Dog Ownership vs. Ostomy Ownership

May 11, 2024 10:07 pm

After almost 4 years of living with an ostomy, I liken it to owning a dog. Our last dog lived for 17 years. For all those years, we limited our travel, visits, and daily lifestyle to our beloved dog. I find the only difference is that on some occasions we had a family or friend who would dog sit if we planned an extended trip (cruise, etc. where dogs were not permitted). Otherwise, our dog was with us. A daily outing was always… "time to go home, the dog needs to be fed and let out." Sound familiar? How I'd love to leave my ostomy with a sitter for a while…

No airline travel with our dog; we had to drive everywhere. My flight attendant relative warned against the horrors of taking a dog on the plane (for the dog). On extended trips to visit family or friends, the very first thing on my mind was… are they dog-friendly for an overnight stay? Even with a dog sitter for a couple of days, it was always on my mind, time to get back to the dog. Pet lovers here will probably get the picture and relate to this. Don't get me wrong, I would surely relive all those days to have any one of our beloved dogs back. The irony is we no longer have a dog (decision due to our age), but I do have an ostomy now.

Bottom line to this story is this - after almost 4 years of an ostomy, it is almost the same, for me, as dog ownership - the only difference is I have no love for my ostomy and I have absolutely no one to leave my ostomy with while I go out and enjoy life! An “ostomy-sitter” for vacations, visits, and days away from home, if only…

With this ostomy, what I do have now is fear of road trips, fear of flying, fear of long-term visits away from my own bathroom, shower, bed, etc. Most of my entertainment is a couple of hours out for shopping and out to dinner with family or friends.

The only redeeming factor, for me, is my age. I have had a wonderful life full of so many experiences; there is not one thing I long to do, and I am very content with my senior life and love being home.

I can say, however, I have a total understanding and empathy for anyone who struggles with the fears of ostomy ownership. As well, I have extreme respect for those who are able to live their lives as normally as they did before this journey. Bless you all real good! jb

May 12, 2024 12:00 pm

17 is a ripe old age for them. All that love you gave it added some years to his life. What sort of food did you give them? Canned or kibble or home-cooked? Cooked veggies along with their water are good for them, especially the bigger breeds. Research has shown that humans produce a different odor when under pressure, and dogs can sniff it out. Some dog owners might have noticed that they show a bit of concern when their masters are under a cloud. Best wishes.

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May 12, 2024 5:27 pm
Reply to bowsprit

We had several dogs over our 60-year marriage, and most of them lived into their teens… no special food (I don't even like to cook for my humans). I believe it was just good care and lots of love for them. I think you are right about “pressure”; no one needs it or favors it… a happy and pressure-free household makes for happy kids, adults, and pets!

May 13, 2024 7:47 pm

I like your analogy to dog ownership. I, though, think dealing with my UC for 15 years was akin to owning a dog. Same restrictions as you mention, etc. Having my surgery and dealing with a stoma have opened the world back up for me. The issues with UC and the stoma are not even close for me. A recent example was a trip I took into the mountains to be with friends. What was normally a 4 hr trip took 11 hrs. A freak winter storm hit the Sierras, trucks jackknifed, and I was stuck in one spot for 5 hrs. No bathrooms, 8" of snow, and no information about when it would end. With UC, I'd have messed myself for sure. Post-stoma, I changed my bag in the truck and resumed my wait.

On the subject of dogs. We lost our family dog last fall. I wanted to wait until spring when we had completed a 2-week trip. My wife was in favor of the decision until she saw a rescued pup. Thankfully, a good friend (who recently lost her dog) volunteered to pup sit for us. They love to be with each other. My wife is happy, and the pup seems to like me the best.

I too have just celebrated my 4-year "Stomaversary." My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. We recently returned from a trip to Ireland. We made a similar trip prior to surgery. At that time, I nearly canceled the trip 2 days before we left due to anxiety, etc. When we returned this year, we had a better time than I could have hoped for. It's all in your (our) perspective. With a little advance planning and patience, the world can be yours again.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to remember how fortunate I am. I'm hoping that you can find that feeling too.

Best of health,


May 13, 2024 10:06 pm
Reply to SharkFan

I loved reading how you love your stoma - I wish I could feel the same. In fact, three of my very closest relatives suffered with forms of IBS, and on a couple of occasions, I was with them when “the shit hit the fan,” so to speak. Very humiliating, painful, and stressful to say the least. My sister suffered greatly with this. I was the fortunate one with never any bowel-related issues my entire life and felt so very sorry for those that did. Today, my sister is no longer here, and I think how she would have benefited from and embraced an ostomy, so I totally understand how you feel and am happy that you feel blessed and can now enjoy the outcome. This has not been the case for me. My situation was like being hit with a Mack truck from which I thought I would never recover. Eventually, I did (somewhat) with the input on this website and the folks that contribute their own stories. I imagine every story is relatable to someone, so a GREAT BIG THANKS to you and all who care to share. jb

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
May 17, 2024 11:55 pm

Just Breathe,


I am sorry to learn that your ostomy has you so confined - and indeed there is no freedom from the same - but when we allow our thoughts to be free - this must surely help our psyche no end - smiles.


Clearly, J-B, your family dogs have lived well with you - and we who devote our lives in response to domesticating our beloved K9s have very special relationships with them - which cannot be substituted by anyone or anything else.


Have you ever considered the 'sharing' of a dog with another family/couple? I have seen this arrangement work well with retired couples - where there has been 'freedom' and variety for both humans and dog. [Although I hasten to add this arrangement would not work for me personally]. But dependent upon one's close friends/family, I have witnessed a very happy first and second home with a Yorkie and also a Poodle. [But not with a working or utility or any of the Mastiff group of dogs.]


I wish for you, JB - freedom of heart and perhaps interaction with some form of K9 association again?


Personally, I know that if I live through my currently postponed surgery, at some point one or possibly two K9s will become my personal Fourpence and Fivepence [for I really miss the association I have enjoyed with 1d, 2p, and 3p Boxers who all proved to be very special personal companions who were much loved, respected, and leave a very specific shortcoming when one's environment is dog-less].


Waves from the hills,












May 18, 2024 10:51 am
Reply to Jayne

Hi Jayne, I so agree with what you have written here. I do have such a part-time relationship with my little “granddog.” I am a part-time sitter when her momma travels. I call her “my dose of dog,” and she is very special to me. The downside of this is - last time I watched her for an extended period, she got sick. After several trips to the vet, she recovered; however, it took me longer to recover from this incident. The very reason my hubby and I have chosen a dog-less retirement in our senior years. Only yesterday, I had my little granddog for the day and my dose of dog fix… at the end of the day, it was very much the same as my early years as grandma… when mom picked up the grandkids, and I could kiss them goodbye till the next time, and I found myself worry-free once again. Yes, I am the poster child for “Worry Wart.”

This belly-bag I haul around with me is enough to worry about, and I just can't seem to get beyond this worry. I am very thankful for what I do enjoy - mainly contentment, being pain-free, humor, music, swimming, and last but not least… a loving spouse.