When is a granddog not really a granddog? When it's the dog (or other pet) of a senior parent in your Sandwich Generation family, requiring care when the senior parent is ill – at home or in the hospital. Since they require my care, I just call them all my granddogs.
The cute little dogs love to be near their elderly owners but may be too exuberant, especially if it is a younger pup. And lest you think most seniors will only have older pups, not so. One of my dear senior friends lost her beloved dog a year or so ago. Recently, an opportunity came up for a new dog – a puppy – and she grabbed it. They're doing fine right now, but what if she were to get ill?
I was helping a younger family member recently with her puppy, as she recuperated from a nasty flu bug. For a few days, she was so weak it was very difficult for her to hold her sweet, enthusiastic puppy. He is very wonderfully crate-trained in his roomy, yet cozy dog crate from PetSmart…
…but we wanted to keep that separate from a play area for her puppy. Together, we came up with some good solutions that I realized could help our aging parents as well.
1. Dog / baby gates for the home. This gave her puppy the freedom to move around the house but it also gave us the ability to limit his freedom to protect her. Her dog is growing though, so we discovered that there are dog gates and extra TALL dog gates. Very handy, I must say. PetSmart and Walmart were great resources – both in the pet section and in the baby section.
If we had needed to be able to go through that door opening more easily, we could have bought a walk-through pet gate that has a "door" that swings open. Check it carefully, though, if you prefer that type. Some are easier to open than others. That's especially important when caring for elderly parents! If I have a hard time opening a gate, i know my senior parents will have a harder time!
2. Dog exercise pens. Even with the gates up, the puppy was still moping a bit for his new owner, and the new owner was moping for her puppy. But when she would lay on the couch, the exuberant puppy would bound over and try to jump on his "mommy" or want to "teethe" on her. Of course, she is working carefully to train the pup NOT to do these actions, but when you are sick, and granddog is young, that can be a bit difficult. For the time being, we opted for an extra help in the situation.
We found a flexible and tall dog exercise pen with a door that her sweet pup can play in safely. Then we placed it right next to her on the couch so she can pet her dog without the pup jumping all over her. It's not a perfect solution. He is a puppy and he is still in the teething stage, but it has helped quite a bit. He doesn't love it the way he does his crate but he is doing better in it every day.
For those of us who are dealing with both granddogs AND very young grandkids, we would probably prefer something like this gate – a Superyard XT.
It works equally well for a cute granddog OR an adorable young grandchild. It doesn't have the door that opens but it's very lightweight, also quite flexible, and can even be used to block off areas by separating the ends to make it straight. We've used it in the house, out of the house, and even in front of a garden to block off a dangerous area from the grandkiddies. In fact, I noticed today that we may have to get one for the granddog for the same reason – as there are electric wires too easily accessible to a pup who is in the chewing stage! Very handy, and you can even buy extensions to make it slightly larger – or just buy two and make it double large.
Both the dog / baby gates for the home and the dog exercise pens were a big help for the immediate illness AND have gone on to be a big help in other situations. We especially appreciate the fact that either of the dog exercise pen options can be easily configured in a wide variety of shapes or folded up to pop into the back of a car or truck and take with you when traveling.
One nice thing about the Sandwich Generation is that many of the solutions to one set of issues, such as granny nanny tools like the gate Superyard XT, come in quite handy for other needs including babysitting a granddog at your own home if an elderly parent has to be hospitalized.