checks the heartbeat of a client’s cat.
Photo courtesy Lap of Love
By Arden Moore
The only downside I see in adopting dogs or cats is that their lifespans are far too short. Because they live, on average, only into their teens, I remind myself to embrace each day that I am fortunate to be with my senior dogs, Chipper and Cleo, and my young orange tabby, Casey.
Like many of you, I pray that they enjoy long, full lives and when the time is right, I will be able to say goodbye and give them a loving send-off. But often when a pet becomes gravely ill, we feel powerless. We struggle with whether or not to extend expensive medical care or to have the pet euthanized in a veterinary clinic. No matter what decision we make, we find ourselves second-guessing ourselves whether we made the right call at the right time for our four-legged companion.
Fortunately, there is a new ally to help us and our dying pets — pet hospice care. This veterinary medical specialty focuses on two missions: to provide comforting veterinary care for terminally ill or geriatric pets, and to address the emotional needs of pet parents and counsel them on what to expect.
A pair of veterinarians, Dr. Mary Gardner and Dr. Dani McVety, co-founded Lap of Love in 2010. This Florida-based company has grown to provide pet hospice care now in nearly two dozen states.
“The most important message I can tell people who have pets who are old or struggling with a medical condition is to not give up,” says Gardner. “All too often, I see pets for a euthanasia who would have greatly benefited from hospice care. There are many medications we can provide to our pets that can make their final months more enjoyable, most of which are not expensive.”
She adds, “Veterinary hospice provides pets comfort, pain relief, anxiety relief and the love they need during the final stage of their life. Hospice provides owners the tools to manage their pets not only medically and physically, but also emotionally. Most importantly, we help owners plan for the goodbye.”
of his remaining eye. Cabo (below) was euthanized in the presence of many friends.
Melissa Crowe of Boca Raton fell instantly in love the day she adopted an 8-week-old Lhasa Apso pup, Gizmo. When Gizmo was about 9, Crowe was bedridden with two broken legs from a motorcycle accident.
“Gizmo never left my side and when I was in a wheelchair, he rode in my lap,” she recalls. “That dog knew I was in pain and he was my angel. He knew his job was to be by side.”
Gizmo is now 14 and coping with arthritis and a very limited use of one eye (the other was surgically removed due to a detached retina condition). Crowe knows Gizmo is nearing the end of his life and heard about Lap of Love from a friend who used the pet hospice care services for her 19-year-old cat.
“Pet hospice care, to me, is a better option than just euthanizing in a veterinary clinic,” says Crowe. “This is huge for people who care about their pets. My grandma lived to be 102 and had hospice care. To me, I regard people in the hospice field as angels. They make something so difficult so much better.”
Danielle Angel agrees. This Boca Raton resident credits the Lap of Love hospice care for helping her through the recent passing of her Yorkshire terrier named Cabo.
“I went to adopt a Yorkie puppy from a breeder and before I entered her house, I heard cries and found Cabo in her trash can,” recalls Angel. “I confronted the breeder and she told me that that’s what you do with sick puppies. I rescued Cabo and took him immediately to a veterinary clinic. From day 1, we have had an amazing bond.”
According to Angel, Cabo was born with an intestinal malabsorption disorder and saw many specialists during his 11½ years. As his health faded, Angel took her brother’s advice and sought pet hospice care.
“I did not want Cabo to suffer and I wanted to be able to say goodbye to him in my own home where he felt safe,” she says.
Dr. Laura Allison of Lap of Love paid many visits to Cabo and Angel and performed the at-home euthanasia on Cabo, who was surrounded by friends.
“Dr. Laura was so loving and caring and we were able to have enough time for everyone to pay their respects to Cabo,” says Angel. “I know I saved him from that trash can years ago, but he also saved me and blessed my life with so much love. The care, attention and thoughtfulness I received from Lap of Love and Dr. Laura is immeasurable.”
And so is the power of love unleashed by our pets.
The fee varies, depending on the type of service: in-home hospice, in-home euthanasia or phone consults. It can be $200 for an in-person consultation /veterinary visit. Call to find what the fees will be for your specific requests/services.
To learn more about Lap of Love’s services, visit www.lapoflove.com.
Arden Moore, founder of www.FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the popular Oh Behave! show on www.Pet Life Radio.com. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.