I think one of the most important services of love we offer at Old Dog Haven is to provide hospice care for dogs that are only with us a short time. We can do this because we have foster families who understand what their role is with the dog that can’t be with them very long. This belief is underlined in a Facebook post by Laura Alves, one of our dedicated foster moms, and I just wanted to emphasize her message.
Laura writes…“Sometimes our role is simply to be here to help set another soul free with love, dignity and compassion … and as part of a family. RIP Barry Claude. It was an honor to be of service and see you set free from your pain and suffering. You will always be in our hearts, lovely man.”
I know that those of us who take in senior dogs hope they come to us for rehabilitation, and with Old Dog Haven’s financial assistance, we very often can help them and improve the quality of their lives. In many cases this kind of transformation does happen. However … sometimes our role in a dog’s life isn’t that of rehab cheerleader but rather we need to be the person who provides loving hospice care and then releases the dog from his body even if the dog was only with us a short period of time—hours, days, weeks. Laura’s friend Barry Claude was only with her four days, but in that short time she gave him what he needed, and she and her family released him from his body with love.
Many of us who are fosters for Old Dog Haven have had similar experiences: I once had a dog for only six hours before it became clear that my role in his life was to send him on his way with love because no one else would. I’ve known Judith (our director of veterinary services) to sit up all night holding a dog that needed to feel loved and valued before she released him from his body. Some of you can add your own experiences here.
I think of dogs as messengers; they come to us with messages and lessons for us to learn, and they also return Home with messages and lessons they learned while they were with us. For a sick (physical, mental or emotional) dog to feel the love of a human—even for a short time—is a powerful message. Because dogs live in the moment, how we feel about them, even if they can’t be physically with us for long, stays with them and is a hopeful message about humans that the dog delivers when he returns Home.