Thanks to “Fospice” (think foster + hospice), a program run by Foster Dogs, a lucky select few elderly or terminally ill dogs like Biscuit are given 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 receive 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, instead of living out their golden years in loving homes and with proper medical treatment,” said Sarah Brasky, who founded Foster Dogs in July 2013, and runs The Dog Matchmaker, which helps place rescue animals with new adoptive families.
“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 will 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 dog bed from Harry Barker, a custom portrait by My Animal Art, a 6-month subscription to BarkBox, and a handmade orange “rescue leash”.
Fospice mom Chelsea Massimin first saw 13-year-old Lucy, a black Chihuahua that suffered from cancer and kidney problems, caged in a nearby shelter. The pup 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 shelter.
“What a hard life, I thought, just to die in the pound,” said Massimin, who bundled Lucy up in a towel and brought her home to join the other family dogs. She gained 3 pounds after arriving and began looking 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.”
While the Fospice program can only help five dogs with full adoption packages each year, they 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 and healthy, yet very hard of hearing.
“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.”
All rescue groups are encouraged to contact Foster Dogs 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.