Abby Johnson became a Regional Hospice Volunteer after losing a loved one, and was inspired to start a special program for our furry friends who also suffer with life limiting illnesses.
This is Cowboy. When he died of cancer, Abby started a dog hospice named in his honor, Cowboy's House. "He was a complete rascal and a difficult dog (completely untrainable, ran the household) and I loved him like crazy"
Volunteering for Regional Hospice Services has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. I entered the program as a way to “pay back” for the care my sister Susan received from Hospice when suffering from cancer. I was living in St. Paul at the time, flying back and forth between the Twin Cities and Boston and I was beyond exhausted and stressed.
Susan’s doctors suggested Hospice and at first, I balked. But as time went on, it was clear this was a battle I was going to lose. I was close to a complete nervous breakdown when I finally agreed to let Hospice in to help. They saved me from myself. They took over Susan’s care and allowed me to be a sister again – not a nurse or social worker or caretaker, but a sister.
Fast forward to now. My Regional Hospice experience has been just as life changing. I have met some of the strongest, most courageous individuals – patients and their families. In the face of death and loss, I have learned from them the value of every day, every moment. I am humbled by their strength, their appreciation for their lives, and their faith.
As I got more involved in the hospice program, an idea formed. A dog hospice – “Cowboy’s House” – in honor of my little Schnauzer who died of cancer. Dogs that are older or ill that still have some quality of life need homes that will give them love and care as they reach the end of their lives. These dogs are often euthanized unnecessarily because their owners don’t want to care for them or can’t care for them. Everything I’ve learned from Regional Hospice is helping me put together this program.
We all – dogs and humans alike - need the same things as we face the end of our lives – compassionate care and loving arms to hold us. And that is the definition of hospice.
Written by Abby Johnson
For more information about how to become a volunteer - Click here
Maggie, sweetest dog ever. She is quite old for her breed - about 15 years and has spinal fusion. She is crippled but still able to get around, very slowly and carefully. I value every day with Maggie because I know her days are very limited.
Finn - we adopted him from the Spooner shelter. He had been in the shelter for over one year! He was fostered but returned because he was so difficult to deal with. He has Lyme disease and extreme social anxiety which he is on medication for. So he is a Cowboy's House dog for sure.