- Aug 21, 2012
I am not sure about you, but I am certain there are many, many dog owners have never thought about the possibility of not being always there for their dogs. Considering that dogs usually live much less than their owners, it is typically expected to have the dog die before him or her. I guess that is the reason why what I am going to talk about today is a subject that rarely goes through their minds. Another reason might be that the number of cases where the dog remains alone is much less than the opposite case, so there has not been a motive to make this an issue. Dogs are living beings that feel, just as we do, when they lose a loved one. It is not easy for them to adapt fast to such a tremendous change in their lives, as many presume. There are some famous cases in which the dog has been mourning over its owner’s grave for a very, very long time, more so than the family of the departed. I recently came across a video you can check yourself in You Tube called “This dog’s owner passed away and his reaction. (Original)”. In it you can see the beautiful Siberian Husky over its owner’s grave and the expression of its feelings of pain and suffering due to the loss. Just as it is recommended, although not always followed, that everyone should leave a Last Will and Testament ready ahead of time with all the wishes and decisions regarding finances, possessions and their distribution, heirs and so on, so should be done when you have a dog. Why? You may ask yourself what the reason for this may be, since it is not the usual thing happening. If you die before your dog and no measures have been taken previously, what is going to happen to your beloved pet? Are you familiar with the fact that, when this happens, confusion is the result and many times, because you have not expressed your wishes, the animal ends up in a shelter and many times euthanized? Is that what you would want for your dog? I am completely sure that is not the case. If so, it is then very important you take the necessary precautions and do write what you want done in case of your demise before that of your dog. Many of us think our families will, of course, take care of the dog. After all, they know how much you love it and how many years you have spent together. Not necessarily the case. Dogs, like children, are a tremendous responsibility, one not to be taken lightly. They require attention, exercise, care, time and money to be spent in food, veterinarian, medicines or medical examinations and even hospitalizations if they get sick and other expenses. This is enough for many members of your family to say they cannot accept it. Close friends, which may be your other consideration, may fall into the same category. What can be done then? Here are just a couple of suggestions that may help you. First of all, take your time deciding who you would want to keep your dog in case you are no longer there. If you still have a spouse or significant other, then the logical thing would be for her/him to go on for you, but if you do not, then who? There are cases when there are grown up children who could take over the responsibility, but you have to be very careful when considering one of them. His or her personal situation has to be taken into account. Do they have the space required for your dog? This implies checking their living facilities just for that purpose. Do they also have children? Have these ever had another dog? Do they know yours? Does your child work, study or both? Will your dog be alone most of the day in this case? When you were living together, if this were the case, did this child of yours get along with your dog? Is she or he an animal lover or just one of those people who do not want anything disturbing their lives? Make sure you take your time before you make this important decision and, if possible, talk to them and check out for yourself. Do not base that step on assumptions. That way, you would have the correct information and avoid possible mistakes right from the start. If you are considering a close friend, one that you have seen through the years to enjoy your dog when visiting you, the above applies as well. In this case, you have to remember that, even if you have known each other for a very long time, this responsibility is something to be discussed with her/him thoroughly in order for you not to base yourself on the wrong assumptions. Because dogs cannot speak, it is impossible to ask them who would they prefer to be with if you are not present, but you can use what you have observed in your dog’s behavior when around the people you are considering would continue your dedication and love. The mutual acceptance and manifestations of affection and respect on both parts are signs you have to put in perspective when making your decision. Supposing you have already picked the correct person, then this next step is what should come into consideration. If you have the means to do it, make sure you leave an amount of money sufficient to cover those expenses I mentioned above, so this issue will not constitute a problem to whoever accepts taking your dog if you have passed on. You would have to talk to your lawyer when writing this in your will in order to determine which would be the best course of action to take in this case. In some places of the US, like Pennsylvania, A Uniform Trust Act was adopted in 2006. “This is a section which allows people to create a financial trust for their animals. A friend or relative can be designated to care for a pet, using money left in the trust.” (Article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette). We have been talking about the possibility of your leaving this world ahead of your dog, but there are other circumstances in which you may also be absent from your dog’s life, like for example, when you travel for a long period of time or fall ill in a hospital, also for a prolonged stay. Even though in a different manner, all the topics mentioned above apply in situations like these and have to be thought about carefully. Remember that you and your dog form a couple, and when one member of that couple disappears from the other, there are normally negative consequences that have to be looked at seriously in order to make that absence less traumatic for the part that is left behind.