Black dogs

Sanctuary angels

Sandra’s stories of the animals we saved and miss


Someone should be your number 1, and the lovely Nova was mine. I brought her home as a puppy without asking my parents when I was 16, since she would actually have been sold to an addict. She turned 15 years old and was for a long time my great inspiration to work with dogs. She showed me the way!

Memory: When she fell asleep and stopped breathing, she was gone for a few minutes, then she woke up and went to the kitchen and stole a cinnamon bun and ate it. Then she fell asleep for good. Some things you simply just want to have ticked off your “bucket list” before you die!


When I saw the picture of him appear in my social media feed, I thought it was a raw piece of meat I was looking at but it was Banko’s torn head. He was old, blind and deaf and had been subjected to a major attack in which half of his head was torn off. He had a great time here in safety.

Memory: Because he liked to be outside in all weather, he had to wear his “bathrobe” during cold seasons. He used to “sing songs” outside, as if he was shouting for the love of his life. He was a cute old man in a bathrobe who sang his songs!


Another real Black Dog – 6 years old, skinny, completely blind, with newly diagnosed diabetes, spondylosis and bad hips. She needed daily injections and many vet visits. Her life was far too short, but she lived well here, becoming a mischievous dog.

Memory: On our vet visits they took samples due to her diabetes, and we often had to wait for the results for a while. She always fell asleep on the examination table while I patted her. These were nice moments and it was comforting that she felt relaxed.


Birk was worn, old, lay on concrete and had no spark left in his eyes. He turned out to be around 13 years old and was diagnosed with cushings and was almost blind. He obviously got to be a sanctuary dog ​​and boy did he enjoy his last senior year here, when his old body finally got to lie on something soft, and be loved for a year.

Memory: He always barked angrily at close-ups of the protagonist of CSI – the man with red hair, when he saw him on TV, but rarely at anyone else. However, when he saw the Melodifestivalen (a Swedish song contest) and everyone was happy and sang, he used to sing along and wave his tail a lot and seemed very happy. He didn’t care too much about other shows though.


Tia was an older husky who was dumped by her heartless owners – they abandoned their 12-year-old dog without even shedding a tear. Confused and alone, she was taken to the sanctuary and really enjoyed life here. Never again abandoned, and always and forever loved by us. She was like a puppy until she got a cancerous tumor in her nose.

Memory: I have decorated with a large bed and cozy blankets under the stairs, and it is all the dogs’ favorite spot. First come first serve though – except when Bubben was still alive – he stepped straight into the little cottage and Tia was ready to mutter to the intruder, but then decided that it was cozy to have company. I often found the two of them in there, sleeping side by side.


When Totti came, it was said that he was eight years old. The idea was that he would get a home. But he showed serious self-harming behaviours and during a closer inspection of his back we saw that the spine was broken in one place. He was probably rather around 11 years old, and in such great pain that we could do no more than give him a few weeks of love and care.

Memory: Upon his arrival he loved eye contact and he could look straight into one’s eyes and just soak up love from people, even though they once did him so much harm (his injury was probably caused by human hand or foot). He was incredibly empathetic, kind and trusting towards everyone, despite everything he had been through in life.


Aila was our first Black Dog. Abandoned, and without her mother as a puppy, she became traumatized and developed severe PTSD. She was so scared that she did not dare move, and peed and pooped on the spot when she got scared. She was rehabilitated here and eventually became a happy dog ​​who handled the world well, lived with good dog friends and was loved and safe. She died from skin cancer.

Memory: Scared dogs want control and routines, which means that they are very firm in their behaviours linked to different situations. When we were about to jump into the car, she was so set on just that movement that I only had time to open the boot lid but not the dog cage, but that did not stop her – she jumped up and stood and balanced on the small edge and looked surprised. Each time, always just as surprised!

Gubben (Old man)

Gubben came here when his mother was murdered. Loyal, he lay by his dead mother’s side before he came out of there completely bloody. He came to the sanctuary at the age of 12, and it was as if he could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Burn marks from cigarettes and other things testified of his hard life. He only lived here for seven days before falling asleep quietly, surrounded by dogs and love.

Memory: Gubben was by no means a small boy, he was overweight and could barely stand up from laying down. The coat was dull and the skin was scarred, so I decided to cut it down a bit, to inspect the condition of the skin, and to cut off his past. When he was freshly cut, he felt so light and free that for the first time he jumped up on the sofa and fell asleep at my feet with a deep sigh.


Taini was never meant for us to save. She already had a home waiting for her which completely unlovingly changed their mind when she had already packed her bag. It was the third time she was abandoned when she was promised a loving family, so we couldn’t say no to her. We received her and she became everyone’s therapy dog ​​– a fantastic dog who died far too young.

Memory: Taini had fantastic body language and an even richer expression – she had full control over every muscle in her face and could easily show lots of different feelings and thoughts to other dogs and people. She would have become a fantastic actor and could’ve had her own book full of memes with her face (just look at the picture above – what do you think she’s trying to tell you?)


Bubben was completely blind, deaf and weak. He staggered and had bad teeth. He lived in the sanctuary for almost a year, where he managed to become stronger in body and more painless. He lived with kind dogs and was always warm and caring. He was about to move to his own family in his last senior year, but at the age of 12 he became too old for a new life.

Memory: Despite poor hearing and sight, he always had full control of where the cats were in the house. He must have had a fantastic nose – that sense was absolutely no cat-astrophy! He followed the cats wherever they went and if they jumped up on something he sat there and philosophized for a while.

Uncle Bjärven

I asked: Who needs me the most? And then he appeared. 12 years old, he had lived on the same concrete square all his life when he came to the sanctuary. He became like a new dog and managed for another four years, as an alert and grateful senior. He fell asleep just before his 16th birthday, when his epilepsy began to get worse and his body could no longer cope.

Memory: When Uncle had lived here for a while, he gradually became stronger and one day he could start running for the first time again. He looked incredibly happy, but of course he was a bit stiff – he looked mostly like a rocking horse and not a trotting horse when he galloped.

Modig (brave)

Of course, you can’t help black dogs without also being allowed to help black cats, who are just as unwanted. Through a collaboration with Växjö homeless cats, which we are often a foster home for, two rescued and neglected black cat brothers stayed here at the sanctuary. They had lived in the sanctuary with me and the dogs for five years, when Modig unfortunately died and left his brother.

Memory: When Modig had just moved here, I had a small dog that went straight to the frightened cats hiding under the bed, kissed them on the nose, and walked away. When new dogs came and Modig had become braver he did the same to them!

Captain Nemo

Nemo came from a tourist business in the north of Sweden where he worked hard. The younger dogs found new homes, but the senior Nemo was left, with a large tumor. He came here and met a veterinarian who said that it was too late to do a successful surgery but that he didn’t suffer from it. He got one year at the sanctuary until it was time for the good-natured captain to pass on.

Memory: Nemo had an incredible kindness and dignity, something that many huskies have, and he was a fantastic “father” to many young dogs and puppies who came to the rescue. He was patient, playful and careful, and gave so much security. A real father figure to scared little dogs.


There was something about her eyes in the pictures we saw. They were sort of empty and off, yet somehow appealing. We chose her to give her a nice home for the rest of her life, even though she was a senior. When she came here she was weak and unmuscled, as they often are if they have lived on concrete for several years. But it wasn’t only that – she was almost paralyzed in her back legs and it was heartbreaking to see her try to walk but fail. There was nothing we could do, so Sandra bought a cart and took her on her first forest walks in her life – cradled in a soft bed, she finally got to smell all the scents of the forest and she got to be loved and safe until her last breath in Sandra’s arms a few weeks later.


Amidst the deafening sound of 500 dogs barking at the Polish shelter, a nose came up to the fence, and as I crouch down I hear behind my back from the staff: “He’s 17 years old”. I’m not going to take any more dogs now, I answered, but I wished he could come with me. He really is a Black Dog – he shouldn’t have to live and die here on the concrete floor.

I went home but couldn’t stop thinking about his toothless mouth, the small lip that seemed to hang due to some trauma, the thin body and the eyes that said they wanted more: “Take me with you”. So I decided that he should come home. Quickly the old body became young again, and his mind like a puppy’s. He defied his age and gave his all to live his life to the max. He only got a few months here before he fell safely into sleep, but it was worth not having to watch him die alone on cold concrete.


We lost two of our older, rescued sheep within a year, and certainly it was not unexpected at their advanced age, but still painful. Like dogs, sheep have their own personalities and our loved sheep were real iron ladies. One was a little more shy and she didn’t have time to stay here for long before she fell asleep, while Moa was a real leader in the group and was very forward and cozy. She liked to be patted on the chin and was the first to get snacks. We humbly thank them for their mowing services at the sanctuary and are assured that they now share the eternal meadows and keep them open for our angel dogs.


Nana was Vigge’s sister and came from the same case in Norrland, where they had been alone in the forest for a month while the owner was in hospital and later died. Nana lost her mother and after a few weeks she lost her brother, and I knew I wanted to fight for her. But there was something not right about her either.

She came here incredibly hoarse and slurred, a bit as if she had been barking all this month. I waited for it to get better as she was good at recovering, resting, eating and relaxing. But the sound of her breathing never improved, and at our vet visit it turns out that she has a very severe tracheal collapse. So she doesn’t get enough air in her lungs because she has a collapsed part of her upper trachea that means she can’t get air. The vet asks if we shouldn’t just give the final shot wtraight away, because the suffering is immense to slowly suffocate to death. So she was put to sleep just a week after her brother, and in the midst of the pain and sadness, I realize that these dogs would never have ended up with me. They should have been cared for, treated or euthanized by their owner many, many months ago. It had gone too far and the dogs had suffered for a long time. Sometimes the nicest thing we can do for someone is to let them avoid suffering. Sleep in peace.


Over the years, we have rescued many huskies from Norrland. When we were tagged in a post on social media regarding two old husky siblings who lost their owner, we said yes without hesitating. With every second, a much worse story emerged. The owner had ended up in hospital and the dogs were left alone in a cabin in the forest. A neighbor threw in food sometimes but they were alone with the front door open for over a month. When we picked them up, the dogs were in bad condition. It turned out that they were 16 years old, and the male Vigge had difficulty standing and walking. We hoped that it was “only” due to that they had constantly run around in their solitude looking for food and were therefore worn out in their bodies.

We took Vigge straight to the vet, and apart from his age and probable osteoarthritis, we found a tumor the size of a grapefruit in his stomach. It pressed against many organs and therefore he had difficulty lying down and standing, and could not eat normally as his stomach was full of tumor. I had to make a decision to let his sister, who at first glance seemed healthier than him, adapt together with him and be safe with us, before he was unfortunately put to sleep after only a couple of weeks.


Tage was one of the most high-spirited dogs I met at the shelter in Poland where they were quarantined from Ukraine. He was both mischievous and fun-loving, but at the same time he had the smoothest look that looked into one’s inner self and screamed “choose me”. All said and done, Tage would come home with us after the quarantine period and he would have a home of his own, far away from the horrors of war, in safe Sweden. He came with a small wound and instructions on wound care. They had found that he’d had hernia surgery in his stomach with some kind of garden thread in the Ukraine, and when it got infected under the skin, everything was discovered and redone, and now only a small wound remained to testify to this. It didn’t matter because then we had time to take care of him and look for a good home while he healed.

One day I saw him standing in the kitchen completely motionless and strange and I saw that it was dripping under his stomach; something had broken. We went straight to the vet and it didn’t look advanced, they were going to wash and stitch it up. I hold him in my arms as he is sedated and he takes the deepest sigh and falls asleep. I leave the vet but get a call 5 minutes later. Tage was dead. He probably fell asleep in my arms and by the time they were going to operate he was already gone. I was in shock. It was explained to me that he probably had that infection in his stomach for so long during the war in Ukraine that it spread to his heart and lungs, so all this time, despite his bubbly personality, he was sicker than he appeared. I’m grateful that it was actually in my arms that he wandered on safely.


Gumman came here when her owner died. At the time, she was 12 years old and not really wanted on the “re-homing market”, but of course we said yes. She was a lively lady, but at first she was quite reserved and a little confused. She turned to Teijo and he became her rock, and finally she dared to come out of her shell. In the end, she was able to fool around a bit, and she was determined about which men were allowed to visit and which pillows were allowed to lie on the sofa. At the same time, she was the kindest soul we met.

We are incredibly grateful that we got to have her almost to her 15th birthday, she lived three years with us and was lively, happy and much loved by the herd and me, until a tumor in her bladder gave her an end date.

Little Mama

“This is a dog for you”. I got a picture from a friend who saw an old, shut down and thin dog standing motionless with its long claws and fragile, 13-year-old body in a concrete bunker. “Yes, it’s a Sandra dog,” I replied and decided to save her from there. When we discussed her rescue it was said that “the dog behind her is her son, and neither of them has dared to leave the kennel since they arrived so they haven’t felt grass under their paws for years”. We had no choice – if we save her, we will also take her son.

She came here and at her first veterinary examination we found the terminal cancer, which was already so aggressive that it had spread throughout the body. She did not come here for a long life in a sanctuary, but for palliative care at the end of life. We had to decide to give her a few weeks of pain relief, feeling safe and in care, while she got to see her son adapt and get the chance she never got; the possibility of a dignified life, loved in a home. She fell asleep after a couple of months with her son by her side. He lives on in her memory, and she fell asleep safe knowing that her beloved son was saved and given a chance.


When I asked who was the oldest and who had lived there the longest, they answered “Benny”. 14 years old, he had lived basically his whole life in a shelter, with minimal prospects of getting a home. Unfamiliar with the world, the warmth and soft beds, he quickly adapted to life at the sanctuary, maybe the quickest of all who have been here. To realize after 14 years that you can be loved and cared for and avoid suffering, avoid freezing, avoid dying alone, yes, it made all the difference and he is such a happy little senior now and is bursting with the joy of life.


When Benny was coming here, someone mentioned that he lived with a friend. The friend was also a senior, 12 years old and had also lived there for most of his life. It was impossible to say that one would get a better life and leave the other, so Björn also had to come to the sanctuary. He was a senior with such a friendly soul. His whole aura was shining with warmth and goodness, and even though he was a little more stressed by the move, it was as if he had lived here all his life. So grateful and so loving. His thin body testified to many years of hard struggle and pain, but when he got help with it, he became a new dog.

Donate in the memory of someone

We have rescued, loved and followed many dogs to their final rest. But first, they have experienced security, warmth, care and becoming the most beloved family members. Sometimes for the first time in their lives. We save the unwanted and the unloved, and many fates are poignant. Feel free to donate in a dog’s memory, so we can continue to save dogs like these!

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