, Salem, MA

March 21, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: Who will care for my pets when I’m gone?

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

We are updating our wills and having a difficult time. Lawyers have been no help, and clauses on the Internet have not been very helpful either. We have several dogs who would probably not be adoptable. Only one might be adoptable, the youngest, who’s in the best health. We have some money to help with the costs, but they will need more care than just that. We have no one we trust capable of caring for them.

We are both over 68 years old and not in best health. Court trusts and similar situations seem to be an ineffective answer. Standard pet protection clauses do not seem to fit the situation without a person of trust involved. Putting them to sleep when the last of us dies seems to be the only solution but a very painful thought. We want them buried with us (finding a cemetery that allows this is also not easy). Have you any suggestions on how to save them when we die?

A: Dog Lady applauds you for watching out for the safety and security of the animals in your care. Just as humans draw up trusts, wills and health care proxies to make their wishes known, animal guardians must provide for care and continuance of their dog dependents. You should contact your regional SPCA or Humane Society and present your situation.

The San Francisco SPCA is an exemplar. The organization has a program that finds homes for the pets of decreased members, with full medical care included. You can read about this at Rescue organizations are also dedicated to finding homes for orphaned pets. These watchdog groups have experience dealing with legacies for pets. Often, a trustworthy representative can be enlisted without a personal connection. Use your money to make a generous donation as gratitude. You can also hire a lawyer with demonstrated animal interests to act on your behalf.

Dear Dog Lady,

I have a 2-year-old German shepherd, which I got when he was 11 weeks old. I struggle to understand his behavior. He is scared out of his mind of cars, bikes, people, balloons, boxes and all objects in motion. He is especially afraid of people and even shakes. He was a normal puppy when I got him from the breeder.

He is also a severe chewer, and although he is now 2 years old, he chews up everything (the house, shoes, rugs, cables and, most recently, my entire couch, which I had to trash). I hated to do it, but I finally got him a crate. He gets plenty of attention throughout the day, even when I’m at class or work for eight hours a day, because my roommates care for him in my absence. When I exercised him even more, he became worse in his chewing and hyperactive behavior.

A: Your German shepherd is still an adolescent and needs care and attention and socializing. Walk him frequently so he becomes accustomed to the noises and surprises in the world. When he is calm, reward him with high-value treats (freeze-dried liver or chicken). Don’t expect your roommates to provide your dog the same quality of consideration. In all her years, Dog Lady has never heard of a well-exercised dog chewing more and becoming hyperactive. A crate will help if the crate is used well and not as punishment. You have a big dog requiring a big part of your life. Make room for the responsibility.

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