**Update: March 24, 2016**
After posting a now-viral plea on Facebook to find a home for her three dogs, Kathleen Zuidema has received well wishes and offers from all around the world.
What has been and will always be the hardest decision she has to make is finally settled, as Kathleen has found the perfect adopters for her “Aussie Posse.”
Danielle Cochran, a neighbor near Zuidema’s home on San Juan Island, heard the brave woman’s story and knocked on her door. Cochran tells Q13 FOX about what happened next:
She just had this hopeful look… and I just sad down right next to her, and I said I know your whole story, I’ve seen you over the years with these dogs, I know they’re good dogs, I have the room, and I want to adopt them. And her jaw just dropped.
Cochran is a rescue advocate with two dogs of her own. When the pups and their families met, everyone hit it off perfectly. Says Zuidema, “I feel really, really, really relieved and great about it. But on the other hand it’s heartbreaking.”
The two younger pups (Mona and Finnegan) will begin to spend more and more time with Cochran, but the oldest dog, Autumn, will remain with Zuidema until the very end.
When she thanked me I just told her I was so glad I was able to do it. She doesn’t need that worry any longer.
The original Facebook post has been shared over 31,000 times. Zuidema’s fundraising page created to help ease the costs associated with her expensive medical care has also surpassed its goal by over $10,000. Her community gives her all their support, as do thousands around the globe, and she can rest a little easier knowing her pups have a happy future ahead.
Last September, Kathleen Zuidema of Friday Harbor, Washington was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. The doctors gave her six months to live without treatment, and one year with it.
Now almost six months later, she feels “amazingly well,” but is faced with an extremely difficult decision.
Zuidema reached out to the void that is Facebook to find a future home for “The Aussie Posse,” a.k.a. her three Australian Shepherd mixes. That would be 11-year-old Autumn Moon, 4-and a half-year-old Mona Luka, and her 4-year old brother Finnegan. She wrote:
This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. […] My heart is breaking and I’m sobbing as I write this. As alot of you know I have been fighting cancer for about a year and a half and things are now progressing to the point where I need to secure a home for the posse. They are a package deal. It is a huge thing to ask of one person but the thought of them being separated is more than I can bear.
As fellow dog lovers, we can at least try to understand the pain such a choice would bring. Zuidema has shared several videos and photos of the posse on her Facebook page. The pups are almost always running to their hearts’ content, playing ball, or hanging out with their canine friends.
There’s no doubt they are extremely well-trained, and “[a]t home they are perfect roommates[,] they sleep on my bed or one of theirs if they want.”
The pups must have a fenced-in yard so they can romp and run, and they must go together. Zuimeda also sincerely hopes their new family can be with them constantly—they’re used to the company.
“So it’s a lot,” she writes—no reason not to be blunt. At the mercy of cancer, she is trying to do what’s best for her best friends, and it’s their sure future that will help give her peace of mind.
“I survived the horrendous chemotherapy side effects and [i]t’s been a great summer in my garden with my Aussie posse,” she wrote on her GoFundMe page. “I’m determined to be here next summer because I’m not ready to give up yet.”
If you think you can offer a forever home for these three absolutely amazing dogs, please reach out to Kathleen on her Facebook page.