Meet Valerie Reid, the amazing woman who converted her home into a hospice because she couldn’t take the thought of any elderly pets dying alone
Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary, a pet rescue organization in Missouri run by Valerie Reid, is making a difference in the lives of senior dogs that have either been abandoned or have lost their owners.
Since Whispering Willows is a lifetime hospice sanctuary, it accepts and cares for dogs who are nearing the end of their lives. The dogs that arrive at Whispering Willows are never fostered or adopted, and they are never kenneled or imprisoned like they are at other pet sanctuaries. Instead, they move in with Reid and her family and remain there until they pass away.
Reid tells Daily Paws that “they just get to be here and get to be home.”
The senior dogs that come to Whispering Willows do so for a variety of reasons, including being abandoned, losing their pet parents, owners moving into nursing homes, and being taken away from their owners by a court order.
But it doesn’t appear that has diminished their zest for life. Reid explains, “What I love about elderly dogs is that they’re so forgiving. “They continue to forgive and love no matter what has happened in their life, whether it be trauma, abuse, neglect, or the fact that they have lost their owner and feel hopeless.
Reid claims that after her own father passed away from cancer, she decided to open a sanctuary. His 9-year-old Doberman pinscher, who had supported him throughout his battle with the illness, was left behind as his closest companion. Reid was unable to take in her father’s favorite pet despite being her father’s caregiver.
Fortunately, she eventually discovered a foster family that could provide the dog a loving home for an additional year and a half. Reid was moved to work to assist other pets and families have the same experience.
Imagine arriving at work to find 68 puppies waving their tails at you, says Reid. And seeing you makes them happier than anything else in the world.
Not all of the sanctuary’s senior puppies have been there for a long time. In their latter months, some of them only remain there for a few days or possibly weeks. Despite their brief time with Reid and the pain that comes with pet loss, she claims that providing them with comfort in their dying days is still meaningful.
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, says Reid. Tragic events, death, and sadness are present, but there is also a lot of love and joy.