Hospice care for aging and sick pets is growing in Colorado

Pets placed in hospice care as they age
Posted at 5:53 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 00:56:53-05

DENVER -- Living in Colorado, if you don’t have a dog, there’s a good chance your neighbor certainly does. 

As Coloradans, we know how pets become cherished members of our families. But when it comes to saying goodbye, there haven’t been a lot of options.

However, a Denver woman is doing something unique as her dog of nearly two decades moves toward the end of his life.

"As your dog becomes older, your vet can help you less and less," said Tamar Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld made the decision to put her Jack Russell/Corgi mix under hospice care.

"In terms of companionship, Ira's really been a phenomenal family member," she said. “In terms of loyalty and friendship, Ira's earned a special place in the family and a special place in my heart."

A chance for a gradual goodbye to a cherished friend.

"My husband died tragically in a car accident," Rosenfeld said. “I think in this case, at least from a personal perspective, I don't want to go through that shock again."

Ira can no longer do long walks in the neighborhood. The duo used to run up the mountains. 

"He was just so cute and I fell in love with him right away."

A veterinarian from Caring Pathways hospice comes to Tamar's home to check on Ira's general health.  The treatment isn't aggressive.  It's all about making Ira's last days comfortable. The cost of this care varies from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

"There's no point in getting in the car and traumatizing a 19-year-old with more trips to the vet. He needs to be at home. He needs to be at home."

Pet hospice is a new movement.  It's only been around for about five years.  It is not for all families/

"It's OK for the pet if pain is controlled, breathing is comfortable and that quality of life is still there," said veterinarian Lori Lowery of Caring Pathways. "It gives people that gift of a transition and again it's so, so important that it's the very best thing for that pet.”

Ira's been in hospice care since the summer, but Tamar knows tough decisions are ahead.

"They're going to let know in a tactful and professional way if you're pushing it.  If you're pushing what's beyond proper and what's good for the animal,” said Rosenfeld. "This gives us time.  He has a lot of quality time. It gives people to say, kind of goodbye."

Despite her grief, Tamar knows this is a blessing. She gets the chance for a gradual goodbye on her terms.

"You're really at peace with your decision?" Denver7 asked.

"Oh I love the decision. I love the decision," she said. 


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.