Should I move 10 year old family dog to another country with me?
January 7, 2019 2:28 AM   Subscribe

I have moved abroad for work and think our family dog seems depressed, with no will to do anything but sleep - probably because no one cares about him; do you think he would be happier with me in the big city despite the fact that I am away a lot because of work?

Dear pet owners!
I am stuck with an important decision regarding the 10 year old havanese dog that is family owned. I was the main caretaker of the dog until i moved to another country, relying that my parents (50 and 46 years old), younger brother (18) and grandfather (78) will continue taking care of him as promised. The dog lived with them in a suburban house and always had someone next to him in addition to plenty of space to walk around.


The during my recent visits from abroad i was shocked to realize the dog is more of a burden to my family, no one cares to clean his bowls, no one really enjoys his company, takes him to any trips with them (as I would), no one wants to really put any extra time with him that's not 10 minutes walk outside every day and feeding him. The dog seems very depressed to me, to be honest, he has no will to play and just sleeps most of the day - be it inside the house or out on the yard. My parents insist that I should not take him away now because he is very old and ''happy there with them'', and ''someone is always around'' although they never seem to provide him the basic vet when needed.

Another difficult situation is that i mostly took care of his walk, grooming, mental and physical excercise. When he was around our retired grandpa, he turned into completely different dog - not obedient, showing very aggressive behaviour and biting everyone trying to get closer to him. Grandpa encouragued him not to obey anyone but him, implemented different rules, fed him with unhealthy food secretly and spoiling him to no end behind my back and ignoring my wishes (for instance when I called the dog, he would say ''no, stay here, you don't have to go''). This has happened already in the past when I was around but there was no way to convince grandfather to respect our wishes - and with us working/studying and him being home all the time, there were very limited actions we could take against that. I think that is also what made him confused and depressed

I think he would be better off with me finding a dog friendly accomodation in the place i'm living, but then again, i am living alone and i'm out at least 9 hours a day and that makes me question - do you think the dog would feel better with me and spend a lot of time alone in the city flat, or should i leave him in the suburban house? Also, would he take the moving roughly due to his age (the breed - havanese - has life expectancy around 15 years though).

I find myself between a rock and a hard place, so I would appreciate it if you knew how to help me out. Thanks in advance!
posted by Salicornia to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Would the move be by car or by airplane?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:31 AM on January 7


I would make sure that he would move by a car or a train.
posted by Salicornia at 2:32 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Talk to a good export vet. I was worried about moving my senior kitties when I relocated to Hong Kong. They came out of the flight grumpy, but fine and lived to riot around Hong Kong another three years. An export vet can advise you as to the dog's fitness for the trip.

I live with my large rescue dog in an apartment building in Hong Kong now (my kitties having passed on). I found a dog walker who takes her out at lunch and loves her like family. It's a weird life for a RottieX on the 24th floor, but I'm convinced that regardless of all else, she's better off with love and attention than she would be with a big yard.
posted by frumiousb at 4:07 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


It sounds like you'd feel a lot better if your dog was with you. The actual move is totally doable - I've moved my giant of a cat to three countries (Australia > Netherlands > UK) and, while he's never nuts about the flight (ESPECIALLY the Australia > Netherlands flight) he's adapted well to his new life and, honestly, we're so so happy to have him with us.

Seconding the advice to talk to a vet first, though, to make sure your dog is medically sound enough to travel.
posted by nerdfish at 4:42 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Agree with the suggestions to run this by your dog's regular vet to make sure he could cope with the move. Research first what legal requirements you need to import him (vaccines, rabies test, quarantine, etc.) so you can discuss these with the vet.

It sounds like you would be a better caretaker than your family--not getting basic vet care is not okay--but prepare yourself for the possibility that the move doesn't solve everything. Moving and losing familiar people and routines will be hard, and at ten years old your dog probably does sleep move than you're used to. Make sure you have a good caretaking plan--Do you live in a dog friendly place? Are you able to walk the dog during the day? Do you have a dogsitter for when you need to do out of town? Is there a good vet nearby?--and be patient while your dog adjusts.

I am not trying to sound down at this at all; on the contrary, I know several people who have relocated their pets cross-country and the dog was better for it. Just really make sure you're honest with yourself about whether this is in the dog's best interests.

Good luck.
posted by Swiss Meringue Buttercream at 6:12 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


By car or train, I wouldn't hesitate. If you are someplace where dog walkers are a thing, AND you can afford a dog walker when you are at work, I would do this like, tomorrow.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:23 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


I think you know the dog, and think the dog would be happier with you. So the answer is QED.

As long as you can get a dog-friendly apartment / housing, and mid-day dog walkers are a thing that exist where you are, and financially feasible, (because otherwise I think having a dog stay indoors without a break for 9 hours at a stretch is a long time), I'd absolutely bring the dog.

The dog deserves to be loved and appreciated, if nothing else; the misbehavior will eventually lead to bad stuff, as well.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:49 AM on January 7


By car or train I'd not hesitate. A havanese is not a big dog & a 10year old dog is fine sleeping most of the day. I'd maybe look into a dog walker in the middle of the day if that's a thing where you are as it's a long day for a small dog but doable if you take him for a good long walk each morning. Don't expect sudden miraculous changes it can take 3 or so months for dogs to adapt to big changes in routine but a dog would much rather be with someone that wants to be with them & do fun things like go for walks & adventures together than be basically ignored for what the next 3 to 5 years or a third of his life. Also I'd move him to get him away from Grandad ASAP that the sort of terrible training that leads to a poor confused dog biting someone & ending up put down.

I'd get the regular vets OK that he's OK for the trip & also you need to be aware that as you're in an apartment you'll have to now walk him multiple times a day to go pee if he's not pee mat trained. Also as for the sleeping, older dogs sleep A LOT, from about the age of 10 onwards they'll happily nap all day like a cat so don't panic too much if he keeps napping, napping in a sunny spot is old dog bliss. On the plus side, regular exercise & good food will give him more energy when he is awake.
posted by wwax at 9:08 AM on January 7


I was in a nearly identical situation with my cat. I initially decided, without question, to take her with me and paid hundreds of dollars to do everything necessary to move her, but in the end was talked out of it by someone who was convinced she would not be able to cope with the move due to her age and her nature. She's since passed away but I still regret this. She didn't do well without me, was not given the attention she deserved and as a result was depressed and acted completely unlike herself. I don't want to go into details but something very similar also happened to her to what your Grandpa is doing to your dog. I know she would have been happier with me even with the stress of moving and my work schedule. I still feel guilty. You can't be sure what will happen when you move your dog but you know he isn't in a good situation now and moving him is probably the best thing you could do to improve his situation.
posted by Polychrome at 10:12 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


no one really enjoys his company

I honestly had a little tear in my eye reading that. Dogs are so sensitive and emotionally dependent. I think you should absolutely move the dog to be with you in another country. The dog can, with time and patience, get used to new sounds/smells, but nothing can replace genuine affection. Please take him!
posted by cranberrymonger at 10:18 AM on January 7 [12 favorites]


So - depends on where abroad, as some countries have a mandatory isolation period that can range from a day or two to months alone in a facility.

But apart from that, a havanese is likely a good apartment style candidate, wherever you are.

Grandpa has become the de facto head of the pack, so no wonder the dog is being aggressive towards anyone near him. The dog is likely in the omega position, especially being encouraged to be defensive.

As long as you're going to interact outside of the 9 work hours, it should be fine. Also echo the dog walker is always a good added bonus.

(also. flying-wise, easy enough to use a carrier on-board in your seat with you for the flight as opposed to undercarriage given the dog's size. Could always get a cheap 'support pet' certification to make sure he stays with you on the flight)
posted by rich at 10:34 AM on January 7


Even if you don't move the dog, maybe a dog walker is a good idea.
posted by mullacc at 10:34 AM on January 7


Poor pup! And poor you!

If you can move him overland and there is no difficult quarantine rule, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. Especially not if you can arrange for a dog walker or someone else to come and give him some attention and exercise when you are out.
posted by rpfields at 11:08 AM on January 7


Could always get a cheap 'support pet' certification to make sure he stays with you on the flight)

Please don't do this.
posted by FencingGal at 12:46 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


If it's okay medically, I say take him. Dogs deserve to be cherished. A Havanese could live another five years or so. That's a long time to be quasi-neglected.
posted by praemunire at 2:43 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I have a Havanese, and he has a person (works at home) and another dog who are with him all day. Mine is a rescue but definitely does not like to be alone, and I have read this breed in general does not like to be alone. I think the situation he is in, is terrible. But being alone 9 hours a day might also be terrible. The best thing would probably be to find a Havanese or small breed rescue group and hopefully get him a suitable home.
posted by Glinn at 7:14 PM on January 7


Is he generally happy and content when left alone now? This is not a puppy but a fairly senior dog so he’d probably be ok with a fairly peaceful existence at this point. But if he is anxious/miserable when left alone this would make being alone for 9hrs/day very stressful for him.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:40 AM on January 8


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