Dr. Laurie Brush & Ginny Mikita Speaking at WMVMA Nov. 27th

November 20th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice, and Ginny Makita are delighted to be speaking at the West Michigan Veterinarian Medical Association dinner on Tues., Nov. 27 at John Ball Zoo to help local vets improve the euthanasia experience for clients and support bereaved pet parents.

In “The Client’s Perspective on Euthanasia and How You Can Improve the In-Hospital Euthanasia Experience,” Dr. Brush will share information and stories of her experience helping pet parents give their fur-babies peaceful passings.

Ginny Makita, Facilitator of the West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group, will share tips for helping people who are Grieving Pet Loss During the Holidays. Together, they hope to raise awareness of options available for compassionate end-of-life care for animals and the benefits of grief support for bereaved pet parents.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to familiarize many of my veterinarian peers with the ongoing research and work of the International Association for Animal Palliative Care. In vet school, there is so much material we cover, but we’re often not able to focus on end-of-life and hospice care. Yet a large percentage of pets today are entering their senior years, and need assistance,” Dr. Brush said.

Dr. Brush became one of the first 100 veterinarians in the world to receive her Animal Hospice and Palliative Care Certification from the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). She earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. As a practicing vet since 1998, she became involved in the movement toward in-home palliative care and euthanasia, beginning with her own 17-year-old rescue dog, Herkemer. Through her personal experience, she became a passionate advocate for peaceful at-home transitions. 

She started Heaven at Home Pet Hospice almost 7 years ago. Heaven at Home has grown into a team of 3 doctors and 3 Care Coordinators to better serve the West Michigan area. She is a member of the IAAHPC, the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), the MVMA, the WMVMA and the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management (IVAPM).

Ginny Mikita, JD, hosts the West Michigan Loss Grief Support Group at Heaven at Home the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The group is designed to provide a safe, confidential and structured space where those bound by the experience of the impending loss or death of a companion animal can come together on a regular basis to share stories, receive validation of concerns and feelings, learn about grief and the mourning process and reflect upon the meaning of it all.

Ginny is a ’91 graduate of Notre Dame Law School and Master of Divinity/Center for Loss, Death and Grief Studies Certification candidate. She and her husband, Bob Kruse, have their own compassion-social justice-based law practice, in which they represent the voiceless, neglected, abused and unaccompanied refugee children, animals and those who care for and provide them with medical and shelter services and incapacitated adults.  Ginny has also served in human hospital settings.

Ginny regularly officiates Blessings of the Animals in both religious and secular environments. For example, her most recent Blessing occurred October 6th (the 10th annual) in conjunction with ArtPrize at the Saint Francis Sculpture Garden & Path at the Dominican Center. Her next Blessing will occur at LaughFest’s People and Pets Event at Ford Field House in March 2019.

The dinner and presentation will be held in the Zoo Ballroom at 1300 Fulton St, just south of the main entrance to the zoo.

Veterinarians interested in attending the WMVMA can RSVP by Nov. 26 to sarah.faasse@wmvma.org.


Heaven at Home Honors National Animal Hospice Day November 3rd

November 2nd, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

HAHHospiceDay2018Heaven at Home joins hospice veterinarians across the nation Saturday in honoring National Hospice day. In America, 68% of households have companion animals, with 89.7 Million dogs, and 94.2 Million cats. It is estimated that between 44-48% of these pets are currently over the age of 7, meaning they are entering their senior years. Depending on species and breed, many will be preparing to cross the rainbow bridge. The quality of their end of life has become a focal point for geriatric specialists within the veterinarian community and the population at large.

“For too long, pet parents have not had the resources available to provide the highest quality of end-of-life and palliative care to their fur babies in their sunset years,” says Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home and Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Vet.

“The national animal hospice movement seeks to change that through its awareness campaign and the provision of resources as this type of service becomes more readily available to people.”

As part of National Animal Hospice Day, Heaven at Home is accepting donations to its benevolent fund to help those families in economic hardship provide in-home euthanasia services for their companion animals. Please consider making a donation if you’d like to help others have a peaceful pet passing in their own home.

History of National Animal Hospice Day

National Animal Hospice Day was created by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care in order to give pet caregivers an opportunity to learn more about hospice and palliative care for four-legged family members in order to better understand the options and resources available. In recent years, the field of animal hospice has grown, as an increasing number of people actively seek to provide a peaceful end-of-life experience for their companions.

However, too often, pet parents are still forced to make difficult decisions about their pets’ final days without adequate information or preparation. The animal hospice and palliative care process is unique in that it provides support for both pets and their caretakers.

Families work with a hospice team that helps to ensure that all options are explored for the comfort and care of pets who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, debilitating condition or are nearing the end of their lives. The hospice team helps to guide decision making about pain management, mobility, and nutritional needs and offers counseling to family members as they process their grief and spiritually prepare for the loss of their beloved companion.

For more information about our animal hospice services, please contact us.

For additional information about animal hospice and palliative care services, visit the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care’s website – their FAQ page is a great place to start: https://www.iaahpc.org

Highlights of Animal Home Hospice Questions:

Excerpted from IAAHPC

What is animal hospice? What is palliative care?

Both are approaches to care for your animal friend that can be adopted when the goal shifts from cure to comfort. Both involve an interdisciplinary team of providers who offer comprehensive care on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels and include veterinarians, animal and family services providers.  The term “animal hospice” is not a place; it is a philosophy of care which became popularized in the 1970’s.  Since the 1990’s the hospice model has been applied to also caring for our pets and thus hospice and palliative care for animals is growing across the US and the world.

Why animal hospice and palliative care for my beloved pet?

In the human hospice experience, families are well-supported and empowered to provide loving care to their loved one. As a result, they find enhanced coping along the journey and healing from their loss. Many pet parents want the same care for their furry, feathered and scaled family members as they’ve seen benefit their human loved ones, and so they turn to animal hospice. Pet parents also seek satisfaction in knowing they did all they could to support their animal companion, enhancing their bond with them during this time, and create cherishing memories.

What kind of diseases or conditions would warrant hospice and/or palliative care?

The  diseases and conditions  that most frequently warrant hospice or palliative care for animals are:

●      cancer

●      organ failure [kidneys, liver and heart are common examples]

●      osteoarthritis

●      cognitive dysfunction, or dementia

●      senior pets approaching the end of life

●      failure to thrive 

●      any life-limiting condition that is contributing to an excessive burden of caregiving for a family, or treatments/interventions that are unacceptable to the pet

As a pet parent, what are my responsibilities in providing hospice for my animal friend?

Preparing to care for your aging, ill or dying pet is similar to caring for a child or aged adult. You would take time to learn about your loved one’s condition and ways to ensure the highest degree of comfort possible. You would learn how to monitor your loved one’s quality of life and then regularly communicate with the hospice team. You would make decisions with the guidance of the care team, and then take measures to act on your decisions once the appropriate time came.  Along the journey, the well-being and feelings of the human family members would be validated and supported.

How do I know if hospice care is the right decision for me and my pet?

Many pet parents choose hospice care in order to have the time to say goodbye to their companions, to plan for their death, and to ensure that all the decisions about the pet’s needs are guided by their personal view of the pet’s needs. If you have the resources to support comfort care, the time and desire to care for your pet during the last days, weeks, sometimes months of their life, and a good support team in place, then hospice care may be the right choice for you and your pet.

Why do I feel so sad already, when my animal friend was just recently diagnosed?  Few people seem to understand what I’m going through.

We know that grief associated with loss begins before the actual death occurs, and the name for this is “anticipatory grief”. These emotions may sneak up on us and affect us in many aspects of our life. Grief is work! It is never easy, but it can be easier with the support of a team that values “care for the caregiver”, a cornerstone of hospice philosophy. Yes, the ability to think clearly will directly affect how effective you can be in your care for your animal companion. Respite, or some time away from caregiving, can be important to your continued well-being.


 
Compassionate home care for your companions!
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