After 2 1/2 years of lung cancer, my mother-in-law is in the final hours of her life. (She never smoked a day in her life, by the way.) My husband and I have been at the hospice facility since we heard she'd taken a final turn. We left yesterday at about 4:00p and took one of our dogs, Tango, with us.
The Kline House not only allows pets, but actually encourages (and dotes on) them. This has been a huge comfort for both my husband and me. Just having a wet nose bump up against you in the night seems to cut the stress that terminal illness can bring.
My mother-in-law is unconscious, but Tango will wag his tail and lick her hand. And we hope that contact can reach her somewhere somehow. And if it can't comfort her, it certainly comforts us. So, with the help of a dog, we're hoping to make her transition a peaceful one.
I've been back and forth between hospice and home three times to let the dogs out and feed them. I try to get home every six hours or so. The last time I came and left, they looked more than a little confused at our new pattern. So I've taken a chance to put a few extra hours this afternoon at home with the dogs. They're aware that something is different, but of course aren't able to figure out exactly what.
These aren't the ideal circumstances for the new dog who has a slight problem with mild separation anxiety! To avoid creating an association of my leaving for hours = peanut butter stuffed toy, I just stuffed a bunch and gave them all to the dogs — while I'm here for a few hours.
As I return again to hospice in a few hours, I'll take Lily this time. 18 hours at the hospice facility has taken it's toll on Tango. Just like people, dogs have their limits, too.
I totally stalk your blog b/c it’s in my reader but wanted to drop a note to let you know I’ll be thinking of your family. I imagine that is very difficult to watch but how wonderful the hospice allows dogs. I love seeing progress in the world and understanding of people with regard to the healing powers animals can bring. My thoughts are with you all, Ginger (and Nola)
Laurie Luck says
Ginger (and Nola), thanks for your words. It’s invaluable to be able to have a dog by our side. And if it were ME in hospice, it would make my final days absolutely glorious to have a dog to help me make the transition.