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Advice for seniors considering another golden

3276 Views 47 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  GOAussies
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.
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I’ve been following this thread with great interest. We got our puppy in Feb. 2020 (yes, just 5 weeks before Covid lockdown) at ages 67 and 72. We purposely got a small field bred golden, being more worried about size (as in, don’t get a dog you can’t carry) than energy. Three months later I ended up with a cancer diagnosis that required serious longterm chemo, surgery, radiation, and more chemo. I wasn’t in any shape to attend puppy kindergarten even if anyone had been offering it (other than online, which we did) during early Covid, and our dog was EXTREMELY energetic. Obviously, no one could have predicted my cancer, but most cases of cancer are in older folks. And lots of other illnesses are more common with age, too. Do think about what will happen if one of you gets sick and all the responsibility for your puppy falls on your spouse, who will also be caring for you. Exercising her properly required sending her to half day playgroup, and we have kept that up even though I’m now in remission and doing agility with her three times a week. But if she makes it to 12 years old, we will be 79 and 84. How could we have a new golden in the house then? How will we live in a house without a dog? There’s young old, and old old. So think about that, too.
Thank you very much for your post and my best wishes to you in dealing with your health issues - so good to hear that your are in remission and doing agility with her. And thanks to everyone else who have been following this thread. There have been many positive messages suggesting that we should go ahead with another golden, perhaps a puppy, perhaps a rescue, when we have adapted comfortably to the new normal of our family. Your response raises critical considerations and is a welcome cautionary tale amongst the well wishes we have received. Before we lost our Champagne I had suggested to my wife that she and her little companion Cider would be our last dogs based strictly upon our age. Now that we have a lovely (finished finally!) place in the country, perfectly suited to a dog I'm thinking differently. Champagne was a slightly nervous dog with separation anxiety that only waned in her last years when we enrolled the help of a very competent dog sitter. Even if we had had a solid back up plan if we were both to become incapacitated I feared that she would not have done well with anybody but me and my wife. Considering the joy she brought to our family I think that would have been a real injustice to her. Fortunately that situation never arose and as our son recently said she still had, at the age of 14 1/2, the soul of a puppy and was as happy and loved as she had been her whole life with us. The idea of a mid aged rescue becomes more of a possibility. At least if a backup caretaker was required at some point the adopted dog would have had a better shot in their remaining years, and we would feel as if we had given them their best chance (with less guilt for us). We also would not be looking at caring for a dog in our early eighties some time down the road in the "old old" phase of our lives. Now, just three weeks after we lost Champagne I am seeing a light fairly far off still, at the end of a rather long tunnel, and I see my priorities shifting as I think of just what it was that made our relationship so special. I have realized that one thing I really miss is having two dogs. They keep each other company, they learn from each other, they depend upon each other and spark off each other when fully engaged with their family. When you also have four cats, two dogs fills out a great zoo, a bit of a commotion at times but so great. Champagne was definitely the dominant dog in our family and Cider is a beautiful, sweet incredibly obedient girl. Having the two of them together along with all our cats was just awesome. These are early days as far as making a decision is concerned, hopefully I'll be able to post some good news in the not too distant future.
 

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My sympathies for your loss. It's awful to lose a dog, and the grieving process is just as intense as for any other loss in life. Kind thoughts to you.

Now, to answer your questions. First, I'm in my 60s as well, a bit younger than you, but not by much.

We live in a society that often treats seniors as "less than", because we don't have the same energy or physical capacity or whatever else as we used to. Well, we're not "less than". Quite the reverse. We're "more than", because of everything we've experienced. As I told my 21-year-old kid the other day, in life lesson number 10,423: the grey hair, the failing eyesight, the artificial joints and all the rest: they don't mean I'm old and irrelevant, they mean I've grabbed life by the b***s and wrestled it to the ground and come out of it in one piece, a bit worse for wear but victorious nevertheless, and still looking for the next challenge ...

I have a 6-year-old golden retriever from performance lines. He's my agility partner. Four years ago I had a total knee replacement. The doctor told me I'd probably have to give up agility. I told him that I hadn't put myself through the pain of the operation and the long, horrendous rehab just to stay home and knit. The following year my dog and I won the Canadian national championship in our class.This year I ruptured my Achilles tendon in May. I was told by many people that it was a sign I should give up agility and find something more "suitable" (read: calm and sedentary) to do. So I went out and bought a large plastic therapeutic boot to stabilize the tendon, and in June my dog and I won the provincial agility championship.

You know, you only get one shot at life. When it's gone, it's gone. Do what makes you happy; there's always a way. If another golden would make you happy, get one. Make a plan B for the dog just in case, but get one anyway.

Photo for encouragement. It was taken in September of this year. The therapeutic boot is still there. And I'm still running.

View attachment 898004
I am 65 and entered my golden, Pinyon, in an agility trial in October. It's been well over 20 years since I ran a dog in agility. I want to be like Christine (ceegee) when I get old.
 

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We were in a similar situation. We had goldens in the past but we lost our last dog, a newfie, back in April. I'm 60 and my wife is 76. After recovering from grief, we decided for our last dog we would go back to goldens. We did some research and determined that we wanted to go the puppy route. My wife has back issues and walks with a cane. She doesnt have then energy she once had. We agreed that I would do all the training, feeding and walking, she would do the grooming and dog sitter while I worked from home. We got Spencer at the beginning of Nov. I can't say it was a walk in the park. There are times of frustration and we have to keep remembering he is just a puppy. As seniors we work on out patience but he is also a huge laugh. More importantly he was the best thing for our mental health.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
We were in a similar situation. We had goldens in the past but we lost our last dog, a newfie, back in April. I'm 60 and my wife is 76. After recovering from grief, we decided for our last dog we would go back to goldens. We did some research and determined that we wanted to go the puppy route. My wife has back issues and walks with a cane. She doesnt have then energy she once had. We agreed that I would do all the training, feeding and walking, she would do the grooming and dog sitter while I worked from home. We got Spencer at the beginning of Nov. I can't say it was a walk in the park. There are times of frustration and we have to keep remembering he is just a puppy. As seniors we work on out patience but he is also a huge laugh. More importantly he was the best thing for our mental health.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Thanks for sharing. We expect to be searching for a new golden fairly soon as the grief of losing our lovely girl is starting to lessen. As Ceegee said, the world is slowly starting to tilt back on its axis, and looking back with gratitude at the luxury of being able to share our lives with such a lovely dog makes things a lot easier. We really didn't know a lot about goldens when we got Champagne so next time, with a lot more time on our hands and knowing a lot more, we will prepare ourselves for the energy it takes to cope. That seems to be the main message everyone has sent us.
And, by the way, it took a fair chunk of energy coping with Champagne at the age of 14 - she had me so well trained at dinner time every night she had me run ragged!
 

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I'm 65 this year and my husband will be 60. I don't think I've got another puppy in me TBH, but do plan to get another this year as our golden Bandit is turning 10. Not sure I'm up to the exercise demands of a golden, though I do love the breed (we've had two, plus a lab/shepherd cross). I am thinking of a smaller dog, but am not sure how that will go. I do love the westie terrier, but don't want to spent a fortune at a breeder.

Think we will probably go with a rescue, and see what kind of dog our search leads us to.
 

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NickH, sorry for your loss in Champagne. And I, like others on this thread, commend your thoughtfulness in this big decision. It is so kind of you to respond to almost everyone helping!! You don't need to respond to me ... I bet you are off investigating a pup or rescue as I type. LOL. I just want to add that you need a Backup1, Backup2 and Backup3. I am about your age, health issues in household, lots of appointments, blah blah. ALL of our friends (aka Backups) love dogs, have dogs and have always helped us AND we have helped them ... but we and our backups are getting older too and our Backups have their own issues now!

Bottom line, think about your Backups in terms of their age, availability and health too. Good luck!! I am anxious to learn how your story turns out.
 

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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.
You can teach a large dog to walk calmly on the leash without pulling, and you can teach him to not jump on you or anyone else. You have a large yard as well, so you don't even have to take him for walks away from home each day. Exercising him can be as simple as you grabbing a chuckit, sitting in a chair outside, and throwing the ball for the dog. I think you should go for it as long as you're prepared to put the work in to insure that your dog will not pull you down the street or knock you down the stairs. :)
 
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