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My old dog, Sparky (12.5y), is quickly developing joint issues and is unable to really do walks and hikes. I miss having a dog to hike with and have always planned to get a second dog before the passing of my first dog. A buffer if you will. Sparky is not near death and is still enjoying life, just at a much, much slower pace.

So, if I adopt a new dog, Lucky if you will, how do I deal with having to leave Sparky home while taking Lucky on walks and hikes. I don't want to break Sparky's heart by leaving him. I know working dogs have to deal with retirement so I know they can adapt but I would love to hear some thoughts before I get a new dog. Thanks!

PS. Lucky is a 2 1/2 year old shelter girl, so no little puppies...
 

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In my experience, it's really hard on the older dog to watch you leave with the other dog. I've done it and it's do-able, but I'd rather not do it. It's really hard on the other dog, even if they weren't use to going places with you.

You need time to mourn the passing of the other dog. Sometimes that can be a lot easier without another dog. It's easy to just fall into routine with another dog, and you don't get a chance to truly mourn the other dog. Especially when another dog is already replacing them in a lot of aspects of your life.

It could also be hard on the older dog to just have another dog in the house.

If you must get another dog, you need to do things with the older dog as well - preferably alone. So take her for as long (or short) of a walk that she can handle. Take her for car rides if she likes them or drive her to the park and just sit with her.

I've got 8 dogs, most seniors. So I could write an essay on all the times I've caused disappointment in an older dog.

For one example... I have a 13 year old, Gonzo, and a 2 year old, Jean-Luc. When I got Jean-Luc, Gonzo was still quite active and able to go on walks. Slowly he started getting slower and slower and less able to do things. Every time I left the house with Jean-Luc for a long walk, Gonzo would run to the door or window and cry. He got noticeably depressed after a while and completely stopped caring about things. That was a couple years ago and he never really got over it. He is so incredibly happy when I do things with just him or just him and the other seniors.

If possible, I left when he (and the others) couldn't see me go. Also, I would take them both for a walk, go as far as Gonzo (and the other seniors) could go and then go back home. Drop the seniors off and keep going with the younger ones. That helps a lot, because they are tired and go and lay down.
 
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Well that's just what I was afraid of. Sparky goes for a lot of drives with me and still would. Its just when I go out for birding walks that I miss having a companion. He has been very good to me and the thought of upsetting him is really upsetting to me. Sparky has always loved other dogs so I think having a companion would be a good thing if the new dog has the proper energy level.

I suppose the mourning and grieving process could have books written about it it is so complex. I suffer from depression and the thought of coming home to an empty house is horrible. I think in my case having another dog to grieve with would be helpful for my mental state. For what its worth...
 

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It seems most people will suggest a period without a pet when you're grieving, but I never found that helpful. I had tons of smaller animals growing up (gerbils, a chinchilla, hamsters, rats) and would get very attached (mostly to the many rats I had; they're very personable animals similar to a dog or cat but very short lived) and then have to deal with their passing within 2-3 years of getting them.

I also know that without our second dog the passing of the first would have been nearly unbearable for my family, especially my parents (the older dog was only nine but was very, very sick and had to be PTS so it was fairly traumatizing).

I think it's definitely an adjustment for an older dog to live with a new one- I just got a new puppy while living with my parents and their/the family dog (7 years old, so still fairly young and not yet slowing down). I've been working a lot with the younger dog and so don't often bring the older one with me on walks; the first few times it was sad- she'd get excited like she was going, run up behind me and stand at the window as we left, whining. Now she knows what I mean if I say "uh, uh, Josie, you're not invited." I've made a point to always put her leash on first if she knows she is coming. If I put the puppy's harness on instead of hers first she knows she isn't coming and will calm down.

I would say since he physically can't come with you on hikes anymore I don't see a reason not to get a second dog- just continue to include this older one in as much as possible and try to have 1 walk a day just for him (over flat, easy terrain).

I do think given the older dog's age and declining mobility it is especially important to match him with the right companion- it sounds like you have a new dog in mind already? I would let them meet before bringing her home and then also take her on a trial period.
 

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I used to do what you want to do. You can/must make sure your old dog gets along with your new dog, of course. You might need to give your old dog a break from the young one. I had to crate my young Dynamo during the day because she would drive my elder Zandor crazy if left to her own devices.
My biggest regret was Zandor was such an easy dog that I never appreciated him until he was gone. :-(
So just treat the old guy special, some cuddle time, etc. and yes, take them both on a short walk, than drop off the oldster with a really juicy high value treat, and then go on the long hikes with your new dog.
When Zandor passed, I just had Dynamo, so I've done things both ways. Because I went 'dogless' for a few months after she passed, I have more memories of her in her young years, as they kept bubbling up in my wanting another dog (I couldn't do it right away because I had newly adopted skittish cats), so now I have some very vivid memories of her that probably would have been swallowed up and lost forever by a young dog.
But still, if you can afford the money and time to have 2 dogs, I will say go for it. Dogs love hikes, so why not give that gift to a dog that can go along for one.
Chose wisely.
 
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