For Your Pet’s Sake…Hope For the Best, But Plan For The Worst

Many of our residents are owner surrenders. We take in shelter dogs, but since we run full most of the time, we have to “wait list” dogs and it’s hard to anticipate when a spot will open due to adoption or, more often here at Mureille’s Place, when a dog passes away. Shelters sometimes wait for us, but not usually. Space and time are at a premium.

A fair amount of the dogs we take in are from the family of owner’s who passed and didn’t have a plan in place for their dog. We kind of can’t blame them for not wanting to take Aunt Lucy’s incontinent and blind 15 yr old poodle. Not everyone is going to see it as an honor to care for your pet. Of course we think senior dogs are wonderful, but we know they can be alot of work. If you travel or have a demanding job, it can be a burden to care for them properly… especially if a senior is dropped into your life unexpectedly.

This is why we urge all pet owners, no matter what age you are or what age your pet is….Have a plan in place in case you die or become disabled unexpectedly. It is also a good idea to have some money set aside to help care for your pet. It might also help someone to agree to take your pet since it won’t be a financial burden. If you need help planning, we can certainly assist you and/or answer any questions you might have.

You can hope it never happens to you, and 9 times out of 10 it won’t, but you will have peace of mind that if it does, you were prepared. Your pets will thank you. So will your cousin Bob. He’s really more of a bird kind of guy. Dog Bless….Barbara



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Dog bless Niko the German Shepherd

4-22-17 — I lost another piece of my heart today. It flew away on the wings of the soul of our beloved Niko. His appetite plummeted the past few days and last night he couldn’t stand or walk. His dignity was now compromised and that is always a leading factor in knowing when it’s time to let a dog go.

Niko was diagnosed with Lupus and we have been battling it for quite some time now and for most of his almost 12 years of life he suffered from excruciating ear infections. His owners were afraid that their 2 yr old would be hurt by Niko accidentally because his ears were so sensitive. A little one that young doesn’t know any better. So that’s why he joined us almost 2 yrs ago. His ears bothered him for so much of his life. I know it wasn’t the best life he could have had, but while he was here, we did all we could to make him happy, comfortable and as healthy as we could get him.

Niko enjoyed wandering around in our big fenced in areas and LOVED his biscuits. He was the biggest German Shepherd I had ever seen in my life! Towards the end he would lay in the sun resting his old bones on the porch watching the rest of his pack Kono, Knight and Poojah putter around the yard while I or one of our volunteers kept him company. I will miss that one on one time we had but I know he’s in a far better place, running like the wind and no longer in pain. Dog bless, Niko. You were loved by many…most of all by me.

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Breakout at Mureille’s Place – 12 yr old Harley!!!!

Busy morning, as usual, here at Mureille’s Place, but today we had some extra excitement. We had a breakout!!! 12 yr old Harley the Beagle who came to us from a kill shelter in Kentucky.

Harley had been out front in his big fenced in play area sniffing around. Everyone else in his group was done and went back inside. He likes it outside and I indulge him and let him putter around out there all morning if he wants while I get everyone else taken care of.  He’s a typical Beagle and experiences life through his nose and we have plenty of rabbits that sneak in during the night. He loves following their scent and looking for them. He doesn’t find any. They’re long gone by morning and that keeps him busy and happy while I go about the routine. At the end, he comes back in and settles in for a nap with his pack. God bless him he just loves to hunt rabbits. Still not sure how he got out, but I will be going inch by inch on the fencing for his group this afternoon to make sure it doesn’t happen again! So here’s the story……

We have a strict routine here. Everyone goes out in groups and they potty, then go back in to eat, then go back out for a potty and playtime. We do it in a certain order and it is the same every day, several times a day. It works for us and keeps things running smoothly. Well, I was at the “tail end” of the morning routine and had Buddy’s group out in the back yard. Ahhh!!! Last group then everyone can settle in for the morning nap.
All was going well when I happened to catch the sound of a dog barking off in the distance and thought “oh boy, someone’s dog is loose.” Then I listened a bit closer. Ya know that moment when all of a sudden you have to go to the bathroom like EMERGENCY and you freeze. You’re eyes pop out of your head and you’re like “Oh my God! I gotta go!!!!” THAT is the feeling that came over me when I realized that the barking dog was MINE!!!!Sorry to be graphic but it’s the only analogy I can come up with that is suitable for that moment! Puts you right there, doesn’t it?
So I go running for a leash. Buddy the shepherd starts barking at me as if to say “What the Heck is going on? Where’s the fire?” Angel is in the middle of pooping and he has to be watched in the yard so I had to wait for him to finish. I took that 10 seconds to beg him, in my head not aloud “oh please hurry Angel!” You can’t rush an old dog and if you try they only move slower! Ok, so he finished, I get him in house, hand him a biscuit, close the slider and go running like a wild woman.
Out the back gate, into the woods, through the forest, over the dirt road and into the field behind our property trying to home in on the barking. My legs and lungs are on fire and my heart is pounding out of my chest. I’m sooo NOT a runner! I’m going through sticker bushes, jumping over fallen trees, the gnats are in my face, probably getting covered in ticks and I am just SWEATING head to toe! It has been really humid here the past few days! I’m closing in on him. Sounds like he’s in one spot not running. Thank God!!!
I burst through a whole bunch of….brambles?..I don’t know what to call it….tall weeds and old dead sticker bushes and come up on him. A huge rabbit darts off to the right and makes a run for it into the field of high grass and here comes Harley up and over the rock wall in hot pursuit barking and baying like the hound he is! Tongue hanging, ears flapping, eyes sparkling and I swear he had the biggest smile on his face! I half tackle him and manage to get the leash on him and he is Hell bent on going after that rabbit. I take a look at him to see if he’s hurt or anything and he’s ok. I convince him that we gotta go. I promise a biscuit in exchange for his cooperation and we start heading back to the house winding our way through the brush.
OMG, that ordeal almost gave me a heart attack!!! Harley, on the other hand, had THE TIME OF HIS LIFE! He’ll be telling that story to the other dogs for YEARS!!! He had a big drink of water when we got back, a biscuit as promised, and then settled down in his bed. By now he’s probably on his fourth dream about chasing that rabbit!
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Update on Daisy the overweight Bassett Hound

6-10-16 — Daisy is doing great! She came to us weighing a whopping 67.7 lbs and has lost 22 lbs so far! She is so much happier with all that weight off of her! She even runs now! Ok, the running usually happens when I shake the biscuit jar but it’s still running. LOL! Daisy decided a few months ago that Buddy-George and Fred were not the group for her. I opened up the slider to go outside and she walked in and curled up on a dog bed and has been with Buddy’s pack ever since! She LOVES the big leather couch and really enjoys playing with Willy the Pekingese. What a joy she is!

Read Daisy’s Arrival Story



Daisy Loves snuggling into the heated throws during the winter.


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Dealing with the Losses. The Hardest Part of Senior Dog Rescue

The hardest part of being a part of Mureille’s Place, be it volunteer or supporter, is the inevitable heartbreak when one of our sweet seniors passes away. We do very few adoptions because of this very fact. It is hard when they pass and adopters realize this as well so we cherish the ones that are willing to put their heart on the line and open their home to one of our seniors. They are special people and rare.

With each senior dog we take in, we roll the dice on how long they will be here. That is why from day one we do all we can to make them happy and healthy and comfortable no matter what condition they arrive in. Our life’s work and mission is to make their final days their best days no matter how many days they have with us. Over and over we welcome them in and fall in love with them and it doesn’t take long for them to steal our hearts. And over and over we say goodbye. In the end, the most comforting thought for those of us left behind is that the dog wanted for nothing. We did all we could to ensure they left this world with their dignity intact knowing how loved they were and always will be.

People often ask me if I’ve gotten used to losing dogs and some think it doesn’t bother me anymore because I have been through it so many times. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Each and every dog that comes to us has a piece of my heart and our volunteer’s hearts. I cry just as hard now as I did when I lost my first senior Mureille many years ago. It never gets easier. If the day comes that a death doesn’t effect me, that it is the day I have to throw in the towel on senior rescue. I never want to become numb to this aspect of what we do here. Yes, it is the hardest part but in many ways it is the most important part. I am there at the end to hold a paw, stroke a head and be the last face they see before passing. When we have to put a dog down I try to smile and be as happy and calm and loving as I can be so they can pass without being stressed or distraught. There will be time to cry when it is over. My job is to help them go as peacefully as possible. I am there when their owner couldn’t be and I am honored to be there for them in that way.

In their memory, we hang a beautiful wind chime with their name written on it. We get them from Grace Note Chimes You’d be surprised how many times those chimes ring when there is no wind. I like to think it is them saying hi or letting me know they found their way to the Rainbow Bridge. It is comforting to me to hear the chimes and it always makes me smile.

Some days are harder than others and running a senior dog sanctuary is not for everyone but the heartache is worth it because I can look back and know that I gave them the very best life that I could….Dog bless, Barbara

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Tears of Joy for Maggie – A MUST read!!!

Maggie is a 9 yr old Lab mix that came into our rescue when her owner could no longer care for her. Barbara was in stage 4 cancer and on her 4th round of chemo and was hospitalized. Her friends and family searched for a rescue option for Maggie. Thankfully they found us. A sweet dog, she fit right in with her group which was Niko the German Shepherd and Kono and Knight “the homeless lady Nancy’s” dogs.

In December, right around Christmas, Barbara was feeling up to the trip and her son and daughter-in-law brought her out to see her beloved companion. What a great day that was. I smile when I recall it. She spent time with Maggie and gave her treats and loved on her. And with the help of a walker and my arm around her where the walker couldn’t go, she even managed to take a tour of the sanctuary and saw where Maggie was living and met the other residents. It gave her peace of mind that Maggie was safe and happy and loved. It was hard for her to leave. I could see that. I can’t imagine the battle that went on in her heart as she kissed her girl goodbye and had to leave.  I wished that Maggie could go back home with her, but it just wasn’t possible.

I had Maggie on our adopt-a-pet list, but had no serious inquiries on her. Such a sweet dog with no issues or illness or anything bad. It was hard to believe that no one was interested. Maybe there was a reason for that. I always believed that things happen the way they are going to happen. And for Maggie, it went the way it was supposed to. The way it was always going to go. I just wasn’t privy to the plan.

On April 1st I received an email. Someone was interested in Agnes the little 9 yr old Lab mix. I spoke to the gentleman and arranged for a meet and greet.  I really liked him even after just a phone conversation. I was hopeful. He had many Labs in his past and had just lost his 14 yr old Maxine and was ready for a new companion.

April 6th, Frank came to the Sanctuary. Agnes did great and he liked her but I said to him “I’d like you to meet Maggie as well.” I told him I just thought she would be a good fit. I brought her out, and Niko even snuck out, too. Hard to hold back 100+ lbs of German Shepherd. LOL! He liked her as well and we talked about both dogs and decided to try Maggie first and then if it wasn’t a good match we could try Agnes. They were both great dogs and would have transitioned to the new home just fine and been great company for him, but I just had this feeling about him and Maggie.

April 7th I packed up Maggie and we drove to Frank’s house for a home check etc. I talked to Maggie about her potential new owner and that I had a really good feeling about him. His vet had given him a glowing review and I was satisfied that it was a nice home with a beautiful and safe yard and best of all a person for Maggie who would adore her and care for her the way a senior deserves to be cared for. At Mureille’s Place we don’t sign off on adoptions right away. We do a trial run in a new home so that everyone is sure it’s a good match. We want to make sure the dog is happy and that the new family is happy. This way no one feels pressured or “stuck” with a dog. We have a lifetime return policy as well. If at any point for any reason, our seniors are always welcome to come back.

I left and got in the car. So I was feeling really good. Ok, I cried in the car a little. Sad for her to leave because I loved her, but happy for her because I thought I had found the very best home that I could possibly find for her. Through the tears I talked out loud. “I did it Barbara” I had found the person I had been waiting for. I guess technically he found me. Thank God! Thank Agnes, too!

The next day I was checking email and saw a donation confirmation with a message. The note as to why took my breath away. I scrolled further down and found what I was looking for. It was an email from Barbara’s son letting me know that his mother had passed away.

Barbara Smith died on April 6th, 2016 at home. The same day Frank came and met Maggie. Take that in for a minute……I got chills, too!

The timing of this just blew me away. It was like it was meant to be. I am not religious but I am spiritual. In my heart I know the moment Barbara left this world she flew on her angel wings as fast as she could to her beloved dog to check on her. I like to think she was there with Frank and me when I introduced Maggie and listened in as we talked about her and that she was with us at Frank’s house when we decided to start the trial run and could hear me when I said aloud “I did it Barbara”.

Maggie was with us for quite a few months and we forged a bond that will never be broken. As I do with all my senior adoptions, I will still be involved in her life and will visit her and Frank and always be waiting in the wings if she ever needs to come back.

When I said yes to Maggie joining us at Mureille’s Place, it wasn’t just until she found a home. It was a yes for the rest of her life. That’s how it works here. We get to honor the commitment that Barbara made to Maggie. I will make sure she is safe and happy and loved until her last day on Earth. That is my privilege. That is my part in the master plan for these sweet seniors and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Rest in Peace Barbara.  Much love and dog bless…..Barbara




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Sparki and Tiny – Together Forever

I wrote this post in October 2015 but did not post it and left it in the drafts. Partially because I was having so much difficulty dealing with the two losses so close, but also because Tiny was an owner surrender and I did not want her previous owner to find out that she had passed from a blog entry. I had misplaced her contact info and have recently found her and have spoken to her and feel I can now post this entry. Barb 8/2016

My friends, we recently lost two of our seniors and are heartbroken. Sparki, the 15 yr old chihuahua/fox terrier mix on 10/19/15 and Tiny the 14 yr old chihuahua on 10/27/15.

Sparki was only here a few months and Tiny was here a few years but the loss of each of them only a week apart, hit us very hard. Like I always say, it doesn’t take long for them to steal our hearts and the passing of a new arrival or long term resident is just as heartbreaking.

Sparki was pulled from a kill shelter in PA with only 10 minutes to spare. He was sick and old and the shelter was packed and he was going to be euthanized. A fellow rescuer named Bridget who has asked us before to help pull a senior, reached out to us and we said yes. Sparki arrived late that night with Gabby another fellow rescuer. It was a two hr drive from Philly up to us and he did great in the car. He was coughing and it was suspected that he was in congestive heart failure. A vet visit confirmed that. He had a stage 6 heart murmur as well which is really bad. Initially his breathing was awful and he had the cough that typically accompanies this disease. We got him on medicine and good food to get some weight on his skinny body and plenty of love and attention and he stabilized. He thrived actually.

One of our volunteers, Bill, was interested in adopting Sparki which would have been wonderful, but Sparki, true to his name, was very lively and chased Bill’s cat and we decided it was too stressful on the cat. Sparki was in a pack with Duke, Buddy, Snoopy, Chico, Tiny and Willy. He got along wonderfully with all of them from day one. He was my little lion and sat at the end of the bed and guarded me while I slept. He slept with me and a few others, every night and was my little snuggle buddy. Even with the coughing that came with his illness he was a true gentleman and always turned away from my face to cough or would step away. He loved the freedom here and had access to the yard all day and loved laying in the sun on the deck. He was my shadow. Everywhere I went, there he was.

His last day was such a great day for him. The weather was beautiful and he got to chase the feral cats (from our side of the fence) that roam around beyond our fencing and he got to sit in Bill’s lap for quite a bit of the afternoon. He had a great dinner with chicken on top. He ate every bit of it. I will always remember that day and be grateful that it was so wonderful for him…and me.


Tiny came to us as an owner surrender. She was just a little bit of a thing but she had the heart of a lion. Maybe that’s why her and Sparki were such a good match. They had a sort of love affair with each other. I always laughed because visitors like the cable guy and such would be a bit nervous about the bigger dogs here like Buddy the German Shepherd when the dog they should really be mindful of was Tiny. She was only 5 lbs but she’d grab a pant leg and bark at ya and she always joined the pack when any excitement was going on. She never hurt anyone. It was all just a cute display of personality. Oh we would chuckle. She was a little fire ball. She loved to be cuddled for hours. She would eat her meals standing in her bed. She would stretch her body to reach the food bowl without having to step off the bed. It was funny to watch. She had her own private potty pad in the bathroom and never had to ask to go out. She had a type of irritable bowl syndrome so this was great for her. She’d trot down to her bathroom 10 times a day. Tiny learned to howl years ago from Scooter the hound mix. She’d tilt her head up “coyote style” and belt out a howl with the pack! It was hysterical to me and anyone else who happened to be around and always made me smile. I will miss that. Glad I have it on video.  I am smiling now for the first time since her passing just thinking of her howl.

Oh, Tiny girl. You gave us so many good memories and put many a smile on many a face. I will never forget how you made me feel and I will miss the sound of your nails on the hardwood floors and the warmth of your tiny body snuggled up to me. Run free at the Bridge with Sparki and all the others who wait. I will see you all again some day. Until then, watch over us. All my love and dog bless, Barbara

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