« Late night gratuitous pibble blogging | Main | Me and the markets »

22 February 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Karina A.

Christie, I don't think there's an easy or straight answer to this as it appears 2009 will be a challenging year for all of us. Our pals are between the ages of 8 and 10 years so they're pretty picky on who's to care for them while we're out of the house.

Last October we canceled one of our vacation trips because our oldest got sick with what appeared to be renal failure. Up to this day we don't know what or how it happened but all we can do is give thanks that we still have him by our side.

I guess it all depends on the circumstances: if they're in good health we have 2 friends of the family that are also "fan-of-the-furry" and treat them not as pets but as members of the family. They visit them every morning and again in the afternoon.

However, if there's nothing I can do on canceling a trip and one of our pals was sick, it'll definitely be a boarding at the vet's clinic. What we usually do is board all 3 of them and ask the staff to put them as close as possible, especially if one of them is sick (the stress can worsen any health issues). However, if it was a serious illness, believe me, everything else CAN and WILL have to wait while my friend recovers.

Finally, I guess there's no true way on backing the clock on life. You can envision it as one of life's punishing elements or an invitation to learn and grow as a human. Hopefully you'll embrace the latter and know that you have a lot of followers out here by your side ready to make your day a little brighter! See you again soon!


I empathize, Christy. I think we all do what we can for our pets while still keeping our obligations to the jobs that pay for their vet bills, nutrition, and the roof over their heads.

On one week-long trip, I hired a pet sitter who had vet tech level skills. He came in and hand-fed baby food to my renal failure kitty on my bed, and he sent the most welcome email of all that said "He pooped!" Only a pet parent can truly appreciate someone who will take time out of their schedule late at night to send something that celebrates that kind of an event.

I have spent years simply not traveling. In retrospect, I wonder what my family must have thought of my polite, "I'm sorry, the cat is sick and I need to stay home" for over two years of back-to-back cat geriatrics. During that time, the only vacation I took was for three days to a location only an hour from home, and that was while my elderly cat was sequestered during radioactive iodine treatment.

You're right, it's important to develop a list of friends and/or family whose judgment you trust and are willing to go the extra mile for your pets while you are gone. My backup now, beyond family, is a friend of my sister's who has a cat she has giving sub-q fluids to for years. True pet people on call to help other pet people are a rare and precious thing. :)

Mostly, though, we just have to do whatever we can to help our aging family -- human or otherwise -- get the most quality they can out of life, for as long as they can. And that formula of vigilance, friends, and extra hugs, is one that's unique for everyone, I suspect.

Colorado Transplant

It is one thing to get hysterical when your pet is dying, but when you are old and hysterical and not having anyone right there with you to help--well, that it hard.

After reaching out and not getting anyone, I finally got someone to call my husband home.

We went to the emergency hospital.

After reading your column and seeing that it was hard for your mom to cope, maybe I can forgive myself for letting Batman suffer while I was trying to get help.

You see, I can drive, I can walk, I can climb stairs even though I am old--but I cannot adequately control my hysteria when I see a beloved friend in great distress. The 5'oclock night traffic and the unfamiliar territory going to the emergency place scared me. Plus, I could not face Batman's great distress. I went to "pieces".

When my husband came home, all problems were addressed.

After your writing about your mom, I understand old people do the best they can but are limited in their capacities.

Colorado Transplant

Thanks Christie, for writing this.


My sympathies to all especially to you Christie. I also am "up there in age" like Colorado Transplant and fall to pieces when one of my pets is ill however, unfortunately, there is no one to call for help. Oh yes, there are friends. The downside is they are mostly older than myself and are not "true" animal lovers or would not know what to do in an emergency. As long as I have had pets especially after mom died, have never taken a vacation. I did take a week shortly after mom died to go on my one and only vacation as mom's oldest sister was still alive to stay at the house. She didn't drive and would have been useless in an emergency but thank the Lord there was no emergency until about 2 weeks after I returned from vacation, when the dog I had determined she would rather go be with my mother. In that case, as Colorado Transplant said, for me the 5:00 traffic was too much and I had to ask a neighbor whom I'd never spoken to before this, to drive me to the vet to euthanize my beloved pet. The irony with this neighbor, shortly after, he was imprisoned for shooting his wife the previous year.

Leslie K

We just don't go on vacations. If someone has to travel for work or family reasons only one of us goes. Mine are all 7-11 and have issues with boarding or strangers,TG for good animal loving neighbors !On the parents,we have been dealing with health or memory problems for the last 10 years,so I definitely sympathize with your worry about leaving.We are at the point where my mil can't be alone even for a few minutes. Just taking the dog out and leaving her inside for a few minutes is iffy.

Phyllis DeGioia

Christie, my heart is with you. I know the strain and worry about our beloved, vulnerable old dogs combined with concern about an aging parent with cancer. Moments of it are hell on earth, and moments of it are beautiful and tender. My wish for you is that some day you will remember only the tender moments. {hugs}


Lovely, touching article. Just wanted to say, don't ever feel like you are 'begging.' We love your mom, your dogs and your city. Plus I've got a free ticket I need to use by August so if you have a need, do not feel in any way that it is a chore!


I'm with Leslie K. Fortunately, I have lived with the same partner for 18 years who now has “passable” animal care skills for short periods (overnight). If one of us has to go out of town (only when absolutely required by work or family obligations, so it is rare - for him, it's 2-3 times/year and for me once every 3-5 years maybe?) while one of us always stays here with the dogs. We haven't gone out of town together for many, many years. Even on SFRAW pick-up days (the one day a month I'm gone all day), he works from home to be with the dogs for them and me. Lately, his job has changed, so it's harder and harder for him to do this and it's gotten more stressful for all of us - especially because the dogs seem to fall apart health-wise on pick-up days as they get older and older (they know I won't be here for the day and this stresses them out). Our last vacation together was in 2006 with the dogs - we had to find a cabin without more than a few stairs because we had a hospice dog with us at the time (I had to lift him everywhere - he was a large dog) and had to rent a second car to bring the food/stuff up with us so the dogs would all be comfortable in the back of the Explorer, adding to the cost. We all had a good time though - great memories from that trip. Frankly, it costs too much to go out of town these days (even if the dogs go with us, we have other animals at home that need 2x daily care with a trusted sitter)- so we just stay home.

Kim Thornton

I so understand how you feel, even without the aging parent part (knock on wood). I still remember vividly what it was like when Savanna was old and having trouble with the stairs and how it pained Darcy to be grasped and picked up to be carried up and down the stairs. I wish I had an answer. I'm grateful to be able to take my girls 7 hours north to Bella's breeder or 1.5 hours south to their pet sitter Terry if we're going away for any length of time. I'm grateful that if I really needed to, I could call Tamela, Audrey or Arden and know that someone with great pet skills would show up to help me. And I'm grateful for "cancel for any reason" trip insurance, even if it costs a lot. Hang in there.


I stay home (other than going to work each day). I did go on a week's trip to Colorado years back. I left my kitty babies in the care of my vet while I was gone. I missed them and worried about them the whole time...so much so that I had to call the vet halfway through my trip to make sure they were doing ok.

I know that people have obligations, and cannot opt to stay home as I do. All you can do is to do your best to cover all bases, and then try and rest in the fact that you have done your best. That's all anyone can ask of themselves.

Sara Jo

That article really hit home, thank you. I don't have to travel for work, so with an aging, ill pet I just don't travel.

Last fall one of our old dogs was in the last stages of cancer. She had good days and bad days, but eventually the bad days were more and more. My husband and I belong to a cycling club, and I declined to go to any of the fall out of town events to be home with Heidi.

I am still working on forgiveness of family members who came and visited for the weekend, arriving on the day we ended up euthanizing our beloved Heidi. Both my husband and I tried very hard to convince them that it wasn't a good time for us, but they all wanted to see my brother-in-law who was staying at our home while in the States on business during that time (he lives in China). It was very, very difficult for me to entertain that weekend, and I am still harboring a lot of resentment.

Anyway, I guess my point is is that when pets get old and sick, it's a lot like having a close family member get old and sick. I feel like I should make sacrifices and that it won't be forever, but at least I can be there for that beloved pet who has given me so much.


Ten years ago, when I moved my mom from Wisconsin to my home in Ohio, I remember thinking to myself that both she and Bailey would hit "little old lady" status at about the same time. And that's just what has happened.

At least my mom and I can discuss her age-related health issues and the best way to make her comfortable. I wish I could have the same conversations with Bailey!

I don't do trips. Most of my friends/family think I'm a little nuts.


You know I've been there, and it's not an easy place to be. The only thing you can do is the best you can do...not very good advice I know. I wish I could offer something better. I don't worry about Mom anymore but I do worry about the dogs...especially Lydia. I don't even like leaving them for more than a few hours, let alone over night!

Christie Keith

Thanks, Therese... I know you know what I'm going through!!

Hugs to you and to Lydia...



I really sympathize. I think I have it easier - my deerhound and I took care of my mom with cancer until she passed. He (Maurice) was solace to both of us. A year later, he is 8.5 years, and suddenly showing his age. Its the back legs. So wobbly now. Stairs, cars, and other ups and downs are problems. I noted that your Rebel no longer takes the stairs. What can I do to help Maurice with the legs, have you found anything? Has anyone tried acupuncture? Best of luck, Risa

The comments to this entry are closed.