For years, Kathleen Zuidema enjoyed her life in Friday Harbor, Washington, with her three dogs --- the "Aussie Posse" --- and they loved growing up in this town on San Juan Island.
Then Zuidema received life-changing news: she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her doctors recommended chemotherapy, although the cancer was terminal. There would be no cure.
Instead of thinking about herself, Zuidema thought about her three beloved dogs. She knew that she had to find a home that would take all three of them together, a tall order before she became too ill to care for them.
So Zuidema posted a plea on her Facebook page, asking for help from the community to find the right home for Autumn Moon, Moka Luka, and young Finnegan.
"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."
What Zuidema feared the most was that she wouldn't be able to find someone willing to take all three dogs together. Zuidema wrote, "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 l can bear. They have always been together."
Zuidema's plea went viral and was shared over 30,000 times. She was overwhelmed with gratitude at the outpouring of support both from her community and from people around the world.
Even better, Zuidema eventually found a loving couple willing to adopt all three dogs! Another San Juan Island resident named Danielle Cochran heard of Zuidema's wish. “I went straight over there and knocked on her door,” said Cochran.
Zuidema knew she had found the right home for her dogs once she saw them connect with Cochran, Cochran's husband, and the Cochrans' two dogs. “I feel really, really, really relieved and great about it,” Zuidema said. “But on the other hand it’s heartbreaking.”
The two younger dogs, Mona Luka and Finnegan, slowly transitioned to their new home with the Cochrans. Autumn Moon, the oldest of the three dogs, will stay with Zuidema until her time comes.
Reflecting on her life with her dogs, Zuidema noted, “I got everything I wanted, except for the dying part.”
Watch the video below and share the story of a dog owner who put her dogs' well-being ahead of her own with your family and friends on Facebook.