Woman Transforms Her Home Into a Hospice for Elderly Dogs and Provides Care for 80 Canine Seniors Simultaneously

In order to provide care for up to 80 dogs at a time, a compassionate pet lover who couldn’t bear the thought of senior pets passing away alone transformed her home into a hospice.

After struggling to find a new home for her father’s elderly Doberman, 44-year-old Valerie Reid established the non-profit Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary in Hermitage, Missouri, in 2017.

“My husband and I couldn’t bear to surrender her as we had already reached the city’s pet limit,” recalled Valerie. “Despite our best efforts, no rescue organization would take her in due to her advanced age.”

Valerie now takes in dogs whose owners have either passed away, moved into retirement homes, or have spent significant time in shelters.

“The dogs live with us in our home and move freely between the two buildings,” explained Valerie, who serves as the president of the organization. “They go wherever we go and receive treatment like family.”

The most rewarding part is witnessing their transformation once they realize they are safe and loved.

Every week, five dogs are admitted, and an equal number of them pass away.

“We aim to assist people in preparing for the end of life because none of us can guarantee we will live to see tomorrow,” Valerie explained. “We get to bid farewell to our seniors with peace and affection. Yes, it’s painful, but loving and caring for them is a privilege.”

Before establishing the sanctuary in 2017, Valerie worked as a kitchen renovator and ran an interior design business for approximately 12 years.

After struggling to find a suitable place to house her father’s Doberman when he passed away, Valerie was motivated to establish a home when a foster home offered to assist.

Compassionate Valerie currently employs 17 full-time staff who provide onsite hospitalization and round-the-clock care. Dogs come from other shelters or from owners who have passed away or entered nursing homes and left their pets with nowhere to go.

The senior dogs are free to roam the five acres of gated territory as they please, or simply relax on one of the many dog beds scattered around. They are also given gifts and toys.

When the time comes for them to pass away, Valerie and her team have made over 790 dogs comfortable. They also create paw print impressions in clay and paint watercolor portraits of each dog as a lasting memento.

Our aim is for them to depart this world knowing they were loved, the woman stated. We often cry together, comforting one another, as they are family and we all hold them dear.

Valerie hopes to encourage others to consider what would happen to their pets if something were to happen to them.

We all need to plan for the future, she continued, not just for our partners and children, but also for our beloved pets. We all face mortality at some point, and it is not something to fear, as growing older is a gift.

We strive to help as many senior pets as possible, but the sheer number and associated medical costs can be overwhelming. We aim to raise public awareness about our sanctuary and the urgent need for senior pet care.

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