Today I had the honor of supporting some dear friends through the palliated, but not hastened, dying process of their cat. She was the ultimate “tough girl” – a barn cat turned beloved family member, a creature who resisted medical interventions at every turn, at one time requiring 3 people to do the typically 1 person job of subcutaneous fluid administration. An elderly lady who ultimately succumbed to severe kidney failure and concurrent liver compromise, she was appropriately given a grave prognosis. Her caregivers were given the options of referral to a 24-hour care facility, or euthanasia – appropriate recommendations, given her condition. But when they responded: “We don’t feel comfortable with either of those. What are our other options?” the traditional paradigm of veterinary end-of-life care was challenged.Read More...
This week, I had the interesting experience of being told that vets have been doing this kind of work for eons, and that hospice & palliative care for pets is really nothing new. As an educator in this field, and passionate changemaker for end-of-life care for animals & their families, I found this comment really striking. IS hospice & palliative care anything new? Or is it, as was suggested, just something that the younger generation of veterinarians is now marketing? I would emphatically argue that it is, in fact, something quite distinct from our traditional veterinary care for aging & dying pets.Read More...
It’s hard to believe that spring is really upon us here in central NY. This season of rebirth is a natural reminder of the cycle of life…and death. Whole Animal has continued to extend its reach into communities near and far, providing special care for geriatric pets and their families. Looking forward into spring also reminds me to look back and see how far we have come. Here is a link to Whole Animal’s 2012 holiday letter, which was sent to the Whole Animal community when the snow was still flying. I am happy to share it with our online readers as well. Thanks to all of you who follow our activities on this blog, Facebook and Twitter. Together, we are changing the way animals age and die, and honoring our relationships with them through the process.Read More...
I am so moved by the tremendous response I have already received after the Community Pet Memorial Service today that I wanted to write this entry while the images of today are still fresh. What an afternoon! I had many hopes for this event, but the implementation is always in question until it happens. Creating something that has never been done before is exciting…and scary. But I suppose I should be used to this emotional juxtaposition after starting Whole Animal itself in 2010! Today’s event demonstrated that the time really has come to recognize the loss of our animals like that of any other family member, and also that there is strength in community when we do this together. My hope is that we will continue to be able to share our stories, and bring our “open, broken hearts” to the process. Thank you, Julie Interrante, for that powerful concept.
PHOTOS ARE UP! View them on our Facebook page here:Read More...
Griffy was Dr. Katherine Goldberg’s ’04 companion for years. The Bernese Mountain dog provided comfort and companionship on long walks in a field outside of her apartment, especially on days when she questioned the wisdom of pursuing veterinary medicine! And, he celebrated her successful completion of the program by walking with her at graduation.Read More...
I am continually humbled and amazed by the response to this work in our community, but a recent letter I received from a Whole Animal hospice family was particularly touching. The Boisvert family has graciously agreed to allow me to share it with you here. May it inspire you to seek the journey with your animals that is most meaningful for you. Where there are options, there is opportunity for growth. Much peace & warmth to everyone in the bitter cold of this week.
“We wanted to express our gratitude for your caring service. We decided to try you because of our poor experience in the past regarding aging pets, veterinarians and euthanasia. Your compassion, empathy, and professional expertise far surpassed our expectations. Gryphon was the best dog we ever had. You made his passing easier for him and us. We talked about what a great facilitator you are, how you are as much involved with the owners as the pets.
As we progress in our grieving process, we find ourselves humbled by our experience with your care. You are a terrific enhancement to our greater community.”
I am often asked how to help children cope with loss, and how they typically grieve for animals. I am constantly amazed by the tenderness, and maturity with which even very young children deal with this important life transition. Recently, I had the pleasure of helping a family with the passing of their beloved Marleydog. We had discussed memorializing animals as a meaningful way for children to cope with loss, and various ways to do that. I was so touched by an email that I received from them, that I wondered if I could share it, and they graciously agreed. THANK YOU, to the Edelman-Sapp family, for sharing this lovely story about their daughter Stella.
“I attached a picture of the framed artwork that our daughter Stella drew of Marleydog, and a picture of Stella kissing Marley while she was drying him off from a bath. I wanted to let you know that she is managing the news of Marley’s passing fairly well. I think she found comfort in spreading rose petals on his grave and seeing how we honored Marleydog through her artwork. I also made Marley’s tag that he wore into a necklace for Stella- she said that wearing it makes her feel close to Marley. What has probably been the most helpful for her in this transition is the idea that we now have a ‘spirit dog’. Will and I told her that any time she misses Marleydog she can just call him in her heart and he will be right there with her. She finds it very funny that Marley can now sit next to her desk at school and no one knows, and that unlike the living Marley, spirit-Marley can sleep in bed with her under the covers. She calls him often and we pet spirit-Marley and talk to him. The other morning after she put her backpack on she scooped her arms down to the floor and lifed them in front of her- she told me ‘spirit-Marley was a puppy right now so I am going to carry him to the car.’ She nuzzled her spirit-Marley puppy and I could tell her heart was peaceful in knowing that Marleydog was indeed with her. Thank you for all over your advice and insight around us helping Stella through this transition.”Read More...
Did you know that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time of year for families navigating veterinary care options and end-of-life decision making for beloved pets? It may be the first time families have been together in a while, enabling them to evaluate the well-being of a pet as a group. Family members who live a distance away may be coming home for the holidays, and end up saying goodbye to a beloved animal during their visit, knowing that they will not see them again. Families who have lost a pet within the past year may experience a resurgence of grief, remembering the deceased pet by their christmas stocking, or personalized ornament. If pets played particular roles in the family around the holidays – licking cookie batter from a bowl, attempting to climb the christmas tree, or burning the tip of a tail walking past a lit menorah, these memories can be painful (& sometimes joyous) to recall.
If you are facing difficult decisions about a beloved family pet this holiday season, you are not alone. Whole Animal is open throughout the holidays, providing support for families in our region, and beyond. To contact Whole Animal, call 607-273-2200 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More...
Did you know that on average, less than one hour is spent on end-of-life training in 4 years of veterinary school? Dr. Goldberg is committed to inspiring and training veterinary students in the areas of geriatrics, hospice & palliative care, euthanasia proficiency, end-of-life ethics, and pet loss support. When you support Whole Animal, you support this educational objective, and training of the next generation of compassionate end-of-life veterinary care providers. Dr. Goldberg recently presented an evening lecture to a group of veterinary students at Cornell, co-sponsored by three student activities groups.
Look at what they had to say:
“We just wanted to take a minute to say thank you for coming to talk to us in September about euthanasia. You were incredibly engaging and really gave us a great intro about what euthanasia is and should be. You offered a unique perspective abut the practical and ethical aspects of it and opened the door for some great discussion. Thank you for making us think.
–Small Animal Clinical Skills Club, AAHA, and Pet Loss Support”
Schwarz, a patient supporter at the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, says prolonging death can be a far worse fate. For many patients, good palliative or hospice care can alleviate suffering, yet “a small but significant proportion of dying patients suffer intolerably,” Schwarz writes.Read More...