Saturday, November 30, 2013



All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice.

Over the many years I have been blest with wonderful pets, when their time to go to Rainbow arrived, it would have been so much kinder for us all to do it at home with hospice care.  RIP to all our precious ones on the other side of life.  Dr. RubyNorma Yanez, CH.t

J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times
Dr. Mary Gardner, a veterinarian, co-founded an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service called Lap of Love.

Published: November 30, 2013  

More and more, cats and dogs get the human treatment. There are pet spas, pet therapists, pet clothes. And as it goes in life, so it now goes in the twilight. The latest phenomenon: pet hospice.

Daniel Rosenbaum for The New York Times
Denise Fitzmaurice, right, brought her 4-year-old dog, Sophie, to Dr. Michele Price’s mobile veterinary clinic for an examination.

Around the country, a growing number of veterinarians are offering hospice care, and marketing it as a way to give cats and dogs — and their owners — a less anxious, more comfortable passing.
The approach, in the spirit of the human variety, entails ceasing aggressive medical treatment and giving pain and even anti-anxiety drugs. Unlike in hospice care for humans, euthanasia is an option — and in fact, is a big part of this end-of-life turn. When it’s time, the vet performs it in the living room, bedroom or wherever the family feels comfortable.
That’s a big part of the job, the vets say, relieving pet owner guilt, giving them an emotional bridge to a pet’s death, and letting them grieve at home — rather than in a clinic or animal shelter. The intimacy carries a premium, sometimes costing 25 percent or more than euthanasia in a clinic. Vets, and their customers, say it can be worth it.
“They’re in their own environment, not only the pet but the owners,” said Dr. Mary Gardner, co-founder of Lap of Love, a Florida-based company that is one of the leaders in a small but growing market. “They’re allowed to have other animals present, other cats or dogs present, other children,” added Dr. Gardner, who refers to a pet’s owner as its “mom” or “dad,” and has since relocated her own practice to Los Angeles. “I’ve been to some homes where they had barbecues for that dog, and invited me and the neighbors, and the dog was the man of the hour.”
Lap of Love’s business has blossomed since 2010 from two providers to more than 68 vet partners in 18 states. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, a group started in 2009, now has 200 members, mostly vets, but also several family therapists, lawyers and an animal sanctuary in Northern California that takes in and provides holistic healing and hospice for terminally ill and elderly pets.
“There is a formal end-of-life movement, a formal hospice movement,” said Dr. Eden Myers, a veterinarian in Kentucky who runs, which tracks industry trends. Of the providers who do this, she said: “They’re everywhere.”
Dr. Amir Shanan, a vet in Chicago who started the International Association for Animal Hospice, described the movement as growing, but still not mainstream; veterinary schools are only now embracing the idea. “There are skeptics out there,” he said. “But 20 years ago, there was almost no one other than skeptics, and that’s changing rapidly.”
There are no formal standards for this hospice care, and Dr. Shanan said there was a debate about what those standards should look like. “The core of the debate is who is to decide when is the right time to euthanize, if at all,” he said, noting that some hospice supporters advocate giving pets palliative care until they die naturally, as in human hospice.
Hospice and in-home euthanasia are different things. Their growth is owing to similar factors, says Dr. Myers, including a growing acceptance of hospice for humans, as well as cellphones, laptops and online marketing that make mobile vet services easier to operate. Plus, she said, more vets offer the services as a business alternative to the high cost of starting and maintaining a traditional clinic.
“And,” she added, “you’ve got people willing to spend scads of money on their pets.”
For pet owners, the financial implications of this end-of-life movement cut two ways. In one light, hospice can be seen as reducing the cost of aggressive medical care, or it can be seen as its own version of aggressive comfort care, at least when compared to euthanizing a pet sooner.
A hospice or euthanasia visit from Lap of Love generally costs $200 or $250, including drugs. Euthanasia at a clinic typically runs less, though prices vary widely, and is even less at a nonprofit shelter, like a local animal shelter. Some pet owners say costs are irrelevant given the peace of mind — their own.
“It was more for me than him,” said Jan Dorr, a bookkeeper in Boca Raton, Fla., who was an early Lap of Love customer in 2010. She’d spent $5,000 on chemotherapy for her chocolate lab, Darby, but the dog’s health continued to fail. When she heard about the idea of pet hospice, her reaction was positive; a year earlier, her own father died after a positive hospice experience. She called Dr. Gardner, who helped make Darby comfortable by increasing his pain medications, and giving Ms. Dorr a checklist of ways to recognize when it was time to let go, such as when Darby stopped eating, walking or interacting.
When Darby’s condition worsened just days later, the vet returned to perform euthanasia. Ms. Dorr lay down on her bed with Darby, hugging him. “She let me say when,” Ms. Dorr said, referring to the vet’s final injection. It was far preferable, she said, to the alternative: “I just couldn’t get it into my head to put him on a steel table in a cold room and let him go.”
Kathryn D. Marocchino, a professor of death and dying at California State University in Vallejo, who in 1996 founded the Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, said the end-of-life movement for pets addressed what she described as a “sense of coercion” faced by owners of sick pets forced to decide between aggressive treatment or euthanasia. She said that her group got calls from people thanking them, and saying things like: “Where were you 30 years ago? They made me kill my dog.”
Dr. Michele Price, a veterinarian in Northern Virginia whose in-home end-of-care business has doubled since 2009 to 20 percent of her practice, got a call recently about an ailing Labrador named Champ. She’d first seen the dog in August when his owners thought it was time to euthanize. But when Dr. Price got to the house, Champ was doing O.K., and she and the family decided on hospice treatment and pain meds. Later, Champ took a sharp downward turn and couldn’t walk. Dr. Price returned and they set up for the euthanasia.
Champ was on a quilt next to the fireplace when Dr. Price administered the initial sedation. “They hugged him, and told him what a good dog he was. They said, ‘We love you’ and ‘We’ll miss you,’ ” Ms. Price said of the dog’s owners. As for Champ, “He fell asleep. That’s the last thing he remembered.”

Monday, November 25, 2013



Hi Mommy,
It's me again.  Today I used one of your pots for cooking some meat.  All of a sudden, it was like the olden days when you were alive and we celebrated family holidays together in New York.  :-)  Touching your pot today reminded me of how many times we used it to prepare for a family get together.  I washed it lovingly and then dried it on my kitchen rack to absorb the bright sunshine outside the window.  While staring at it, a sea of memories came vividly in front of my eyes.  How many times we laughed together, ate at someone's big family table, and left stuffed to the gills with the yummy food! We didn't always have parties at our house in Brooklyn. Sometimes it was in Bayside, and other times it was in Wantaugh, or Dix Hills, LI.  The cousins would be up to their sillyness.  The adults would discuss politics and the economy, or what future school one of us might attend.
This was so family, yet we all took it for granted. Not me.  Not anymore.  Now it is time to look back at it all. You and your three siblings are long gone.  The family has split apart living in many distant places.  And yet, missing you so, I still use your pots.  Thank you MOM, for all the love and loyalty.  After me, no one will really want your pots.  They will go to a Good Will so another family can enjoy the many years of energy they exude.  Here's to the parties, and all the pleasure they have given, and will continue to give.  My mother's pots will touch many in the future to come.  God Bless you MOMMY.

Friday, November 22, 2013



The journey we call life has been a long one for me.  "The They"  say people come into our lives for a reason and a season.   Some stay a while.  Others are around only ever so briefly.  Then there are those who remain a lifetime or less.   The profound and sometimes dramatic experiences we encounter have lasting results.  When my first husband died at a young age leaving our infant girl and me, I had a religious experience followed by uncountable paranormal events.  In a future blog I will give those details.  Today is simply about the journey we call "LIFE!"

I am happy to have attained the golden/rusty years! grins :-)  After many life-threatening illnesses, surgeries, accidents, and emotional traumas, I find myself just flowing now.  Most of my family is gone.  Those who are still alive are not in my world.  We have parted either by geographic distance or simply because we do not seem to gel.
There is no blame.  It is what it is.  I wish them well, and have no idea what they wish me.
The friends and spiritually adopted souls who are current to my journey, and I in theirs, are a blessing..  Truly, you are my real family.  So are my pets.  Those who are in spirit visit often with love and amazing wisdoms to share.  Those who are still living in my care are cherished. I believe in life after life. The passing of our bodies is an energetic alteration I cannot verbally explain yet, but for some reason, it all makes sense to my soul wisdom.  Thank you for being part of my life and happiness.

Many years ago on a day that would have been my mother's birthday, I wrote this briefly and so longingly. Perhaps it will make you ponder your own journey?


Why is life so complicated?  Life has enough flaws as it is.
Am I also one of life's flaws?
Is being perfect part of life?
Make me an offer I can't refuse.
Show me how to simplify and get through....

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