Doggie Dilemma

Last month my very old cat died. Magic was 19, and was, indeed magical. He’d made it through any number of serious health crises, and had a good long life. We were sorry to see him go on a lot of levels.

One of those is that for years he and my dog Red were best buddies. They wrestled and played, both indoors and out, admittedly not much in the last 2 years. (How did I not get a picture of that?!) They rested near each other outside,
Red & Magic rest outside

and often slept together in the same little bed indoors.
Red & Magic (dog & cat) nap

So now it’s just Red & me. Coming to me at 3 years old, Red was never one to play with toys, fetch, play tug of war, etc.; weaving & making jewelry are incredibly boring for him. Red’s always been a bit timid, and that may be getting worse as he ages – he’s now 11.

Before Magic passed, I’d assumed I’d get another cat. But now I’m really hesitant. For most of his life, Magic was an indoor-outdoor cat; he came inside whenever he wanted (most of the time), but didn’t use a litter box – he did his business outside. As he aged and became more frail, a litter box in the basement was critical, and while I didn’t resent doing it for him, I REALLY don’t want a litter box as a constant.

Probably more troubling, however, are the potential problems with my work and a cat. How many cats do you know that wouldn’t find all those strings involved in weaving, or those little beads involved in making jewelry, the perfect playthings? If most of what I made was jewelry, it would be a relatively easy thing to always cover what I was working on during time away from the table. But yarn? I have dozens of cones of yarn on the great rack my son made for me, yarn in bags (often a kitty favorite), yarn on shelves. There’s no way to put it all inside something that’s kitty-safe.

So I’ve been playing with the idea of getting another dog. However I’ve tried two dogs at once a few times out here in the sticks, and it’s always a problem. Without a fenced yard, two dogs will invariably leave the area and get into trouble of one kind or another, or in my experience, several kinds of trouble.

Invisible fence initially seemed like a good answer, but now I think not. Red really hates beeping, so would be easy to train, but would it make him crazy? I think that’s likely. Plus, with a second dog (and I wouldn’t get a puppy, only an adult), there would be that training period before Dog2 knew about the fence, and that might mean keeping that shelter-dog longer than we would like to. (Interaction between the two dogs is critical. If they’re not really liking each other, I’ve made the situation worse, not better.) Additionally, given my yard configuration, the odds of placing the fence in a way that will both provide shade options for the pooches and not have a high likelihood of getting jabbed by my garden tools are quite low.

So what about something more like farm fencing? Galvanized, with 4″ x 4″ (or similar) openings, green metal posts driven into the ground. More than twice the cost, and visually not so appealing. Yet it has no training period, and will provide more security – nothing can get in, including dead stuff that Red loves to roll in.

That seems reasonable. Then I think about how much touching Red needs to be happy and secure. If I had to divide my available pooch petting time between two dogs, will that make him jealous & unhappy? Or will having a full-time buddy totally offset that, and even make him more confident and happy?

Too many unknowns!

So I’m seeking your input, readers. What has your experience taught you? What are your suggestions?

2 comments to Doggie Dilemma

  • I think that animals need time to grieve just like humans. They also take their queues from us so if you just carry on like everything is okay, so will they.

    Red sounds like a sweetie pie and at age 11 is pretty much set in his ways. We had a small terrier and decided to leave him as an ‘only child’ until he passed away (he died September 24th 2010 at age 13 1/2) We kept a petless home for 6 months and waited for it to be right to have another come here to live. So last Feb we found Calli our Airedale who was 10 months old then) She’s sweet and oh so much higher energy than an elderly dog! I’m glad we didn’t get her while he was alive as our old Connor would not have been able to keep up with her.

    When you think about it, no other pet can replace the one you lost. Its not just the pet, but the years of relationship you built with them as well. So new cat/ dog? A whole new deal for both of you….
    We literally built a list of what we wanted and didn’t want…. and then found Calli who fit the list!

    Good luck…

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks for the insights, Susan. I will definitely consider what you have to say. I do know that Red spent the first 3 years of his life, before he came to me, with many other dogs, and he does like most other dogs, even quite large ones. I still have many things to think about.

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