What If?

Would that we all had friends and family to step up and take care of our pets should something happen to prevent us from coming home one day. What would happen if you were hospitalized? Is there someone who knows all of your dog’s medications and dosage schedule? Would someone be able to get in to let your dogs out, provide water and food, reassure them that they won’t be left alone or turned into the local shelter?
After a stint of near misses and scary scenarios in my little corner of the world, a client has been suddenly hospitalized. She has family very nearby who can tend to her dog and friends (myself included) who can and will step up to help however needed to include making her meals and running out to buy extra dog food, thankfully. But it occurs to me that I’m the only one who knows all of my pups’ routines and medications. Even my husband doesn’t know their medication cycles. As I’ve just scheduled a trip to attend an animal welfare conference, I’ve already been planning to train him in, but until I do, should something happen, he’d have no idea how to keep them on track with their medical needs. This is my own doing and my own hubris for taking my welfare for granted; I take full responsibility. I need to share that responsibility instead of blithely ignoring the truth we all know but rarely acknowledge: Anything can happen at any time.
A friend had a stroke almost two years ago. Her neighbor noticed she’d not been out with her dog and went to check on her. My friend has been hospitalized and in rehab ever since. Fortunately, another friend has taken in her dog and is keeping him safe and well cared for in the event she ever regains her ability to care for him and herself again. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how that could have been desperately devastating.
How many times do I read in an animal’s bio on a shelter website that they were surrendered after their humans were suddenly unable to care for them because of their own physical limitations or death? We bemoan the fact that our animals have such short lifespans compared with us generally, but we cannot presume that we will always outlive them, or that we will always be physically competent to care for them. I for one need to put safeguards in place. My love for my pups won’t die with me, nor should my ability to honor the promise I made to them when they joined my family.


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