Learn about Valerie Reid, a remarkable woman who converted her home into a hospice because she couldn't take the thought of any elderly canines dying alone.
Owner Valerie Reid runs the Missouri-based pet rescue group Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary, which is making a difference in the lives of elderly dogs that have been abandoned or who have lost their owners.
As a lifetime hospice sanctuary, Whispering Willows accepts and cares for dogs that are nearing the end of their lives. The dogs that arrive to Whispering Willows aren't going to be fostered or adopted, they're never kenneled or imprisoned, and they live with Reid and her family until they pass away, unlike dogs that go to other pet sanctuaries.
Reid tells Daily Paws that all they get to do is be here and at home.
The senior dogs that come to Whispering Willows do so for a variety of reasons: some have been left behind, some have lost their pet parents, other dogs' owners have moved into nursing homes, and still others have been taken from their homes by a court order.
Their enthusiasm for life doesn't seem to be diminished, either. Senior dogs are extremely understanding, which is something Reid really appreciates. No matter what has happened in their lives—be it trauma, abuse, neglect, or the fact that they have lost their owner and feel hopeless—they continue to forgive and love.
When Reid's own father passed away from cancer, she claims, she decided to open a sanctuary. He was survived by a 9-year-old Doberman pinscher who had been his closest companion throughout his illness. Reid, who had been taking care of her father, was unable to take in the cherished animal.
Fortunately, she was able to find a foster family who could take the dog in and provide him a loving home for an additional year and a half. This encouraged Reid to work to give other animals and families the same opportunity.
Reid says, "Consider going to work and having 68 puppies come running up to you with their tails wagging. They are thrilled than everything else in the world to see you, too.
Some of the elder puppies in the sanctuary had not been there for a long time. Some of them merely stay there for a few days or even weeks until they pass away. She says that giving them comfort in their final days is still worthwhile despite the fact that they only had a brief time with Reid and the sadness associated with losing a pet.
Because they have taught me to simply keep going no matter what life throws at you, I believe we are better off united here at the sanctuary, adds Reid. There is tragedy, death, and sorrow, but there is also a lot of love and joy.