A few days ago I received word from a family who had just made the heartbreaking decision to put their grandmother in an assisted care facility. The grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is not capable of caring for herself or her beloved pets any longer. These four Chihuahuas belonged to her, and no one in her family was in a position to care for them. So this family was also faced with the gut wrenching decision of what to do with the dogs that belonged to their grandmother.
Rick and I decided to take these babies into our sanctuary. These four little ones had few choices and very little chance of finding a loving home. So Rick and I are now in a position to do the impossible. Placing all four of these dogs in one home is not a realistic goal for their future. Goldie, the oldest of these four is 19 years old. She will remain here at the sanctuary as a permanent resident. The other three are between 3 and 5 years old and could be easily placed in forever homes one at a time.
But what about the bonds they share with each other? They have already lost the “Mom” and the home they knew. The prospect of them losing each other now is tragic. But bonded dogs are extremely difficult to place. We have had several bonded pairs up for adoption this year, and we have received NO applications for them. Also among our now permanent residents is a threesome of Dachshunds that came from the same home. I didn’t even advertise for them to be adopted together because I knew there was no chance of that happening. Now they are bonded to us and our pack, and we could not consider adopting them out individually.
So where does that leave us where these Chihuahuas are concerned? We basically have two choices. We can keep them here in the hopes that someday someone will be interested in having all three join their families. In the mean time, they get more and more attached to us, the other residents here at the sanctuary, and this new life that will be wonderful but difficult to accept in the short term. If it were to take many months or even years to find that home, how could we possibly put these dogs, our other dogs, and ourselves through that trauma? The answer to that question is we would not allow that to happen. The second choice is that we break them up now, find wonderful homes for them, and know that we did our best for them.
The sanctuary, obviously, only has so much room. Rick and I only have so much time and resources. If these babies stay here with us, the room we would have for the next senior or special needs dog is no longer available. Because we take the dogs that even most rescues can’t take, that means those future babies would be left without any chance of placement. Spliting this family up now, before they become bonded to us and our other residents is definitely the better (although not perfect) choice for us to make. Sometimes our goal of preventing any further heartbreak for the dogs that end up in our care, is impossible.
Many of our followers have begged us to keep these babies together. They know that is our policy and our goal for bonded dogs. But when the whole situation is spread out in front of them, would they still make the choice to keep these dogs together? Would they allow a blind, senior Dachshund in a shelter to be put down because we made the choice to keep these babies together no matter what? Rick and I don’t think anyone would make that choice, and we are forced to face the facts ourselves. These babies will have to be adopted out one at a time. They will no doubt suffer in the short-term from the loss of their siblings, but they will be in wonderful, loving homes. And the senior or special needs dogs that need the sanctuary in the future will have a place to live out their lives in comfort and love. That excruciating decision has now been made. This is a first for our sanctuary but will most likely not be the last time we have to face that decision.
Rick and I are working hard to insure a permanent place for all of our residents here at the sanctuary in the event we are unable to care for them ourselves. This has become priority one for us, and we owe it to our dogs to make the sanctuary function without us should the need arise. We would like to encourage everyone that reads this blog to reach out to your family and friends. Make arrangements for the animals in your care should you become unable to continue that care. Talk with your grandparents, your parents, and your children to work out plans for the babies that have enjoyed your love or the love of your senior family members. Make the plans and the hard decisions ahead of time so rescuers and sanctuaries don’t have to make those decisions when the need arises.
Find someone you trust to feed Jake – when you can no longer fulfill your obligation to do so.