Twilight Dogs Home
The Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs is no ordinary refuge. Nestled in the verdant countryside of the French Perigord Vert, this family home is an oasis of love and tranquillity where the old, sick, lame and unwanted come to spend their final years, months or days, with all that a dog needs to make him or her as well and as comfortable as possible. It’s about having the best of life to the very moment of crossing the Rainbow Bridge, ensuring that a dog’s last memory is of being loved.
When Mike and Leeanne Whitley left the rat race over fifteen years ago, seeking a quieter pace of life in France, little did they realise that they would find their true calling in life, tackling head-on the shocking reality of the life of an older dog. The couple brought with them their three golden retrievers, Abby, Kizzy and Teg, who were already in their teens. Over the years, the two older dogs passed on and they quickly realised that Teg was mourning the loss of her friends. So began the search for a new friend, an older dog, and the discovery that life for an old, abandoned dog in the many local refuges was not good. Older dogs tend to be overlooked for rehoming, and many suffer a premature end. What’s more, not all refuges have a policy of no euthanasia. There are also a large number of dogs who are simply abandoned when the cost of their medical treatment becomes too much, or when their elderly owner dies, or goes into a home, and the family don’t want to, or cannot take on the responsibility of their pet.
There was no shortage of suitable companions for Teg. Over the next few years, Mike and Leeanne took in a number of dogs, young and old, sick and mistreated. They settled on taking in older dogs, whose need was greatest, and the concept of a retirement home for dogs was born. The number of dogs gradually increased and eventually Twilight outgrew its semi-detached village house and it was time to move to the current base, an isolated, rural, detached house with large grounds for the dogs to run about and play. But this is no typical dog refuge. This is Mike and Leeanne’s family home, and all the dogs live inside, as members of a large doggy family. The house has been adapted to suit the needs of the dogs – in the Whitley household the dogs come first! There are ramps, sofas, beds, a washroom with special dog bath, quiet areas, warm log fires in winter, sunny decking and a lovely fenced two-and-a-half hectare field in which to run, bark, sniff or simply relax and enjoy the fresh air.
At any one time Twilight looks after, on average, thirty dogs. Illnesses and disabilities are cared for with first-class medical treatment, and every dog knows love right to the end. In the last nine years, Twilight has cared for around three hundred dogs. This fantastic work is completely voluntary and has taken over the lives of the couple, who are supported by a team of volunteers. No one who has ever visited Twilight can fail to be moved by the dogs’ stories and by the calm, loving kindness they all receive. Twilight’s philosophy is that no dog should die alone. Leeanne and Mike work selflessly to provide love, companionship, pain relief, medical care, good food and the freedom to be the doggie that every dog deserves to be, to every dog that passes through Twilight’s doors.
In Leeanne’s words: ‘We do what we do for the love of the dogs. Twilight is self-funding, and the support we receive means we can take in and save more old dogs, give them the quality of food and medical support they need, and most importantly provide the dignity and help they might need in their ageing or sick years, and even help them to pass across the Rainbow Bridge.’
Introducing the Twilight biography ‘Paws Before Bedtime – the story of Twilight the retirement home for dogs’ written by Liz Brown. A high quality professionally printed paperback of 260 pages, illustrated with over 200 colour photographs. It costs €15, or can be posted to any address in France for €20. 100% of the profits goes to the Twilight dogs.
Twilight needs your help – you can find out how to donate on their website. Or for a very quick and simple solution just use Paypal to send money directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, this way the Association are not charged any fees.
article published 2017