Hospice for Dogs

We visit hospice patients, staff and visitors all the time. And we really like it, too. But did you know there is hospice for dogs too? Sam here. Last weekend, Mom and I went to the annual anniversary picnic of our photographer friend, Ariane at DelaFoto Studios. You may remember her, right? She’s the one that makes me look soooo good here and here. Each year, Ariane hosts an anniversary picnic for her clients and hosts a rescue group.
finalThis year one of the rescue groups that participated was Cayleb’s Kindred Senior Dog Rescue (“CKSDR”). We were able to meet with the Executive Director, Sophiane Nacer and Rebecca Shattuck, Behavior Specialist. These two amazing women work tirelessly to provide foster, forever, and sanctuary homes for senior dogs in need. This small rescue accepts adoptable, terminal, and special needs dogs over the age of eight and firmly believe that no dog is too old or too “un-adoptable.” Sophiane introduced us to little Annie, a sweet, albeit slow moving 16 year-old Pomeranian who was quite the life of the party. She entertained everyone with her always hanging-out tongue and tiny arthritic steps around the picnic area. Don’t you just want to put her in your pocket?!  Little Annie attends vet classes with Sophiane and goes with her everywhere and is one of several grey muzzles currently with CKSDR. While Annie has only 3 teeth left, that ‘minor’ fact doesn’t seem to keep her from filching Cheerios and giving loads of kisses. Even though she has many physical ailments including kidney and heart failure, a collapsed trachea, severe arthritis, and difficulty hearing/seeing, she still manages to enjoy life to the fullest. According to the website, Annie is “a little dog with a big heart (both figuratively and literally), and an even bigger personality. She continues to bring us joy each and every day that she’s been with us-now going on three years.”


We were so impressed with their program where they provide a sanctuary home for senior dogs so they can live out the rest of their lives in a home environment. It’s basically a hospice center for canines. While it’s been said all dogs may go to heaven, on occasion some of them go to hospice first.

How does it work? Volunteers open their homes to terminally ill or otherwise un-adoptable senior dogs, giving them a place to live out their lives however long they have left, and then they can pass away peacefully in a home environment rather than in a shelter. Even thought it’s a very tough part of senior dog rescue, it is also the most rewarding knowing you made the end of their lives just a little bit better.

CKSDR provides all medical expenses with arranged vet visits. Basic supplies such as leashes, collars, ID tags, blankets, crates can be provided if needed and food when donated. Behavioral training is also provided free to the pets. Volunteers are expected to care for the pet for the rest of its life. Many of the terminal dogs may only live a few weeks, some rebound in a loving home environment when expectations are exceeded. But when the time comes for the dog to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, CKSDR provides assistance through that process for both the volunteer and the dog.

Since mom and I work at our local hospice, we know how tough it can be, and how wonderful the staff caters to patients and their families. CKSDR does the same thing for these dogs. How cool is that?!

Do you have a canine hospice in your vicinity? What are your thoughts on canine hospice?

Live, love, bark! <3

35 thoughts on “Hospice for Dogs

  1. To my knowledge there is no place like that here in this region and I don’t think in South Australia, although I will consult the Great Google and see what she has to say. I think it’s a wonderful idea and all dogs should pass loved and cared for. I think it has to have special people – earth angels – because I also would be a basket case,

  2. Muttville in SF is an awesome place–they only take dogs 6 years or older. Whenever anyone sees a senior dog in a shelter they notify Muttville. Sacramento SPCA asked NorCal Poodle Rescue to take a 14 year old poodle mix–her owner’s house burned down, and she relinquished the dog. I picked her up, thinking I would have her until she passed away–who would adopt a dog who was 1 year younger than her expected lifespan. Someone saw her picture on the web and had to have her–he drove up from Del Mar, at least 500 miles, to pick her up. She is now living in a beach house in Del Mar with 2 other dogs, and a couple who take their dogs into town at least once a week for a family dinner. I almost asked him if he took in old people.

  3. This is a wonderful idea! There is a cat rescue nearby that allows old kitties to have a very comfortable life at the facility until they get adopted or pass away, but there aren’t any dog hospices that I know of.

    I once rescued a neglected 11 year old Rottweiler with legs bent from arthritis, and he lived for two more happy years with me. His owners were going to put him to sleep because he was in the way! I took him home and bought him a futon to rest his old body on. He was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. It was extremely fulfilling knowing that I helped an old mistreated dog live his golden years in comfort and warmth. ~ Kona’s mom, Lori

  4. We could definitely love and care for a senior dog. But we find it terrible sad that dogs are turned in because they are old and no long agile in mind or body. When a pet has made you their whole life how can you turn you back on them when they need you the most.
    We know of no such hospice around us.
    Sweet William The Scot

  5. My husband saw a very elderly dog “Sweetie” for adoption that he wanted because she reminded him so much of his last dog. A rescue group had her. We had her only for a short time because we also had a young Riley at the time and he bugged her to play ALL THE TIME. We had to decide which one to keep, and in the end, gave Sweetie back to the group and told them to keep the money we had given them. Just saying, circumstances have to be right. I am so glad to hear about Hospice for Dogs.

  6. This is totally awesome and we think there should be more of this everywhere! It’s sad to see an anipal coming to the end of their life without unconditional love. If only they have it for a short time, they should be totally loved. LOVE IT! XOXO – Bacon

  7. I know of the Twilight Retirement home for dogs in France run by an amazing British couple with the help of volunteers: the old and ailing dogs look a picture of happiness living in a home environment.

    1. Way too often old sick dogs often get turned over to shelters. It’s heartbreaking knowing they spend their last days in uncertain chaos of shelters. This group is doing a wonderful thing for these grey muzzles. <3

  8. I’m not sure if there’s a canine hospice in my area or not, to be honest with you Sam. Since I’ve never needed one – because my girls have always spent their entire lives (well, minus the first few months of puppyhood) with me – I never checked it out. I think it’s wonderful, though, that these volunteers give the senior dogs a home in which to spend the rest of their lives and plenty of love. My thoughts right now are to adopt a senior Golden after Shadow joins her sister in Heaven. I believe a laid-back Golden will be a perfect match for Ducky as well as us uprights.

    1. How exciting! I’m all about rescues of pups that deserve a second chance. All too often, people can’t afford treatment of terminal pets and give up up to shelters. How terrifying to have to spend your last few days in a chaotic setting of a shelter where everyone is freaking out in an uncertain environment. I love how these guys try to make the last few days a little better for when it’s time to cross the bridge. Good luck with your search-looking forward to hearing about it soon!

  9. I’m glad that such a place exists… I never could work there, it would break my heart… but it’s so great that people have a heart for senior dogs and that they are there for our old friends… even when their heart must be as heavy as a rock every time when… well ya know…

  10. What a lovely idea. I am not aware of anything specifically geared towards senior dogs around here, but we have two local rescue operations (Oakville and Milton Humane Society, and The Dog Rescuers) both of which will “process” elderly dogs just as they would younger dogs. i.e. they will find them a home!

  11. Mom and I think this is such a lovely idea and like all hospice work – such a difficult job. Thank God there are people who are able to do it.

    Love and licks,

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