How Lap of Love Let’s Pets and Pet Parents Say Goodbye at Home

Image by  Mark Gunn

Image by Mark Gunn

Lap of Love is a network of veterinarians around the country (locations) whose goal is to empower every owner to care for their geriatric pets. Our philosophy centers around the human-animal bond and the need for that bond to be as undisturbed as possible during this most difficult time. The desire to bring this important service to families across the United States is slowly being realized as additional veterinarians begin working under the same philosophy. Lap of Love is honored to have some of the most compassionate and empathetic vets working with us. 

Suzanne Cosentino is a veterinarian who represents Lap of Love in Kansas City, Missouri, and the surrounding area. I reached out to Cosentino in 2018 to find out more about Lap of Love, and how she and the organization she works for help serve pets and pet parents. 

Question: How did you find out about Lap of Love, and what inspired you to go into this line of work (end-of-life care for pets)?

Cosentino: I initially heard about Lap of Love from a colleague who worked for the company in Houston. Then, two years ago, I met the co-founders, Dr. Dani McVety and Dr. Mary Gardner at the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City. They were speaking on several end-of-life subjects, and they were so knowledgeable and passionate about giving animals the best life and death that we can, and their passion was infectious. I was in a mixed practice at the time, and really enjoyed my job, but knew that this was an opportunity to help animals and their families in a special way. 

Both of my grandmothers spent their last weeks to months in hospice care, and I was truly awed by the kindness and compassion shown to them and the rest of our family by everyone involved in the hospice. I feel that, if I can bring even a fraction of that to the families I help, I hopefully will be leaving this world better than I found it.

Question: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Cosentino: The most rewarding part of my job is when I help a family, and they tell me that it was a better experience than they could have hoped for. I think sometimes people think that I am only there for the pet, but caring for the family is so important, too.

Question: What information would you like to pass on to pet parents who are in the middle of caring for a sick or dying pet?

Cosentino: You are not alone. I know it can feel overwhelming and lonely and sad, but there are people who do care and will do what they can to help. Even if Lap of Love doesn't have a veterinarian in a particular area, we still have a team of amazing people who can help you find resources, or just lend a sympathetic ear. The toll-free number is 855-933-5683. Hop on the Lap of Love website, and there are lots of tools for determining a pet's quality of life, education on a number of health conditions, and more. 

If your pet is ill, your quality of life suffers, too. We have four budgets: financial, time, physical, and emotional. If anyone of those budgets is tapped out, our relationship with our pet is becoming damaged, and we need to do something. Many times, that something is humane euthanasia, and that is okay. Euthanasia is not "giving up," it is acknowledging that we love our pet enough to make tough decisions. I feel that it is better to make that decision a week early than a day late.

Question: Do you think services like Lap of Love are becoming more popular amongst pet parents.

Cosentino: Absolutely. I meet so many people who say, "I wish I had known about this before!" Pet parents and veterinarians alike recognize how a peaceful passing at home is less stressful for the pet, the family, and frequently the clinic staff, as well.

For more information about Lap of Love, click here. You can contact Cosentino here

A DIY, Home Funeral Guide 

Image via  Susan Bodenner

Image via Susan Bodenner

I recently wrote a DIY funeral guide for an online casket site, Harbor Caskets. It was a great experience and allowed me to put “what I plan to do” into written form. 

For any of you who have organized or have attended home or DIY funerals: What did you like about the process? What didn’t you like? I’d love to hear your experiences.




Death Colloquy: A Conversation

Memento Mori by  Rebecca Wood

Memento Mori by Rebecca Wood

My friends and I are hosting a local event (Lawrence, Kansas) concerning death. If you’re interested, please come! Information below…

Hosted by: 

Abbie Stutzer of Gather the Leaves 
Cara Schuster of Fox Den Folk Care
Marcy Sanz of Down to Earth Natural Cleaning

Join Marcy, Cara, and Abbie for an evening of casual conversation about various topics concerning death.

The Death Colloquy will hold its inaugural meeting at the Lawrence Public Library (meeting room B) from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. on October 30, 2018. The first topic we will discuss will concern how people celebrate their loved ones who have died.

During this week, many people celebrate their loved ones who have since passed on. We’d like to celebrate this time of year by inviting the public to come and chat about the ways they’ve honored their now deceased loved ones. Note: This is not a grief support group. We’re open to talking about grief, etc., but please note that we are not licensed mental health professionals. 

Our group will continue to meet on the last Tuesday of every month going forward until further notice. Days may alternate to accommodate a wider audience. 

For more information about our hosts and their businesses, feel welcome to visit the following sites:

Down to Earth Natural Cleaning

Fox Den Folk Care

Gather the Leaves

RSVP here

An Introduction

Early morning sunrise in Lawrence, Kansas.

Early morning sunrise in Lawrence, Kansas.

Although this is a business, this business is basically, well, me.

So, I thought it appropriate to give you some information about the person you’re considering hiring, or have hired.

I’m Abbie Stutzer (she/her/hers). I grew up in Olathe, Kansas. 

Education 

I studied political science to make a difference and better understand the political system. I minored in peace and conflict studies to have the opportunity to study different cultures, and better understand how various protest tactics help communities survive and thrive. I went to graduate school for journalism to apply what I learned during my undergraduate studies. Since 2008, I’ve reported on various topics; some fun—organic beauty and cooking—others serious—human rights and LGBTQ+ issues.  For more information on how I decided to become a death doula, visit my about page

Death

I was introduced to death as a concept and reality when I was around 3 years old. I aspirated during surgery and technically died for a portion of time. The experience greatly influenced my life. As a young child, I was terrified of death and dying. However, as I grew older, and began facing the reality of my experience, I started to have a greater appreciation for that event. Although no person should have to go through what I did, I’ve decided to look at this happening in a positive manner. Everything I saw, felt, etc. has allowed me to better appreciate life and death, the circle of life, and the seasonal flow. 

Daphne

Daphne

Pet love

My mom has always joked that my first cat, Snowbird, was my unofficial caregiver. The little black ball of fuzz showed up on my parents’ front porch before I was born. Through my life, he tattled on me when I was bad, showed me affection when I was sad, and taught me patience and compassion when he died at the ripe cat age of 22.

Cash

Cash

Puff, also known as the white ball of fuzzy terror, showed up… you guessed it… on my parents’ front porch, too. Although Puff was a bit of a grump—he had a severely broken hip that required pins, which were uncomfortable—he was my cat.  He sat with me when I showered, slept with me at night, and was my buddy. He died from a seizure at 14 years of age in front of me. Although the experience was sad, I am thankful I was there for him at the end of his life.

Rapture

Rapture

Each dog I had while growing up taught me so much, too. Scrappy, my first dog, taught me to be gentle. Daisy, the first dog I got to pick at a shelter, taught me to be cautious and always aware of my dog’s surroundings. Maggie, my parents' first dog after I moved out of their home, taught me patience. And Josie, their last dog who recently died of cancer, taught me to remain hopeful.

Stuntman Mike

Stuntman Mike

Currently, I’m the proud caregiver of Daphne, a 13-year-old beagle, Cash, a 5-year-old beagle mix, Rapture, a 10-year-old cat, and Stuntman Mike, a 4-year-old cat. I look forward to sharing my caregiving experiences with them, with you, here.

~

In the coming month, I hope to share interviews with local veterinarians about end-of-life pet care, death doulas about their work, green cemetery activists, and a funeral director on how they manage to give families—and the dead—what they want. I look forward to connecting with you then!