This post is penned by Michelle Blades - Brent Naughton’s wife. Together, they share a wonderful life which includes some of the furriest, snuggliest, most steadfast dogs imaginable.
Saying Goodbye to Our Dog
We said goodbye our beloved pup Chimpanzee just over a year ago (today would have been her 13th birthday). She gave us nearly 12 years of everything she had - her perfectly stubborn attitude was matched only by her steadfast and loving loyalty to our whole family. We knew Chimp’s time was coming as we witnessed her body grow weaker and harder to control. She was always strong in spirit, forgetting her limitations and chasing squirrels in the backyard even when her legs did not function like they did in her younger years. Alas, it was growing more and more difficult for her to have a reasonable quality of life and enjoy all of the things she used to.
The decision to say a final goodbye to our pets is one of the hardest we’ll ever make as their humans and caretakers. We all know that with love, comes loss. But it’s a complex knowingness. We have to be the ones to make the arrangements. We beckon the loss as a last demonstration of our care.
The one piece of this putting a pet to sleep puzzle that Brent and I could never quite reconcile was a matter of logistics more than anything. We could accept that dealing with death emotionally and mentally would happen because it had to. The one hard truth about this scene that we could not quite grasp was that it would have to take place *somewhere.* A predetermined physical setting would need to be named.
Perhaps for many folks, that decision is made by default. They know that going to their vet’s office makes sense for them and feels appropriate in this process. The situation for us was a bit trickier because to put it bluntly, Chimp abhorred her trips to the vet. There was no part of an office visit that she found relaxing or comfortable. So, how could we ask her to go there and pack into a small room with a steel table and a linoleum floor (which she also hated… probably because of the association with the vet’s office) and wait for her last moments on this planet to arrive? The simple answer was: we couldn’t.
Fortunately, when the time came, a dear friend pointed us toward a group of kind-hearted folks who would be able to shepherd all of us through this logistical piece with the kind of care you’d want for any of your beloveds. That group is called Angel’s Paws.
Pet Euthanasia At Home
The work that Angel’s Paws does is nothing short of amazing. On that fateful day, one of their veterinarians came to our home and helped Chimp pass with dignity, surrounded by her family with a belly full of treats. It was a gut-wrenchingly beautiful way to send her to the next existence and we have been grateful for this service every day since we experienced it.
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Tammy Wynn, Founder of Angel’s Paws to hear more about their programs. It was an enlightening experience, to say the least. The way that she was called to do this work is a miracle in and of itself.
Pet Hospice in Cincinnati
We learned about Angel’s Paws at the very end of Chimp’s time with us. We’ve come to understand that this organization offers so much more than this end of life service. The Pet Parent Peace of Mind program supports human caregivers as well as pets as they wane in health, and provides answers and guidance to concerned parents 24 hours a day. Yes, someone is there to answer your call anytime day or night!
Tammy explained that many times, they meet folks like Brent and me on the last day of a pet’s life. They hear stories about how the past months have been stressful physically, mentally and emotionally, and know that their services could have helped this family had the family known to call them. Most people assume that when the vet delivers the news about a pet nearing the end of its life, there is no recourse other than just to wait things out.
Tammy Wynn’s mission is to let all of us know - here in Cincinnati, anyway - that there is help for us during this trying time. Her pet hospice program works in conjunction with traditional medicinal support, not instead of (as in the case of human hospice). I am certain, should the need arise, we’ll use this service in the future (and all be better for it!). Likewise, I strongly urge anyone feeling lost or alone in the midst of caring for an ill or elderly pet to give Angel’s Paws a call. Someone will be there to help you with a kind voice and actionable advice. You’ll have the peace of mind to know you are doing everything you can to make your beloved pet comfortable. And that is a gift for both of you.
Pet Loss Support
Although we didn’t use cremation services because we elected to bury Chimp at home, Tammy showed me the chapel in the Blue Ash office and told me about how it’s used. Clients who’ve opted for cremation services can schedule a time to pick up their pet’s ashes in a room that includes soft lighting, art supplies for therapy, a Lego tower where one can add a brick with their pet’s name on it (a ritual that Tammy graciously allowed me to participate in) and the space to work through this piece of the process. I can attest, it’s an incredibly touching, soulful place.
In addition, Angel’s Paws provides ongoing support to folks who are in mourning in the form of grief counseling and pet loss support groups. The breadth of thoughtful services this organization offers to families is quite impressive.
A Year Later
In the grand scheme of things, our pets are with us for such a short amount of time. Their superpower, it seems, is packing enough love to last our whole lifetime into their more abbreviated lives.
After a year of reflection about Chimp’s passing, I can honestly say that we would not change a thing about that day (I mean, barring the inevitable, of course). We showered Chimp with love, steak (twice in one day!) and, most importantly, a dignified transition across the Rainbow Bridge. It was truly the least we could do to thank her for the lifetime of love she gave us.
If you’re interested in supporting those that give support, Angel’s Watch is the foundation arm (leg, paw?) of Angel’s Paws. This organization does not turn away anyone in need of their services thanks in great part to the foundation!