Over the years, I've dog-sat with the now 13-yr-old and deaf lab of my neighbors of 16 yrs. They are probably at least 35 years younger than we are, so we've been included in their kids' birthdays and graduations. The only thing I have had them do for us is to take in my newspaper and mail on those weekends we go boating (roughly 11 times/year for 16 yrs. to take in the Fri. & Sat. mail and Sat. paper). We are friendly neighbors, but not close.
I've not approved of what I've seen over the years that I've dog-sat with "Delta." She doesn't have a mat to lay on the cement patio when she's outside, never seen them walk her after her first year or two in residence, doesn't look like she's had a bath or been brushed in years (I guess the white flakes on her fur is dandruff). Each year, it's become more and more heartbreaking, and it has reached a point that I desperately want to say something. DH is totally against it. He doesn't want me to alienate the neighbors.
I thought I could maybe leave a note on their counter to read when they get home late tomorrow night, as I cannot bring myself to criticize them to their face. It would read something like this, but softened somehow with more kindly chosen words (if that's possible): "Unless you take Delta to the vet to see about removing that disfiguring softball-size growth on the right side of her body so that she can lay on that side and also cut her toenails so that she can walk properly, or let her have the run of the yard in spite of your lovely newly planted lawn, please don't ask me to take care of her again."
The husband has been out of work a lot over these last 2 or 3 years. They don't live out of their means, but they somehow find the funds to visit their son in NY three times over the last two football seasons. He is attending college there on a football scholarship.
What would you do? I think with treatment that dog could live another 3 or so years in comfort, at least healthwise.
CA Lori, I understand how distressing it is to see any animal being neglected and hope that you do do something about it.
However, I wouldn't suggest taking the tone of the note you suggested, ie. saying "either take care of her or don't ask me to dog-sit again" because that would probably set up a reaction of defensiveness, confrontation or silence which wouldn't accomplish anything for Delta.
Instead, if I was in your position, I would buy a comfortable (yet inexpensive) dog pad and take it over when they return home and say "I noticed that Delta doesn't have anywhere comfortable to lay on the concrete, especially with that growth on her side, so I thought this might make her feel better until you can get that taken care of. She's such a wonderful dog that I know you must be worried about it. I have the name and number of a great vet I know that is very reasonable as far as cost if you don't know one. Let me know if you would like it."
Hopefully you can find the nerve to say it in person in a friendly caring fashion but, if not, attach a note to the dog pad saying it and take it over to their front door. I realize that doesn't solve the bathing/toenails issue but the vet will bring it up to them IF they actually take the dog in for treatment.
Nor does it address the lack of walks or freedom in the yard to exercise but, first things first, and the growth sounds like it is the most serious.
Sometimes, I think people neglect animals because they are ignorant, don't have the money or simply don't even see the animal or pet anymore but, when someone brings the situation to their attention (nicely), they wake up and realize that they need to do something. Good luck.
PS. If you don't know of a good, reasonable local vet, be sure to find one before you do this just in case they take you up on your offer!
OH, Boy this is a tough one. Can you call your local animal rescue league and ask advice.
I would not at all say your first suggestions. Rather I would refuse to dog sit for her saying you are allergic to what is on her skin. They may choose to put the dog down. They may choose to put the dog down anyway.
Of course they are going to visit their college son in the East. They may be stretching their budget to do so.
Or else you could continue to care for the dog and take over its physical care too.
I would not say anything critical to them if you want to maintain any kind of an relationship with them. Your DH is right.
Sometimes being kind is the best way. I think I would say something like, "I noticed that Delta isn't doing so well these days." And I would see where the conversation went. You might be able to weedle in some suggestions, like the soft mat to sleep on, or that she might enjoy a bath, or the vet suggestion posted above.
The bottom line is that if you bring up the topic gently, they will know that you have noticed what is going on.
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