Chapters in My Life- Pet Euthanasia- House Calls
Life has a beginning, middle and an end, like the chapters of a book. As I wander through my journey I come across forks in the road. 21 years ago I made one of the boldest, bravest decisions of my life. I made a choice to walk away from the security of a traditional veterinary job with a regular paycheck and benefits to embark on an adventure of starting my own veterinary house call practice.
The choice was not without anxst. My daughter was 4 months and my son was 5 years old. I had to forge ahead without mentors to lead me. Richard and I decided that he needed to quit his job to become my veterinary assistant. In September of 2018 we will celebrate 30 years of marriage and 21 years of working side by side in Creature Comforts.
When we started I thought that the routines of a brick and mortar hospital would be our day to day on the road. We found ourselves in uncharted territory. We evolved creative ways to work with pets who didn’t want to be handled or medicated. Animals could be examined in the comfort of their home, brought onto my truck for a procedure or surgery and wake up in their beds or crates in their own living room.
Of the many procedures I have performed over the years, euthanasia and the decisions leading up to a euthanasia have had the most profound impact on me. For 10 years I performed euthanasia’s in a hospital setting and for the past 21 years I have performed them in the comfort of a clients home. The lives I have touched and the tears we have shared are forever imprinted on my heart.
Jordan was a 16 year old pit bull with osteosarcoma in his front leg. He still enjoyed good moments in his day but his owner Jim saw his demeanor slowly changing. Jim wanted to say goodbye to Jordan before the light of his spirit was completely gone. Jim orchestrated a beautiful passing for Jordan and asked me to be a part of the script. Five of Jim’s college room mates and their spouses traveled from far away to meet for a weekend of camping, fireside stories, reminiscing and friendship. I met them in a secluded location on a friends property in upstate New York where we gently helped Jordan cross the rainbow bridge surrounded by the people he loved. It was a profoundly moving experience for Richard and I to be a part of.
Pet owners should be given the option of allowing their pets to cross over with peace and dignity. This is kinder and gentler for all involved. The healing journey moves forward with greater ease when our hearts know that we did right by our pets. Adults, children and family pets can share in this sacred journey. Many owners call the crossing beautiful. Richard and I try to make this journey as peaceful as possible beginning with the first phone conversation.
This calling has led me down an unexpected path. After a year and a half of intensive coursework I am one of a small number of veterinarians certified in animal hospice and palliative care. This new chapter in my life and career is sending me in a different direction. I am committed to providing in home care for pets in the final years, months, weeks, days, and hours of their lives . I am giving up the surgical end of my practice to allow more flexibility to tend to your pets and their needs. I am investing time and resources in creating networks with referral animal hospitals. I have started a grief support group at a local referral practice, run by a pet bereavement counselor and animal chaplain. My heart and soul is invested in providing a peaceful goodbye to our cherished pets. I am grateful to all my clients of the past and present and look forward to meeting all of you in the future. I know this is an emotional part of pet care, but I truly feel honored guiding you and your pets through this final phase. Thank you for trusting me with this sacred experience and allowing me to help your furry loved ones find their peace. Thank you for referring your friends and family members to me so I can continue to help people navigate through these difficult decisions. Namaste