All dogs deserve a loving home, even those who may not have long to live. Although older dogs are often left behind in favor of younger puppies, they deserve a forever home to spend their remaining time.
But one woman has made it her mission to provide a final loving home for these aging shelter dogs, turning her own home into a sanctuary that is now home to 80 senior animals.
Valerie Reid, a 44-year-old woman from Hermitage, Missouri, came up with the idea of caring for senior dogs after a personal experience opened her eyes to the issues pets face in the end. of life.
According to SWNS, she struggled to find a home for her father’s aging Doberman, who was dying of cancer. She couldn’t take the dog because she had already reached the pet limit set by the city, and found that no other shelters would take her in.
“We looked everywhere for a shelter that could help us, but due to his age, none wanted to take him in,” Valerie recalls.
Eventually, she was able to find a foster home for the Doberman: a farm that specifically cares for older dogs. It’s a happy ending for the dog, who lived peacefully for a year and a half on this farm, and this experience was a source of inspiration for Valérie.
“I started thinking about what happens to older dogs, who were once beloved pets,” she said. “I opened my eyes to the number of dogs that needed help… It really is a forgotten segment of the rescue world.”
So in 2017, Valerie and her husband Josh opened their own non-profit sanctuary for senior dogs: the Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary. They bought a 3,000 square foot home in Hermitage, enough room for dozens of dogs to spend their last days in comfort and peace.
“We welcome dogs 12 years and older. Sometimes special needs, sometimes palliative care,” she told First. “Sometimes they just come to us because they need a place to lay their heads and die.”
People ask, how can we bear the heartache when we say goodbye to so many animals? Because our sanctuary is only a matter of love…
She explains that many dogs come from backgrounds where they have been abused and neglected: one dog, Peanut, was found chained up in 100 degree heat.
“When they arrive they are very heartbroken, emotionally or physically,” she said.
But Valerie says her goal is to give them a sense of normalcy and confidence, giving them a safe forever home to spend their final days.
“Once they come, they stay. They don’t need to leave. This is their forever home, so they don’t experience another trauma, another loss.”
“When they come, they know they are safe.”
Valerie says they have cared for 790 dogs over the years. Due to the age of the dogs, deaths are frequent: about five die each week, and as many are rescued.
Although this job can be sad, Valerie takes pride in giving these dogs a loving place to spend the end of their lives.
“Our vision is to help people prepare for the end of life, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow,” she said. “We can send our elders in comfort and love. Yes, it hurts, but it’s an honor to love and care for them.”