I veckan som gick kunde man i kanadensiska Vancouver Sun läsa om ett djurhospice i en ort med det passande namnet Mission, där gamla och sjuka djur i livets slutskede får den kärlek och omsorg på alla de vis de förtjänar efter lång och trogen tjänst hos människor. Artikeln återges här och är av förklarliga skäl endast på engelska.
Följande återgivna artikel är av förklarliga skäl endast på engelska. Dock är ämnet "ett lyckligt slut" och den omtanke och värme som genomströmmar den något jag vill dela med mig av alldeles särskilt så här i juletider.
Att det faktiskt finns människor därute, över hela jordklotet som anser att även djur - ofta i mångårig mänsklig tjänst - har rätt till ett värdigt, kärleksfullt och vackert slutskede i livet.
Similarly Moses, a husky cross of indeterminate age who was found floating on a log jam on the Fraser River. He's had three strokes already. A fourth and he may be out.
Then there's Toby, Stripe and Missy, three cats aged 19, 20 and 21 respectively. They look amazingly healthy for such great ages, but cats rarely live longer than that. So who knows?
Never mind, says Carol Hine, owner and manager of SAINTS, the Senior Animals In Need Today Society. For as long as they're alive, she and the 10 volunteers who work with her are going to make them as comfortable as she can.
Because that's what SAINTS, a pet hospice near Mission, is all about.
"I hate the idea that an animal who has lived its whole life in the service of humankind should die in a concrete cell somewhere," she says. "I can't imagine anything crueller than that. So this is a chance to make their last days on Earth a little happier. That's the least I can do for them."
The animals she looks after may only be with her a few months -- two dogs who arrived in August died in September -- but while they're alive, they're groomed, fed, welcome to climb on the furniture Hine puts out for them, and free to run around the 1.2-hectare property she bought with money left her by her father.
There's even a pond for them to swim in.
And once a month it's pizza night.
"Oh yes, all the dogs know the pizza guy, and they always look forward to seeing him," says Hine, a 48-year-old palliative care nurse and mother of three.
And if that sounds a little nuts, so be it, she says. She knows it makes them happy, and that's all that matters.
Besides, it helps compensate for more difficult times, of which there are many.
Choosing the best moment to have an ailing animal put down is always tough. Like anyone who's had to make that fateful decision, Hine looks for that small window when the animal hasn't yet begun to suffer but has no more hope.
"It's really hard to get it right, but sometimes I do."
"But I always cry," she adds. "It's always hard. And those last few weeks are always the worst."
As of late November, she had 60 once homeless animals in her care: dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, sheep, two donkeys, three horses, a llama and a pot-bellied pig, Petunia, who is so overweight that her rolls of fat have made her blind.
All of them are ancient -- the oldest horse is 30 -- or very sick. Michael, a 17-year-old spaniel cross, lived the first 16 years of his life on a chain and now has severe arthritis and heart problems. Cole, a 13-year-old Siberian cross, was hit in his hind legs with a two-by-four, and no longer has control of his bladder or bowels.
As of the same time, 45 more animals had died since the beginning of the year, and before New Year's Eve, Hine is expecting to lose another five, at least. Such is life -- and death -- at a hospice.
But those that make it through Christmas will get something special on the day. There will be decorations and a tree with wind chimes hanging from it, each of which will represent a resident who's no longer there.
There also will be new faces to look after, since Christmas traditionally is the busiest time of Hine's year.
"People have an old dog who's matted or sick, or maybe he smells. They don't want their visitors to see him so they drop him at the pound and pretend he's a stray. Those are the animals that end up with me."
Last year it cost Hine more than $50,000 to run SAINTS. Veterinary bills accounted for about $20,000 of that. SAINTS is a registered charity, so Hine was able to raise about $24,000 through donations, but the rest came from her own pocket.
She works as a community health nurse in Maple Ridge and then as a palliative care nurse at Mission Memorial Hospital, picking up as many shifts as she can.
Her skills as a nurse come in handy when dealing with sick animals, she says. So has her experience working with dying hospital patients.
"There's no such thing as dying. You're either dead or alive. More so for animals because they don't know there's a tomorrow."
Her three children are grown now, and they no longer live with her. She and their father no longer live together either, but remain good friends. "It was hard for all of them," she says of him and the children when she used to rescue animals -- sometimes dozens of them -- and bring them home. "But I've always wanted to do this.
"And now that they don't have to live with me, they're proud of me."
"I've always loved animals," she says by way of explanation. "It's their sense of wonder and innocence. You don't get that anywhere else in life. When I'm around them, I feel like a kid again."
Nicholas Read, Vancouver Sun Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Läs mer om Saints här
Datum för publicering