In the world of animal rescue, senior dogs often face the unfortunate reality of being overlooked in favor of younger puppies. However, Valerie Reid, a 44-year-old woman from Hermitage, Missouri, has made it her life’s mission to change this narrative.
With a personal experience shedding light on the challenges faced by older dogs, Valerie has transformed her own home into a sanctuary for senior canines, offering them a loving last home.
The catalyst for Valerie’s journey was a poignant moment during her father’s illness, where she struggled to find a home for his aged Doberman. Faced with challenges due to exceeding the city’s pet limit and rescue rejections, Valerie eventually secured a foster home at a farm specializing in the care of older dogs.
This experience served as a powerful motivation for Valerie, prompting her to question the fate of other older dogs who were once cherished companions.
In 2017, Valerie, along with her husband Josh, established the Whispering Willows Older Dog Shelter, a non-profit sanctuary dedicated to senior dogs. They acquired a 3,000-square-foot property near Hermitage, providing ample space for hundreds of canines to live out their last days in comfort and peace.
“We accept dogs over the age of 12, sometimes it’s special needs, sometimes it’s hospice”, Valerie explained. “Sometimes people simply come to us seeking a place to lay their heads and die.” Many of the dogs arriving at the sanctuary have experienced abuse and neglect, emphasizing the dire need for such a refuge.
Valerie’s mission is to restore a sense of normality and trust to these animals, offering them a secure permanent home for their remaining days. “Once they arrive, they don’t go. They are not required to leave. This is their eternal home, so they won’t have to go through another tragedy or loss”, she emphasized.
Over the years, the sanctuary has evolved, boasting 17 full-time staff members caring for the dogs and accommodating up to 80 canines at a time. Despite the heartbreaking nature of their work, Valerie and her team have cared for 790 pets, acknowledging the inevitability of losses due to the dogs’ age.
Valerie takes pride in providing these senior dogs with a loving home, emphasizing the sanctity of their final days. “Our goal is to help individuals prepare for the end of life, since none of us know what tomorrow holds. We get to send our elderly home in style and comfort. Yes, it hurts, but loving and caring for them is an honor”, she shared.
In a world where senior dogs often face neglect, Valerie’s dedication stands as a beacon of hope, offering these animals the love and care they need in their twilight years.