Reflections on palliative care

My latest palliative care dog passed away about 2 weeks ago.  While it has been a busy couple of weeks for me, I do think about her.  I sometimes wonder if owners really believe me when I say that I think about their dogs not only when they are active clients but also after they have passed.

This old girl was 17 years old and came with a long file of veterinary records for me to review.   From the outset, I knew I wouldn’t be working with her for very long.   Her owner was very open when booking an appointment with me, “I’m just not ready to say goodbye.”

At the first consult, we talked about expectations, her vet’s advice, and quality of life.  I provided the owner with a quality of life checklist that I’ve developed specifically for older and palliative care dogs.

This old girl had fighting spirit, but she was also frail.  So the focus was on acupoints for immune system strengthening and endorphin release.  The first session went well and the feedback was great – “she’s been her old self….”

Having personal experience with this, I know that sometimes these dogs at the end of life have a final burst of life energy.  It rarely lasts.

We ended up having only one additional session.  Although we re-booked for a third session, it wasn’t to be.

I am grateful to all the people who entrust their dog to me, but especially honored by those who are facing critical and emotional decisions and are not afraid to share their distress.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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