Keeping Pets & Patients Together--Even When They Are Apart

L to R Cookie, Lela and BooBoo
This month, our hospice story has some personal connections for me. Hospice of Green Country (HGC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma was the very first hospice to pilot Pet Peace of Mind, paving the way for it to become a national program helping hospice patients and pets all over the country. As a hospice chaplain, I had the privilege of working with the dedicated staff and volunteers that still support the program today. Amy Pulliam, the PPOM Coordinator at HGC, shares a story in their Passages Newsletter about a patient and her two dogs, Boo-Boo and Cookie.
    "On a daily basis, Lela told our hospice how much her dogs meant to her. 'They are my life. I love having them here with me, they keep me company and they make me feel better.' Lela had some financial challenges with bills, so we enlisted the Pet Peace of Mind program to help her with pet food, grooming and veterinary care costs. And, as her health declined and it was harder for daughter Jan to care for both Lela and the dogs, PPOM volunteers stepped in. One volunteer drove the 30 miles from Tulsa to Claremore to pick up the dogs for a veterinary appointment. Other volunteers helped by taking the dogs to grooming appointments. When Lela moved to a hospice home in Tulsa, our PPOM volunteers made sure the dogs had foster care in loving homes and took them for frequent visits to see their 'Mom.' Lela could be having a difficult day, but the minute Boo-Boo and Cookie walked in, she was delighted to see them."
    Many patients are forced to give up a pet when they are transferred to a facility for additional care because there is no one to help with pet care or willing to bring pets to visit. Pet Peace of Mind provides opportunities for hospice volunteers to help maintain the relationship between pet and patient at a time when the patient needs them most. I mentioned that this story was personal for me. As it turns out, I was the chaplain for Lela and her husband when he was a patient and we first met Cookie and BooBoo. I am so glad to know that Pet Peace of Mind kept Lela with her beloved dogs.