Whole Dog Journal's Blog September 28, 2017

Have You Made Arrangements for Your Dogs (In Case Something Happens to You)?

Posted at 12:29PM - Comments: (19)

Hello, and sorry I’ve not posted for a few weeks.  Our publishing headquarters staff ran some older blog posts in place of fresh content from me, as I took a couple of weeks off for surgery – yikes!

Long story short: I had my first-ever routine colonoscopy, and it found a large mass! Crazy, because I had no symptoms of any sort of digestive, elimination, or any other health problem. But the surgeon said it had to be removed, along with the 10 or so inches of colon and small intestine it was attached to. So, the day after I shipped the October issue of WDJ to the printer in early September, I had laparoscopic abdominal surgery, and spent six days in the hospital. I got fantastic news regarding the mass on the day I was discharged: the thing was benign, so no further treatment will be needed.

Fortunately, I had a couple of weeks between the colonoscopy and surgery to figure out what to do with my dogs, both while I was in the hospital and after I came home, so they wouldn’t be going crazy for a lack of walks (and so Woody wouldn’t be jumping on me as I lay on the sofa, as he is wont to do). My husband was home, but he had a too-full workload and would also be waiting on me, so sending the dogs away made the most sense.

My sister and her husband, who have three very small dogs and one small/medium-sized one, took in my 70-pound senior dog, Otto. Three of their dogs are terrier-mixes and have the same sort of scruffy faces that Otto has; he looks like a zoomed-in version of them. Given how much I have fostered dogs and puppies over the years, and how weary Otto has grown of having rude guest dogs in his home, one might imagine that he wouldn’t like staying with four small barky dogs – but actually, he seems to adopt an entirely different persona there.

At home, he plays the elder statesman, too dignified to romp or wrestle with other dogs, and quick to nip any canine nonsense from Woody and other dogs in the bud – the classic “fun police” behavior. But at my sister’s house, he instigates all sorts of play! He wrestles and rolls around like mad with the little guys, especially the newest member of the pack, a nine-pound, perhaps three-year-old former stray named Lucky. My sister said that Otto grabs toys and initiates games of “chase me” with Lucky, something I haven’t seen him do for years with any other dog.

Also, he’s never, ever, slept on my bed. I have nothing against dogs sleeping on beds, I just personally don’t like dog hair on my bed, nor waking up uncomfortable because the dog is taking up all the room. At my sister’s house, he helped himself to the queen-sized, elevated bed in the guest bedroom, and slept with his head on the pillows!

My 25-year-old son took my almost-two-year-old dog Woody for a couple of weeks. An athlete himself, my son is the best candidate for giving Woody enough exercise to keep him out of trouble. Woody also gets along well with my son’s dog, Cole, an all-black Black and Tan Coonhound, and my son’s roommates, who are also athletes and also love dogs. At one point during their stay together, my son took Woody on a weekend retreat to the mountains with his sports team, comprised of twenty-something twenty-and thirty-something guys, all of whom love dogs. Woody swam and hiked and played fetch until he collapsed in happiness. When my son brought Woody home to me, about two weeks after my surgery, after a brief period of excitement, he rested quietly with me for days! He was tired!

I am very lucky to have family who are ready and willing to help with my dogs, and who would even keep my dogs for the rest of their lives if something happened to me – and I know this because I asked! I don’t take this for granted; I’ve seen many dogs at my local shelter who were brought there by friends or relatives of the dogs’ deceased owners. That thought is just torture for me.

My husband and I have been talking for years about how we need to write wills and set up a trust, so whichever one of us survives the other and/or our children can avoid probate while settling our affairs – but we haven’t yet done anything about it. This episode prompted me to renew my advance healthcare directive and start taking notes about a will and a trust. No one who knows me will be surprised to learn that most of what I have on paper so far concerns the dogs.

Frequent WDJ contributor CJ Puotinen wrote a terrific article on arranging for your pets’ care after your own death. I’m reviewing it as I take notes. Check it out here.



Comments (19)

I've already talked with my cousins who love dogs, that if something happens to me please find them a good home if they can't keep them, but don't let them end up in a shelter. This may sound bad, but if a shelter is the only option, I would rather them be sent to me at the Rainbow Bridge.

Posted by: LindaKay | January 15, 2018 1:42 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for this. We just put ours down a few weeks ago. It was almost like a macabre family holiday, everyone came home from school/wherever they'd moved to to say bye, and then clean every inch of the house so our parents wouldn't have to deal with the emotional shock of a chewed up tennis ball 6 months later.

OneDayTop has recently posted for PET : www.onedaytop.com/sign-cat-pregnancy/

Posted by: elizabethwmcglone | October 5, 2017 8:10 AM    Report this comment

I have had dog trusts for a long time but never considered the story of the "40-year-old brown Chihuahua".

We just recently redid our dog trust (which ensured not only who took care of the dog in case we both died, but also how much money the person would receive each year for our dog's care). Our lawyer told us to make sure that the trust required that the dog be checked each year to make sure it was the same dog (chip check and/or vet check). The reason for this was to ensure that the person receiving the money for care of the dog did not "replace" the dog with a similar looking dog if the original dog died (If this were done that person would continue to receive the money each year). The lawyer then relayed to us a situation where this was not done which resulted in having a 40-year-old brown Chihuahua.

Posted by: ArleneAndRoxie | October 1, 2017 4:29 PM    Report this comment

My husband had knee replacement surgery about 2 years ago and he was emphatic about us making new wills and finding someone to care for our dogs after our deaths. We are both seniors....75 and 67. So we did it.

Posted by: Olivia | October 1, 2017 12:49 PM    Report this comment

So glad to hear that was a benign mass! Being an oncology nurse, it always scares me to learn of a friend's potentially devastating news. And, the time they have to wait until the pathology report is complete, leads to overwhelming anxiety. I went through that with an ovarian mass- I was freaking out until I heard "Benign".
I live alone with my rescued Basset, Coonhound and 2 cats. I've often thought about what would happen if I could no longer care for them. I've made some "tentative" plans with my neighbor's daughter for Emmy Lou, my Blk and Tan. But both my hounds are seniors and nothing is written regarding my wishes.
Thanks for bringing up this very important subject!! We need to make sure our fur babies will always have a good home, if something happens to us. And, the information needs to be written and filed, so it can be located easily.
Get well soon!

Posted by: HoundMom | October 1, 2017 11:22 AM    Report this comment

I recently redid my will. After checking with the owner of the day care where I take my pug once a week, I put her as my girl's owner if I should pass. Also important- included a financial provision for her care.

Posted by: lucymom2008 | October 1, 2017 11:03 AM    Report this comment

In my area, there is a local animal rescue that, if you adopt a dog from them, will agree to take the dog back and rehome it if you cannot care for the dog anymore.

Posted by: Mel Blacke | October 1, 2017 6:31 AM    Report this comment

My sister has agreed to take care of my dogs and I will do the same for her Dinmont if problems arise. Should my competition dog prove to be too much for her, the breeder would take her back and under the age of 8 would have no trouble re-homing her with someone who is into that sort of thing. I am glad that they found the mass when they did. Best wishes for a full recovery! I always eagerly read your articles.

Posted by: Mel Blacke | October 1, 2017 6:29 AM    Report this comment

Pleased to hear your surgery went good.
Longtime WDJ subscriber and always appreciate the articles as well as your blog.
Quite sure it's treasured by many.
Thank you for your dedication, commitment and love to the canine world.

Posted by: Houndz6 | September 30, 2017 7:27 PM    Report this comment

Sorry to hear about your illness. About 18 months ago I was in a sever auto accident with multiple fractures, internal bleeding, sliced internal organs and a puntured lung. I rewuired surgery, a hospital stay, 2 weeks in a nursing home and 3mos living at my ex-husbands, confined to a wheelchair. During that time my little Min Pin, Harley had no where to go. He, spent 4 mos kenneled with his Vet. It was hard on both of us, but somethings can't be helped. They took great care of him. The first day he was home sgain, he was rather quiet, but the secobf day he was more like his old self. I have noticed that he watched me more now and is more affectionate than before the asccident.

Posted by: Sadierose | September 28, 2017 6:53 PM    Report this comment

So sorry for your recent health scare-had to be terrifying until you got your good news. I'm sure recovery was not easy either, but glad for how it turned out!
This is a great subject that I have actually thought about before, but have never taken any steps for an official plan. So, thank you for bringing it up I'm going to try to come up with a plan to have in place. It's somewhat harder thinking that I know no one who'd take care of my boys "in the manner to which they've become accustomed"! Will just have to be somewhere where they'll be well taken care of, if not completely spoiled!

Posted by: Raji | September 28, 2017 6:13 PM    Report this comment

We have a living trust also, setting aside money to take care of my dog. It can be amended any time I have others. Being in rescue, I've seen (and taken in) too many dogs who were dumped into kill shelters. I remind everyone I know that they need to do this too.

Posted by: pap luv | September 28, 2017 6:00 PM    Report this comment

So glad that all turned out well for you and your pooches! Just have a paper saying there will be some money given for those that will take my dogs should anything unforeseen happen. Guess it needs to be more formal.

Posted by: loves dogs | September 28, 2017 3:49 PM    Report this comment

We have no descendants, and have had very specific instructions and provisions in our wills for our dogs' care and maintenance. Those are updated as circumstances change, as do other aspects of our wills.

I help with a Rescue group, and so many of the stories are a result of people neglecting to have a plan for their pets in the event of an unforeseeable circumstance - death or disability. I find that unconscionable, after all, those blessed with children spend time and money trying to ensure that as much of their estates pass unabridged to their offspring. Unfortunately, the relatively modest needs of their other family members often get short shrift.

Posted by: see2xu | September 28, 2017 1:48 PM    Report this comment

We had a cousin that died at a fairly young age (in her 40's). She had a black lab and her brother, who was the administer of her estate, was going to have the dog put to sleep because he didn't want to spend her inheritance or his time finding the dog a good home. Another cousin and I stepped in and took the dog and we paid for its upkeep for about a month in a foster home until a good home could be found. Don't trust that relatives will know what you want for your pets if something happens to you. It needs to be put in writing so there is no doubt. Than you can have peace of mind that your pets are well-cared for if something were to happen to you.

Posted by: ldandtom | September 28, 2017 1:17 PM    Report this comment

So glad all turned out well with your procedure!! And like us we too keep talking about our Living Trust/Will etc and have done NOTHING!! We have a one year old Fox Red English Lab so we better get off the stick!!

Posted by: SlyBrandy | September 28, 2017 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Our Springer Spaniel, Piper, is included in our Estate Planning. I see way too many pets end up in shelters after their humans die and it breaks my heart. They are totally dependent on us to make sure they are taken care -- both while we're here and when we're gone.

Posted by: pebaumann22 | September 28, 2017 12:56 PM    Report this comment

I definitely need to set up a pet trust, because as of today I have an almost 9 year old mixed little lady, and two, almost 4 year old brothers, chiweenies..thanks for reminding me. My little lady, Layla takes several medications every day, so need to write down when and how she is to be given those ..DEFINITELY DON'T WANT ANY OF MINE TO END UP IN ANY SHELTER!
Anyone who has one to several animals need to set up a pet trust and ask friend(s) or relative (s) to care for them, NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE....do it

Posted by: mweinstein6 | September 28, 2017 12:44 PM    Report this comment

I have a living trust (this should keep the estate out of private) as well as a pet trust to set aside funds for the care of my 2 dogs. i also have a pet team of folks who have agreed to serve in various roles. Like you I've seen lots of dogs end up at the shelter b/c the owner died. Hopefully my preparation will keep that from happening to my guys.

Posted by: llf | September 28, 2017 12:34 PM    Report this comment

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