A Missouri woman starts a dog hospice because she couldn’t stand the thought of old dogs dying alone. When Valarie Reid’s father passed away around 12 years ago, she didn’t know what to do with his aging doberman. "My husband and I…were unable to take her. We looked everywhere for any rescue that would help, and due to her age, none would take her," she recalls. "Finally, a foster from one of the rescues had heard the dilemma and wanted to help out." The dog lived for another year and a half on the foster family’s farm and the experience got Reid thinking about the need to care for senior dogs.
Fast forward to 2017 when Reid and her husband moved to a rural property and she started the nonprofit Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary. She now takes in older and terminally ill dogs that don’t have a place to go, housing up to 80 dogs at a time. "We get to send our seniors off in comfort and love,” she says. “Yes, it hurts, but it is an honor to love and care for them."
Over the years, the sanctuary has grown bigger than Reid ever imagined. She and 17 full-time staff members care for the dogs 24 hours a day on the five-acre property. Unfortunately, they have to turn away most of the 60 to 100 requests they get each week, but they're glad to be able to help those that they can. "Our goal is for them to leave this earth knowing they were cherished. We hold each one and usually cry together," Reid says. "They are family members, and all of us love them."
- Since opening, Whispering Willows has cared for nearly 800 dogs at the end of their lives. To learn more about the sanctuary or help support their work, visit WhisperingWillowsSeniorDogSanctuary.com.