What can I do when elderly parents have attached themselves to my 10 yr old Maltese and don't want to give her back?

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My elderly parents (mid 80's) live out of state from me. Their beloved little dog is days/weeks away from dying and they don't want to get a new one (too hard and overwhelming to train, etc.). They have attached themselves to my little 10 yr old Maltese that they've watched off and on for me for years ( they've recently been watching her for me the past 2 weeks.). They literally spend every minute of every day caring for her, walking her, and talking non-stop about her. Say that she (and their other little dog) is the only reason they have to live or get out of bed in the morning (which is honestly true). I feel terribly guilty taking her back away from them. They are physically and emotionally very fragile right now, and I honestly think taking her from them might put them over the edge and cause them to become very depressed and "give up". My husband and I are retired and at home during the day, and I love her to death---she is like a child to us, but we also love and care about my parents. What to do?

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I have to agree with Countrymouse. She is your parents reason for being,, as it seems, and she is keeping them mobile, interested and engaged. If the pup is happy,, then it seems like a win win for them. As for you, yes its hard.. but you are young enough to train another dog, and still feel good about this. My daughter lives near us (much easier I agree) and we "share custody" of her Chihuahua.. part of the week here and part with her. My mom and hubs are home, and she gets tons of loving and attention. Daughter works full time. And she soo brightens my Moms day! Gets her out of the house and more company. It is hard,, but they are not as adapable in thier 80s..
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If you're confident that they can cope with the little honey-bun, and she seems happy around them, and you and your husband have just relocated to territory that will be unfamiliar for her, then the big and noble thing to do is to leave her with your parents as their indefinite house-guest.

Dogs have long memories; and if the time comes when they can't manage her safely (for them and/or her) she'll happily come home to you. But they're too old for a new dog of their own, and it's hard to think of any companion animal you could find for them instead which could combine entertainment, manageability and temperament in the way that a Maltese does.
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Thank you for that suggestion! They live in San Antonio and we recently had to relocate to Denver. It would realistically be tough to switch off like that on a regular basis.
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Thank you for that suggestion! They live in San Antonio and we recently had to relocate to Denver. It would realistically be tough to switch off like that on a regular basis.
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How far out of state are your parents? If they aren't that far away, one idea is to alternate one week with your parents, and the next week she is back home with you?
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