This wonderful story from PPOM partner, Iowa City Hospice, demonstrates the power of the PPOM network and how advanced planning plays a vital role in meeting a patient’s needs.
When our patient, Michael, was admitted to Iowa City Hospice his primary concern was clear: the future welfare of his beloved cats, Tad and Blessing. Being single, Michael had spent much of his time and energy doting on his cats. Tad, an 18-year-old brown tabby, had been with Michael since the age of 6. Tad is diabetic and needed a special feeding regimen and two daily doses of insulin. Blessing, an 8-year-old gray tabby, ruled the roost! She was somewhat aloof, even with Michael, but as a rescue cat, he was devoted to her. Michael did not have any family willing to take on these animals after his death and so he sought help from our Pet Peace of Mind program.
Our primary concern was the age and medical needs of these cats. Adding to the challenge was Michael’s preference that they be adopted together. Fortunately, Michael was able to discuss this concern early on in his admission, which gave us more time to look for a great match. This is where the importance of building a network of PPOM volunteers and supporters really helps, because all I had to do was share this poignant story with the volunteers and let them do the rest!
Because Michael began planning earlier than most, we were able to include him in every stage of the process, which is really the ideal. So, he met with potential adopters, even traveling to the home of one couple that eventually adopted the cats. They had several other cats and Michael wanted to see the set up and the relationships between the animals. The adopters were very comfortable supporting Tad’s medical needs, and knew and loved cats enough not to expect too many snuggles from Blessing.
The final, satisfying piece to this story is that Michael was just beginning to get a lot of affection from Blessing, which was a great comfort to him. He reported that she had recently started curling up right between his shoulder and neck to sleep at night, often purring him to sleep. This new development was emotionally moving for him. It was clear that the cats needed to stay with him until the very end. All of our potential adopters are told that the animal will stay with the patient as long as they desire. This loving couple was more than happy to give Michael every moment he could have with Blessing and Tad, which actually turned out to be months. We were all in regular contact about the patient’s condition; the whereabouts of the adopters (they were traveling frequently at that time) with contingent plans in place every step of the way. This suited Michael as he was a very organized, systematic person.
Michael’s story highlights the impact of Pet Peace of Mind’s impact in the lives of patients and their pets. If you are interested in volunteering for Pet Peace of Mind, please send us an email with your city and state and we would be glad to connect you to the closest hospice with a Pet Peace of Mind program.