Trace Oswald wrote:My own rule, that I try my best to live by, is that it's time to put them down when I'm keeping them alive for my sake rather than theirs. And yes, I think that same rule should apply to humans.
I agree with both! With humans, it's a bit complicated as they tend to get scared of the idea that they lose independence and opportunities, as they age or their health issues get worse. Animals are much easier to reassure. Although working animals seem to have similar issues when they can't work anymore. They get depressed similarly to retired people sometimes.
As for dogs adjusting to new places: with mine, it was different each time. There was a drama queen who would try the Lassie thing even long time after parting with his owners, and there was a happy-go-lucky goldie who thought that her home is where her furry butt is, as long as she's fed. For my current dog, it takes a week to get over the 'grief' when I leave and another week to bond with a new person. He is a dog of one owner. He's also a bit wild, so he would probably escape if he had to change houses too. He was sort of a "working dog", because he's a sighthound and people used to keep them in orchards so they would hunt rabbits. It's illegal now, but some people still do it illegally, and he was one of such dogs.
I like the idea of having multiple dogs; that's one thing I envy the breeders. They get to observe the pack behaviour, and also maternal instincts in females. But it's hard to manage a biodiverse permie ecosystem that includes dogs, especially when it's relatively tiny; so I never had more than three at once, and even then each usually had a different owner, they just lived together (or rather: used the same garden as their toilet...).
My rule (which I broke) is that my dog shouldn't be more miserable than its food. I can't grow dog food (although I know owners who do - mostly rabbits and sheep), but I know where it comes from and what impact on the environment it has. I now have a more "permie approach" to that, and I suppose that in the future all animals in my homestead will be something in between pets and parts of the ecosystem.
There is a wonderful book by Kay Milton, titled "Loving Nature: Towards an Ecology of Emotion". She described two seemingly opposite approaches to environment protection: one is to rescue any living being, regardless of its status, and the other: to maintain biodiversity and protect endangered species mainly. Of course we can only go so far down the rabbit hole of "pet food chain" and other supplies... but maybe it's worth a thought.