Two years ago, I had to be transported to the hospital via ambulance, and I was admitted for two days. This was very unexpected. I collapsed in a dog training class due to severe dehydration.

Smudge was the only dog I had at that time, and the funny thing was that I had taken Smudge along to the class I was teaching on that night. I rarely did this. I remember how frantic Smudge was behind the gate as they carried me to the ambulance. My friend and owner of the facility immediately stepped in, taking Smudge home with her for the duration. Where he received the best of care, I might add. I was calling the poor woman a few times a day for updates. I was very relieved that Smudge adjusted so well while in her care. This was a major concern as he is so attached to me.

Another friend came and fed my cats until my return home. Thankfully, everything fell into place during this very stressful and unplanned event. Obviously, it is better if you have a plan in place should you become ill. I hope it never happens, but now, during the pandemic, there is a higher possibility that you might become too ill to care for your pets temporarily, or you may require hospitalization for more intensive treatment in combating this horrible virus.

Anyone with pets knows how important they are to their pet parents. They provide unconditional love, a host of health benefits, and often have a way of quickly becoming one of the most important relationships in a person’s life. If anything, those benefits can be more meaningful to seniors who often struggle with loneliness or inactivity. Which is why it is not surprising that 43% of seniors own pets.

And while no one ever wants to deal with being hospitalized, for those who have pets, the inconvenience is far compounded by worrying about your pet being safe and secure, getting the care they need while you are receiving essential medical treatment.
If you have family that can take on the care duties until you’re back home, then you probably have a plan in place should the need occur. Be sure to discuss this with family so your pet(s) care is clear and there are not questions. But if you don’t know what will happen to your pet if you find yourself facing a hospital stay, these options may help.


Local shelters

Local shelters and rescue organizations routinely have foster programs. While these programs usually have a primary focus on placing dogs looking for a home with foster families, that means they do have a roster of foster parents that are both trained to take care of pets and accustomed to giving them up after a short period of time.

Most shelters and rescue organizations are committed to keeping as many animals as possible in loving homes and saving them from the possibility of being needlessly surrendered to the shelter (especially since most shelters have more pets than they can handle as it is). If you reach out to them, there’s a good chance they’ll do what they can to help you find the best solution possible for your pet.

I had mentioned in my previous column about contacting our local SPCA with issues or questions that you may have. Situations continuously change during the pandemic. Since this occurrence is unprecedented, everyone continues to try to do the best they can with the knowledge they have. Please do not assume that there are specific services available to you. Call to explain your current situation, and receive advice on how to proceed.



In Europe, BorrowMyDoggy is a website devoted to helping bring together people who love dogs with people who have dogs. There are a lot of different forms that can take – people can use it just to find someone to walk or hang out with their dog during the day when they’re out, for example. Tapping into the community of people in the area that love dogs, you may be able to find someone who can help take on the care of your dog while you’re hospitalized. Great idea!

Think of people who you already know and who love your pet waiting in the wings when the time comes that you really need them. While most dog lovers are overall animal lovers, you may be able to find family/friends to love and care for your cats or fish as well.


Meals on Wheels pet support

The organization that’s already well loved for bringing meals to seniors now earns extra points for having a program dedicated to helping seniors keep their pets. Some Meals on Wheels programs offers grants to help cover a number of pet-related needs, including the cost of boarding expenses. If cost is part of the issue you have with keeping your dog while hospitalized, check with your local Meals on Wheels chapter to see if they can help.


Pet sitting sites

Nobody wants their pet to be stuck in a kennel for a long period of time while in the hospital. This might be okay for short stays, but it’s less than ideal for longer ones. Pet sitting sites can allow you to find someone who’s willing to watch your pet in their own home until you get out of the hospital.

While the sitters you find on these sites do charge money for their services, if the price seems too high for you to handle, you can explain the circumstances and see if they’re willing to offer a discount or payment plan. The sitters on these sites are animal lovers, so there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to find someone sympathetic who will work with you on the price.

Again, situations have changed during the pandemic, and you must inquire what services are available to you during this time.


Turn to your neighbors

There are websites devoted to bringing neighbors together to help each other out. NextDoor connects you directly with the people living in your neighborhood. You can post an update about your situation to see if there are any pet lovers nearby who are willing to help you out for a while. Ask for references.

Some cities also have local organizations devoted to helping find care for pets when pet caregivers are hospitalized, so do some Google searches to see what’s available in your area. Reach out when you need help. We are in this together. Be strong and informed. Being prepared will eliminate this stressor should an unexpected emergency occur. Stay safe and stay home. Be creative, be productive, and be positive.


Monty’s doing well

For those readers who have inquired about my sick kitty, Monty, he continues to be stable: eating and playing! His remission has been nothing short of a miracle, as Monty was at death’s door coming out the other side. I never thought I would have him for Christmas. I count my blessings each day!

Dog bless.

Resource: Kristen Hicks/