So my 85 year old Great Grandmother said she's interested in getting a dog...

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 9:52am PST 
I doubt my great grandmother will actually get a dog, but she kind of mentioned that she's interested in a dog. We talked briefly about it, and she'd like a dog that doesn't really shed. But we didn't really get into details.

But it got me thinking....what kind of dog would be good for an 85 year old woman who lives alone (she's a widow)? She also has some knee problems to add to that.

I was thinking maybe a smaller dog because a bigger dog might bump into her accidently and cause problems. A smaller dog might be more managable.

But then I thought, well, a bigger dog would be a big help too. She could use the dog to help her move around. She could lean on the dog a little bit. She would be able to pet the dog without bending over....which she probably wouldn't even be able to pet a small dog unless she was sitting down. A bigger dog might offer her a little more peace in terms of protection (not an actual guard dog...just the ole big dogs naturally deter people thing). She's not paranoid about people coming into her house, but she has mentioned to me that she keeps her car keys next to her bed so she can hit the alarm button in case something should happen.

Then I got into the whole would a puppy be better (she wouldn't deal with the puppiness on her own, we'd have the pup properly trained before having it spend a majority of its time with her) or should we get an adult dog? Should we adopt or try a breeder. A breeder sounded like a better choice, but I'd like to at least look in the shelters for a possible match. The odds of finding a good dog are slim, but it can't hurt to look.

I thought briefly about how the dog would be exercised...but that's waay down the line on things to think about. I'm just curious about what others think when it comes to giving an 85 year old woman (who's never actually owned a dog herself) a dog. And I'm curios to know what type of dogs would be best for someone in this situation. She has plenty of experience with dogs....not training or anything like that...just time spent with dogs.

Again...I highly highly doubt this will actually ever happen. My grandmother is ok with dogs, but she never came off as a dog person. It just got me thinking.
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 10:02am PST 
If your great-gran is going to be the dog's primary person, it's not fair to the dog to get her a puppy, because the plain fact is that unless your family typically lives to be a hundred or so, the dog is all too likely to outlive your great-gran and need to be rehomed.

If she can benefit from a mobility dog and would be able to care for one, a steady, even-tempered larger dog could be a good choice. But if that's not what she's looking for, if she's looking for primarily an affectionate companion, I'd be thinking of adopting an adult Maltese, Shih Tzu, toy poodle. Chinese Crested, either hairless or puff depending on her preferences could be a good choice. I'm trying to pick non-shedding breeds here; if she didn't mind shedding there are a bunch of other possibilities.
The Wee- Beasties

The Wee 3 are- now the Wee 7!!!
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 10:13am PST 
Whatever dog you get would be one that you or another family member would need to be able to take and care for when the sad day comes that your grandmother passes away. It's terrible to think of but at her age, most any dog she gets will likely outlive her, unless that dog is a senior, too.

Smaller dogs do take up less space and require less food and exercise than larger dogs. They are more portable and easy to lift/carry if need be. They can definitely bark and get attention if need be. The main problem with a small dog would be having them get underfoot and tripping over them.

I think older people do tend to go for some sort of poodle, mostly because of the lack of shedding and because they can come in many sizes, from toy to standard.


All legs and no- tail
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 10:29am PST 
The first thing I would consider is long term arrangements. Your great grandmother is obviously an older woman and more prone to experiencing serious health conditions. If she were to become ill and need to be hospitalized long term or even be placed in a nursing home, what would happen to the dog? Would someone in your family be willing to take it in, indefinitely, in the case of that happening? I know it's not something you want to think about, but it's a definite possibility. My grandfather considered getting a pet about two years ago (he was 89 at the time) and decided against it because he knew the pet would outlive him and didn't want to add finding a home for his pet to the list of stress we'll be going through at his imminent death.

Now, I'm not saying your great grandmother shouldn't get a dog. Indeed, a pet is a great companion for someone who lives alone. No matter what size dog you're considering, I would get her an adult, as they are matured and much more set in their personalities. If she wants a larger dog, I would go with a retired Greyhound. They're very calm and laid back and wouldn't be too much to handle for an elderly person. An adult Doberman may also work, depending on the circumstances.

For smaller dogs, I think a Pug would be wonderful, even though they shed. If she wants a non-shedding breed, she's going to have to deal with grooming on a regular basis and I think that's much more difficult to handle than a little shedding. Otherwise, a Poodle or a Shih Tzu seems like a good match.

Or, if a dog seems too much to handle, a cat may be a good choice!

Always my angel.
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 10:31am PST 
You might consider an adult - fully adult, like well over 3 years old - dog. That way the dog has leveled out, has a more steady temperament, and isn't likely to suddenly change personalities (as a puppy can do during maturation). Look at breeders, rescues, etc. - if you go with a rescue, choose one that works with a foster system, since they tend to have more direct experience with the dogs and can do a better job matching exactly what will work for her.

I've heard that small dogs work just about as well as large dogs as far as being a deterrent for Bad Guys and break-ins, though large dogs do usually make the owner feel safer. It depends on what your grandmother really wants in a dog, but it sounds like she'd be a good fit for a smaller dog. A Miniature Poodle is nice if you want a dog that's small, but not tiny. Larger dogs can work too, just make sure they're very mellow.

You might consider a more senior dog, if you're willing to deal with health problems that might arise over time. Senior people often do well with senior dogs - they have the same outlook, so to speak, and senior people feel like they can relate. Toy dogs in the lower end of the "senior" age range (7-11 years old) still have that settled outlook with plenty of lifespan ahead of them, since toy breeds often live into their late teens.

Those are my thoughts for the moment - sorry if they're a bit scattered.

Gone, But Not- Forgotten.
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 10:41am PST 
I would think more along the lines of a mature dog, as well. The puppy crazies are done, and the exercise needs are not as stringent.

The only other issue I would see with a small dog is bending over to pet, brush, or clean it's feet. I have a bad knee and some days it's a pain to get on my knees to clean off her feet in the rainy season.

The plus side of ANY dog is the companionship and the motivation to get moving each day to provide food, let it outside, and pay it some attention. Some older folks can get depressed or lonely, and the dog gives them great comfort.
Charlie Pete

G-day mate! - Wanna Play?
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 10:59am PST 
Bless Her. thats all I gotta say. everyone said everything else
Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 11:11am PST 
Whatever dog you get would be one that you or another family member would need to be able to take and care for when the sad day comes that your grandmother passes away. It's terrible to think of but at her age, most any dog she gets will likely outlive her, unless that dog is a senior, too.

Oh we have certainly thought of that. Heck, great-gran always reminds us....she's just one of those ladies who will hear a song she likes and then say "When I kick the bucket, I want that song to be playing at my funeral". Yeah, she has that type of sense of humor. But it is reality.

About the dog outliving her....it's ironic since her mother lived to be 112! But, the odds of her living that long AND being able to take care of a dog are very very slim...so we have given it a brief thought. It's just that just because she's on the older side doesn't mean she shouldn't have a dog. If it makes her happy, it makes her happy, you know. She shouldn't be deprived of things because the end is coming sooner rather than later. Again, this was just barely brought up in a light chit chat. I don't think we'll actually get her a dog, but I was just curious as to what others thought.

The retired greyhounds reminded me of a nursing home I used to visit. They were just great dogs.

Oh, and about getting a puppy...it was just a thought as a way to be able to raise the dog to kind of work for her and be familiar with her. I didn't mean just get her a puppy and let her deal with all that craziness. I meant more along the lines of get a puppy, and have someone else manage and train it until it was more mature. The pup would be able to visit my grandmother, but wouldn't stay with her 24/7 so she wouldn't have to deal with the things puppies do. It was just a thought...a brief one at that. I was leaning towards an adult anyway, but I just thought I'd toss it out there.
Shane DEC- '08-JAN '12- RIP

In dreams I walk- with you..
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 12:34pm PST 
I know this is a "probably not gonna happen " thread, but another thing to consider is, what happens to the dog if it didn't work out? If you were to take it on, Sanka, it should be a breed or type that you would enjoy owning also.

Anything if you- just throw the- ball!!!
Barked: Sat Feb 20, '10 1:47pm PST 
The thought that popped into my head was a Great Dane theropy or service dog. I've seen several of them with older people and they do really really great! They need very little grooming, they are not high energy, and are usually very good with other dogs (for that possible future day with a new owner). Plus there is no need to bend over to do anything with them and are big enough they can be trained to get stuff off counters, etc... They can also be a very big help with balance and moving around. I don't know much about the whole service dog world, but the ones I've seen were beautiful things.

On a side note, the Dane life span is only 8-12 yrs depending on the line, minus the few years for all the training. So you're not looking at giving an 85 yr old a dog whose's going to live 20 years!
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