What will happen to your dog when you die? Dogs Trust reveals many don't know.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

For those unfamiliar with the tale of Greyfriars Bobby, grab a hanky now.

This endearing wee Skye Terrier became known in nineteenth century Edinburgh for his relentless devotion to his late master, John Gray.

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Following the death of the night watchman, aka ‘Auld Jock’, Bobby reportedly guarded his grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years, leaving only for food.

If ever a story embodied the unflinching fidelity of “man’s best friend” it is this one.

The kind folk of Edinburgh looked out for Bobby long after his owner had passed away but what would happen today?

According to research from Dogs Trust, more than half of UK dog owners have not made any plans about who would take over ownership of their pooch if the worst were to happen.

We are a country of dog lovers and yet the charity’s findings suggest owners could be putting their pets in a vulnerable position by not making provisions for their care should they fall seriously ill or pass away.

Almost a third of the 1,126 dog owners surveyed admitted that they have not even thought about what would happen in such a scenario.

And the alarming findings reveal a lack of clarity and communication with others about the future of many dogs in the event of losing their owner.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents said that while they think they have a friend or family member who would take over ownership of the dog, they have not discussed it with them.

And worryingly, six per cent said they do not have anyone who would be able to help – a cause for concern for the UK’s largest dog welfare charity.

“Recent world events have shown that we never know what is around the corner and that life can be unpredictable,” said Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust chief executive.

“As a nation of dog lovers, we know the little quirks that make our dogs unique and I for one enjoy having the peace of mind that if the time ever comes when I can’t be with my dog, Dogs Trust is the next best place for her to be and they will never put a healthy dog down.”

Demand for dogs has been at an all-time high during the pandemic, with huge increases in puppy prices.

According to Dogs Trust, at the start of January this year, there were more than 1,000 adverts for dogs on three of the largest classified websites - a 59 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2020.

Last year the charity also received a 62 per cent increase in the number of enquiries for dogs, compared to the previous year.

Dogs Trust is urging people to sign up to its free Canine Care Card Service, to ensure their dog can be cared for by the charity at one of its rehoming centres, should they become too ill to be able to keep them or pass away.

The charity is encouraging owners to appoint a ‘dog guardian’ - this could be a family member, friend or even a neighbour or vet - who agrees to take care of your dog and sign over your pet to Dogs Trust in the interim should you no longer be able to.

It also recommends that people update their will to include their Canine Care Card information and that they notify friends and family of their wishes.

“We want to normalise making plans for the care of your dog should the worst happen, so that dog owners can rest assured that their four-legged friend will be given the best possible care if they no longer can,” said Owen.

“We would urge dog owners to think about signing up to a free Canine Care Card, so that should the worst happen, Dogs Trust can take your dog in and make sure they are looked after as you would at home.”

For more information or to sign up for a Canine Care Card visit: http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/ccc

Charlie was found a second home thanks to Dogs Trust's Canine Care Card Service

It was a classic case of love at first sight when Sue and Brian Kerry first laid eyes on Charlie.

The crossbreed had arrived at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury on his fourteenth birthday after his owner had signed up for the Canine Care Card Service and could no longer care for him.

Sue and Brian were looking to welcome a dog into their life and Charlie stole their hearts.

“We just fell in love with his cute little face,” said Sue. “We have always had small dogs and when we saw him, we just hoped we were the family he was waiting for.

“He may be 14 but he is like a puppy. He loves playing ‘fetch’ and if you are gardening and create a hole, before you know it, he has dropped the ball in it. He is cheeky.

“He is a very happy dog and incredibly well behaved. You can tell he has been loved and looked after and he is really well trained too. He has so much character. If he wants a stroke he just comes over and nudges your hand and you can’t resist. He has really made himself at home and we can’t imagine life without him.”