it's insulin, and my mother will absolutely NOT change those times-any 12 hour span works, BTW-so I am driving a half hour over at 5:20 am, then I have to travel 1/2 hour back to make sure my son is up at 7am? And that it takes me an hour and a half to get there by 6pm due to traffic? And she knows this?) Again I hear what you are saying. And I'll admit, I just don't get it when a pet takes priority over a person's own children.

To pamstegman: My mother doesn't believe the dog is suffering because he eats like there is no tomorrow, only occasionally cries when he gets the insulin shot, and is happy to lay around the rest of the time, unless he is bonking into walls looking for the water bowl. Seriously, unless he dropped dead right in front of her, she'd still say he was OK. Once I realized this, it was another reason to set a limit and be done. I can do anything for a few months. Not for years.

I'm sure I sound rather callous to some people, but spent my teenage years unable to go anywhere with my friends on the weekends with the excuse from my mother that "someone has to stay home with the dogs." while she went shopping with my father. It was BS, of course, but I'm done with her dogs (and manipulations). I just needed some sleep to remember it.
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It's important to make it clear to mom that the dog is suffering. It's also important to stop enabling that suffering by attending the dog every 4 hours. I took in a blind and deaf dog, but the dog herself let me know she didn't want to keep going on. She just sat. Wouldn't move. I had her put to sleep peacefully at the SPCA. Listen to the dog.
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Let's not forget, a beloved pet is also an extension of its owner.
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Kalinda, I'm delighted to read your second report, and I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion: that, frankly, your mother has been taking the mickey out of you and your sister for quite some time.

My mother was always an idiot about her cats. Now we're down to just the one cat, deaf as a post, nearly 20 years old and terribly frail - but a game, contented little thing and I'm very fond of her. But ooo that resentment towards my mother over it - do you too find yourself rhubarbing and muttering "you say you love the poor bloody animal well sodding well take proper care of it you daft old bat…" - or is that just me???

I have been tempted in years gone by, I don't know if you've ever felt the same, to get an animal welfare officer in to read my mother the Riot Act. As it is, she got into the habit of making bleating little phone calls not so much to me but to my brother and sister when she needed - scratch needed. Wanted - help getting the cats to the vet. This because she 'couldn't' shut them in the kitchen. No problem leaving them in the cattery for weeks at a time while she went off on holiday, but ignore them for five minutes if they were mewing to go out? Too cruel!

There goes my blood pressure again… Phew. You've got this absolutely right, you know. The dog has been wildly overmedicated (I don't buy my food from my GP. Why should dogs and cats need theirs from the vet?) and every intervention has led to two or three more. The vet seeing $$$? Well, it's partly that; but it's also your mother doing what my mother does and substituting money for actual care. Except when she can con you and your sister into a sacrifice of time and effort instead (note the expert delegation there - and up goes the BP another notch!).

Sorry, to answer the question: you have no responsibilities to the dog beyond ordinary societal expectations, i.e. intervening or reporting it if you see it being treated inhumanely. However, you are a practical and nice person who deals capably with an animal's needs. You are not obliged to; I am giving you a round of applause for doing it anyway.

Blind 12 year old dog, though. I'm glad, again, that you and sister have improved his quality of life; presumably he gets on well with the toothache dog, does he? Because otherwise… I'd still question whether it is, really, humane to prolong his life. Mixed breeds do live a long time (our beloved Cindy was 16), but 12 is still a respectable innings. Try insuring him, for example..!

What would be great would be if you and sister could form a united front and present your mother with a demand that she take proper care of her animals. This would include enumerating the budget for veterinary care, walks, proper Dog Food for dogs (not expanded polystyrene with added sugars), grooming, etc. These refusals to hire assistance - and what's going on with those teeth? - are actually an abdication of her responsibilities and she wants taking out and spanking for it. If you can link arms and get heavy with her, go to it.

Sorry to ramble, tummy rubs all round x
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incredible . on a hepc chat group a fellow says his hepc treatnent isnt getting a chance because one dog and then the other keeps him from the sleep his body needs . if hes too stupid to resolvre that matter i hope he fails this lifesaving treatment . when one of those beasts cause your mom a fall and a broken bone you might regret your failure to make effective decisiond NOW .
in your case kalinda make those decrepit animals dissappear . the bottom of a septic tank is a good burial .i will never arrange my life , finances , health , free time etc around a bunch of dogs with a brain the size of a walnut .
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Thank you for all the suggestions. Since I have been busy putting out fires, I haven't had time to work on the fire prevention yet. To answer some questions, this is a mix breed dog, that can live up to 18 years. Yes, the clock is ticking, but to put this in perspective, this dog has had his hip joints go out and surgery for repairs for both (5 and 6 years old); urinary tract stones and surgery for that (9 years old) ; was put on a urinary dog food and with three months became diabetic; the vet could not get the dogs blood sugar regulated (turns out it was the crappy urinary dog food that caused it-go figure it's all carbs); went blind because of the blood sugar being out of control (10.5 years); as it turned out, when my sister and I started taking care of the dog, we changed his food, got his blood sugar regulated and the dog looks better than he's ever looked in his life (I may hate having to deal with this, but I can't mistreat an animal). It is my opinion that the vet sees $ when they see my mother coming and will convince her to try to save the dog at all costs, no matter what. I am not a dog (or animal) person, nor do I have $500+ dollars to spend on all the medications the dog needs. My sister has three dogs and no more room. I have asked my mother to pay my sister to come and take care of the dogs, but she won't do that (despite that fact that she has spent $25,000+ on the dog and spends $500+ for food and medications for the dog each month). The good news is that my sister had to take care of the dogs 24/7 while I was away and finally told my mother that she would have to put the eye drops in at 10 and 2 herself (which *surprise*, she is doing just fine). I have come to the conclusion that my mother is milking a lot of this for the attention of us being there every day, and have started just coming in, greeting her, taking care of the dog and leaving. I only really converse with her on the trash day, when I would come over to help with the cans anyway. Since she isn't getting any *extras* from me during the week, I have seen her stepping up and doing more for herself (even simple things like breaking down her cereal boxes to put in the recycling). Next, I'm going to put a time limit on how long I will help, because if her arm is not well enough to do this after four months or so, it never will be. Then my sister will have to decide if she wants to do the whole thing for the rest of the dog's life herself, I can't decide for her. But if my sister chooses not to, I have found a site that lists people who will care for dogs hourly and will interview people to find someone suitable should my mother decide to keep the dog, or help her find a new forever home for it. I should be enjoying however many years left visiting with my mother on a weekly basis instead of resenting having to go over there every day.

Again, thank you all for the help.
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Curious, what breed of dog is the 12 year old? Has the dog always been blind, or is this an age related issue. If the breed is a large or medium size dog and the blindness is age related, the clock is ticking. I would get a check-up for the dog and ask the Vet to give a guessament as to how fast is that clock ticking.

Then present your mother with two choices: 1) to find the dog a new forever home 2) to hire someone to help her with the dog.

I know you said you don't want pets, and it would be a lot to ask, but since the clock might be ticking on the dog, could you take the dog home with you? It would be a wonderful learning experience for your children. Or have your sister take in the dog. It would be a learning curve for the dog to learn his way around the house being that he/she is blind. At least your Mom will know her baby is in a good home.
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I was thinking of a Girl or Boy Scout who might be working on an animal care badge (if there are such badges these days) to help out, but it sounds as though your mother wouldn't want to pay them.

There are dog services that care for animals; my sister ran one and took in dogs during their owners' vacations. I do know that some dog service owners (generally individuals who love pets) will come and take the dogs for walks, but the issue of the early am bathroom breaks is a different story. If the dog could last through the night without going out, this might be a possibility.

I was also thinking of a rescue group that could find an adoptive home for the dog, and your mother would still have the other pet for companionship.

Sounds like it might be time for a "come to reality" talk with Mom about the dog's needs and how they are to be met in the future. I think your mother is going to have to either pay, or acknowledge that the dog needs more care than she can provide.

This is a tough one - wish I had better suggestions.

Thinking ahead, though, it does sound as if your mother isn't progressing in her own health, so the dog's care may become an issue if your mother needs to have rehab or other facility care. I'm not trying to be discouraging or offer gloomy predictions, but your description of her approach doesn't seem to indicate that she'll be very strong as she goes forward. With advanced osteoporosis and no apparent exercise, any fall might be more severe than a broken arm.
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I agree with you, dogs are great and we love our pets but many of our elderly loved ones don't get the amount of attention and care that this dog gets.

I'm sure your mom loves the dog very much and you are doing a lot to help her so I would throw some weight around and insist that she hire help to help care for the dog. I understand why elderly folk don't want to hire help when they are the ones who need the assistance but this is a dog!

I'm sure you can find some volunteers through the Human Society or maybe even little Susie Smith from down the street would love to do it and would appreciate a few extra dollars in her pocket.
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Your right, animals are a big responsibility. Let your mom know her dog can still have many years left and she needs to accept outside help to care for the dog ( maybe herself). Yes, she may have to pay ( there may be few volunteer places that might help, call your local Humane Society, Animal groups, Senior places , her neighbors she likes, maybe students who are learning to be Vet Techs or Vets would be an option for volunteers.) Just tell your mom you know how much she loves her dogs but either she has to try or she needs some help. Good luck!
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