Hello. My name is Elizabeth and I am the founder and Primary Caretaker at The Caretakers, specialists in end-of-life care for pets.
I am originally from Ireland and I came to San Diego, California in the eighties. I won a Green Card in the Lottery. I was quite lucky and I was lucky again when I met my first animal, a beautiful, feisty white cat, who I named Fiona. She changed my life and made me fall in love with animals in general – the beginning of my addiction.
My pack has grown over the years to include many amazing animals. Some that have come and gone and some that are still here. I love to tell stories about what we get up to so I began writing about my life with animals. I love poetry, so I throw in poems along the way because animals are inspiring and poetry gives them space to be more than we can even imagine.
My love affair with animals continued and I gravitated towards the grieving pet parent after Fiona died.
I promised myself if I got through that I would help other people do the same. So I did. I called a holistic veterinarian in San Diego and said “I am going to come and work for you.” She very surprisingly said, “ok.”
Fast forward through my animal journey – I worked for the holistic veterinarian and learnt everything I could about homeopathy, holistic medicine for animals and alternative therapies. The veterinarian was really on the cutting edge of things and thaught me so much. Still I found the end-of-life experiences animals were having with their people to be fascinating and sacred. I was easily able to comfort people because I knew the depth of the love and the loss because of Fiona.
I educated myself on all things “pet hospice” and attended symposiums on animal hospice at UC Davis in California, surrounding myself with professionals in the field who felt animals deserved the best end-of-life experience we could give them. I made connections and good relationships formed with veterinarians, social workers and animal lovers.
I continued to write about my life with animals, writing in total four books that helped heal the broken heart of the grieving pet parent.
During that time my cat Eli went into heart failure three weeks after my Dad died and I promised Eli he would die at home, in hospice, under my care. And he did. It was natural and beautiful. We were supported with homeopathy and a team of holistic practitioners that always answered their phone when I called.
This is a blog about his departure: How to Know What Your Pet Needs During Pet Hospice At-Home. (caretakers-acc.com)
After that I began talking at pet loss groups about the power of end-of-life care for pets and how pet hospices change lives and a mobile veterinarian saw me talk and asked me to join their team. So I did. Fast forward seven years later and I saw the need to create more customized services for pet parents, because I truly felt that if the caregiver of a pet was supported, the animal would have a better end-of-life experience.
I then became an Animal Hospice Practitioner through the Animal Hospice Group and this propelled me to go at it alone! (Btw if anyone has a remote interest in becoming a Certified Animal Hospice Practitioner, I would highly recommend this program which you do at home with live discussion groups.)
I knew what was needed and I knew I could do it. Honestly, I believed the animal kingdom was calling and it was in a dream that they asked me to help them have the “dying experience”. What Can You Live With?
I took the plunge and hello “The Caretakers Animal Care”
It has been three months and today we have served over thirty animals in their end-of-life experience.
I enjoy every aspect of the work, but to be honest, it is not for the faint-hearted. My day can consist of starting at 6 am (after I have hiked with my dogs) and diving into Google-Adwords Campaign (with coffee) and then going out to an appointment and then bringing home some ashes to a grieving family and possibly picking up a deceased Great Dane for cremation. In a typical day the phone rings from 6 am till 6 pm and I answer because I know how important it is to speak to a person- a real, live, feeling person.
I also am a licensed spiritual practitioner which really means I know how to create space for people to talk – about anything. And in a space of non-judgment and compassion, I listen. This does give grieving pet parents the opportunity to say how they are feeling and be acknowledged for the real loss of their fur-kid because life and other non-bonded pet parents will not know how deep this loss goes.
Being an Animal Hospice Practitioner through the Animal Hospice Group means that I have been trained and educated in the science and the art of end-of-life care for pets in an assisted or unassisted end. This course is one-of-a-kind and has brought together over 100 years of teachings, experience and training from four of the most respected animal end-of-life educators.
When I created The Caretakers I wanted to bring together a range of services in one place, hence the variety of practitioners we have from holistic veterinarians, to human homeopaths and emotion code practitioners, to Reiki practitioners and a Chaplain. We also have a certified Aromatherapist and rehab veterinarian who specializes in comfort care for end-of-life and physically disabled pets.
I wanted to offer eco-friendly aftercare options to pet parents
And it was actually through the Animal Hospice Group that I found out about Bios Urns for Pets and immediately thought “this is what I want for my pet”. So I reached out to the Bios Urn company and they were so responsive and compassionate. I then selected Peaceful Waters Aquamation Pet Cremation | Peaceful Waters Aquamation | San Diego for our aftercare. We love them as they care as deeply as we do.
Yes, the demand is shifting from fire cremation to green friendly (aqua/water) cremation as a wonderful legacy for their pet to leave behind. It just makes so much sense and it is the way forward. Once people hear about it, they are on board!
In social media I love to follow other mobile veterinarians that are forging the way for compassionate in-home services. One of the few silver linings we can thank COVID-19 for is that the pandemic changed our perspective in bringing more awareness to at-home services for pets, particularly at end-of-life.
We offer our services in San Diego and we also offer telemedicine appointments with our holistic veterinarian, our human homeopath and professional grief support practitioner. If someone contacts us for the first time, they can expect to be talking to a friend, a friend who listens and cares and who understands how hard the call was to make.
We found out about Bios Urns for Pets in our education through The Animal Hospice Group
We LOVE the vibe of the Urn because it just adds to the legacy of zero carbon footprint for the pet parents who are aware that every choice we make affects this planet. And animals – should they be offered the choice – would say “yes” so that pets ave a better end-of-life experience.
And what this journey has helped me with is my own end-of-life plans, which are now so much more solidified than before and actually in place.
And yes, I would love to become a tree in the afterlife and it would be a run-of-the-mill Irish oak tree. I grew up walking down a long avenue as a child in Dublin, which was lined with oak trees and I would kick those leaves up into the air and inhale the smell and listen to the sound of them beneath my little feet, and it felt like home. So, becoming an Oak tree after my departure, hopefully planted in Ireland, would be like completing the circle of life for me. Yes, it would be coming home.
“Caring for People, Caring for Pets. Because Animal Lives & Deaths Matter”
Did any emotions arise for you whilst reading Elizabeth´s journey to running a mobile pet hospice specializing in end-of-life care for pets? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section below.
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