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History of Gentle Journey Veterinary Hospice

Gentle Journey Veterinary Hospice was founded by Nancy A. Ruffing, DVM in March, 2008. After practicing emergency veterinary medicine for 9 years, Dr. Nancy recognized voids in current veterinary care, including:

During these periods, when veterinary care is so crucial to the pet's quality of life and the happiness derived from the human-pet bond, followup examinations frequently decline due to the physical and emotional toll of office visits. Even when regular office visits continue, many veterinarians cannot provide hospice or in-home euthanasia for logistical reasons. By offering a full-range of customized home care choices, Gentle Journey expands the options available to pet owners in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Gentle Journey Veterinary Hospice Guidelines

Hospice means different things to different people. At Gentle Journey, the pet's quality of life and comfort are paramount. The full spectrum of palliative measures is explored when designing the hospice plan. Both the caregivers and the veterinary team assess the pet's response to therapy and revisions to the plan are made accordingly. Gentle Journey Veterinary Hospice provides the following guidelines to all caregivers:

Black labrador retriever
  1. Make every day precious. Your pet will cherish every moment that you spend with them as much as you do. Sit next to them, lay down with them, stroke them, read to them, be with them in mind and body.

  2. Remember your pet can sense your emotions. Enjoy your time together and celebrate life rather than dwelling on death.

  3. Respect your pet's desires - some days they may prefer not to eat or not to be touched. This is not a personal affront, but rather part of their preparation for what lies ahead.

  4. Educate yourself on how to recognize your pet's needs, including pain relief, hydration, comfort, and the best ways to meet these needs. Small adjustments to your lifestyle and home environment may make dramatic improvements in your pet's life. Be willing to adapt.

  5. When the time is right, give your pet permission to leave. If ever your pet's suffering cannot be eased, please consider euthanasia - animals do not fear death, but there are limitations on our ability to eliminate pain and suffering. A quality death is as important as quality of life.

  6. Know that your pet will live on in your heart and mind forever. Cherish and be thankful for the times you have shared with your pet. Talk about your pet and the special moments that changed your life.

Nancy A. Ruffing, DVM

Dr. Nancy has a PhD in Animal Physiology from the University of California, Davis and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Cornell University. She has practiced veterinary medicine in the Pittsburgh area for over 11 years. She believes in providing current information and advice and consults regularly with veterinary specialists. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Veterinary Information Network, and the International Veterinary Academy for Pain Management.

Customized home care for the pet you love