In Memoriam of Shia

May 23rd, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

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Shia’s Story:

Shia was born in May of 2003. Mom and Dad found her at a Puppy Half Way House in Greenville. Her and her sister came out and Shia be-lined for mom and dad while her sister went straight for the food. It really is true that they choose you. It was meant to be. She even fake puked and they got her cheaper, although looking back with what we know now, they would have paid any amount of money for her. After begging mom and dad for years about getting a dog, we finally got her in July of 2003, much to our surprise from coming back from a camping trip with our cousins. Tears of joy were shed. Shia was a Whippet/Lab mix. She was a very fast water dog who was lucky enough to live most of her life on Lime Lake. Her hobbies included racing other dogs and kids, swimming, boating, bon fires, playing bean bags and going bye bye. She was the best friend any one could ever ask for. On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, The Wheeler family said good-bye to their life-long friend, Shia (Shy Shy, Sheeba, Big Ox) of 15 years. She passed peacefully at home with all of her loved ones by her side. Her beautiful soul will be deeply loved and missed, always.

Wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge where there is always warmth and sunshine which was your favorite. I can picture you in my head running full speed again like you used to, grass flying up behind you. If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.
We love you, Shy Shy!

Mommy, Daddy, Rach & Bran


Ginny Mikita on Grieving Pet Loss – West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group

May 7th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Meeting of a Grand Rapids, MI pet loss support group at Heaven at Home Pet Hospice and led by Ginny MikitaThe first rule of grieving is that there are no rules.

Companion-animal-loving Pastor and Animal Advocate Ginny Mikita makes this clear to the people who gather each month at the West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group hosted at Heaven at Home’s cozy quarters on Monroe Avenue.

“It’s important to experience grief in whatever fashion it manifests. We need to set aside the idea there is one right way to grieve or certain feelings that are correct and instead give ourselves the grace to feel what we’re feeling without judgment,” said Mikita.

Mikita’s life-long love of animals led her first to law school at Notre Dame where she sought to represent the interests of animals, and later to the ministry, where she sought to help humanity foster love for all creatures great and small. Today you might find her donning her pastoral robes at a Blessing of the Animals ceremony or using her law degree to help the health-care industry navigate palliative care among humans. Whichever role she’s playing, the themes involve compassion and community, two things that benefit those grieving the deaths of their companion animals.

The Power of Group Support

Photo of Ginny Mikita, West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group Facilitator

Ginny Mikita,
West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group Facilitator

“Sharing feelings in the safe space created by a support group can be the most powerful healing experience for people. It is healing to receive affirmation that others have experienced or are experiencing what you’re experiencing,” Mikita said. Read the rest of this entry »


Importance of Heartworm Preventative

April 20th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Heartworm Disease is a potentially life threatening condition caused by parasitic worms that can live in the heart and lungs of dogs and cats. It is important to prevent heartworm disease versus waiting for your pet to contract it as it can be difficult and costly to treat. The treatment requires a series of treatments over several months.
Heartworm

How do pets get heartworm disease?
Mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected pet, it sucks blood containing microfilariae. (Microfilariae are the offspring of the adult heartworm). Once matured inside the mosquito, the offspring develop into infective larvae. This infective larvae are passed on when the mosquito bites another pet.

How to protect your pet?
Giving your pet a monthly preventative is key. Most heartworm preventatives also protect your pet from other intestinal parasites and fleas. Due to unpredictable seasons it is recommended to keep your pet on heartworm preventative year round.

A blood test is recommended to confirm that your pet is free of heartworm disease before prescribing heartworm preventative as many heartworm preventatives can cause illness if given with larvae in the bloodstream. Contact your pets veterinarian for their recommendations.

*For more specific information regarding heartworm disease and recommendations, go to https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources


Should my other pets be present

February 26th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

“Should my other pets be present during the euthanasia process?” is a common question we get.

The answer is definitely yes, if at all possible. Allowing other pets in the household to be present during euthanasia or giving them a chance to say goodbye after the pet has passed away often gives a sense of closure. This will also decrease the chance that the pet will be waiting at the door or look all over the house for their deceased friend to come back home. We want to lessen the chance of them becoming depressed, looking out the windows, or even going off their food during the grieving process.

We here at Heaven at Home encourage other pets to be present throughout the procedure if possible. Occasionally a young, hyper or anxious pet may be too distracting to be participatePics initially and in this case we encourage owners to have them in a different room. But often, even these personality types settle after becoming acquainted with the doctor and will have a “sense” of what is happening with their friend. Most times once we have begun, they lay down a small distance or even right next to their friend and accompany them as they cross over the rainbow bridge.

If for some reason it is impossible for other pets to be present during the procedure, they should at least have the chance to say good bye once the pet has passed. In most cases, the process does not take long, usually a brief sniff or glance before walking away. They often just seem to “know.” This does not mean that they won’t continue to grieve and may still look for their friend but it tends to help give a smoother transition. They will need extra love and support during the next few days as well.


Children In Grief Over Loss of Pets

January 9th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

children grieving over loss of pet illustrated by girl with dogHeaven at Home’s Dr. Laura Tay compiled the following tips to help children deal with grief over the loss of their pets after participating in a seminar by Kathryn Jennings, Executive Director of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC).

We at Heaven at Home thought this might be helpful for your family as you work through this difficult time.

 

Helping children cope

  • Be straightforward and honest in all instances.
  • Don’t hide your pet’s condition from children.
  • Include them in caregiving.
  • Discuss all treatment and end of life options together.
  • Avoid decisions made in haste.

Preparing kids for euthanasia

  • Create an environment where it’s safe to ask questions.
  • Emphasize that euthanasia is a loving act of courage.
  • Explain that natural death can be painful and cause suffering
  • Help them understand the “need” for euthanasia when there are no other options.
  • Educate them about the process—before, during, and after.
  • Avoid the phrase “put to sleep” or “put down”.
  • Younger children require a clearer explanation in order to understand the finality.
  • Explain that the pet will die peacefully without feeling hurt or scared.

Should children be present or not?

  • You, as the parent, know your child best.
  • Recommended age is 10 and older.
  • Whether they are present or not, allow them to view the body afterwards.
  • Final goodbye can help kids to accept the reality.

How can I support my child through his or her grief?

  • Grief cannot be fixed or analyzed, it must be felt to be healed. Children need someone to be present with them while they are experiencing the pain of grief as they mourn.
  • Provide an environment that allows your child to feel and talk about the grief.
  • Communication should be open, honest, and ongoing.
  • Experience it together.
  • Assure them they are not responsible for the pet’s death.
  • The realization that death is permanent does not happen until around the age of 8.
  • Encourage the expression of feelings verbally and/or through art.
  • Know that children have a natural ability to “dose” themselves with grief and are able to take a break from it when needed. (They can do this much better than adults.)

How to discuss aftercare

  • Avoid talking about burning or fire with respect to cremation.
  • Cremation can be described as “returning to ashes”.
  • Make it clear the pet is not hurt in the process.
  • With respect to burial, describe how the pet will be placed in a box and laid to rest in the ground where he will be safe.

Honoring a pet’s life

  • Rituals can help in acknowledging and accepting the loss, which is the path to healing.
  • Make a tribute table
  • Design a gravestone
  • Assemble a scrapbook or collage
  • Write a poem or story
  • Plant a tree
  • Make a donation in the pet’s name
  • Volunteer at the animal shelter or Humane Society
  • Just share stories and memories!

When/if to adopt again

  • Involve the whole family; everyone needs to be in agreement.
  • Adopting too quickly may delay mourning.
  • Children may take longer to move through grief.

National Animal Hospice Day 2017: Raising Pet Hospice Awareness

November 1st, 2017 by Heaven At Home Staff

National Pet Hospice Day on November 4th, 2017 at Heaven at Home Pet Hospice

Raising Awareness For Pet Hospice Care in Grand Rapids

For years, Dr. Laurie Brush has taken an active role in the Grand Rapids community educating pet parents about the benefits of palliative or hospice care for their aging pets. She’s appeared on local news stations, given interviews for the press, and done other forms of outreach, simply because there are too many pet parents out there who don’t know that in-home end-of-life care is even an option. All too often, people have to make difficult decisions about their pets’ final days without having enough information or time to prepare.

Help Spread The Word on Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Heaven at Home is proud to participate in National Animal Hospice Day on November 4th. This event was created to start a discussion about what options are available when pets reach a certain age.

Our approach to animal hospice and palliative care includes support for both pets and their caretakers. As a part of what we do, we’ll help guide you through the decision-making process on what’s best for your fur baby as they get on in years. This could mean anything from a change in their home environment, pain management steps, tips for helping keep your pet comfortable, or simply recognizing when it’s time to help them pass.

National Animal Hospice Day is about letting people know that there are options, and they don’t have to go through this process alone. If you know someone who could use help managing their elderly pet’s care, please share this article with them. Animal hospice care can make a huge difference.

Dr. Laurie Brush on the Value of Home Hospice for Pets

Dr. Laurie Brush founded Heaven at Home based on the philosophy of care she shares with the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC).

“Hospice focuses on pet comfort instead of treatment when a cure is no longer expected. The goal in animal hospice is to monitor the animal’s well-being and dignity at the end of its life. Preserving the quality of life takes precedence over extending life. Hospice recognizes dying as a normal process. By supporting both the pet and family, the human-animal bond can remain strong throughout the dying process and beyond,” said Dr. Brush.

“We provide the family precious time with a pet and help the family cope with the approaching death of their beloved companion.”

Reach Out To Heaven at Home Pet Hospice

Heaven at Home is an in-home provider of veterinary hospice, end-of-life care and euthanasia in Grand Rapids and West Michigan. We can help with a peaceful end of life transition for your beloved pet that includes:

  • Hospice Care
  • Pain Recognition and Management
  • Palliative Care
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Wound Care
  • Nutrition Management
  • Medication Administration
  • In-Home Euthanasia

We can help with information on the disease process and what to expect next whenever possible.

Please, feel free to Contact Us with any questions you may have. We’d be happy to help you.


International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) is dedicated to promoting knowledge about and developing guidelines for comfort-oriented care to companion animals as they approach the end of life.


Ways to Celebrate National Pet Memorial Day 2017 in West Michigan

September 8th, 2017 by Heaven At Home Staff

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Heaven at Home Pet Hospice would like to remind everyone that National Pet Memorial Day is coming up on Sunday, September 10th, 2017. This is a day for people to remember their deceased companions in a warm, positive light and reflect on all of the happy memories from the course of the pet’s life.

The passing of a pet can hurt just as much as the death of a person, and looking back on everything that made our pets special to us is an important part of the healing process. National Pet Memorial Day is a fine occasion for pet caregivers to progress through the grief into a healing journey. Below, we’ve included a few ideas for commemorating your beloved pet this year:

  • Share and reflect upon pleasant memories of your pet with loved ones:
    Chances are, you are not the only one who misses your pet. Whether it’s with your family, your friends, or even neighbors, reflecting on funny moments or warm memories with people that knew your pet is a great way to celebrate their life and lift your spirits.
  • If your pet is buried, go for a visit: Many people choose to bury their pets in a pet cemetery, and this upcoming pet memorial day would be a great opportunity to go say hello, spruce-up the site a little bit, and maybe leave a small bouquet or their favorite treat near the marker.
  • Contribute to an animal welfare or protection group: We feel that one of the best ways to honor the memory of your pet is by helping other pets in need. Volunteering at your local shelter is the most direct way to make a difference, and is also a great way to spend some quality time with animals. If you are unable to commit time to volunteering, many organizations also accept donations.
  • Create a small memorial in your flower garden, or plant a tree or a shrub:
    Another way that people honor the memory of their pet is by creating a small memorial in their garden. It doesn’t matter if your pet is interred there or not – simply having a space that you can look to and remember your pet is what matters. Many people also will plant a tree or flowering shrub in their yard as a living memorial to their pet.

Heaven at Home has also created a space for grieving pet owners to make an online memorial. Here, you can say a few words about what your pet meant to you, what they were like, and share some of your happiest memories. You may also include photos of your pet! This can also help other grieving pet owners know they are not alone in their grief. If you would like to post a memorial, please email us at doc@pethospicevet.com with your memorial, and please feel free to include pictures!


How to Help Houston Animals in Harvey’s Aftermath

August 31st, 2017 by Heaven At Home Staff

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 1.27.54 PMOur fur friends in the Houston area need help while their humans are in emergency shelters in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Efforts by local and national animal advocacy organizations continue with coordinated transportation and sheltering of displaced pets through the ASPCA and Wings of Rescue, while local initiatives that include funding local food, bedding and vet care for nearby shelters. If you’d like to donate to help out, we’ve listed four links to verified initiatives below. Locally, the Houston Homeless Pet Society is also issuing updates and accepting donations here.

How to help

  • To donate to the Humane Society of the United States – Disaster Relief Fund, click here.
  • To donate to Wings of Rescue, click here.
  • To donate to Best Friends Animal Society, click here.
  • To donate to a GoFundMe.com account operated by 4 Paws Farm and the I Love My Dog Team to fund veterinary care, food and bedding for animals displaced by Harvey,  click here

 

According to an ASPCA Update:

With tens of thousands of residents entering emergency sheltering, the ASPCA will provide assistance where our resources and experience can have the greatest impact caring for displaced animals and ultimately reuniting them with their families. Any residents who need help recovering pets from their homes or emergency sheltering for their pets should contact their local emergency management agencies.

The destruction caused by this natural disaster has been overwhelming, but we find inspiration in the spirit of those wanting to step up and help. As our response efforts continue, we want to share ways you can take action:

  • Make sure you and your pets are prepared for an emergency. Review our disaster preparedness information and be ready for when disaster strikes.
  • Please give a donation today to help support the ASPCA’s life-saving work. Your support ensures that we can be whenever and wherever we are needed most, now and in the future.
  • Help us raise funds and awareness for our life-saving work by starting a Facebook Fundraiser, or easily add a donate button to a post or status to encourage friends and followers to give.

https://www.aspca.org/news/update-aspca-responds-harvey


At-Home Pet Euthanasia: Ways to Say Goodbye

June 14th, 2017 by Heaven At Home Staff

Owner with aging dog before euthanasia depicting home euthanasia services in Grand Rapids, MIHeaven at Home Pet Hospice knows there’s no easy way to say goodbye to your loyal fur-family member. However, through helping hundreds of Grand Rapids and West Michigan pet owners provide peaceful passings, Dr. Laurie Brush feels there’s therapeutic value to celebrating the life of your pet during a euthanasia home visit.

“Death is hard to talk about,” Dr. Brush says. “But it doesn’t need to be fraught with struggle. This might be the worst day of your life, but it doesn’t have to be the worst day of your fur-baby’s life. On the contrary, we can help your pet pass comfortably with dignity and compassion.”

By performing home euthanasia for companion animals, Dr. Brush’s goal is to prevent animals from experiencing the stress, and sometimes fear, of trips to the vet when unwell.

“Our service allows pets to be with their family one last time in a familiar, comfortable environment, surrounded by their favorite people, toys, bed, and blankets.”

Dr. Brush feels it’s important that clients are prepared for the process of euthanasia, and that they’ve had a chance to ask questions, complete paperwork, decide on burial or cremation options and otherwise be prepared prior to the time so they can focus on comforting their fur-baby and celebrating his or her life.

Planning for Pet Euthanasia at Home

While there’s no easy way to say goodbye, there are ways you can prepare for your pet’s passing in advance. Bringing treats, sharing stories, and thinking of ways to make your pet comfortable will all work together toward a loving departure. The following are a few considerations:

 

  • There Are Forms to fill out: At the time of our house call we initially take care of the legal paperwork. A consent form is signed by the legal guardian as well as verification that your pet has not bitten or scratched anyone in the past ten days, to comply with the Rabies law. (If there has been a bite or scratch, we can still proceed, but Rabies testing and additional paperwork will be required so we usually try to discuss this in advance.) Other forms will ask you to confirm the type of cremation you have selected if that applies. 
  • Consider Your Other Pets: One advantage of at-home euthanasia for dogs and cats is that it helps the other animals in your home to know that their friend has passed because other pets will grieve for their friend too. They often know when another pet is sick or failing. It is thought that their noses will know that another pet family member has died. Giving them the opportunity to see and smell the deceased pet prevents them from continually searching for the pet who is no longer there.
  • Decide Who Will Attend: If you’d like your entire family present to say goodbye, we can schedule a time to accommodate that. If you have children, explain what’s happening in advance to help them prepare for the loss of their friend. The American Humane Association recommends books such as Fred Rogers’ When a Pet Dies as a way to provide comfort and understanding for children. We have other resources on our website we often recommend such as Veterinarywisdom.com which has a good resource section for Pet Parents on kids and grief. Among other things, they suggest books such as “Dog Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant; “Cat Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant and “A Special Place for Charlie” by Debby Morehead.
  • Communicating with Children about Euthanasia: It is best to speak in honest terms, at an appropriate level of detail for the child’s age. Very small children need to know that this is final – the pet isn’t going to wake up or come back. To say that the pet “went away” or is “in heaven” without offering any other details can also confuse children. Older children need to know the reasons why this decision is being made, and why it is humane for the suffering animal.
  • Choose the Location: Many of Dr. Brush’s clients choose a pet’s “favorite” location in the home or yard to host the passing. This helps soothe the pet. Sometimes that means she’s found herself cuddling up in a closet to conduct the procedure; other times, enjoying a sunny day by a favorite tree.“What’s important is that the last resting place of the dog or cat is where they are comfortable. I think we’d all like to be in our favorite place when we die,” she said.

 

What To Expect In The Process of Euthanasia

Some veterinarians use a slightly different process for euthanasia, but at Heaven at Home, we always use a two-step procedure.

First, a mixture of medication is administered just under the skin with a small needle to help the pet relax. This sedative is used to create a deep, pain-free sleep for the animal that is peaceful for their owners to witness. This can take up to 15 minutes to have its full effect, and this time can be spent comforting your pet, remembering special times, or just sitting quietly, as you choose.

Once the doctor is sure that your pet is completely relaxed, and not feeling any pain, a final injection of pentobarbital is discretely administered. The Doctor will always tell you before performing this final injection.

Pentobarbital is a liquid barbiturate that will be given at a lethal dose. Because this solution has an anesthetic effect and depresses the central nervous system, your pet will continue to be unconscious and pain-free.

Once the solution has been administered, the Doctor will listen to your pet’s heart and will inform you when your pet has passed on.

When the muscles relax, there may be some body fluids or stool that passes. We are always prepared for this and will have some absorbent waterproof pads to help keep your pet, and surfaces under your pet, clean. Your pet’s eyes may not stay closed, but if this is uncomfortable for family members, we can help to close them. Sometimes, there are twitches or movements and/or sounds as the air and energy leave your pet’s body.

 

After Euthanasia

There are a few options for taking care of the deceased pet’s body. Heaven at Home can help you wade through these options, and can coordinate your pet’s cremation with a local crematory. Some people prefer to bury their pets. Local regulations and guidelines can be confirmed with the county where you plan to bury the pet. If cremation is chosen, Heaven at Home will take your pet after the euthanasia and arrange for cremation. We often work with  Sleepy Hollow Pet Cemetery, which offers both burial and several levels of cremation: http://www.sleepyhollowpc.com/

Some of the options at Sleepy Hollow include:

  • Private Cremation –Your pet is individually cremated. Cremains will be returned to the owner.
  • Semi-Private Cremation –Two or more pets are cremated at the same time, but kept separate and a barcode system is used to identify your pet. Cremains will be returned to the owner.
  • Memorial Cremation – Your pet is cremated with other pets. Cremains are interred at Sleepy Hollow

It usually takes about a week, give or take a few days, for cremains to be returned to Heaven at Home. Then we will contact you to make arrangements to get your pet home to you. Cremains are placed in a small floral tin unless a different urn is purchased.

 

Other Forms of Commemoration:

Heaven at Home and partner vendors such as Sleepy Hollow can help keep your companion close in spirit with cast paw prints, commemorative jewelry, and other items. Keepsakes can be especially helpful during the grieving process.

You may also find one of the following helpful: Planting a tree in your pets’ memory in a location they loved; donating to an animal protection organization or animal health research entity in their name; crafting a commemorative plaque; and creating a commemorative photo album.

 

Understanding Grief and Loss

Losing a pet is losing a family member for our clients. Grief and even feelings of guilt are expected after the loss of a pet. To move through the healing process, be certain to be kind to yourself, and talk about your feelings, emotionally and constructively, with others. Using a journal to explore your feelings will help ease the pain over time.

If the grief and sense of loss are overwhelming or prolonged, counseling and support is available from several sources, both online and off-line. For a variety of pet grief support articles, visit our friends at Veterinary Wisdom: http://www.veterinarywisdom.com/find-support-for-grief

Our local pet loss support group in Grand Rapids meets about once a month and is facilitated by Ginny Mikita. Please contact Ginny by phone at (616) 460-0373 or by email at ginnymikita64@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

There is also a pet loss support group in Muskegon by Clock Timeless Pets.

Please Contact Us for more information about either of these groups.

Be aware that pets may also grieve for the loss of their companion, too. They may exhibit grief by: not eating, not enjoying formerly favorite activities, or mild lethargy. Providing them with extra TLC and interaction with other pets may help to ease the transition for them. These behaviors should be mild and short-lived. If they persist or are dramatic, seek veterinary support.

 

Know You Did The Right Thing

Whatever you’re feeling, and however natural feelings of guilt may be, it’s important to understand the beautiful gift you’ve given your pet.

“A peaceful, pain-free passing is the greatest gift you can give your fur-family member at the end of a well-lived life,” says Dr. Brush. “No one wants their pet to suffer.”

 

 

 

 


Fox 17 News Segment on Heaven at Home

June 7th, 2017 by Heaven At Home Staff

Below is a link to the segment featured on Fox 17 last month.  It has information about what we do and why it might be a good choice for your pet when they are at the end of life.  We are passionate about what we do and we want to make sure every pet parent is aware of these options for in home care.

 

Click here to see the segment!16517353098848793074


 
Compassionate home care for your companions!
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