I recently received something in the mail from the Humane Society of the United States that included a quick reference to a Web link for information about including your pets in your will. (Okay, so this is a gloomy topic. But it's a gloomy, rainy week here in Connecticut and, after a few days, it's bound to affect your state of mind.) The Web link leads to a page with lots of information, and directions for ordering a kit (which they say includes a brochure, wallet alert cards, emergency decals for windows and doors, and caregiver information forms).
It's a valuable thing they're offering, when you think about it. We invest a lot of time, money, energy, and love into the care of our pets while they're with us. Subconsciously, I think we've all made the assumption that we will outlive them. But life has a way of throwing curve balls that can incapacitate us in this life or send us on our way to the next one.
If we have given even a passing thought to the possibility that we might not outlive our pets, I suspect that many of us have made the assumption that spouses, siblings, adult children, parents, and friends will assume the guardianship of our guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and so on. But the thought may not have -- or ever -- cross their minds. They may have no idea what our assumptions or wishes are. We owe it to ourselves -- and, more importantly, our beloved pets -- to have the necessary conversations and make the proper arrangements.
If you can't name "pet guardians," your next option is to make sure your family knows if there is a particular rescue your pet(s) should go to...someone you trust with your furkids and trust to find a suitable home. Last year, one of our rescue's first adopters contacted us to say she'd just been diagnosed with cancer and was trying to attend to some details ahead of time, while she was able to, in case things didn't go her way. One of her first concerns was the welfare of her pets. She wanted to know, if and when she needed us to, whether she could bring her guinea pigs to us for either short-term care or placement into a new adoptive home. In her darkest hour, she looked out for her animals; the love she demonstrated was remarkable, memorable, and a lesson in grace. (By the way, the guinea pigs are still with her and, the last we heard, she was responding well to treatment.)
So, take a few moments to visit the HSUS Web site, read or print out the information they have there, and send a request for the kit. The kit is free, but consider donating a few dollars to cover postage costs and support their cause. It's a small price to pay for protecting the animals and raising our awareness.