Woman turns her home into hospice for old shelter dogs so they don’t die alone

Even if they don’t have much time left, all dogs deserve a loving home.While elderly dogs are frequently overlooked in favor of younger puppies, they deserve a forever home to spend the rest of their lives in.

But one woman has made it her life’s mission to provide these aging shelter dogs with a loving final home, converting her own home into a sanctuary that now houses 80 senior pets.Valerie Reid, 44, of Hermitage, Missouri, was inspired to care for senior dogs after a personal experience opened her eyes to the issues pets face as they age.

As her father was dying of cancer, she struggled to find a home for her father’s aging Doberman, according to SWNS.She couldn’t take the dog because she had already exceeded the city’s pet limit, and no other rescue would accept her.

“We looked everywhere for any rescue that could help, but none would take her because of her age,” Valerie recalled.Finally, she found a foster home for the Doberman: a farm that specialized in caring for senior dogs.It was a happy ending for the dog, who lived peacefully in their care for another year and a half — and the experience served as an eye-opening inspiration for Valerie.

“It got me thinking about what happens to senior dogs who were once beloved pets,” she explained to SWNS.”My eyes were opened to how many dogs out there needed assistance…It is truly a forgotten sector of the rescue world.”

So, in 2017, Valerie and her husband Josh founded the Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary, a non-profit sanctuary for senior dogs.They purchased a 3,000-square-foot home in Hermitage, with enough space for dozens of dogs to live out their final days in comfort and peace.

“We accept dogs over the age of 12.”Sometimes it’s special needs, sometimes it’s hospice,” she explained to Ozarks First.”Sometimes they just come to us for a place to lay their head and die.”

She explained that many of the dogs come from abusive and neglectful homes; one dog, Peanut, was discovered chained up in 100-degree heat.”They come in broken-hearted, emotionally or physically,” she explained to KY3.

Valerie, on the other hand, says her goal is to give them a sense of normalcy and trust, as well as a safe forever home to spend their final days in.”They don’t leave once they’ve arrived.They are not obligated to leave.Because this is their forever home, they will not have to deal with any further trauma or loss.””When they come, they know they’re safe.”

The rescue has grown over the years: according to SWNS, the hospice now has 17 full-time staff members who care for the dogs, and they can house up to 80 dogs at a time.”The sanctuary truly evolved and grew much larger than I had anticipated.”I love how many little hearts love us back.”

Valerie says they have cared for 790 dogs over the years. Due to the age of the dogs, deaths are common: about five pass away each week, and just as many are taken in.

While it can be heartbreaking work, Valerie takes pride in providing these dogs with a loving home at the end of their lives.”Our vision is to help people prepare for the end of life, because none of us know what tomorrow holds,” she told SWNS.”We get to send our seniors off in style and comfort.Yes, it hurts, but loving and caring for them is an honor.”