By Pat Rock
I saw a cartoon where the character was meeting with a financial advisor. He said “I’d like to add something to my retirement account.” The reply from the financial advisor was “May I suggest a laugh track?” Too true for a lot of us. We have enough to get by but no extra. None of us wants to be a burden on our children or grandchildren, but we are passionate about our dogs and aren’t ready to give up breeding and showing. All you have to do is look around at the dog shows to see how the fancy is aging. Ask yourself, “What would happen if I was permanently incapacitated tomorrow?” You don’t have to be old, you could be in a car accident, or have a brain aneurysm at a young age. It matters less exactly how many dogs you have, what matters most is whether or not the dogs you have could be re-homed.
I’ve been a member of this parent club for forty years and in that time a number of dogs have been placed whose owners passed away. Everybody seems to pitch in to help under those circumstances. But as we age there is a lot we can do to ensure that we can keep dogs and still have infrastructure in place to ease the transition if we suddenly cannot keep our dogs.
The first thing is long term care insurance. It is less expensive if you purchase it before you reach about 60. (You can find the best companies if you go to www.clarkehoward.com. This radio show host is all about spending money wisely.) If, as the majority of us, most of your assets are in your home, having long term care insurance can enable family to care for you while your house is sold. Kennel property is considered “unique” property and may take longer to sell than a house and lot. If your dogs are a business (if you do grooming, boarding, or manage to take in a bit more income than you shell out in the course of a year) you can deduct the cost of long term care insurance as a business expense.
The next aspect of your life to look at is the age of your dogs. For the sake of your family, do not accumulate a lot of old dogs. If you raised them properly, they are well socialized, and if they love you, they can learn to love someone else. Lakelands live a very long time. Even a 5 year old can reasonably expect to live another 8-10 years. Many people don’t want, or their lifestyles don’t permit, them to start with a puppy. Sure, you love them all and don’t want to part with any of them, but as my mother always told me “Separate your wants from your needs.” And a hint to any family members tasked with finding homes for older dogs: a lady contacted me about a 12 year old she needed to find a home for when her mother passed away. The daughter had made a video of the dog, so anyone considering him could see how vigorous and healthy he was. I would have taken the dog in as I had bred him, but we found not one, but two homes who wanted him!
The third thing to consider is where and how you live. Nothing is more upsetting or difficult than selling a home and downsizing. But which would you rather do, have to suddenly give up your dogs because you had a stroke or broke a hip, or take you time to downsize to a smaller one-level handicap accessible home where you could continue your hobby even if you had a physical setback? And you don’t have to be that old; I built a new house with handicap accessible doors, shower, ramp—the whole nine yards, and one month after moving in I slipped and shattered an ankle and had to use every handicap feature of the house that I built thinking I might need the features in 20 years! (Never did figure out how to use the walker and the pooper scooper at the same time…)