So You’ve Decided to Become a Grandparent...
by Gale Landingham

(eleventh article)

My early twenties included a devastating experience in parenthood. I was the single mother of a beautiful feline girl. An unexpected event forced me to look for a temporary home for her, but weeks of begging everyone I knew brought no placement for my beloved kitty. I eventually took her to the local shelter, and left in tears. This still haunts me. It was many years before I allowed another furry child into my life.

Fast forward: life stabilized, and a little human girl, Amanda, came along. She was 8 years old when we let her adopt Tigger. I knew, as this kitten’s grandma, I was committed to Tigger for her lifetime. I waited until I knew we could handle that commitment. We also had the opportunity to get “pre-adoption counseling,” a free service available through many organizations on

Just as we have a responsibility to help our human children and grandchildren during life-changing events, we have that same responsibility for our non-human family members. Young humans love their furry babies, but are not always able to live up to that lifetime commitment. In addition to the usual experiences of college, military service, work or allergic spouses and offspring, other things can happen in early adulthood – that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Tibet, for example.

I’ve heard many reasons why folks take four-footed family members to shelters, and sadly held my tongue as the majority of them sign euthanasia permission forms. I wonder if surrendering families are aware that more of these little people are going to be killed than adopted or rescued, or if anyone has told them about other options. In this column, I will explore some circumstances that lead to giving up animal companions, and some available options.

Lots of folks are at a loss when faced with unexpected expenses – vet bills, the need for a fenced yard, a surprise pet pregnancy. A number of generous humans want to help with these circumstances.

Foster care is an option for temporary life events. Cats and dogs are often given up because their parents are homeless, leaving for college or military service, and so on. Long-term foster care is an excellent option and is available through several organizations listed on

Working folks who feel they need to re-home their family members because they don’t have time to care for them, or because the babies bark or become destructive due to boredom or loneliness, have the option of inexpensive daycare. This is popular in Anchorage, and is developing in the Valley. For a reasonable expense, your feline or canine companion can spend a happy and active day, then come home ready to
cuddle and rest.

Behavioral difficulties are common – sometimes families adopt puppies or kittens without a clear understanding of how to successfully raise a wonderful family member, and are unable to cope with things like potty training, furniture chewing, barking, etc. Pre-adoption counseling is always recommended, and obedience training from any of several trainers in the Valley is very helpful. For a specific problem, the foster agencies listed on have experienced trainers who can provide guidance, often for free, as they want to help you keep your companion at home.. Emergency placement for a “problem child” can also be arranged.

Allergies or incompatibility with other family members are common reasons; in most of these cases, re-homing is probably the best idea. Free adoption services are available through many of the rescue groups on, giving your family member more time to find a home than is usually available at shelters.

For information about any of these options, call me at 841-0502 or email

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