Learning Lessons from Loss


Nelle, dearly missed.

May was a rough month for us here, Up on the Woof. On the tenth, we lost a beloved niece, who was much too young and vibrant, due to post-surgical complications. Seven days later, we lost D’s brother, whom you met in a comedic chapter of Circling the Waggins. Both of these losses hit us hard. But in addition to our grief were a series of repercussions that left me shaken and more than a little freaked out.

Before I tell you about those repercussions, let me first say that I’m not blaming anyone for what happened. When a person is dealing with profound loss, they can’t be expected to make the most cogent decisions. And if anyone involved is reading this, please don’t be upset with me, because this post isn’t meant to condemn, but is only meant to be a cautionary tale for others.
You pet owners out there…you can’t make other people care about your pets the way that you care about them. If you love your pets, you have to be one step ahead of the game, for their safety and your own peace of mind.
You rescuers and advocates out there…circumstances are sometimes beyond our control, and no matter how much we care, sometimes we fail, and as much faith as we have in our community to step up, I implore you to find somebody you can really trust.
If you were to die tomorrow, what would happen to your pets?
In our nieces case, here’s what happened…
gidget2She had three dogs whom she loved very much ; a very old beagle, a middle aged doxie, and a young pit bull/mastiff mix. She had always been an animal lover, though seldom in a financial position to vet them, and definitely never in the position to prepare a financial trust for them. When she died suddenly, the family was consumed with grief, and decisions had to be made quickly. She left behind three children in addition to the dogs. My sister-in-law, now in the throes of fighting her third battle with cancer– faced with the sudden death of her daughter and three displaced grandchildren–was in no condition to also take on the pet issue, so, because I am a dog advocate, she immediately tasked me with finding a home for Gidget, the youngest dog.

My reaction was immediate. I contacted a mastiff rescue, and a pit bull rescue in their area. The dog was in central Florida, and I am in Ohio…so I relied on my ability to network. I obtained a couple of photos of Gidget from our great niece, and I sent them to the rescues. I posted her on my Facebook page with an urgent plea for help. A number of rescue friends shared her.

The mastiff rescue responded immediately that they only accepted English Mastiffs, not mixes, like many breed rescues do. They suggested two other rescue groups in the area…whom I messaged immediately. One of them, and the pit rescue, never responded to my messages. The other, all- breed rescue, did. Although they didn’t have any foster homes available, they asked for more recent photos, and promised to network Gidget. That rescue was geographically very close to Gidget’s location. I asked family members to take some current photos and text them to me.  Because I knew that her unspayed status could hurt her chances of rescue, I secured a commitment from the Ohio rescue group I work with to fund her spay. I waited for photos.
Meanwhile, in Florida, our niece’s landlord went into the house, found dog messes, and opened the door and sent Gidget packing, and then an unidentified person called AC. Landlords will nearly always care more about their property than your pet. If you are a renter and a pet owner, don’t ever, ever, forget that.
Although Gidget’s human siblings were able to catch her and tie her out at Grandma’s, AC showed up and Gidget was surrendered. When I was informed of this series of events, I told another niece that Gidget might still be able to be saved if AC were called first thing in the a.m., but nobody had a redemption fee for a dog who had no place to go if she were redeemed.
My failure to find Gidget safe passage weighs very heavily on my heart. Bridget had 4 strikes against her: she was part pit bull, she was a surrender, she was black, and she was all of those things in Florida. A definite euth.

Buster Brown. Fate uknown.

No sooner had this happened with Gidget, our nieces ex drove down from Kentucky to take what he wanted from the house. Among those things, was Buster, the doxie our niece dearly loved. All of us were happy he was taking the doxie, because Buster would be with someone he knew. But that relief was short-lived, because the next day Buster was picked up as a stray by Kentucky AC, and it was Buster’s face who greeted family on Facebook the next morning from the pound. We all assume the ex, or his new woman, dumped him.

What ensued next, were days on the phone with Grant County Animal Shelter, who assured me that there was a line of people interested in adopting Buster, who assured me that they were no longer a kill shelter, unless health dictated it. A friend of the family was prepared to take Buster…but was told that AC released him to a Cincinnati rescue, Recycled Doggies, because they were better able to handle any health issues he might have had. However, Recycled Doggies told me that they never received Buster, and although I  have contacted Grant County Animal Shelter  I haven’t heard back from them…and Buster’s photo was removed from their Facebook page.

Although I hold out hope that Buster has received any health care he might have needed and that he was adopted or will be up for adoption soon…not knowing what happened to him is kind of unbearable.
Three days after this multi-dog debacle, my lifemate’s brother, Ken, died suddenly.  He didn’t have a dog, but he did have Louy, a senior cat, and he had asked us multiple times if we would take Louy if something ever happened to him. We had promised Ken in no uncertain terms that we would. So, two days later, we drove the seven hour round trip to Michigan to pick up Ken’s cat. Louy is safe at our house until we can find a good home for him.
listSo, why am I relating all this sadness? Because as a pet guardian, as a rescuer, as an advocate, and as a human, these experiences greatly unsettled me, and made me think.  I started wondering: what will happen to my dogs if something happens to me? Who will help them? Who can I trust?  The list of people I trust with my pets is very very short. These experiences have made me realize that not only do I need to have a plan in place, I also need to have a back-up plan, and a back-up-back-up plan….and maybe even a trust for their continued care. None of us ever know how much time we’ve got, and if you leave the fate of your pets to chance, they won’t have one.

thanksThe last month has been tough, and we could really use a helping hand Up on the Woof. We are always looking for coupons for certain items we purchase for our dogs on a regular basis. If you have Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons (we are still trusting Ainsworth foods),  Cesar coupons, or milkbone coupons that  you will not be using, please save them for us. Contact me if you have some to send.

And if you come across an errant box of Purina Busy HeartyHides for sale on amazon or ebay, for God’s sake, send them to us!I also have a wishlist of items that we just can’t afford, but would make life a whole lot easier. It has recently been updated. Click the link below to view. Topping the list is Advantix Flea and Tick for Waldo. We are loaded with ticks here.

Things we need Up on the Woof

You can also donate to help us buy the stuff we need, if you are so inclined. (Donations can be sent via Paypal to: yelodoggie@yahoo.com

About yelodoggie

Ariel C. Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. They have been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. They have written two books about their true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also wrote a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and was a contributing editor for AnimalsVote.org. They attribute their love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
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2 Responses to Learning Lessons from Loss

  1. kathyg92256 says:

    First let me say, I’m so sorry for your losses. It seems like when one thing happens, more follow. Certainly a test in faith. I was very upset reading about the unknown fate of the dogs–what happened to the old beagle? Have you heard any more about the fate of all the dogs? I have numerous dogs and cats and I have no idea who I could trust to care for my “babies” if I die. I have thought about having the older ones put to sleep because there aren’t a lot of people out there who would even be willing to take on older dogs. My dog Otto who I rescued after being hit by a car is extremely protective of me and does not trust other people. It is a dilemma that I pray about daily. I have looked for the “HeartyHides” but haven’t found any. My prayers are with you and your lifemate and of course, your furbabies. Thank you for taking in Louy. Money is tight right now for me due to 2 very large vet bills (one of my dogs has cancer) but I will check out your wishlist on Amazon hopefully soon. Hugs to you! 🙂


    • yelodoggie says:

      Thank you. Pretty sure the old beagle was surrendered and put down. My understanding was that she was very sick.
      Grant County Animal Shelter finally called me back, but they said it was their policy not to release any information. So they couldn’t tell me if Buster was safe…if he had made it into rescue or been adopted. I pleaded with them, but they would not say.
      Hey, my Dad’s name was Otto!


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