Rescue Journal


Alison  ·  Aug. 14, 2006

This really is my very favorite topic of conversation. This is the one greatest issue that impacts my life the most profoundly. And not just because of the time i spend mopping floors, cleaning up accidents, doing laundry, FLYING out of bed from a warm, wet, flood (bad Jack) Incontinence is why SAINTS is always over full, it is the number one reason why senior animals lose their homes and cannot find new ones. Incontinence is the number one reason why , families surrender their pets, pounds and shelters deem them unadoptable, and then, they have no where safe to go. Most rescues won't take them, fosters can't manage them, and the average public doesn't want them. And how sad is that?

Aging animals are incontinent for many reasons. Like humans, they have aging bladders and bowels and sphincter muscles that are not as strong as they were. They develop diseases like diabetes, hormone imbalances, and urinary/bowel infections. Their GI tracts become more sensitive, their neuro pathways become incompetent from arthritis/dysplagia and other aging neuro-muscular disorders. And inside themselves, inside their hearts, despite all of this, they are the same as they were when they were young. And that is not fair.

Incontinence can be managed. All it takes is the committment and the willingness to care for our elderly friends compassionately and respectfully as their bodies wear down. Somebody smart invented lino, and portable xpens, and pet related incontinence briefs and pads. Incontinent animals can be managed in family homes if that management includes thought and care. We can adjust our schedules and our furniture placements and our routines and our choices to meet their needs. Trust me, we do it for forty animals who live together inside a home, doing it for just one would be a breeze.

No animal deserves to die because when they reach their twilight years, their bladders start to leak. I dare some human to knock me off because I leak when I sneeze. They could go to jail for that and so they should. We are all going to leak some day, that is a sad reality of living a good long life. A good, long life deserves a better reason for becoming disposable. And the senior leaky animals here at SAINTS are so much more than just leaky bladders, there is a whole heart inside them that is way more important than that.

I wish we had room for all the leaky, homeless animals in this world, but we don't and I worry about the ones who have no place to go. Adopt a leaky animal from your local animal shelter today. Give them a hope for tomorrow.



I have had, and still have, leaky dogs and a few cats who occasionally spray/pee when startled, but I bought the house for them (I just happen to live there too)so can't complain too much about what they do in it (and there's no carpets). I share Carol's view that incontinence is no reason to give up an animal, especially an oldie. In fact, I've had the privilege of adopting an old leaky dog from Carol and fostering another for her and sharing their lives and leaks until they died. I would do it again.

However, while I don't mind, my other dogs do. Maybe it's cause they're not old and still concerned with territory and marking. One has a chronic bladder condition and is sometimes incontinent himself--he's mortified when he pees inside, although he's never been scolded by me, but my anxiety-ridden dog gives him hell! As she did with the dogs I had from Carol. The dog I fostered for Carol was not only incontinent, but couldn't walk and was too big and heavy to carry, so she stayed on her huge thick bed, layered with absorbent quilts and plastic sheets, but when she soiled them, the other dogs wouldn't even enter the room. For the sake of needy animals, I'm willing to expose my own to things they may not like (as long as there's no danger)but I can understand that others wouldn't be.

I can even understand why some owners can't cope; I know of a couple of cases where the peeing was so deliberate, frequent and plentiful, although there was no apparent medical or psychological reason and various vets were consulted, and the damage in property and to finances was so huge that the owners finally gave up. Not able to find new homes,and not able or willing to keep the animals outdoors, they euthanized.

But,as Carol says, some degree of incontinence is almost inevitable in aging animals and it's one more thing that people adopting or buying a new pup or kitten ought to be educated about and prepared for.


what i love about everyone who hangs out at SAINTS, is how we all quickly not only embrace the absolute wonderousness of bleach (thank you to whoever invented it!!!) but how we all become addicted to the smell. we had a wonderful visitor yesterday who brought all of our very favorite things...treats for the animals, chooclates for the humans, and half a dozen full bleach bottles for us all! she was a kindred spirit!!

Chris Thomas

Our Clio is blind and slightly brain damaged. While she is not officially incontinent she can't get outside on her own and relies on us to know when she needs to go out. She goes through phases where she will bark to let us know but mostly it is guessing. What we have started doing, at night, is putting down pee pads. For the most part she seems to use them as does the Chunk who is getting older. Not sure if it would solve any of the problems discussed here but it sure works for us.


I used to be upset and concerned when someone pee'd or pooped inside - a long time ago. And when someone new comes over and I see them wrinkle their nose, I remember that at times our house doesn't smell as good as it "should". I rarely care anymore. I think this is a giant step in my maturity as a human adult.

This is my house and the brat packs'. Take us or leave us. We live here and others don't and, although we would prefer that you visited us, we'll meet you somewhere else if you prefer and we prefer. Or not, as we prefer.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't turning into one of the middle aged women that I grew up with and used to laugh at and yet admire. They were strong in their characters and their ideas. Sometimes it scares me because I wonder where else such thoughts will take me from those of the generally accepted attitudes of society.

I was reminded of this daily as I prepared my house for sale and every new set of tradesmen or real estate agents or someone came over and I learned to remember to soak everything with something that promised to remove that "pet odour".

And yet, the thoughts of everyone else on this blog remind me of where I'm headed and I'm glad. It's not a path for everyone and if it makes us all a bit queasy at times (I mean even we can be affected by the smells of those we love, LOL) that's OK too.

I guess that I'm just saying that I'm very glad I've met you all and that SAINTS has profoundly affected us all in ways we never expected.

PS Now, I'm just rambling too. It's infectious Sheila. LOL


you know sheila, those animals love you both so much because you love them even when it is hard.

as to the stigma, that is a human hang up, other species don't have elimination issues unless people make them. there are way more non-human animals on this planet than there are people, we are just with the "other" majority on this one. don't feel bad, we are in good company.


I just finished reading this post and went to tell Leila about it. One of things that distresses her the most, when answering emails for SAINTS, is the one where people want you to take the animals that are incontinent. Somewhere along the lines there is a line about it would be okay if it weren't for the peeing or the other thing. The irony is that while she was reading it Oliver peed on the floor and then was so distressed that he couldn't pick himself up out of his urine. Leila had to get up to go clean him and the floor up.

Oliver, because he has a spinal cord injury, doesn't have full control of his bowels or his urinary tract.
He is much better than we first got him because then it was a constant cleaning of the peeing and the pooping. He know usually pees when outside but his little (or said I say large - man that dog has huge poops for a little guy) turds still, at least once a day, don't make it outside. Even when he does go outside he can't get off the outside deck fast enough. And yet we would never think to give him to another foster home because of this. And yet, her is the irony, I understood completely why his failed adoption didn't work out. I mean who wants a dog that pees and poops inside. It is hard. Does it take a special kind of person. I don't think me and Leila are special kinds of people - I just know he became our reponsibilty when we agreed to take him. Oliver went to work with me the other day and I though he would make it through the day but he didn't. He pooped. Thank god it was in Leila's office and not mine. Some of it landed on a blanket under Leila's desk that the dogs lie on. I lied like a SOB and told my brothers (when they went "did he poop!") oh it all landed on the blanket.

Scotty Patotty pooped everywhere. The funniest thing is that I still miss the little poop stains he would leave on my tiles in the bathroom. It is like he is wiped out without those stains there. And yet here is the irony - I found myself explaining him to Mo when she came for the weekend, with embarrassment that he pooped in my closet and the bathroom, and the hallway, and ... and she needed to kind of be careful. I was embarrassed and yet Mo volunteers for SAINTS. Why would I need to be embarrassed with her.

And my Butchy boy - sometimes it would take an hour to clean up what came out of him. And he would never just leave it in one spot - it would be a winding river. How the dogs managed to stay out of it I don't know. I know I talked to you about it once Carol and you made me feel that it was okay that sometimes I would grab my hair and scream you are killing me. I remember at his worst, if I would leave him at home, I would slowly open the door to see if he done anything and I would literally do a little happy dance when he hadn't left any surprises. My family knew that Butch had problems with his bowels and my brother loved to go on about how my house smelled of it and was I cleaning it up just because he is mean and he knew I felt very defensive about it. I mean I certainly didn't want anyone to thing I wasn't hygenic and I found myself constantly make it clear to my family the process I went through of cleaning up the floor after Butch went. The initial wipe down, the soap and water wipe down and then the sterilizing with the bleach. My sister finally told me I didn't need to explain myself.

I think I feel I can't tell everyone freely (and believe me, very few people knew about Scotty and know about Oliver) because there is a social stigma attached to it - I don't know I just know it is hard for people to live with. And yet the hardest part for Leila is having to write back to people who want SAINTS to take their incontinent animals because she wants to say - hey you I have incontinent animals and I'm not kicking them out so why are you.

Peeing and pooping in the house, is a constant stress for me and Leila. It is not any more fun with the puppies. That includes Little Morgaine Le Faye who I swear would pee inside on purpose. It has been two long years of it. And yet I would put up with it for a life time if I could have Butch back even for a day.


PS I hope this comment isn't too stream of thought with no thought to periods and commas. But I think it is so I apologize in advance.


Great entry, Carol! Up until a couple of years ago - maybe even just a year ago - I maintained that it was time to put a dog down when it became incontinent; my rationale was that a housetrained dog would be distressed when it goes where it knows it shouldn't.

But being around the leakers at Saints, and learning to know them as individual characters, and seeing how matter-of-factly it can all be handled, and learning about aids that one can use in the home if one chooses (like doggy diapers), has given me a whole new perspective. I can no more imagine putting a dog down for incontinence than I can imagine putting a human down for it. In fact, the older I get and the leakier I become (I pray I don't sneeze, cough or laugh too hard in public!), the better I understand how insignificant "leaking" is in what it is that defines us - human or canine.
To be honest, I'm not even sure which dogs ARE the leakers at Saints. I can't define them that narrowly. Each animal there indeed has a whole heart that still keeps loving, and each has their own personality, their own unique character, their own endearing (and sometimes irritating!) qualities. The leaking is just a tiny challenge for us to learn to deal with; what we receive from them in love, loyalty, entertainment, companionship, and laughter more than compensates for that little inconvenience.

And that makes it sound like they are only of value if we are receiving something from them ...which is not what I meant to say. Their individuality, their character, is what defines them, not the leakiness. They have a right to respect and dignity, and if we perchance benefit from offering them that respect and accepting them as they are, then we are blessed far more richly than we deserve.