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Given my dx, should I adopt a dog?

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Okay, bear with.

Last year was the sh*ttiest year of my life, bar none. My DH was dx with prostate cancer (now in active tx), I had my own crappy dx (in active tx), and probably the worst hurt was that we had to say goodbye to our own fur girl, Preshy, who had been in our family for 13 years. She was my soul. Got me through countless dark times, including my first dx, the loss of my ex-husband (who also died of cancer, and crushed my daughter, who needed a lot of support after), the death of my own mom—you get it.

She's been gone since August. I am missing her still-still cry when I think of her gone—but I am also missing having another little doggy soul in the house and want to provide a home for a rescue dog. I am feeling that this year I would be ready to open my heart to another fur baby.

My concern is that I am so afraid to do it, given my own dx and my husband's-don't want to die and leave her/him alone. My husband has a good prognosis; mine (as you know) is sketchy but of course anything could happen, good as well as not so. I feel in my heart that I need a dog to love and give a good home. Our home needs a little fur soul. I want to love and care for a dog again.

What do you think?

Claire in AZ

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Comments

  • homemom
    homemom Member Posts: 830
    edited March 17
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    Dogs can help us live longer because they are good for our mental health. I would definitely adopt one, but just don't get a puppy. Get a dog that is older and needs a home. I would get one that is at least 7-8 years old and make sure you have someone in the family that would take them should the worst happen. Anyone should do that anyway, cancer patient or not.

    We just added a "Malshipoo" last month, and she is such a joy! Her fur parents were elderly, and when the wife passed away, the husband put her up for adoption.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,384
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    Claire - I'm sorry that I have no advice to offer, but want you to know how much I appreciate you posting about this, as I am in a similar situation re wondering if I should get a pet or not. When you noted that your poor dog had been "your soul", I burst into tears thinking about the last dog I'd had (almost 20 years ago!), as she had been my soul, and I've never been the same since I lost her. We got her as a puppy and she was with me for just shy of 19 years - a small poodle/terrier mix. I raised my kids with her and brought her here with me to this apartment complex I live in when I got divorced almost 20 years ago. She lived here with me for about a year and a half before she died at almost 19. I never got another pet after that because her death was so devastating and I was working full time by then. I didn't want to leave another animal all alone all day, plus I didn't think I could endure another pet loss, as I'd lost all 3 of the ones I raised my kids with in a span of about 3 years and it was just too painful and I couldn't go through it again. Now I'm home much more, but am afraid I would die on a pet, and I know no one who could/would take it assuming I would die first. Couldn't bear the idea of a pet going to a shelter if I died.

    I am really interested in reading what others might have to say about your situation, Claire, and I want to thank you again for raising this issue - it's a big and important one.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,859
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    I adopted my little Pumpkin when she was a year old. She is now three and totally delightful. I am well into my stage IV dx so I have made arrangements for her in case I don’t do well. I signed up on petfinder.com which has you input your requirements. They would send me pics/bios of dogs who were ready for adoption. After about 9 months, a pic/bio came through and I knew the moment I saw it that she was the dog for me ! It’s hard to advise others since we can be so different but my life would be missing something without her.

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,064
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    Claire: I am with others. Adopt a mature cat/dog the NEEDS a home. When our Aelfric died last summer we figured we wouldn't get another cat, given our ages and my MBC DX. The house felt empty without a cat. I did look occasionally at Petfinders and other shelters, but I didn't think I would actually do it until I saw Billie. She had been shuffled from pillar to post. She had anxiety disorders. She is four. I know there are a few people who would take care of her so I made the leap. She is settling in. Having her press her forehead against my hand, touch her nose to my nose and sleep on the pillow above my head brings me such joy and a sense of peace. It has been about a month and half since we adopted her and I have zero second thoughts.

    Like exbrnxgrl the moment I saw Billie and her bio —— she needed us!

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,859
    edited March 18
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    elderberry,

    That recognition is amazing, isn’t it? Pumpkin really is the perfect dog for me.

    Claire,

    pet finder.com, if you’re not familiar with it, it an aggregator for rescue groups and humane societies. I don’t know if they operate all over the US but I think they’re pretty widespread. You can browse adoptable pets in your area and you can also register and input specifics for the type of pet you’re looking for. They then send you notices whenever a pet meeting your criteria becomes available.

  • homemom
    homemom Member Posts: 830
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    One thing I would say when you view the dogs on petfinder, make sure they give you tons of info on the dog. I love love love my little malshipoo we just adopted, but she wasn't really housebroken and barks at every noise. I had "housebroken" as one of my criteria but because the bio was short, they didn't put it in there so my search didn't exclude her. We are house training her now. I saw in some other bio's that the dog was working on housetraining and/or barked a lot. I would scroll right past those.

  • casey714
    casey714 Member Posts: 10
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    We got our rescue during Covid. Although not every day has been easy, I adore her and all her quirky qualities. When we got her, she was almost 4. I encourage you to follow your heart and adopt a rescue. Opening up your heart and home is a wonderful adventure. Everything related to having a new dog may not always be easy but it might be the perfect diversion. Good luck with your search!

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,064
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    Petfinders connected me to Cat Therapy and Rescue Society. I filled in all sorts of criteria (age of cat preferred, any special needs accepted etc) Then I filled in a three page document where I had to initial almost every paragraph : screens on my window (initial) not let her outside ( initial) cover vet bills (initial) vet check up yearly regardless of health (initial) will notify CTRS if unable to keep cat (initial) —— etc etc. Then we visited Billie at her foster's home, then we had a zoom meeting with a CTRS coordinator. They were, if anything, thorough.

    THe first month was hard. She hid under the couch and only came out to feed when we went to bed. She scratched her neck raw until it got infected. We had to tackle her to get the antibiotic cream on and put on an e-collar. I despaired that maybe we were not up to the challenge. Wrong. Yes we were and she is thriving. She still wears her collar as she still sometimes scratches like crazy. I think it might be displacement activity when she gets anxious. We are waiting until some fur grows back so her neck has some protection from fur. She also has a dermatologist appointment late April to test for allergies, environmental or food related.

    Found her in the bathroom sink one day. The other pic shows how far she has come from hiding under the couch. She likes to snuggle with my DH when we are sitting on the same couch she hid under.

  • aprilgirl1
    aprilgirl1 Member Posts: 769
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    Yes, adopt a dog ! You have great advice here. I love my dog and I love cats and they bring so much joy to us . We will be getting a second dog. We lost our pup Bella in 2021. She was 12 (Labrador retriever ) and was such a great comfort to me in 2019 and on when I was dx stage IV. We still have Wilson (also a Labrador retriever) who is 10. He is very social and misses Bella.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,087
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    @claireinaz We echo the sentiments above! Fur babies bring us much joy AND there is in fact evidence that pets help us heal and help us with our mental health. See two of our podcasts here, if you still need convincing 😘:

    https://www.breastcancer.org/podcast/pets-healing

    https://www.breastcancer.org/podcast/mental-health-benefits-of-pets

    —Your Mods

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    @Claireinaz I can't believe you posted this! I am going through the same thing! One other thing makes me concerned about getting another dog, that of cost. My husband and I are both retired now and on a fixed income, so to speak.

    We lost our last dog about 7 years ago and it left such a hole in my heart, but I couldn't go through all the pain of losing another dog again. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer two more times, so I never got to a point where I felt well enough to take care of a dog, until now.

    My daughter told me to get pet insurance if we get a dog. I know I would check into that, but I still worry about money and being older. I saw a small dog that seems like she would be a great fit for us, 3 yrs old, 15 pounds, short hair, they say her DNA said she is Boston terrier mix, but she doesn't look at all like one. She is similar in color to our "Lucy" who was a chihuahua mix rescue. We had a black lab who would get stressed if we weren't with him, so when we got Lucy, I said she was really our dog's dog! Best dogs, ever!

    So, yes, I am in a similar dilemma. I am leading towards taking a chance on "puppy love!" How about you?

    @threetree, the organization I am thinking of adopting from makes it clear that they will take the dog back if things don't work out for any reason. I think it is part of their "contract." My daughter and several friends adopted from this organization and they are excellent. Maybe an organization near you would do the same?

  • emiliamarty
    emiliamarty Member Posts: 39
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    I would say yes, yes, yes. Adopted my rescue cat (aged 7) in the early months of 2021. Since diagnosis in 2022 she has been the most doglike cat, never left my side when I’ve felt rough. I absolutely adore her. She has made her own (mutually acknowledged) choice of who to live with should I predecease her.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,859
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    mavericksmom,

    I had two dogs for many years. After the second one passed away (they passed away about a year apart), I didn’t feel like I could adopt another for quite a while plus, I was getting close to retirement. About 9 months after I retired I found my Pumpkin. Yes, I have pet insurance and am fortunate not to have to worry about my budget but she has been more than worth every penny I have spent on her!

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    @exbrnxgrl OMG I love her! She reminds me of my Lucy! She is so lucky to be your furbaby!

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
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    Spooky is now 14 and when I was doing chemo the first time around in 2012 we adopted an 18 month old rescue poodle and he got along pretty well so the second diagnosis came around and that was a piece of cake and the poodle was still OK but as we all do, he got older And he got crabby. I guess he had some aches and pains so he went to the bridge last June but then I got thinking about it and I thought she’s getting older too and I don’t wanna be Pet. I need somebody with 4 feet around here so I got a kitten , she hates the cat but she’s getting older and I don’t think she’s gonna be around too much longer maybe a year she’s been real healthy her whole life right now she’s not special food for pancreatitis but that’s OK when I lose her I’ll still have the cat and if something happens to me my daughter will take him so yeah, I suggest getting an old middle-age animal cat dog one a dog. Gotta worry about getting them out the potty and you know all that sort of thing a cat you just clean out their litter box much easier I never had an indoor cat before this is been a learning experience for me, but I like it And the cats good

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
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  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,064
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    spookiesmom: I have always had cats. I have thought about a dog but walkies in the rain and picking up poop on the sidewalk was always a non-starter for me. Now the question is, if I bend down to pick up the poop can I get back up again? :-)

    Litter boxes are great and I have never had a cat with issues about them. They are good company even if they don't have the same level of fawning affection like dogs. Billie likes to snuggle at night and she purrs wonderfully when I brush her. She is okay with toenail clipping if I move quickly.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 6,093
    edited March 21
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    claire, definitely adopted another dog. One thing I’ve tried to do since being diagnosed with mbc is to live life more fully. I think having a pet, for those of us who love them, adds so much to our life! I have an indoor cat and dh has two outdoor cats who adopted him. Loving a pet is a feeling like no other!

    elderberry, I love the photo of your cat in the sink with her collar on! Adorable! It makes her look like a flower blooming, lol. My cat had to wear a collar after a cut to the chest. I bought one I called a little donut, it was inflatable. I was told to keep her inside a couple weeks, but she would not be denied her outside adventures! She ran out the back door within a couple days wearing that donut collar, leapt over the fence and kept going. It was hysterical. She acted like she was wearing a superhero cape and had to go out into the neighborhood to show it off!

    Caryn, Pumpkin is gorgeous! Such a beautiful, pure face!

  • claireinaz
    claireinaz Member Posts: 680
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    Threetree, I still cry…it hasn't been a year. I went to the Best Friends Sanctuary website (Kanab UT-we are about four hours away) and just checked out dogs last week. I saw one that was a clone of my beautiful Preshy (Precious) and nearly fainted. I am so with you about enduring another loss of a pet, and I am not sure who would take her/him if I died. Thinking of a shelter rehome just about cripples me right now.

  • claireinaz
    claireinaz Member Posts: 680
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    Exbrnx, thank you; I love your reply. You are so wise. I appreciate it. :)

  • claireinaz
    claireinaz Member Posts: 680
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    Mavericksmom, thank you. It's good to know that I am not alone in my confusion about committing my heart to another pup. I would rescue an older dog, for sure; I think they are harder to home sometimes anyway.

    I just got two scans yesterday—a bone and CT—I guess to track my progress (hopefully not "progression") as I've been getting tx with Fulvestrant and Verzenio now for 3 months. Couldn't get insurance to pay for a follow up PET since my dx didn't show bone involvement. The mouthy nuclear med tech (after my bone scan was done) asked me if I had dental work done recently. When I said "no", I asked why…and she said "we thought we saw a couple of spots on your mandible that can sometimes be linked to dental work". What the h*ll does that comment mean? To me it means there might be progression in my jaw. What a stupid thing to say to a patient.

    I don't check my portal, but I have tx and and office visit this Tuesday where my somewhat unemotional MO will share the scan results. If they are favorable, I'll have more of an answer about getting another older dog to love. My husband and I are going to London for a week in 3 weeks, so I'd seriously begin to look after that.

    I'll let you all know about all this. Meanwhile, here is a pic of my dear dog. And one of my rescue cat, Yoki, who is still my girl every day and is our house panther.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 6,093
    edited March 22
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    claire, I’d like to punch that mouthy nuclear med tech in the mouth! Those kinds of questions should be asked ahead of time so as not to create anxiety in the patient. My first onc and her nurse both had a wonderful skill of being non-alarming, even when they were giving me really shitty news. It was a true gift. I was aware of it and appreciated it because not all medical personnel have that. Can they not teach these people how to lessen the worry of those having scans? I think they could!

    Your Preshy was a beautiful girl! Gorgeous coloring, markings and face! I had to say goodbye to my soulmate kitty of 13 years in 2020 and it is still hard on my heart, so I understand how you feel over your loss.

  • homemom
    homemom Member Posts: 830
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  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,859
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    Yes, they could be cousins! Pumpkin is a real sweetie who loves to snuggle, play, walk, and nap. The perfect pup for senior years 😊

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    @homemom and @exbrnxgrl Pixie and Pumpkin are sooooo adorable! Both made my heart melt!

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    I put in an application on Friday for one of three puppies with a reputable rescue organization. The two males have already been adopted, the female, which was my first choice, is still available, but slim chance my DH and I will be lucky enough to be given the opportunity to adopt her. They don't go by first come first serve, but rather they accept applications for a period of time and then give the option to the applicant that they feel would be best suited. That is one of the things I like about this organization, because these are living beings that are in need of permanent good homes, not objects!

    I am 70, but I'm a young 70, look and act many years younger. My Dh is 83. I think they give puppies to young families. My only hope is that I wrote something on the "additional information" page that will cause them to consider us!

    Neither of my reference people, one of whom adopted dogs from the same organization, were contacted so that isn't a good sign. I think many people who were already "vetted" applied and were given first choice at the pups.

    Doubtful we will try for another dog as my DH is very picky when it comes to which dog/puppy would be a good fit for us because he favors terriers. Most of the available dogs/puppies are large breeds or require a lot of professional grooming. I don't want a dog I can't lift which means no bigger that 20 pounds tops. That alone limits the selection.

    I guess if it is meant to be, we will have the opportunity to adopt.

    Claireinaz, have you adopted yet?

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    LIfe is funny. We did not get one of the puppies, but we are getting their mom! We went to meet her last Saturday and fell in love with her. We will get her this Saturday. My dh has come alive, enjoying shopping for our new family member. I forgot how expensive it is to have a dog, but she will be worth it and more! I hope she adjusts to us, she was a "mill mom," and did not spend her first three years being loved. Her fosters are amazing people and we feel lucky to have met them! They can be sure that she will get so much love from us.

  • aprilgirl1
    aprilgirl1 Member Posts: 769
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    Mavericksmom- your new pup is so lucky ! Thank you for adopting the mama . She will love her home with you and DH. Post a photo when you can. I'm snuggling my rescue pup we adopted in 2015 as I type this .

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 6,093
    edited April 18
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    mavericksmom, your post brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful turn of events for you and your dh! I’m so very happy for both of you!!! And your new dog!!! ♥️♥️♥️

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    aprilgirl1 and devinemrsm Thank you❤️! I will post pictures when we get her.