Retirement and Pets: Do They Limit Your Lifestyle? by Bob Lowry

Bailey at 9 weeks

Retirement and Pets: Do They Limit Your Lifestyle? by Bob Lowry

I may not be entirely objective. Two dogs while growing up and five so far after getting married makes me officially a dog person. For a good part of our 42 years together, Betty and I had two dogs, one designated as our “emergency backup” pet. She was trained and an important part of our family, ready to assume the alpha role when an older pet passed away. We went for one miserable stretch of six years without a dog. Not having a furry friend by our side did not make us happy.

After a tough day of RVing

One of the reasons we bought an RV and spent nearly five years traveling around the country was because of our dog, Bailey. Having a motorhome means no worries about finding a motel that will accept pets. It means no hassles at meal time when one person stays with the dog in the room while the other runs to a fast food restaurant for take-out. Traveling with a pet is a natural conversation-starter in RV parks, where virtually everyone has at least one dog on a leash, often two or more.

Adler (known to her friends as Adi)

Our youngest daughter spends a good portion of her year traveling. When she is gone for a week or two, her dog, Adler, stays at our house and becomes a companion for Bailey, sleeping on our bed, and behaving like she belongs (which she does!).

There are some trips Betty and I would like to take that would keep us away from home for three or four weeks. Longer cruises, long distance train trips, or even a road trip or two beckon us.

Unfortunately, that is much too long to put dogs in a kennel and even too much to ask our daughter to babysit two dogs at our house for a month. Honestly, we would miss the dogs terribly over that long a stretch, too. So, we have decided that type of extended travel just isn’t in the cards. The tradeoffs are too severe. Two weeks is our limit.

Bailey probably has another 6 or 7 years with us, while Adler will be likely with us for another nine or ten years. Since we think we will be ready to move to a retirement community in the next ten years, the doggie timing actually works well.

Will we get another dog for our time at a retirement community? Probably. The costs, worries, limitations, and heartache when a dog dies are so insignificant in comparison to what a pet gives us in return.

I do know some retired folks who like the freedom to come and go as they please without having to think about the care and feeding of a pet. Part of what makes their retirement so satisfying is the spontaneous nature of their travel and adventures. A dog (or any pet) makes that too difficult.

I completely understand. As I noted above, there have been times when I have been frustrated by the inability to plan for something because of our dogs. But, for us, it is been a simple decision: Bailey and Adler bring way too much joy and love and laughter into our home to ever want to trade that for a vacation. If that means no 28 day cruise to Tahiti or a month-long road trip to New England, so be it.

Do pets impose some limits on a retirement lifestyle? Yes. Are they worth it to us? Absolutely. Beyond measure.

By Bob Lowry

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