Leigh's Lost and Found: The special shelter that takes in senior dogs in their last days
In our Leigh's Lost and Found today, a unique shelter that offers a haven to some of the hardest to place rescue dogs.
Tucked away on some beautiful land in Hermitage, Missouri, the people behind Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary are doing some beautiful and important work.
"This is honey bear"
A parade of pups pours out of the Whispering Willows Dog Sanctuary every morning. Some move a little bit faster than the others and some just mosey along. Whatever speed, they all come with a story.
"Jake has lived a lifetime of pain."
Jake was beaten and left to starve to death.
Miss Annie was left behind in an apartment after her owner died.
"She was locked in a bathroom, terrified and anxious.".
And Faya lived on a chain her whole life and was abused.
"When she came she had sores all over her and was hairless on her back."
Now, they're all re-writing their final story here in Hermitage.
"I had never run a rescue before but I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing and I know my Dad would be so proud."
Valerie Reid opened Whispering Willows two years ago in honor of her father who passed away.
"So my dad passed away and he had a Doberman and we couldn't take her and it brought to mind, what happens to dogs in emergency situations when there's nobody for them? Especially senior dogs, they often get euthanized or they don't get adopted."
On this day, 21 of those at risk dogs, played, sniffed and got cuddles, secure in the knowledge they now have a loving home for the rest of their lives.
"They get here and within about three days they settle in and they learn the pack is safe and they're accepted."
"They live with us completely in her home. They're on the beds and the couches. They come and go out the doors during the day"
"The need for senior rescue is just huge so I just really wanted to help and get involved."
Rebecca Taylor does her part by running the page's social media. She was drawn here as she watched her own beloved dog Sebastian turn 12, slow down, and then ultimately pass away from cancer.
"Being able to come here and pet these dogs when I don't have my dog at home has been great. As soon as I walked in, they all just greeted me and I felt so much love."
The plan now is to expand Whispering Willows so even more dogs can live out their last days and spread that love.
"We were donated a 1700 square foot building, it was a classroom building. We've put in all new flooring. It will need all new plumbing, it will need an HVAC system. We're needing about ten to $12,000 to finish the project."
Until then, the daily routine continues.
They're up by at least 6 a.m., potty breaks, going outside. Barking at all times because they're happy and running. They just really live a retirement life."
And despite their age and many ailments, this is not a place of sadness.
"It may seem sad to people but what would really be said is if they had nowhere to go."
Valerie says, "It's my job to help them pass on through their life and to do it with the peace and love they deserve."
If you'd like to volunteer at or donate to Whispering Willows or just visit the shelter for a tour, click on the related link to their website.