, Salem, MA

March 15, 2013

Couple want dogs cared for after they're gone

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q: We are updating our wills and having a difficult time. Lawyers have been of 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 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 deceased members, with full medical care included. You can read about this at and email for referrals. 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.

Q: We lost Bayleigh, our cocker spaniel, our own 20 pounds of magic, after nearly a year of dealing with megaesophagus (enlarged esophagus) and no fewer than a dozen bouts with bloat.

During the final bout, we rushed her to the emergency clinic. The attending veterinarian confirmed the bloat by X-ray and took her away for what he described as a simple procedure. A half-hour later, he handed us a dead dog, saying simply, “Her heart stopped.” I remain convinced that he euthanized her. I wish we had waited and brought her to our own vet. Your thoughts?

A: Veterinary procedures and canine pathology remain a mystery to many dog owners. This is the frustrating part of dealing with your pet’s medical emergencies. We can’t know, we can’t tell. And, in a few cases, neither can the vets. They are not miracle workers, just healers in an imperfect science dealing with patients who can’t talk.

Dog Lady sends deepest sympathies on the loss of your precious Bayleigh. Her passing must have been a terrible shock. But you can comfort yourself by knowing you performed your yeoman duty in trying to resolve a serious issue. By taking her to the emergency clinic, you went to the limit to find a resolution for her immediate bloat, which is frightening when it occurs in dogs. And you will never know how, why or what happened behind the clinic’s closed doors. You will just have to keep faith that she died the way the attending vet said she did. Please allow your 20 pounds of magic to continue to spread alchemy through your peacefulness about her passing. It may sound simplistic but you really must move on from here.


Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook; Twitter at @askdoglady. Email questions to