“Fospice” Gives Terminally Ill Shelter Dogs Chance at a Happy Ending

“Fospice” Gives Terminally Ill Shelter Dogs Chance at a Happy Ending

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“This is NOT a sad post.” That’s how Biscuit’s “Goodbye” blog begins.

Thanks to “Fospice” (think foster + hospice), a program run by Foster Dogs NYC, a select few lucky elderly and terminally ill dogs like Biscuit are able to receive comfort, love, and care in their final months, a service usually reserved for humans.

Even with tumors covering his body, Biscuit, a hefty 13-year-old Pitbull was able to experience a happy end to his life. Through the Fospice program, he was able to land in a loving home with a woman named Marie, and received some much-needed veterinary attention. The vet’s prognosis gave him just three weeks, which he spent in the comforting presence of his new friend.

“Too many old and sick dogs die in shelters. Sometimes shelters receive animals that are not medically healthy enough for adoption, but they still have the right to live out their golden years in loving homes and with proper medical treatment,” said Sarah Brasky, founder of both Foster Dogs NYC and The Dog Matchmaker, which helps place rescue animals with new adoptive families.

She continued, “While I would not want any animal to be stuck in a shelter, it can be particularly difficult for seniors who miss their lifelong families, and need quiet and comfort during their final years/months.”

Inspired by a similar program run by the ASPCA, Foster Dogs NYC will actively search for a foster home and sponsor the dog’s basic needs for the remainder of their life. Fospice parents receive a generous sponsorship package, including a donation to the rescue group that fosters the pup, a dog bed from Harry Barker, a custom portrait by My Animal Art, a 6-month subscription to BarkBox, and a handmade orange “rescue leash” from Found My Animal.

Fospice Senior Dog Permission Photo
A Fospice mom and pup, by Samantha Cheirif

Fospice mom Chelsea Massimin first saw 13-year-old Lucy, a black Chihuahua, behind the bars of a nearby shelter. The older pup, who had cancer and kidney problems, had been at the pound for 7 long months after being seized from a hoarding situation with approximately 30 other dogs. Prior to that, she had lived in another dog pound.

“What a hard life, I thought, just to die in the pound,” said Massimin. “She, of course, had no other inquires.”

Before long, Lucy was bundled up in a towel and brought home to join the other family dogs. She’s gained 3 pounds since arriving at her new home in April, and is doing remarkably well.

“We will continue to cater to her every whim, cook for food, and carry her in and out every 2 hours until Lucy is officially ready to cross the rainbow bridge,” said Massimin. “No animal should ever cross that bridge without knowing love and having a human to serve them.”

While the Fospice program can only help five dogs with full adoption packages each year, they still pitch in to help other rescues as well.

Lauren Hirata certainly appreciated the help. She saw Lily Bean’s picture popping up on the Friends with Four Paws Facebook page day after day, week after week, but there were never any takers. She was the first to finally reach out and inquire about her.

After Lauren took Lily Bean to the vet, a checkup confirmed that she was older than originally thought and had slight heart murmur. The Fospice program helped her pay the bills needed to support Lily Bean, who is now happy, healthy, and very hard of hearing.

Lily Bean Fospice Story Submitted
Lily Bean, by her Fospice mom, Lauren

“She has learned some sign language for basic commands like sit and shake,” Lauren said. “Her days are now filled with napping on the couch, napping on my bed, napping in the sun–and she loves riding the subway in her oversized tote bag.”

The Fospice program began in July 2013 with “Daisy the elderbull,” who has survived much longer than predicted and is still happily living in the Lower East Side with her Boston Terrier friend.

All rescue groups are encouraged to contact Foster Dogs NYC if they have, or will soon rescue, an elderly dog that has a very limited amount of time left. While they can only help a select few, they will be able to provide more donations in the form of mini grants, thanks to a new 501(c)(3) status.

Biscuit’s adoption was made possible by a collaborative effort between Second Chance Rescue, Angel Capone Rescue, and the Mayor’s Alliance.