Alice lie in her bed alone, except for the quiet mass of fur with soft, round eyes of coal lying along side her body. This was her support and companionship to shadow her last days. Jasper was never demanding, yet totally present and focused on her every move. Unconditional love at its finest – the beauty and lessons from our furry friends.
We saw this often with our hospice patients. Sometimes pets were an integral part of the patient’s emotional support team, and sometimes, the beloved pet was the sole emotional support team.
What was also happening was an incredible angst was developing as some patients came closer to dying. What would happen to their beloved pet? Would they be loved and cared for by other family members who with loving intention transitioned them into their households? Often the patient’s pets were older and the transitioning families were young and already had a household of pets. And then, the greatest fear of some patients was their beloved pet would end up at a shelter feeling completely abandoned by them, or even worse, end up in an abusive or neglectful household.
One day, Alice, with Jasper at her side, called us in unexpectedly and asked us to set up euthanasia for Jasper within minutes after she would pass away. Jasper was not ill, but Alice’s fear was overwhelming her. We tried to talk her out of it, as this lovely devoted friend still had many years of life in him. But in complete honesty, we could not guarantee Alice an outcome on her pet. A community veterinarian was contacted and agreed to hear her wishes. He came out of her room teary eyed, but understood her fears and that her decision was based on her love for Jasper. All the staff were feeling helpless to change the outcome, but our households were already brimming full with our own pets. What could we possibly offer Alice as a solution for Jasper?
From this angst, Safe Place for Pets was born. It would be a safe place for our patient’s beloved pets and would be established with resources from PPHPC and the community. As always, our pet friendly community said yes, how can we help? All Breed Rescue, Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region, Junior League of CS, and veterinarians from the community offered assistance in this new arena for us. A new non profit was establish with wonderful community support.
The rest is history, a glorious history. We never looked back, as this was now our new promise to our patients. We love your pets, as though they are our own. We will honor you, and your wishes, by promising you that we will follow through by placing your beloved pet in only the most loving, caring, life long homes. We have honored that promise made long ago, because of the outstanding individuals who volunteer their time with commitment and love, both for the wonderful pets and the patient’s who have come our way.
Footnote: Jasper was placed in a loving home and Alice passed away knowing this.