Are there any ways to prepare a dog for the loss of an owner?
I have been diagnosed with an incurable medical condition, and do not expect to be completely functional following the required surgery - if I make it through surgery.
My Lab X, Rusty, has been picking up that something is definitely wrong with his human, and becoming more clingy than ever. He has also started reverting to his puppy-hood since my diagnosis. I have had to relieve him of several items of (dirty) clothing in the last couple of days.
I know that you can prepare humans for the loss of a dog, but can it be done in reverse?
Toby, I'm sorry to see your situation. I'm no expert, but when my mother was ill (for a long time) I was aware that one of her cats was particularly attached to her. I tried to spend more and more time paying attention to the cat, feeding her, etc., to try to help her feel closer to me.
My mother had a couple of hospital stays and surgeries, and the cat would be in her room with her even if my mother couldn't feed the cat.
I did the same kind of thing when my daughter went to live at college. Her cat was OK, and it actually got kind of closer to me than it was to her (she had since gotten a second cat, so the first one took a little bit of an attention-back-seat anyway). More recently, the cat's been kind of a two-person cat.
So, I guess I'm just thinking that it can help if they have someone else while they also have you, if at all possible.
We had a fourteen-year-old Collie too. The vet where we occasionally boarded him said he'd start to get depressed acting as the fourth day came. That wasn't the dog's own home, though. I think if you aim to have someone be kind to him, and give him some treats; and if you keep as much familiar stuff around him as possible (and then if you try to let him see and hear you even a little) he'll probably adjust to changes in routine well enough. If he's got familiar belongings with your smell on it, maybe making sure he has a couple of those with him (if he has to go stay somewhere else) may help.
Best wishes with that surgery. So often people are under the impression that may not make it through a surgery and all works out fine. I don't know if your dog will be in the same house with you afterward, but even if he can't go in your room and just hears you talking from the hall - that may help.
If, by any chance, you have to let someone else take him (long term or permanently), I'd think, if possible, letting them have him for a day or so and then bring him back might help break up his old routine and help him get used to them, so it wouldn't such a new thing if the "transfer" could be made gradually.
I wish you nothing but the best. I hope everything works out. Sorry to hear this, I wish I knew the answer to your question.
Well, as long as we are alive there is hope. Best wishes to you both, Toby. Share your experiences - good and bad with us, as soon as you can. Good luck!
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