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Friday, July 2,2021

Unexpected Additions

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Very few of us (if any) plan to lose our job/home, be in an accident, get sick/disabled, be incarcerated or die. Yet, these things occur daily, and could happen to any of us. This directly affects our families, including our pets.

A friend is facing such an unplanned, drastic lifestyle change.

Two large senior dogs were in need of new homes, preferably together. They didn’t expect this disruption to their cushy life. A heartbreaking dilemma, I strived to maintain my focus on finding the right home(s). The pool of prospective adopters shrinks to a tiny mud puddle when people hear a dog is 10-plus years old. Large breeds’ life spans are 8-12 years; the extremely lucky surpass that. Short term adoptions, foster and fospice (foster/hospice) homes are few and far between. With the clock ticking, senior dogs may visit the vet more often. Most people haven’t saved for the rainy day of senior pet care or emergencies.

I spent time with the two dogs, photographing and getting videos. Once outside, they came to life! Carl* lives to play ball and swim. Evie* was happy sunning herself and following him in the yard. For weeks, I had been beating the bushes. Local vets, large-dogloving friends and breed-specific rescues were contacted. Crickets.

Asking a rescue group to take in a senior can be a huge financial commitment. Fingers and paws crossed, I sent pictures and video to my animal-loving friend, Wendy Derhak, founder of The Pet Cottage.

The Pet Cottage was founded in 2012 to provide lifetime care for orphaned pets due to death, disability or deployment. Comprised of volunteers, guardian families welcome these wayward waifs. Expenses and medical care are covered by The Pet Cottage. Presently, 31 dogs and 11 cats are under The Pet Cottage’s umbrella of care. Guardians provide loving homes and exceptional care for the rest of their lives, for whatever time that may be.

Wendy called. “We have a home for them together!” I asked her to repeat herself. Was I hearing her correctly??? Happy tears flowed. This family’s previous two lumbering old labs had gone to the rainbow bridge within three months of each other. A friend gifted them a diptych of yellow and black labs, looking out a window to the water.

Five days later was the most difficult surrender I have ever done.

These dogs are cherished by and attached to their owner. This accompanied them:

To my dogs’ new family, I am deeply grateful for your kindness and generosity. Loyal, loving and compassionate friends, Carl and Evie love people of all ages, soft music, chew bones and canned pumpkin. He is the gentlest of souls. As big (and old) as he is, he thinks he is a small lap dog. He LOVES balls. Any kind. He loves water, will swim for hours, but may be a little stiff the next day. She is a sweet, shy lady. It takes a little time for her to warm up to new people. She is afraid of loud noises, loves to be outside, but is not fond of water or baths. They rarely bark. Enjoy them, as they are true blessings.

They are the best dogs you will ever have. Thank you for welcoming them into your home and hearts.

Loaded in my small car with their belongings, we proceeded to their new home. The family met us outside and were overcome with joy. After a quick bathroom break, we reloaded them and were off to The Pet Cottage’s vet.

Aside from hookworms and needing to lose weight, their bill of health was clean. We got back to the house, where the young granddaughter wanted to go for a swim. Carl was more than obliged to accompany her, as Evie checked out the huge fenced yard.

The following week, I heard from Wendy: Their new family says they are indeed – the best dogs they have ever had. Smart, loving, well trained, gentle and sweet. Win, win, win!

It seems like that little painting of two dogs had manifested; creating healing, happiness and a safe haven for two ole lab mixes: a sweet yellow girl and a water-loving black fella.

To assist/volunteer/learn more about The Pet Cottage, a Florida 501(c)(3), please visit

*  names altered to protect privacy 


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