We generally assume that we will outlive our dogs. In most cases, that’s true. But are you prepared in the event you and your family are gone and your dog is left behind?

In some cases, we know it’s likely to happen. An elderly parent has a young dog who will most likely outlive her. An elderly friend can no longer care for himself or his dog and must be moved into a care facility that does not allow pets. In other cases, it’s an unexpected event. A family is tragically killed in a car accident and their dog is left home alone.

Whether it’s something we know is coming or something entirely unexpected, you should still plan for the event that your dog outlives your family. It’s not something we like to think about, but many dogs end up in shelters or euthanized because no one wants to deal with the dog while dealing with the death of a family member or friend.

Rather than leaving things up to chance, plan ahead and have a detailed plan in place so that your dog will be cared for in the event you are unable to do so. Make sure one or more people know and have a written copy of your plan. Make it a part of your formal will and estate planning. If you can, set aside money for your dog’s care, at least temporarily.

In some cases, this will mean a family member or friend agrees to care for your dog. In other cases, it might mean your dog is returned to the rescue group or breeder from which you originally obtained the dog so they can find a suitable new home. Or you might make other arrangements.

Regardless of what your plan is, it’s important to have one so people know what to do with your dog if you are no longer there and your dog has a place to go so he doesn’t get lost in the chaos if you are gone.

It might be morbid to think about it, but your dog will thank you should the unthinkable happen.