If I Should Die Before I Wake

Tell me about your plan for your dogs should something happen to you.  Not what you think or hope will happen, but your actual plan.  Who will take them?  Will that person keep them or be charged with the responsibility of rehoming them?  Do you have a dog that could not be rehomed and might have to be euthanized instead?  Have you thought about these things?

I recently and quite suddenly lost a friend.  She was only 43 years old and by all appearances perfectly healthy.  She died of a pulmonary embolism.  She had two dogs, one of them is blind.  There is no way that she or anyone else could have predicted or should have expected this to happen.

Her sister was able to keep one of her dogs, but with two dogs of her own already and a full-time job, she couldn’t keep the blind dog.  I had met my friend because of this blind dog, so I now have her and am looking for a perfect home.  She had been one of my fosters about a year ago.

I have four dogs of my own.  I’ll be honest, I have no idea what would happen to them or where they would go if my husband and I were to die tomorrow.  One is a 129 lb Rottweiler.  He’s very well socialized, loves ALL dogs and people and has some basic manners.  But a dog that size and that breed is a bit of a handful for a lot of people, especially the people closest to me.  My other dogs, while they don’t have any big behavioral issues, all have different personalities that might require different kinds of owners.

I have two grown daughters, but neither owns their own house and both have their hands full starting their own lives.  Even if they divided the dogs so that each of them had two, it would be too much.  I might have friends who would lend a hand, but if I died suddenly, my kids wouldn’t know my friends or which ones to contact.

This was the case with my friend.  I didn’t know her sister or mom.  They didn’t know my connection with her dog.  Had it not been for them communicating with friends on Facebook, we never would have worked things out the way we did. 

I have a couple of clients who have put me in their will as the person with a sort of Power of Attorney for their dogs should the owners pass away.  It’s written that there will be funds available to me to provide care and find homes for the dogs.  We’ve discussed the details of this, deciding that the dogs can stay with me until a proper home is found, and that the dogs will stay together.

However, I still don’t have a plan for my dogs.  I don’t want to think about it, to be honest.  My death is not what bothers me.  The idea of my dogs being displaced, separated and confused is what holds me back.  It hurts to think about.  I’m going to do it anyway, though.  Because in the end, literally, there are many things I can’t control.  My dogs will be confused and probably separated.  That’s even more reason to have a plan in place with people I trust so we can talk about it ahead of time, reducing as much stress as possible.

It’s also important that whomever is willing to take responsibility, should the worst happen, has a relationship with my dogs ahead of time.  It was easy for this blind dog to come stay with me because she knew me, knew my dogs and has lived in this house before.  She’s comfortable and happy here. 

Oh, and let me address the euthanasia comment.  I have many trainer friends and clients who have been managing difficult dogs for years.  These are dogs who really would not do well being taken out of their routine and might actually be dangerous without their particular owner and their years of working together as a team.  It’s simply not something that another person could pick up where the owner left off.  One of these friends actually does have in her will that should she die, her dog must be humanely euthanized.  I totally support her decision, seeing that the quality of life this dog would have if she had to start over in a new home would be next to nothing.  Not to mention the potential risk to an adopter and the community.

So, what is your plan?  Do you have one?