The Story of Marian and Shadow

Marian is a woman we met through one of our long-time Home for Life® volunteers. She is a giving person who helped the mother of our volunteer for over five years through HER volunteer work with Family Means, located in Stillwater, MN.

After all her years of helping others, the time came when Marian needed help: her husband had passed away, and she had to sell her home prior to moving to assisted living. Marian was not able to take her long time companion, Shadow, a 14-year old Miniature Pinscher, with her. The two gentle, senior ladies were now alone in the world, and about to be separated from each other—and from all they had known.

The senior dog rescues Marian had contacted about Shadow were either unable to help or never called her back. But, in truth, Marian didn't want to send Shadow, her friend and comrade, to a shelter or rescue, where she might be offered for adoption (or not) and may find a home (or not) at her advanced age. Marion was concerned she'd lose track of Shadow, never to see her again and worse yet, not know what became of her loyal friend. The "not knowing" was what was so heart wrenching ...

When there's a need, Home For Life® Steps Up

How many animals like Shadow and the people who love them are invisible in our society—and in the animal rescue world as it currently operates—in need of help but unlikely to find it?

As a sanctuary, standing at the end of the funnel so to speak, we at Home for Life® know that very often, it is not the dogs and cats with the dramatic stories, traumatic backgrounds or disabilities who make for a sensational photo on social media - that need sanctuary. These animals are often skillfully marketed and compassionate people respond.

The assumption is that the " regular" animals like Shadow—good dogs without anything obviously "wrong" with them—will of course be able to find homes. But it is precisely these cats and dogs who are turning up in need of help from Home for Life®, and not only the pets but the people like Marian who love them.

What happens to the pets of people like Marian, who cannot find help with shelters or animal rescues focused on adoption? What do you think happens to dogs and cats who have reached their expiration date, who have been recycled thru rescue, been "rehabilitated" yet lose their home, their appeal, and are rejected from organizations and shelters focused on adoption?

Turned in to animal controls or shelters for euthanasia or quietly put down in veterinarian offices, these "regular" animals are invisible to animal welfare and are not finding help with animal rescues and shelters as they currently exist.

Helping Shadow, Helping Marian

Shadow needed a place to go, and Marian was eager to have her come to Home for Life®. Marian knew that here, she'd be able to continue visiting her long-time companion.

These are the type of situations that inspire us to raise donations. Marian doesn't have extra funds and needed our help to make sure Shadow would be safe and cared for. She wanted peace of mind as she moved to the next phase of her life.

Early this spring, Cathy, our Home for Life® volunteer brought Marian and Shadow out to the sanctuary so Marian could see where Shadow might live. The visit went really well, especially considering that Shadow had been an "only dog" during her years with Marian. After she said her goodbyes to Shadow, and entrusted us with her precious dog, Marian sent us this email: "I was amazed how well Shadow adapted, how alert and happy she was outside with her new playmates. She just needed to be among her own kind at this stage of her life. Thank goodness for Home for Life! Thank YOU for accepting my Shadow!"

It is not always obvious that animal sanctuaries can help people as often as the animals we care for and shelter. As a care for life sanctuary, our animals are home for life, and this consistency and stability also provides peace of mind and reassurance to former owners who know where their beloved family members are.

Often, people like Marian are forced to surrender their dogs and cats. Money issues, failing health, death of a spouse, a move to a safer setting where the pet may not be able to join them are all circumstances that may result in a person having to surrender a beloved pet. In these situations, sanctuaries like Home for Life can play a unique and vital role in helping to preserve the animal-human bond, even when a dog or cat can no longer stay in their home.

Home for Life® provides a bridge between owners and their Pets.

Since 1997, when Home for Life® was founded, we have cared for retired police K9s, retired seeing eye dogs, and the much-loved pets of people struggling with serious health challenges, or moves to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. In all these cases, Home for Life® has been able to provide an ongoing link that has preserved the relationship between these beloved working animals and pets and their guardians who have the opportunity to visit regularly therefore, preserving this precious bond.

Care for life sanctuaries are in a unique position—like none other in animal welfare—to maintain the bonds between animals and their owners. Sanctuary saves lives, not only of the animals we help, but also the people who love them.

Home for Life® was created to help at risk cats and dogs through responsive, cost effective and replicable model programs which are designed to react swiftly to the ever-changing landscape of unwanted animals who cannot find help through conventional solutions offered by animal shelters and rescues. Home for Life® has given little Shadow a new home with new experiences: for the first time in her life she has dog friends, and her new social life seems to keep her on her toes!

Shadow previously lived alone as an only dog, and although she loved Marian, perhaps she was a bit lonely. The other Home for Life® dogs, her new friends, keep her young and active, and keep her mind stimulated. Fun in our fenced meadows and grooming sessions are part of her regular routine. Shadow loves to be outside in all seasons and the freedom of going outdoors any time she wants through a dog door.

Shadow's story illustrates that sanctuaries have an important role to play in preserving the human-animal bond. The peace of mind Marian has knowing Shadow is safe and loved have helped them both transition to a new phase of their lives with honor and grace.

Sanctuary Saves Lives

As so many animals like Shadow seem invisible in animal rescue, so are their human counterparts in our society. These are the very people Home for Life® strives to reach out to through our innovative community outreach programs known as Peace Creatures®. So many vulnerable people of our communities—the impoverished elderly in Medicaid funded nursing homes, the incarcerated, children and families affected by domestic violence, hospitalized children and injured veterans undergoing long term treatment for chronic and serous medical conditions, and those suffering from mental illness—are forgotten by our society. They are populations who could most benefit from the solace and joy provided by pet therapy yet don't often receive this service. It is these gaps that Home for Life® strives to fill in through our community service work provided by the Peace Creatures® programs. That is the job of Home for Life®—to reach those that are forgotten and overlooked but who are so deserving of help, whether they are dogs and cats or people.

Save A Life Today

Whether restoring the faith of a humble elderly woman who gave all her life and now needed help for her beloved elderly dog at a time of difficult transition, or impacting the vulnerable through our pet therapy programs which reach over 5000 at risk children and adults in our community, your gift today will help us make a difference.

With your help, it will be possible for us to reach out to people like Marian at critical times of their life, and as we hope to relieve the profound isolation of their lives, demonstrate the power of connection and compassion and restore their sense of worth and well being!.

There's never been a better time to be part of creating a new alternative for special animals like Shadow and for the people who love them like Marian!


We lost Shadow just before completing this post, due to a combination of heart and kidney failure. She was almost 15! She was in great health until just a week or so before she passed - a good long life, and died peacefully, on her own, with our staff and her friends around her.

We thought of pulling this story about Marian and her Shadow after Shadow passed away, but then decided to go ahead with publishing it , because the post is a tribute to her, and to them both and the loving bond they had, and the small role Home for Life® played in their journey.

Rest in peace sweet Shadow - we hope your story will inspire people to help us make it possible for Home for Life to reach out more dogs and cats like you who need our help.