Moving a Parent and a Large Dog

Moving a Parent and a Large Dog

Imagine that your 80-year-old dad is a widower, has a physical disability, and lives in a house he owns that isn’t safe for him anymore. His dog is a 50-pound bundle of love, companionship, and the warm reminder of his beloved wife. He finally realizes you’ve been right all along; he needs to move. He insists his dog must come with him.

On top of all that, it’s the holidays! Now what? This is what I’ve been facing for the past month and I’m still learning from the school of hard knocks. Thankfully, we have the resources we need to manage the situation.

Finding your Human Resources
You are unlikely to be able to do this all on your own and stay sane. Consider answering these questions to learn who can be part of your personal village of support:

  • Does your parent have other relatives besides you who can help?
  • Who has helped your parent manage the household, like housework and yard maintenance?
  • Who is your parent’s lawyer, financial advisor, tax preparer, and insurance company?
  • Who can help find you a new home and sell your parent’s current house (i.e. a realtor)?
  • Who are your parent’s health care team, such as primary care physician, physical therapist, mental health professional or case worker, home health aide, spiritual advisor, etc.?

Find a New Place for your Parent — and the Dog
It helps to know exactly what your parent wants and needs in a new home, plus what the dog needs.
If your parent has a larger dog, then the reality is that most rental places, condominiums, and senior community living settings won’t accept the dog. Plus, they usually only accept one pet. They may make an exception if a larger dog has received documented training by a professional, or if their doctor writes a note. Otherwise, your parent may be out of luck! The dog won’t be able to live with your parent after all, if these are the only options under consideration.

If your parent has multiple pets or farm animals, you’ll need to find people who are willing to take almost all of those animals. While there are many rescues, shelters and foster care groups in Northeast Ohio, be aware that they may not be able to take all the animals that need new homes. Ask family, friends, neighbors and others who may be willing and able to take them. Be prepared to consider euthanasia for older pets, since most people don’t want older pets that may have serious health issues. Some pets do not do well in a shelter situation; stress alone could cause them to be in even poorer health and be poor candidates for adoption. For older dogs, contact the Sanctuary for Senior Dogs.

Living in a house with a fenced-in yard is likely to be your best option for a larger dog or for multiple pets — and perhaps even a few small farm animals. Look in neighborhoods that your parent can afford and those with a first floor bedroom, such as a ranch house.

If you need more information on this topic and others, contact me at 216-920-3051 or [email protected]

— By Anna M. van Heeckeren

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