Animal Friends- there when we need them most
Along with other programs that support people in their illness journey, the HHA wanted to involve the whole family in the care-giving plan, including pets.
“He speaketh not and yet there lies a conversation in his eyes.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Animals have played an important part in people’s lives since the dawn of time. They are viewed as members of the family in our Western Society, living in our homes, sharing our space and filling our hearts, each in their own special way. In fact, 41% of Canadian households have dogs and 37% have at least one cat according the to Canadian Animal Health Institute in Guelph, ON.
As pet owners we love nothing more than sharing stories, photos and everything else about our animal friends. They are often hilarious comedians with four legs that entertain, love and companion us in so many ways. They also are sentient beings, that have emotions just like us, and can pick us up when we are feeling down, and snuggle up for a cuddle when we need it the most.
Simply said, animals improve our lives, and more research is proving that they improve our health and even extend our lives.
While there are all sorts of organizations and programs that enable us to look after pets while we are healthy, there is a lack of support right now, that enables us to care for them when our health fails us. This can cause anxiety and fear for what someone can do when they love and cherish their pet but feel like the care of the pet is just too much work in their current state of health.
Tracey, co-founder of the Bello Project and her dog Bello
Home Hospice Association, also known as HHA, is a non-profit registered Canadian charity group that recognized this gap in support and came up with their holistic compassionate caregiving for people living and dying with terminal diseases. Along with other programs that support people in their illness journey, the HHA wanted to involve the whole family in the caregiving plan, which of course included...the family pet. And that is what the Bello Project was created for. The Bello Project provides care and compassion for pets of terminally ill pet parents.
Pet lovers are concerned about the health and well-being of their animal friends. What many of us forget to think about (until it is often too late) is what would happen to that animal if we suddenly fell critically and terminally ill. Who would look after the pet on days when we just feel too weak to do anything, if an emergency hospital visit took place, or death of us (as an owner) occurred?
From the day of terminal diagnosis the Bello Project Client Care Coordinator will discuss with pet owners important questions to help provide answers and a plan that has the best interest of both the owner and the pet, so that they can stay together for as long as they both live.
A plan will be made to look after the daily care of the pet which may include (but not be limited to):
- litter cleaning
- backyard cleanup
- dog walks
- cat and small critter socialization
- bringing pets to visit with an owner who is otherwise unable to visit on their own
- feeding and watering
A plan will be made to arrange for care to continue in the event of an emergency trip to the hospital (this will include overnight care)
Volunteers will be assigned care for the pet in the home of the person who is ill, based on their palliative state and level of care required.
A plan will be made to arrange for a re-homing of the pet once the owner has passed away.
While the Bello Project is not an animal rescue, it is passionate about providing the best of care to pets who end up in situations through no fault of their own. Sometimes, we may hear of a person who has passed suddenly and had no plan in place for the pet, leaving the family or friends left to deal with what to do? We encourage the partnership of local humane societies and all-breed or breed specific rescues so that together we can find the perfect avenue of care for the animal in need.
Empowering communities to provide quality end of life care and support for anyone, of any age, at any time; under any roof. This is the vision of the HHA and what stands behind the heart of every HHA volunteer who steps up to care for someone in their community- whether it is a family member, friend, neighbour, or complete stranger we believe that everyone deserves to die at home if they wish to.
We also very strongly believe that pets are sometimes people’s sole family, friends, or caregivers. How then, at a time when an animal is needed most, could we accept that separation and re-homing be a solution? We want to provide a solution so that fewer animals are surrendered to Veterinarians, shelters and rescues because a desperate person is too ill to look after them (even though it breaks their heart to say goodbye) or a family member feels too overwhelmed with the increased care of their loved family member that the pet becomes a burden and they feel the only option is to find the pet a new home.
We want to be the solution that steps in and says, “you can stay with your pet and we will help you look after the care, so that your animal friend can continue to be your joy and comfort in your home while you walk through your illness journey”. We also want the pet to continue to walk through the journey so that they better understand and can emotionally prepare for the day that comes when you may no longer be around. The Bello Project will discuss the pets participation in funeral visitation so that it too can grieve and understand where its beloved person has gone.
Research shows that petting a dog or cat can reduce blood pressure, and to raise serotonin and dopamine levels in blood, resulting in pleasure and calming in the place of anxiety and depression. There are so many ways that our animal friends provide health and well- being for us. Animals are our friends. Animals are good for our health. Animals have a very important part in our lives and as much as we care for them, there are times in our lives where they also care for us.
The Bello Project wants nothing more than to assist someone in continuing to provide the love and care for their animal in their illness, as much as they did in their health.
“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'”
—Rudyard Kipling (author, The Jungle Book)
If you are interested in learning more about The Bello Project in the Waterloo Region please reach out and talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Our organization is run primarily through the hard work of volunteers to deliver our services free of charge to terminally ill people. Please consider donating to our work. You may donate to the general fund or make a request to earmark your donation to a specific service within HHA, like the Bello Project of Waterloo Region.
The Bello Project
How the Bello Project began...