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A Friend's Sudden Passing

Recently we got the sad news that a friend from the dog park had passed away suddenly. She was on a backpacking trip in the Sierra mountains with a group of friends when she had a heart attack, a few hours later she died at a friend’s home. It is all so horribly sad! Luckily her two dogs were not with her; they were being cared for by another friend/dogsitter back in Berkeley. Unfortunately Carol did not leave a will, she was a single woman who adored her dogs but there were no instructions about what to do if something like this would happen. I know that few of us, especially those as healthy and as robust like Carol was (even at the age of 69), think of doing such things. I don’t think we like to ponder our own mortality. The welfare of Carol’s two dogs was now in the hands of her dog sitter, a challenging assignment for anyone. Other friends at the park offered what they could by the way of advice and assistance. Luckily a woman, who had the littermate, took the Husky in, and the dog sitter kept the young Jack Russell for a while until another of the dog park pals, took him in too. All that was a great relief to everyone who knew Carol and who loved her dogs. No matter what age you are, and especially if you are a single person with dogs, it is really important to consider doing a living will or setting up a pet trust. This was a lesson to me that we simply can’t leave such important matters in the hands of others.

Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and editor in chief. thebark.com
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Submitted by JJ | August 29 2012 |

Two years ago I changed my will (I am 62) to reflect what is to happen to my dogs when I pass away. If they are not taken care of, then no money will be distributed. Plain and simple!

Submitted by Anonymous | August 29 2012 |

Unfortunately family are the cruelest when it comes to these matters. I have made it clear to my family that what ever happens to me my animals be taken care of. Thankfully they are animal lovers as well and are able to do that!

Submitted by Renee | August 29 2012 |

My mom always stressed having a will no matter what age. It protects the family and any assets especially children/dogs. My husband's and my will state the guardian of our 2 kids AND any pets-they all go together!! Unfortunately too many believe creating a will forebodes something bad while I believe it does the complete opposite; it ensures that you leave those who loved you with the knowledge of what you wanted which can only bring peace.

Submitted by Basil Brown | August 30 2012 |

Whatever form this takes, it is good to have a copy with your will, and also leave a copy with your vet to keep with your pet's records. This is a good, although difficult, step to take -- and does bring peace of mind to know your wishes for your pets will be carried out. Great article! Thanks!

Submitted by Tak Nakamoto | August 30 2012 |

Carol was a friend of mine too from the informal but strong Husky circles in Berkeley. I will miss her. Her death is the second one in recent years of seemingly healthy people dying unexpectedly.

While I concur with the thoughts about wills and trusts to take care of all our loved ones (my wife is an attorney specializing in estate planning and probates), I think that this sad occasion should prompt us to consider where we get our pets from in the first place.

Some shelters and rescue organizations guarantee that they will take back any pet they originally adopted out and find them new homes. We have been a foster home for adult cats returned to our local no kill shelter. Some these adult cats had owners who died or became disabled. They found good new homes.

Many good breeders will do the same or keep them.

By the way, Carol's elderly Husky Micah is doing well in his new home. I see him regularly.

Submitted by Barbara | August 30 2012 |

I not only designated to whom my dog should go (of course, with that person's prior permission) but I also designated money from my will to go to that person to assist in my dog's care. I have no worries that my dog would not be taken care of as the person named is involved in animal rescue and knows and loves my dog; pick the right person, provide financially so that they can give your dog the right care, and then be confident that it will be alright should something happen to you.

Submitted by Barbara | August 30 2012 |

a side note; each and every time I go out of town (vacation) I sent notification to my vet that gives the name of the person caring for my pet, plus the authorization to make decisions for the pet's care in my absence, along with letting them know that I trust that friend's judgment and that I will be responsible for all vet bills incurred. It's important that your vet know who is authorized to care for your pet; of course, leave the pet-sitter with the name and directions to your vet's office as well.

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