What Will Happen to Rumpy if I Can’t Care for Him?

They’re building ramps at the front and back entrances of my neighbor’s house.

My neighbor, I’ll call her Sue, is a woman in her golden years who lived alone and worked most every day. I saw her outside all the time, but I haven’t seen her in a couple of weeks now. Now there’s always at least one other car in the drive, both day and night.

from pixgood.com

I don’t see Sue’s dog outside as much as I used to. And the ferals she used to feed don’t come around anymore.

I don’t know the woman that well. I’ve said hello a few times, but that’s it. So while I’m concerned, I don’t feel it would be appropriate for me to pop up at her door and ask what the heck’s going on.

The good news is, there are people involved so that, if there is a problem, I’m sure she’s being well cared for.

I can’t help but wonder what I’d do if something serious happened to me. What if I had a stroke, or fell and broke a hip? How would I care for my animals? Would I have to surrender them? I missed two days of work because a dog bit me while I was on the job, and not one of the social worker types I work with bothered to pick up the phone and call. I take that back. My supervisor called me Thursday and asked how I was doing, then wanted to know if I was working (it’s my scheduled day off) because there was a “situation” that needed handling.

So I doubt seriously any of the people I work with would be volunteering to help out if I really needed something.


I’ve decided that it’s time to consider buying long-term care insurance. That would cover me, but not the gang, would it?

Truth be told, I don’t have anyone that could take them in. So we all know what’s most likely to happen. It’s not what gives me comfort, but it is what it is.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t live to see that day. But if I do, it will surely kill my spirit. In the meantime, I’m praying that those who care for Sue aren’t removing her beloved companions, and killing her spirit too.

42 thoughts on “What Will Happen to Rumpy if I Can’t Care for Him?

  1. Jen, I have been crying as soon as I started reading this because this is my srongest deepest fear. My spouse instructed me to kill his six purebred cats when he left to be man about town and to pursue his midlife crisis. Originally not a cat person, they are my family. I fear I will let them down. I have been alone on holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Days. I never expect to date. He used our daughter as a weapon. The cats are my only family, my support system and my consistently. My parents, fearful that they might lose contact with their only grandchild betrayed me. So my greatest fear is I will somehow not be enough for them. Thank you for letting me know thatI am normal and that I am not alone in my concerns.

    1. Oh my friend, you are not at alone. We may not say it aloud, but many of us feel it. Life isn’t fair. So love your cats, but be sure you love yourself too.

  2. That’s my fear too… I was lost as Mark had to stay in the hospital and I feel the same now as long as I have to deal with my darned broken hell-bow. I cross my fingers for Sue and I hope so much that they will find a way to take care for the dog and the ferals too…

  3. I hate this getting older it is no fun at all. I fear not being able to get on with my life on my own way. I have had a taste of that when I broke my back the second time. It is amazing how your friends disappear! We don’t have any pets at the moment but to be I’ll or in firmed then have your beloved pets removed … It does not bear thinking about.

  4. Always such a horrible thought..we never know what is around the corner and even being married is no guarantee ..i mean we both had the worst flu ever last year at the same time and struggled to feed and deal with the four cats two dogs and three sheep..all they really missed out on was play and walks but still..gave us an idea of the plight of those who are alone or are infirmed..i hope this poor lady has people who are caring in a holistic way as in treating her and her pets as a family unit..:(

  5. Something we all worry about. I have instructions for my husband about my cats. One is elderly and needs a level of care that no one else would do so the kind thing would be to let him pass. The others are healthy, happy and playful and my husband would take good care of them. If we both go, I have no idea who would take them but you have given me something to think about. My entire family is pet-centric so I’m sure someone would (I hope). As for your neighbor, could you take the dog for a walk or would that totally freak out Rumpy?

  6. I really cannot add anymore thoughts to what have already been offered but, suffice to say, your situation is far from unique. Many (I would suggest all) of us who are “well past our reckless years” are dwelling on variations of the same issues. Without thinking too deeply about my situation, it would seem that both my options are unpleasant. i.e. If our beloved Ray goes before me, dealing with that loss will be difficult. If I go before Ray, what will happen to him? I have a partner who will resolve the latter issue, but what if she goes first? I don’t think there is a satisfactory option other than perhaps the rather selfish hope to be the first one! As for needing special care? No doubt we all have that possibility to face and care facilities here are not particularly inviting so, as was said earlier “getting older is no fun at all”

    On the bright side – today my world is pretty good; tomorrow gives me no guarantees so I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it! 🙂

    1. No matter what happens, someone ends up being left behind. The difference is if I’m the only one left, I won’t be euthanized because of it.

  7. My mom worries too but we luckily know lots of houndy people who, I’m sure would look after me and Charlie. And there’s Dad. Let’s hope it never becomes an issue xxx

  8. I have almost the same fear of youJen. It’s not only about aging………whoever the person would be, if he or she can give my kitties what I’ve been doing for them…..

    1. It’s a very difficult thing to think about. We want what’s best for them. I just don’t know if that’s possible if I am not available to care for them.

  9. Getting old is no fun. I had to move to Tennessee with my daughter and her family but luckily they were agreeable to let me bring my dog and cat. I know if something happened to me that they would take care of Cleo and Guiness. 🙂

      1. It was. We moved from Florida and I had to rent out my house. Things are good though because I get to see my young grandchildren every day.

  10. At the moment, my friend & I have a mutual agreement regarding our dogs. My elderly aunt only has cats because me & my husband have agreed to take them, should she be unable to look after them. But we will do our utmost to make sure that’s a last resort for her.
    I do see this difficulty regularly, as a professional as well. Many older people with whom I work aren’t able to care for their pets as well as they used to. For me, the person comes as a package, with their pet. I do try to advocate for the pet as well as the person. It isn’t alway easy to find dog walkers/medication givers/feeders/cleaners. Sometimes family are supportive & sometimes not. It can be heartbreaking. Sometimes the pet is what keeps people going in this world. And I don’t think that’s acknowledged enough.

    1. I know how it would feel for me, and it hurts me deeply that we take from our elders and infirm the very thing that makes life worth living for them. It shouldn’t be allowed.

  11. We worry. There’s no simple answer. We have an old dog who has to be carried up and down the six steps to the yard several times a day. I can only do it once. Otherwise, Garry has to get out of bed early in the morning to get her and the other kids out. We have a doggy door, but someone has to herd them outside. Nan needs a lift. She used to be able to get up on her own, but a few weeks ago, she began getting stuck at the third step.

    We are the place where those who find their pets inconvenient leave them. We are back to having four dogs. Only one is ours in the sense we chose her. The others were my DIL’s (1), my son’s (1), a friend who had to go into assisted living (the oldest one). If (when?) we can’t care for them?

    I try not to worry too much, but it’s hard not to. Those of us without extended family and tribal connections are on our own.

  12. It’s a worrying situation to be in for sure, and one that is familiar to a lot of us. I’m so glad that Sue’s dog is still with her and that she has people coming over daily to tend to her and the dog.
    My dog Poppy is almost 16 and showing her age; she had a bit of a ‘turn’ yesterday where she fell and struggled to get up. The vet said it was probably a small stroke; it breaks my heart. I feel we won’t have her for long so I won’t have the problem that you raise here. Because of our ages, the hub and I will not get another dog for obvious reasons. I couldn’t bear worrying about who would look after my pet if I wasn’t able to.

    1. I’ve already decided that if I happen to outlive the crew, I’d foster or volunteer. That way I could still be around animals and not have that fear of what would happen to them should I die or become incapacitated.

  13. Make plans for your pets. Get to know a neighbor. Go visit your neighbor and ask if there is anything that you can do to help. The more people that know your situation, the better off you will be.

    1. Sweetie, there are thousands of people around the world that know my situation. But it’s unrealistic to expect there are people out there that could accept the responsibly for my crew.

  14. If there’s not a friend or neighbor who would step up, then you’ll hire a dog walker/sitter who would walk Rumpy and care for the rest of the crew. I’m with you, in any case, hoping it never happens.

  15. Jen, I thought about that when I made my will. I left instructions for BJ, and left money to the person who takes him for his care. Since I have virtually no family to take him, I researched rescues that caterer to senior dogs to live out their lives. I also have had Long Term Care insurance. I still worry about BJ.

  16. This is something we are all beginning to think about. We’ve taken in dogs left behind by elderly relatives – poor little things are always so confused.
    Now I know why my dad wouldn’t let us give him a puppy or cat as a companion.
    I think BJ Pup has some good ideas. And being a foster parent to dogs as we get older sounds like a win-win. The thought of not having an animal around is just too sad. Meals on wheels here has a pet division for their clients – one of the best ideas ever.

  17. I worked for an estate planner/elder law attorney in Ohio. We never had pets come up as an issue, and I wondered why. I did try to find it and failed, but I had a link within the last few years that helped you set up care for your pets after you died – because it can happen anytime it is something even us relatively young, relatively healthy people should think about. Actually I’ve never talked to my family and friends about it, either. I ‘assume’ people would take them, but I should really ask now and see what they think. Irish people don’t like to plan for death, it is weird – good thing I know so many immigrants like myself.

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