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All Dogs Go to Heaven…Some Go to Hospice First.

By Dorothea Hasselmann
Maggie with her new mom, Cindy.

Bruce Cameron, American author, columnist, and humorist famous for writing the best-selling novel, “A Dog’s Purpose,” said it well when he said, “When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.” Adopting a pet who needs special medical care, or might be at the end of his or her life means we will be saying goodbye sooner. While there will still be joy, optimism, and happiness, it means we accept that there will likely be less time together.

Recently, several senior dogs with medical conditions were surrendered to Monadnock Humane Society. They required a special home that could give them the focused care and attention they needed. They needed hospice care. Pet hospice involves taking a sick or elderly pet into your home who may have a terminal health issue. The targeted care for the pet becomes centered on managing their symptoms and providing comfort knowing that there is no cure for their condition. Some of these pets may just have a couple of months, others may have a couple of years with their hospice home depending on that animals’ specific situation…but, in every case the goal is the same — to provide comfort measures to ensure a good quality of life, no matter how long or short that time may be. And, recognizing that the remaining time is precious.

Maggie was one of these special, senior hospice dogs. She was 14 years old when she came to MHS because her owner could no longer care for her needs. She arrived with some significant medical issues that MHS was able to diagnose, treat, and stabilize. It was immediately ascertained that Maggie would need a very special family to help her heal and comfortably live the rest of her life. After an outreach effort on social media, that special family was found. Cindy and her two dogs came in – Henry the Chihuahua and Penny the Maltese – met Maggie, and fell in love. It was the beginning of a wonderful, new life for Maggie.

Maggie, a Maltese dog.

Maggie’s new owner had previously adopted several senior dogs throughout the years. She always found them to be wise and wonderful companions who still have a great deal of love to give. She said that when she looks into Maggie’s eyes she sees a kind and gentle soul who has been well-loved and who lived a good life. She is very smart, well-mannered, and eager to please. In return, Maggie only asks for belly rubs, a full stomach, and a soft place to lay her head at night. Maggie’s favorite things to do in her new home are to go on walks and bond with her new cat and dog siblings. Before bed, she always loves a good game of chase through the kitchen. Maggie’s new owner understands that at this point, it is quality of life, not quantity that really counts. Every moment that she has with Maggie is an opportunity to make another wonderful memory.

Maggie reminds Cindy every day that all lives are precious no matter the age or what may be happening in life, and every day is a gift and a chance to show someone love. She has also taught her several lessons on life…when you face a challenge, just keep trying the best you can; express your love with plenty of kisses; if you need to ask for help, that is okay, let somebody help; stay optimistic, because you never can tell when a treat might come your way.

Maggie’s new family is committed to giving Maggie all the time, energy, care, and love to keep her happy and healthy, and also (perhaps most importantly), they have made the commitment to be there for her when the time comes that she is no longer comfortable, and there is no hope of feeling better. They will be there to hold her and give her the peace that she deserves when she transitions to the next world.

Saving one pet may not change the world, but for that one pet, the world will most certainly change forever. While these animals may only have a few weeks, months or years left to live, feeling the love of a family, during their health and aging challenges, makes all the difference — and they certainly return it in kind. We learn so much from them, and it gives us perspective on living life to the fullest.

Adopting and caring for a senior and/or sick pet doesn’t have to be a sad thing. It can be incredibly rewarding. The quote from the movie “Steel Magnolias” is rather fitting… “I’d rather have 30 minutes of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

If you are interested in providing hospice care for a pet in need, please contact Monadnock Humane Society at 603.352.9011. If you would like to support the mission of MHS in caring for pets like Maggie with a donation, please visit our website: www.monadnockhumanesociety.org.