Meet Valerie Reid, the аmаzіng lady who couldn’t bear the idea of any elderly dogs dying аlone, so she turned her home into a hospice! Valerie Reid is the owner of Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary, a pet rescue organization in Missouri that’s altering the lives of senior dogs that have been abandoned or lost their owners.
Whispering Willows is a lifetime hospice sanctuary, which means they take in dogs that are reaching the end of their life and care for them until they pass. Unlike other pet sanctuaries, the dogs who come at Whispering Willows aren’t going to be fostered or adopted, and they are never kenneled or imprisoned, they move in with Reid and her family and stay there until their final breath.
“They just get to be here and get to be home,” Reid tells Daily Paws.
The senior dogs that come to Whispering Willows arrive at the home for a multitude of reasons—some have been abandoned, some have had their pet parents pass away, other dog’s owners have gone into nursing homes, and some dogs have been removed from their owners by court order.
But that doesn’t seem to dull their zest for life. “What I love about senior dogs is that they’re so forgiving,” Reid says. “No matter what has occurred in their life—whether it be trauma, abuse, neglect, or that they’ve lost their owner and feel hopeless—they continue to forgive and they continue to love.”
Reid says her goal of operating a sanctuary originated when her own father went away from cancer. He left behind his best friend, a 9 Doberman pinscher who’d been by his side throughout his battle with the disease. Reid, who had been caring for her father, was unable to take in her father’s beloved pet.
Thankfully, she later found a foster family who was able to provide a loving home to the dog for an additional year and a half—which inspired Reid to help provide the same experience for other pets and families. “Imagine going to work and 68 pups come wagging their tails at you,” Reid says. “And there’s nothing in the world they’re happier about than seeing you.”
Not all of the senior puppies in the sanctuary are there for years. Some of them are only residents during their final months and even weeks. Yet despite their limited time with Reid, and the pain that comes with losing a pet, she says it’s still worth it to provide them comfort during their dying days. “I think we are better together here at the sanctuary because they have taught me simply to keep going no matter what life throws at you,” says Reid. “There is trauma, there is death, and there is sadness—but there’s a lot of love and happiness.