End-of-Life Doulas aren’t just for people! Sometimes our pets need End-of-Life support, too. If this is a service you are interested in for your pet, or if you are in need of a companion to walk the good-bye journey with you, please feel free to contact me to be of service. It would be an honor.
Below is background as well as a blog post on our dog’s journey from February 2019:
I’ve had the pleasure of living with many dogs and a few cats over my lifetime, and have been grateful to have had the choice of euthanasia when it was clear that quality of life had declined to the point that there were a vast majority of difficult days and very few easy ones. Since becoming an EOL Doula, our English Mastiff, Leonard, was at the “vast majority of difficult” stage. After a hard conversation about his health and his welfare, we decided it was time to release him to the stars.
This is the story of his journey.
January 30, 2019: As an end-of-life / death doula, I’ve been wanting to do a body washing and oils ritual with a patient. As it turns out, my first opportunity is with our lovely and gentle English Mastiff, Leonard, who will be euthanized here at home this Friday evening.
Yesterday I did research to find which oils are best for near-death and offered them to him to sniff and make an approval. He chose Fragonia, Frankincense, Palo Santo, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, and Spikenard. Although he was not a fan, I chose Elemi, which is an oil specifically used as an aid for crossing the threshold. I will anoint him with the Elemi on Friday night.
Last night I wrote the oils ritual, in which I remind Leonard of how much he is loved and how much gratitude I have for his service here. I also offer him information on what each oil does and how it will help him die a good death.
This morning, I hand-fed him inside (it’s -50 windchill outside) and then put on his favorite calming meditation music. I prepared a sponge bath bowl with warm water and antibacterial soap, and simply followed my intuition in doing a complete body washing. He especially loved having his face and ears massaged and cleaned.
After that, I performed the ritual with the oils. I opened each bottle, allowed him to smell, and then placed each appropriately on his correlating chakras. The exception was the Palo Santo oil, which was run through his aura from base to nose. Our living room now smells like a cross between Aveda and a Roman Catholic church post-incense burning!
Bath and ritual finished, he got onto his bed and is now very calm and sleeping (see picture below), with deep, great snores being offered.
I cried as I gave Leonard what comfort I can give; tears are cleansing and allow me to grieve for my beautiful beast. He truly has been the best boy, a wonderful Studio Dog, and a terrific neighborhood ambassador. He will be greatly missed. I stand in deep gratitude.
This is the beginning of his formal vigil; he is ready to accept all the visitors who are planning to come over the next 2-1/2 days, offering their Love, Healing Touch, Reiki, and Gratitude. Honoring a one-in-a-million guy.
Leonard’s vigil was beautiful; he had people stopping by for all of the 2-1/2 days. While we were visiting with folks out in the studio, Patty came home early from work and lit candles on and in the fireplace, and propped up a great “in-his-Fall-jacket” picture. After we got him in the house, we just laid with him and loved on him until the Dr came.
He ate a treat with peanut butter as she gave the first shot, then fell asleep after about five minutes. Then the infusion and, within five minutes, he was gone. No hardship, easy sailing into the mystery.
Grateful for the beauty of it, and that we can do this for these friends; he died with his head in Patty’s arms and my head on the side of his chest, with ear to heartbeat. ❤️