I can feel your pain with this.
You're dealing with supporting your wife through a debilitating chronic disease, a toxic sister in law, and to top it off, an emotionally damaged cat. God bless you sweetheart, to say your emotional resources are probably stretched to the limit is an understatement. As anyone who's ever been a long term caregiver to a spouse, parent, or child will know, it can be the biggest struggle of one's life. You also have that vampire sister in law who is draining the life further from you and your wife? Though some others may disagree with me strongly, I'd say poor Karma's the least of your pain.
I admire that you are trying to work through options rather than just dump him like so many would. Of course it's not Karma's fault in the least, but I know first hand about having a pet who is hard to bond with. It's heartbreaking because you want what's best for the animal and don't have the resources to do better, and the animal is for whatever reason incapable of reciprocating in a way that is helpful to you. It's a true labor of love, emphasis on labor. And because of your wife's health issues, your stress situation was probably much better ten years ago when you rescued him.
I would wholeheartedly agree that getting a dog is not going to automatically be just what your wife needs. In fact, unless the dog is already well trained and older, I'd say it probably isn't a good choice at all. The best thing you could probably do is find someone who can help you cope with the real problem in your life, which is your sister in law. Find a reputable psychologist (many have a payment plan if money is an issue), a clergy, someone. Find a way to get her out of your life and/or her influence. My husband and I finally broke down and went to a referred psychologist when dealing with a toxic situation of our own. Six motivated visits and two years later, our lives are unrecognizable from the mess we'd allowed it to become before.
Just to help you get a little outside perspective because it is so hard to see the forest then the trees are beating you to heck and back--But a puppy is going to be a huge stress on you and your wife until it can be trained properly to be a good companion, which can sometimes take two to three years of big time investment.
Until then you are dealing with barking, scratching, biting, teething, potty training, hyper puppy energy, and house cleaning. If you've got a mellow breed, and the dog is also very quiet by nature (unlikely), and the dog is very smart and responsive to training, you might luck out and have all that worked out at six months. I don't know of many maltese who are good candidates for that. They're independent and snazzy little guys. What I would hazard a guess at is, that one thing you really can't handle is even more stress.
I would say this even if you did not have a cat.
If you didn't have a cat, I would recommend doing research and asking around for an already proven adult dog companion. With patience, it's even possible to find a large dog with the kind of restraint and sensitivity to be a great companion for her. You might even want to look into getting an assistance dog. I'm not sure of your wife's condition and I won't pry, but you mentioned seizures...perhaps you would qualify for a seizure assistance dog? You would also benefit from professionals matching you and your wife to the right dog rather than guesswork.
You may want to look at getting a well trained, cat friendly larger dog anyway as it's unlikely that Karma could kill him/her. Whatever you do, I'd take the time to find a place to introduce any dog you got to Karma away from the house on neutral territory. And if possible, let the dog settle in for a short while before reintroducing Karma back into his turf (this isn't professional advice, it just seems like a logical suggestion given what amount I do know of animal nature).
I also agree with others that neutering Karma is not going to help. His behaviors are pretty deeply set by this time. Since you are mentally struggling over this, I honestly think it would be doing you, your wife, and your cat a disservice to euthanize him on the remote gamble that the puppy she gets will be the perfect lap companion and not as much or more of a hardship than Karma. I expect a lose/lose situation for everyone here.
I'll say a prayer for you, my friend. For you, your wife, and your kitty. Hang in there.
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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
Last edited by Storyseeker; 12-04-2009 at 10:47 AM.
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