Susan Dickens doesn’t know how much time she has left to live, but she is sure of one thing. She needs to find a good home for her dogs, Cisco, Booda and Olive, before she dies.
Dickens, who lives in Regina, was diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer last year.
“Knowing this, I want to find a good home for my puppies.”
In reality, the puppies are all older dogs, 16, 15 and 13 years old. Dickens said he will feel at peace once he knows they will go to a loving home, instead of some type of cage or shelter.
He also wants the dogs to stay together.
Olive is an Australian Shepherd, Booda is a corgi mix, and Cisco is a border collie lab mix. Dickens said Cisco became especially fond of her after the death of her husband.
“I recently left and [Cisco] “I cried, I cried, I howled the whole time I was away, so whoever takes my dogs has to have a little patience, right, because they’re going to be sad,” she said.
“The only thing that matters is knowing that they are going to a beautiful place, and then I will feel a lot better.”
Sandra Archibald, executive director of New Hope Dog Rescue in Saskatoon, said the dogs deserve to live together for the rest of their lives, but it could take some time to find someone willing to take them in.
“Her world is her and each other. Separating them will be traumatic for everyone,” said Archibald, who also owns three dogs.
He said it’s important that dogs that grew up together or are bonded are rehomed together.
However, this comes with challenges.
Dogs are individuals and have their own personality quirks, behavioral challenges, and dietary and exercise needs. More dogs also means more money. In Dickens’s case, the dogs will also be in mourning and will have to adapt to the absence of their lifelong human companion.
“To find a home that is able and willing to take all of this into consideration, love them and continue to provide them with the best life as their current guardian desires, it will take someone with a really big heart and a very generous soul, and I really hope that that person is out there.”
Archibald said it is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable homes for dogs in need. New Hope Dog Rescue has been struggling to find homes for dogs of all ages and breeds, and people’s interest in adopting has seemingly plateaued.
The rescue organization has seen an unprecedented number of people surrender their dogs for many reasons, including health and financial issues.
“We see the need every day.”
Archibald is hopeful that more people will consider helping. If adoption is not an option, people can also consider opening their homes to provide foster care. The experience of raising a dog while waiting for it to find its forever home is comforting, inspiring and rewarding, she said.
As for Dickens and his dogs, his wish list for the person who takes them in is short and simple. He said the person must have a backyard (fenced, of course, because the dogs may try to run into their old home).
Beyond that, all he asks is for his new human companion to show him unconditional kindness and love.
“Lots of pets, a comfy couch, and patience.”