It is that time of year again, there is a crispness in the air as plans to join family and friends are being made to share in the joy and cheer of the holidays. For many, this is also a time of reflection on how quickly time is passing. The pitter-patter of a child can still be heard running through the house, but they now belong to our grandchildren rather than our children.
The adorable puppy or kitten received as a holiday gift with the exclamation of it being “The best gift EVER!”, has transformed into a grey-faced furry family member who seems to sleep the days away, exerting great effort to get their aged legs under them to make a slow walk around the yard or neighborhood. This reality can be heartbreaking and often seen more clearly during the holiday season. Perhaps this clarity is because of what seems to be an inevitable time of reflection or maybe because of the extended time being spent at home preparing for the season. Whatever the reason may be, while the holidays bring much joy, they also bring more pet euthanasias than any other time of year.
Many people in our society view pets as members of the family and as an intricate part of their lives. These animals hold a special place in the hearts of those who have been graced by their presence. So many memories – both the joyous occasions as well as the trials and tribulations, include animal family members. Pets provide comfort and support by their mere presence. While they do not speak in words, they certainly speak through their unconditional love and devotion.
For some owners, once it is recognized that the family pet has reached a point where quality of life begins to be questioned and end of life decisions begin to be contemplated, there is a desire to find a time that allows for the whole family to be present. This wish is usually in an effort to provide an opportunity for the family to have the ability to say their goodbyes, for all to come to a place where there is a sense of peace with their end-of-life decisions for their furry family member, and also to be present when it comes time to humanely euthanize the pet should that be the choice. Oftentimes, this coincides with the arrival of friends and family who are gathering together to celebrate the holidays.
The awareness that our beloved pets are sick, in chronic pain, isolating themselves, having fewer “good days”, or overall not the happy and healthy pet they once were, can elicit a variety of emotions. There is often a sense of guilt, anger, denial, and extreme sadness or depression, all the while wanting the pet to “hold on” a little while longer until everyone in the family can be present to say their good-byes. Last Wishes has the ability to assist when pets are faced with a life-limiting illness and safe, caring, intimate end-of-life care is needed. In the comfort of a familiar environment, Last Wishes can aid in controlling pain, providing physical comfort and other palliative treatment once the regular veterinarian has been consulted and all other treatments have been carefully considered. In an effort to allow time for goodbyes, planning of the final moments, and death of a beloved pet, Last Wishes can provide hospice care to meet the physical and mental needs of the animal with an incurable disease as well as those at the natural end of life.
Most importantly, Last Wishes will assist in assuring every family has the tools needed to assess their pet’s quality of life as well as their level of pain. These tools include Quality of Life Hospice Journals and Pain Score scales which can act as objective guides to help the family stay focused on preventing suffering and ensuring it is fair to the pet to wait for the family to arrive. Regardless of the desire to have everyone present to say their good-byes, should it be determined it is not in the best interest of the pet to wait any longer, Last Wishes can help make it as stress-free and pain-free as possible. As difficult it can be for some to not be able to be present during the final moments, family consults and end-of-life transitions in the home via Skype is available if desired.
Not only is it important to meet the physical and emotional needs of the pet, but also those of the family. Last Wishes respects the requests of each individual family, and will help in whatever way possible to honor the bond and important role the pet represented in the family. The Last Wishes team is there to help through the entire process of saying farewell, including providing grief support, information on private counseling, support groups, and other pet loss resources.
So as you look at the tiny puppy or kitten of your mind’s eye that appears to have aged into a senior pet overnight, should you find the decision made that the final weeks, days or hours are upon you, know that Last Wishes In-Home Pet Hospice and Euthanasia is here to help. With an understanding that the holidays can serve as a time for joy and happiness, it may also be difficult in that it can act as an opportunity to have family and friends join together to say goodbye to an animal family member.