Doing Right by Our Pets from Puppyhood Through Their Golden Years
Sadie had an inauspicious start to life. Born to a homeless mother who was not much older than herself she was also, most definitely, a mutt.
Sadie’s mom was brought to the SPCA, and she was barely a year old when she gave birth to her 8 puppies. Happily, Sadie’s shy and nervous mother was quickly adopted after the puppies were weaned.
My Sadie, a Shepherd-Chow mix, quickly grew from a clumsy ball of fur into a sweet, confident and loyal friend. She loved her family and when called upon, was fiercely protective.
Everyone who has raised a dog from puppyhood wonders when their puppy will outgrow the chewing, yapping and mischievous chaos. But eventually, they do. Sadie settled into life as a well behaved lady, earning her nickname ‘Sadie Lady’.
Time passes of course. I am not exactly sure when I first started to notice that Sadie was slowing down, aging. Maybe it was when she needed a hand to climb the stairs at night so she could sleep with her human child as she did every night. Maybe it was when the limp developed, or the weakness that spread through her slowly but surely. I do know, as time went on, she would occasionally yelp for no apparent reason, her back legs started to shake, standing up was getting much harder.
Sadie started to have more bad days than good. Her life-long doctors and staff at Silver Bluff Animal Hospital went above and beyond to provide Sadie comfort and a quality of life during her senior years but, eventually, even that was not enough. The time came when transporting Sadie to the clinic became an impossible task so I called Nancy Rodriguez at Lap of Love to discuss Hospice care. Nancy had helped our family with our pets before, she is loving and gentle and I knew that Sadie would be comfortable with her.
Many people don’t know a lot about Hospice and even less about pet Hospice. Having been a Hospice Nurse myself, I am very relieved we are fortunate enough to have this service available in Aiken.
Nancy came to our house and evaluated Sadie. She took her time and was soothing and gentle with my girl. After her thorough exam, as a team, we came up with a care plan that would be best for Sadie. I told Nancy we had tried to get Sadie to sleep downstairs because climbing the stairs had become so difficult. It was a disaster. Sadie could not understand why she couldn’t be upstairs with her family. She cried, barked and paced until we came down and got her. I told Nancy that when the day came that Sadie could no longer climb the stairs to sleep with ‘her’ girl, we would know, her time had come.
Nancy helped us come up with assistance devices so that we could help Sadie go up and down stairs. She provided Sadie with medications that relieved her discomfort and increasing anxiety. We had a plan that worked for Sadie and our family.
The plan worked for a time but inevitably Sadie’s body continued to fail her. The day Sadie couldn’t climb the stairs, we called Nancy.
On a sunny Friday, in the comfort of her own home, with those she loved surrounding her Dr. Nancy painlessly and gently guided Sadie over the Rainbow Bridge.
Saying goodbye to a dear family member is never easy, and choosing the time of their passing seems inconceivable to many. I am sad and I miss my friend but, as I explained to my 12-year-old daughter, Sadie spent her whole life loving and protecting us. This was the most selfless thing we could do for her. When Sadie needed us the most we were there for her. She was in her own home, surrounded by love. She was not in pain and she was not afraid. In the end, who of us wouldn’t want exactly that when our own time comes?
Lap of Love provides veterinary hospice care and in-home euthanasia. For more information, they can be reached at (803)994-9460 or via email at CSRA@LapofLove.com.
Joy Albrecht has made Aiken her home for the past 18 years. She is a past board member of the SPCA and an avid animal lover. Joy is a Registered Nurse and works at the University of South Carolina Aiken. She has 3 children, a dog and 3 cats.