No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop
“We were very privileged to have been able to walk by her side for so long. Now she walks with us in our hearts.” – Mary
In our line of work, heartbreaking and heart-warming stories are not uncommon. The conversations we have are the type that steal your breath. They also leave you with a bittersweet smile and a reminder of how precious the time we share with our loved ones is.
In 2017, there were dozens of these stories, each one touching, but there was one that impacted me on quite a deep level.
In April, one of our vets was called out to visit Marie, a 15-year-old rescue German Shepherd from Little Mountain. Marie was recumbent and had been unable to get up since the early hours of the morning. Her prospects looked grim.
Marie’s owner, Mary, was a dog trainer. Also, a previous volunteer at a local animal refuge, she had made a commendable habit of adopting and reforming problem dogs from rescue groups. Marie was one of four furkids living at the Little Mountain home.
Throughout our visit with Marie, there was much discussion about the possible cause of her inability to stand. We discussed the aims of palliative care and it was decided that hospitalisation was to be avoided due to Marie’s age and condition. Mary and Ken knew euthanasia was likely, but they held tight to a glimmer of hope and were eager to try some gentle medical management in the hopes it would achieve some relief and comfort for their girl. There was also the hope of buying her a little more time, if it didn’t mean sacrificing her quality of life.
Dr Jackie performed some medical massage and acupuncture. She also administered a vitamin B injection and implemented a multimodal pain management plan that involved adjusting her current medications and adding in some new ones. Mary would monitor Marie throughout the day and call with any updates.
We received a call the next morning. The news was surprising. Four hours after her visit, Marie had managed to stand up unassisted and had been out for a short, controlled walk with other dogs in the neighbouring field.
As the months passed, we had several more sessions with beautiful Marie and her family. In June, we received video footage of playing and running. Her progress remained stable.
In October, our visit to Marie was not a routine one. Things were looking less promising. Her quality of life was deteriorating. Mary felt it was important to allow her girl to go gently before her dignity was lost or her suffering became too great. Marie’s time was close.
The next day we received a touching email from a friend of Mary’s. She explained that she wanted to pay it forward and put money towards Mary’s vet bills. She knew that Mary often went above and beyond her own means to ensure her pets and the pets of others are well looked after. Several hundred dollars were transferred as a credit to Mary’s account. This covered the previous visit and when it came time to say goodbye to Marie, all costs had been paid in advance.
Mary and Ken were both at home by Marie’s side when Dr Jackie helped her say her final goodbye in mid-November. Marie’s canine friends were there too. It was a peaceful passing with Mary singing to Marie in her final moments. Marie was then taken into the care of the beautiful Pet Rest cremations team. Later that day we received word from another of Mary’s treasured friends also offering to pay the expenses of Marie’s goodbye!
The incredible kindness of these two friends, was striking. It instilled many things in me. It enhanced my awareness of the beauty of friendship and of how much difference kindness can make to someone in a time of need.
These acts of kindness also sparked the birth of the Sunset Benevolence Fund. We were so moved by the generosity of these ladies that we created the fund as a way for other people to pay it forward if they feel so inclined.
All monetary donations support sick or terminal pets when their owners are financially unable to do so. The fund is not just a lifeline for struggling pet lovers, it also provides an outlet for expressions of kindness and sympathy from the pet-loving community.
You can find out about how to reach out or even donate in memory of your own beloved pet, here -> https://www.sunsetvets.com.au/giving-back