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The Gift of Good-bye
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Kissy Girl
Kissy Girl

At the end of the week, I spent an incredible afternoon with Sunny’s family, celebrating and toasting her life, as well as getting more of those famous kisses. I helped her cross the Rainbow Bridge from her favorite sunshine-filled spot in the back yard, surrounded by those who loved her. You see, Sunny was not just “any dog”: she was also the rock who helped Jeff through the death of his first wife due to cancer.

As I reflect on my life’s path, it seems strangely paradoxical: I spent the first eleven years of my veterinary career doing everything possible to save lives in an ER setting, and now I am working just as fervently to end them as beautifully and as peacefully as I possibly can.

I am often asked, “Aren’t you always sad? Isn’t this just so difficult to do?” The short answer to this multi-layered question is “yes,” and in fact, I still cry during every euthanasia. Although it can be a heart-wrenching journey to take with another, it is through these experiences that my life becomes more blessed and made richer. For what people often don’t realize is that my tears well from being in the midst of great love, from experiencing the tremendous bond between family and pet, and from being able to give another the precious gift of good-bye.

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Veterinarian Shea Cox has enjoyed an indirect path through her professional life, initially obtaining degrees in fine arts and nursing. She later obtained her veterinary medical degree from Michigan State University in 2001 and has been practicing emergency and critical care medicine solely since that time. In 2006, she joined the ER staff at PETS Referral Center in Berkeley and cannot imagine a more rewarding and fulfilling place to spend her working hours. In her spare time, she loves to paint, wield her green thumb, cook up a storm and sail. Her days are shared with the three loves of her life: her husband Scott and their two Doberman children that curiously occupy opposite ends of the personality spectrum.

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Submitted by rachel b | February 23 2013 |

Beautiful article and beautiful services. The world is a better place because of people like you. I wish hospice services were readily available for all species. Having worked for a human Hospice and now a children's grief center...I appreciate those who learn to celebrate life following a death. Our lives are forever changed by those we love in any capacity...human or animal.

Submitted by DK | May 13 2013 |

This article was just what I needed as a mom of a 13yo Boston, along with her 3 human borthers and sisters, who is starting with suspected iatrogenic seizures, although she did have an olfactory meningioma last summer. Your work gives me a better idea of how to prepare our family for the predictable as well as the inevitable. Watching the first family dog go through these uncontrollable events just breaks your heart, however she is and will be forever surrounded by love. And yes, a birthday party to celebrate her role in our lives is a wonderful idea. Thanks so much.

Submitted by Kathryn Gruenthal | June 25 2013 |

How do we find hospice for our loved ones (pets) in our area?

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | June 27 2013 |
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