Melissa Magee and her dog, Percy pose for a photograph after a consultation with the author.

Melissa Magee and her dog, Percy pose for a photograph after a consultation with the author.

North Dallas resident Melissa Magee, a professed cat person, didn’t predict she would ever need to adopt her sister’s dog.

Percy suffers from isolation anxiety. Until very recently, he has spent his days barking, pacing and urinating in Melissa’s home when he is left by himself. His feelings of anxiety cause him suffering and consequently cause damage to Melissa’s home.

In addition to the frustration she feels about the damage done to her home through his frequent urination, she also experiences guilt and pity over his behavior on a daily basis.

Most likely, his issue and corresponding behavior is caused by the combination of his genetic makeup and his upbringing. Melissa’s situation is a very common one and has me thinking once again about what we are leaving behind when we are not here to care for our dogs any longer.

Many people across our great city are keeping animals that have major issues and cannot exist as good pets, myself included. When I agreed to take a large, aggressive dog from one of my terminally ill clients I did not foresee the impact this would have on my life for the next eight years.

If I were to pass away before my dog, only one person on this earth other than myself can manage him as their own. However, it is quite a burden to leave behind a dog that cannot be boarded or groomed professionally, tolerate a dog walker, tag along at the office or withstand new visitors to the home.

In addition to leaving behind a dog with issues, the complication of multiple dogs exists. People that keep a multitude of dogs can pose serious obstacles upon their passing when loved ones are left to re-home the animals. It’s not uncommon for some folks to keep up to five dogs at once.

Under these circumstances, the dogs would most definitely have to be separated. In addition to being separated from one another it is very challenging to find homes for multiple dogs without resources. Some of these dogs might surely have to be turned over to a local animal shelter or rescue organization.

I’ve determined that if I can out-live the dog I currently own he will be my last “project.” The worry and anxiety of leaving one behind that cannot be cared for is too much of an emotional burden for me to carry.

Furthermore, I’ve made a decision to no longer own more than one to two dogs in contrast to the five I’ve owned in earlier years. In addition to making things simpler on those I leave behind I’m also standing by and leaving room for when I will be needed to care for a deceased loved one’s dog(s).

When you look at your dog or dogs, do you know who will be able to step in to care for them if you were no longer around? Will you be leaving a stable and obedient dog or will you be leaving a project and burden for a relative to bear? Will you be saying goodbye to one dog or five?

Considering this morose subject is no fun, but it is a necessary part of life. I’ll be cheering for Melissa and Percy to pull through in the coming weeks as we work together toward rehabilitation.