Everyone deserves to experience their final days in peace surrounded by those they love. Lifeline Animal Project in Atlanta gives senior dogs with terminal diagnoses the opportunity to do that by connecting them with a “fospice” parent that will love and care for them for the rest of their lives.
How it Works
Lifeline has a number of shelters in Atlanta. They connect volunteers willing to provide foster hospice care to resident senior dogs in need. Lifeline takes care of all of the medical expenses while the “fospice” parent provides a home, play time, care, and companionship. It’s a beautifully organized system that provides the sweetest service to these sick senior pups.
One Fospice Parent and His Dog
Lawson Chambers was looking to foster a dog so as a means to improve his skills as a parent, nurturer, and disciplinarian. The structure, training, commitment, and unconditional love required appealed to him. He went to Lifeline Animal Project to see about improving the life of a dog and himself through fostering. That’s how he met Akira, an eight year old pit bull mix who is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Although it was hard for him to wrap his head around the fact that Akira’s disease would mean that her presence in his life would be relatively short, it didn’t take long for him to adjust his perspective and see it for what it is: a gift. Their bond helped him realize that some of life’s most beautiful times are temporary.
What to Expect When Fostering a Hospice Dog
Hospice care is considered the most humane, compassionate way to care for those who are facing death. Rather than be in a sterile, cold environment, your loved one is cared for in his own home. The primary focus is to ensure comfort through effective pain management, personalized and appropriate feeding strategies, and interaction with loving, caring people.
Caregivers are given support through regular visits with the health care team but the medical focus is no longer on curing the condition but rather on comforting the patient. Being a hospice caregiver is a very special way to give a dog the precious gift of a dignified death.
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Last weekend @lifelineanimal was having a fundraiser at Kavarna, and I talked to them about fostering a dog. After telling them my story, these two empathetic women looked at each other, then at me, and deftly said, “Well, it may be hard, but we think we have the perfect dog for you.” Akira has been at Lifeline for 2 years, and was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. I had to give her a home. I can’t thank Lifeline enough for trusting me with this gem. I’m excited to give her a warm bed and a lot of love. I’m also excited for the teacher she’ll be to me. I’ve been needing a routine and responsibility. While also being the name of a v good anime, in Scottish, Akira is derived from a word meaning “anchor.” I love my new anchor very much, and I’m really excited for our time together. Expect to see some more of her on my feed.
A post shared by Lawson Chambers (@lawsonchambers) on Jul 1, 2018 at 6:56am PDT
Interested in End of Life Caregiving?
If you are interested in fostering a dog in hospice, contact a local rescue group or vet and ask if they can connect you with a group that provides this invaluable service. Are you already involved in your area? Give a shout out to your organization in the comments for other dog lovers who may want to help.
Your time with your hospice dog will inevitably come to an end. Although you will ultimately experience the sadness of loss, your life will forever be fuller for the love and care you will provide.
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