Primitive Dog Life Insurance - Planning for the Unthinkable

Do you have a plan in place in case the unthinkable happens?

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Within the past six months, I have lost two close friends that I had met through the world of competitive dog obedience. Both women had multiple dogs. One widower even considered re-homing their deceased partners two dogs, both of which have anxiety issues. The other individual was only in her late forties and her death was totally unexpected. The loss of both of these women made me start to think what will happen to my dogs if something happens to me?

The first choice is, obviously, that they will remain with my husband but there are quite a few considerations to think about with that choice. My husband travels as a truck driver and is gone from midnight Sunday evening to Wednesday morning and then from early Thursday morning to Friday evening. That leaves him with trying to find someone to either stay at the house when he is gone or force him to change jobs. Since two of my dogs are reactive/aggressive and they cannot be together this creates a special arrangement and not just anyone can manage.

Even with our careful management, there was one occasion when one of my dogs, Aloha, was not securely locked in her crate around my other dog, Heidi. An emergency vet visit and a couple of hundred dollars later, Aloha was stitched back together. Now imagine finding someone that you can trust to handle that!

There is also the possibility of a tragedy taking both my husband and I away from our dogs. None of my family members want the Australian Cattle Dogs and “maybe” my parents would take my Labrador but that leaves an uncertain future to be left in someone else's hands.  If you received your dog from a responsible breeder, then most likely, in your contract there is a statement that no matter what the age or health condition, they will take the dog back. This is the case with three of my dogs. I also have a rescue girl that will go back to the rescue if we are no longer able to care for her.

Although it is a difficult topic to bring up, you really need to have a plan in place. This is especially important with a “Couch Wolf”! Regardless of how caring and accommodating family may try to be, it requires a special someone to take on the responsibility of your dog(s). In my own family, there is no one that I feel comfortable with taking on any of my cattle dogs. Two of my dogs have dog/dog reactivity aggression issues and another can be the chief of the “fun police”. Therefore none of them will easily fit into a new home. I am very fortunate that my dogs’ breeders will take back the dogs the placed in my care. But not everyone has that option.

In reality, two of my dogs would likely be euthanasia if they were placed in an animal shelter. My oldest is over 10 years old and that plus dog/dog reactive doesn't make him high in demand for adoption. My youngest is around four years but placed in a shelter environment she would likely struggle and risk re-directing her reactivity toward a human caretaker. My middle dog would have the best chance but she is also 10 years old and very sensitive. I can only imagine how much she would struggle in a busy animal shelter.

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How do I prevent my animals from suffering in my absence? Start planning now!

While a challenging conversation to have, I would start talking with close friends or family that know your dog and understand the special needs of primitive dogs. Have a very serious discussion on how they would feel about taking your dog if something happened to you. Go over all the highlights as well as the trials and tribulations of daily life with your dogs. If they are still agreeable then the next step is to soften the burden. Set up a trust fund to handle the expenses of caring for the dog. Because there are a few options out there, speak to an accountant to figure out what is in your dogs' best interests. Definitely, have a Will in place and have your attorney set up a section specifying your wishes for your dog.

Somethings are hard to imagine, but you must also decide what you want to have happen if no suitable home can be arranged for your dogs. When I did my Will years ago, prior to the cattle dogs, I had a sentence placed that if there was no one to take my pets (including my shelter cats) that it was my wish that they would be humanely euthanized. My biggest fear was that they would end up in a shelter and then end up being killed anyway. Yes, it is an extreme measure but I cannot imagine how my dogs and cats would feel going from the security of my home into a shelter, end up terrified and labeled "unadoptable" and then finally put down in a cold room surrounded by strangers.

There is no right or wrong answer.  This is a very personal decision. Probably one of the most emotional and personal decisions you will ever make. Do not leave a grieving family member or friend with the burden of trying to figure out your wishes and the needs of your dogs without your guidance. Ask, get permission and then have it put into writing. Set up a trust so your family member or friend will not have to worry about any financial hardship. I know this is a powerful and painful thing to think about, but hopefully, this has been a powerful reminder that the future is out of our hands and it is necessary to plan for the unthinkable, especially with a Couch Wolf.

What is your plan? Have an opinion? Chat with us in the forums.