Hello, I have just recently joined the forum and I need some advice for seniors who may wish to share their lives with a golden retriever again.
Here's our story: We have just lost the most wonderful dog we have ever known. Her name was Champagne, she was a purebred American and she died at 14 1/2 years old. We are experiencing the grief that only golden retriever owners can know. I am 69 and my wife Annette is 68.
In 2006 Annette, who had already been dealing with serious pain management issues was in a serious car accident after which she required several surgeries on both shoulders. In October of 2007 our lovely yellow lab cross died unexpectedly at the age of 7 from cancer. Jack was an incredibly powerful dog but was as gentle as he was strong and we were totally shocked when we found that he didn't have long to live. Some time early in the new year of 2008 Annette told me that she wanted another dog. I was very hesitant at first because I just wasn't sure if she would be able to handle the responsibilities considering her physical condition. She told me that caring for a new dog would distract her adequately and improve her mental health. It didn't take me too long to agree, with the understanding that I would handle the leash training and walking, and basically take care of its outside activities while Annette took care of it inside the home, grooming etc., and as much as anything they would keep each other company while I was running our home business. I insisted that rather than taking in a rescue as we have done every time in the past we should look for a dog with a temperament similar to Jack's and that a golden retriever would be a logical choice.
Annette agreed and we brought Champagne home in August of 2008. It was the best pet decision we ever made. We had known a bit about goldens but looking back with 20/20 hind sight I now realize that we had no idea just how incredibly beautiful inside and out, loyal, trusting, joyful and intelligent they can be. The affect on Annette's mental health was immediate and long lasing and the past 14 years have been some of the best years of our lives.
Now we are older, Annette has continuing health issues while I am in pretty darn good shape physically. I am often mistaken for a guy in his early fifties rather than his late sixties. I don't have quite the energy I had 14 years ago but not too far off, but what I have now compared to before is a lot of time. I am retired and occasionally agree to fill appropriate woodworking orders when they come in from old and trusted customers.
So here's the question: assuming that we arrive at a stable place in the near future where we have come to peace with Champagne's passing, should we get another golden at our ages? Right now we both realize that it's early days and we won't make a rash decision when emotions are running high, but I find that the thought of doing this again alleviates some of the immediate pain. I have visited the websites of the main breeders close to us in Ontario in anticipation of possibly getting another golden and just doing that makes me feel better. We have a 4 acre property bordered by vacant lands which are accessible to us, we have huge spaces for tearabouts and obedience training and our home and property are better suited than ever before to have a another dog. If we did get another puppy, and it would be a puppy, I would have a plan in place for someone to care for it if for some reason we were both incapacitated (or worse) with financial provisions for the dog's care.
Neither of us is seeking to replace Champagne, that just wouldn't be right, and an injustice to her, but we would be looking for another unique relationship with a dog whose temperament we can be reasonably sure of from the beginning. We have read a lot on the internet about seniors with dogs, a lot of it positive, but there is very little in the way of first hand experience.
Can anyone out there offer us some advice? Has anyone been in similar circumstances? How did it go or how is it going? What should we be aware of if there is something we haven't considered? We want to make as informed a decision as we can some time in the near future because if we do go ahead we will both be all in, just as Champagne was every day of her life with us, and we would want to do the very best for the dog. We would really appreciate what ever feedback we can get.