At-home hospice care offered for pets



Posted on April 15, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Updated Friday, May 7 at 10:39 AM

SHORELINE, Wash. - They call her "Sylvie the two-wheeled wonder."

Her hind legs are paralyzed from a degenerative spinal problem. Silvie scoots around in her wheelchair completely unphased by her terribly grave situation.

"I don't think anyone gave her the memo that she's paralyzed or that she's terminally ill," said Silvie's owner, Rebecca West.

On top of her paralysis, Sylvie has a massive brain tumor. Her owner found out about it just a month ago.

"It's sad and it's unfair that she's only 5 and this is not a condition that's common in a young dog," said Rebecca.

Sylvie's time is growing short. Soon that tumor will be too much for her to bear.

"And I do want it to be at home. If we have to make that decision for her I want it to be somewhere calm and peaceful for her," said Rebecca.

Silvie gets a house call by Dr. Tina Ellenbogen, a Bothell veterinarian who is among a growing movement across America offering at-home hospice care for pets and their people.

Hospice involves a procedure to manage the pet's pain, a plan to keep it calm and comfortable if death should come on suddenly and euthanasia surrounded by those who love the animal in familiarity of its own home.

Dr. Ellenbogen says the deaths are often, in her words, "beautiful."

"People in hospice use that word a lot in deaths. It's not a word the general public associates with leaving this world," she said.

It will be a graceful goodbye for Sylvie and Rebecca, when their walk together is through.

"I think those last few minutes of life, you want them to be as peaceful as possible and if they can go out feeling as loved as they did coming in to your life that's a good thing," said Rebecca.

The cost for at-home hospice and euthanasia ranges from around $275 to $700, depending on the number of visits.

More information:

Dr. Tina Ellenbogen

Seattle Menuha Hospice for Animals

Spirits in Transition

Partners to the Bridge

International Assoc. for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care