A friend of mine messaged me yesterday with the tragic news that a friend of her daughter’s had recently passed away. While that, alone, is tragic, what makes it even worse is that he had a beautiful German Shepard, who had been rescued from a shelter just a couple of years ago. Thankfully, my dear, sweet, dog-trainer friend headed out to pick this sweet pup up, until final arrangements could be made for her. This got me to thinking, as most things regarding animals do…what would happen if that dog hadn’t known overly caring animal people who jumped into action to ensure that she wasn’t headed back to the shelter?
This is a situation that happens a lot more than I, personally, know about…thankfully. Otherwise, I fear that my four-legged numbers may increase…rapidly. Do you have a plan for your pets, if something were to happen to you? My husband and I have thought about and talked about this many times as we have several animals that would require placement, but do most people make plans for their fur-babies, in the event of a tragedy. Or what about an extended sickness or accident that requires a long hospital stay? I would guess that most people do not consider this and I would like to suggest that maybe we should. As an example, we have Esther, my nine-year-old Bengal cat because her owner died and her kids didn’t want or have a place for her. The longer I’ve had this cat, the more I have realized that she was very loved and very well taken care of. She is a very nice but very spoiled cat who was clearly loved a lot by her previous owner. Since she found her way here, I am guessing that no plans had been made for her prior to her owners demise.
This situation makes my heart sad. I am sad for the people who loose loved ones but I almost feel even more sorrow for the pets as they have no closure or understanding of what happened, like people do. When a dear friend of mine passed away, this past October, her German Shepard was depressed for weeks. Constantly running outside, every time a car pulled up, to see if it was her mom. Then laying in her owners office and sleeping most of the day. It was heart breaking. Even Esther, when she first came to live with me, walked around the house, looking in every rom and crying, for about two weeks. They don’t have the mechanisms to understand why their beloved owners are no longer there. Sad. Sad. Sad.
I am not sure what the laws are, in your specific state, but here in California, you have to have what is called a “Trust”. This “Trust” is set up, by an attorney or an Estate Planner, and they are supposed to catalog all of your belongings and designate who they are to go to, should something happen to you. I wonder how many of them include the pets. My sister-in-law was named in a family friends trust, who was a famous music producer, in Hollywood. He had all of his belongings designated to specific people and charities, but not is cat. So, the cat would have become a shelter cat had my sister-in-law not taken the time to find the perfect home for this high maintenance, diva of a kitty.
Personally, here is what I am going to do: I am going to start off by talking to my kids to see who is willing and able to take which fur-babies of mine. The dogs and cat should be the easiest for them to care for, so I will start with them. After that, I will talk to all of my ranch friends to see who has room for the farm animals. Preferably, it would be people that the animals are a least a little familiar with, to make the transition a little easier. I even have a couple of ranches who take retired horses and other animals to help struggling children regain trust. I will reach out to them as well. After I have some sort of idea as to who is going where, I will have that all included in my “Trust”, or “Will”, in most states. This will have to be revisited and updated as pets come and go and as peoples abilities to care for these pets change. It is my intent to remain diligent about this as I can’t imagine a sadder outcome for a four-legged-love than to be thrown into a shelter after being loved and cared for the majority of their lives. Might I also suggest that if you have friends who have pets, that you keep your heart open to being able to step in and help out, should the time arise.
I understand that death is an extremely awkward and sad thing that people simply do not want to talk about, but I encourage you to have those conversations in order to protect those whom we love…our fur-babies.
Many blessings to you and your four-legged-loves ~ Tammy