Buyer beware: Animal Hospice or Hoax
I recall that first family that brought me to the understanding that what we were doing was animal hospice. I remember the hours spent scouring the internet, calling strange veterinarians on the phone. I was looking for a sympathetic ear, a peer to encourage, mentor or otherwise be a resource for me as I tried so desperately to support this family.
Thankfully, this dog, Bella was not in pain. She still needed creative care as we supported her to live 5 years past the veterinarians suggested euthanasia. She didn’t just live, she really loved in those days. That girl and her person had their best times in that phase of her life. Her veterinarian was willing to support them on this journey – as she wasn’t in pain, he just didn’t know how.
Bless them for knowing that I didn’t know how either. Some true, basic nursing and common sense modifications for her home area and routine were all this girl really needed. I spent hours with her. When she was sleeping, I would read. I read about pain management and how to identify pain. I read about dying naturally and what that could look like. I read about the spiritual side of transitioning, the stories of human hospice workers and oncology nurses. Every waking thought was about how to support this family, what might come next and how to make sure Bella stayed comfortable and what to do if she didn’t.
As I look around today and see veterinarians, technicians, pet sitters, dog walkers, groomers and many others entering the animal hospice arena, I am cautiously optimistic. On one hand, I am thrilled. Together we can really love and support families when hospice is indicated. What a brave and beautiful army. The caution comes from the dark side of any monetized industry. Pet parents beware. Yes, please seek help with your animal hospice support. This can’t, shouldn’t, and doesn’t have to be done alone.
Due diligence is especially important as some try to jump on the buzz words and bandwagons to make a quick buck. Ask questions. Ask for references. Get specific stories. Years of experience is a great help, but how can we check those that have the right heart and intention that are new?
Help us create a great list of questions for people to screen their hospice support team. What would you ask to determine if someone is qualified to help you with your cat or dog?
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