Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Vet Hospice Symposium is causing me to continue to change my life

I am at the Second International Veterinary Hospice Symposium at UC Davis's College of Veterinary Medicine.  Just like last year, this Symposium is again causing me to change my life.  I am completely taken over by the idea that our pets are sentient, feeling, soulful creatures that we are responsible for.  When an animal looks into my eyes, I DO know what they want, what they are asking of me.  I never really admitted that when I was a practicing Veterinarian.  Now that look, those eyes are the reason I must write and help Veterinarians and concerned pet "owners" to accept the death of their pets and participate in the process through Animal Hospice.  Finally, here at the Symposium, are some good journalists, this will be on the radar now.  I am no journalist, and am struggling to write and express myself.  I am driven, however, to try to get Vets and other caregivers, and pet owners to know about Veterinary Hospice.  Something about this subject, this idea is all encompassing and life changing.  Sharen Myers LCSW gave an amazing talk, and meeting her, I saw my new passion mirrored in her eyes.  She has worked in human hospice for many years and is starting Synergy a Pet Hospice in Oregon.  She quoted Cicely Saunders a Hospice pioneer who said "I did not find Hospice, Hospice found me".  She also said about Hospice that "It took me 19 years to build a house around a window."  Hospice has caused me to rethink first, my own life, my ideas about life itself, and then infused me with a burning desire to tell other people what the animals want.
   I thought, because of my health issues, I had to be at home.  Dr. Kathryn Maracchino told me last year to "work to your abilities, not your disabilities".  I came to the first Hospice Symposium.  Since then I have driven 5000 miles each summer with my daughter to help people in New Orleans, and to just have an adventure with her.  I think that has changed both our lives.  This lisence to GO that I got from Kathryn in one instant absolutely changed my life.  That First Symposium then changed my views of life itself.  This Second Symposium contimues to alter my basic values and views for the better.
  I have learned in our culture , especially in the USA, we AFRAID of death.  Sharen Myers quoted Margaret Mead who said "When someone is born, we rejoice.  When someone marries, we celebrate.  When someone dies, we pretend nothing happened."  Death IS the equal and opposite process of birth.  If we want to live well, we need to die well and vice versa.  We may try to ignore this for ourselves, but we are faced with death full force with our pets.  We love them so much and they love us so purely.  We are responsible for them, feed them and take care of them, but in reality  they take care of us.  I know there is an amazing spiritual, pure love connection with our animals.  I know I am being loved when I look into a kitty like Zoomi's eyes.  There is a message there, and now I am not afraid to admit that, and thrive in that knowledge.  The Hospice Symposium has validated the path and the truth that I feel in my gut.  I have found the courage to change my life from that knowledge.  Something about dealing with the moment of death teaches us how to well live our lives.  There is the very kernal of sacredness here, and the lesson is to experience it.  The speakers here have taught me that THE most important thing is to BE PRESENT and open to the experience.  This was presented about the dying process, but it has taught me about the living process.  This is what I learn when I look into those eyes: love is here, in the moment, and I must learn to live with this love first and foremost in my every moment.


  1. It was a great conference, attended by passionate, dedicated people.

    You write well, Jamie.

    Best wishes,

    Bill Gibson

  2. Yes, it truly was an awesome Symposium. It takes awhile to process it all. Thanks, Jamie, for your thoughts and synopsis.

    Lois Roach
    Certified Pet Bereavement Counselor
    Host & Moderator, Anticipatory Bereavement Chat Room
    Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB)

  3. Hi

    I'm an Aussie vet and I'd dearly love a copy of the proceedings. Could you let me know if and where I could purchase them? my email address is healthycatnews at gmail dot com - thank you so much, this is such an important part of veterinary care.

  4. Fantastic, this is what we is looking for here in Campanina Italy, with our American/Swedish team.

    I am so looking up to you for what you are doing. Thank you, hope to get in touch with you very soon