"I love our vet, but you need more than that, you need support."
- Linda and Marcus Shelby, Seattle (December, 2011)
"Michelle and the AHELPers were so loving and non-judgmental, acknowledging the love that we have for Scotty and how much he means to us. Michelle continues to listen, comfort and support me through email and phone calls. Michelle and the AHELP community showed us the true meaning of It takes a village. AHELPers provided Scotty and our family with such care during a time when I felt completely overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear and the unknown."
– Amy and Scotty, Brier (June, 2012)
"(your help) was a good reminder that it's okay to ask for help and that the support of others can make ALL the difference."
– Sid, Bothell (July, 2012)
"Thank you...for being there...to prevent trouble...by supporting the mother of the doggie...that will now be better off...no matter what...because you helped me make him unafraid...TO MY SATISFACTION...you filled my needs. That is huge."
– xoxoxo, love love love, Elizabeth Mooney and Bodhi" (Kenmore, September 2012).
"Thank you so much for everything you have done for us and your instruction. You lent me the book, 'When Your Dog has Cancer' (by Lola Ball, AHELP co-founder). My wife read through it too, and it was so helpful for us. My wife and I both could not go through without your BIG HELP. AHELP is amazing and whatever you taught, every word you told us helped so much and made us through this process. We just so thankful for you, (Carol) and AHELP."
– Dr. Koki & Mrs. Ayano Kobata and Oscar, Sammamish (April, 2013)
"Wanna say thank you once more for the great compassionate support and visits to MoneMone & me during the hardest time. In fact, it means x100 times more for both of us than all the thank you's in writing. MoneMone must be happily running up by rainbow bridge and taking a peek on what I am writing. :) Now lots of new life plans taking action now...looking for house, putting Adrian on track ready for school, me going to gym..."
– Elaine Lam and Mone Mone, Bellevue (August, 2013)
"Thank you for the amazing care you gave Winston and our whole family following his bee attack. With AHELP's comforts and calm, you gave me the tools (massage, oils, rescue remedy) to care for him in his time of distress.I appreciated the knowledge you shared to help answer the questions about what was prescribed by his vet, and the safe pain relief options offered. Your care saved not only Winnie from his distress, but relieved my anxiety considerably! Thank you doesn't seem quite sufficient, but big thank from me and woofs from Winnie!" -Julia Robiliard and Winston (July, 2015)
AHELP has given me the tools and support to take care of my eight-year old boxer, Abby, through several surgeries and health challenges. Four years later, we are enjoying agility classes, hikes and trips together. Twelve-year old Abby is so happy and so playful, and I am amazed every day to see these results. Thank you, AHELP! -Iulia Popescu (October, 2016)
"Just a 'thank you' for being there for me and (my friend) last Wednesday. Your listening, caring, loving compassion, and empathy meant so much to us and we appreciate your faithfulness and sacrifice to be there for those of us whose animals are too often leaving us or in need of help and caregiving."
– Ginny Eng, Redmond (February, 2012)
"Wish I lived closer and could be more part of your program. It sounds like you continue to expand in wonderful ways. I can see the immense value of having the program from this side of the experience."
– Sandy Rakowitz, One Heart Healing Center, Charlottesville, VA (December, 2013)
PROFESSIONAL NETWORK REFERRALS
"Thank you for connecting me with the Eastside’s BEST, Purrfect Pet Services. The owner, Alesia, has been a valued assistance to us in the care of our Kramer. Even in the ‘small things’, the things we’ve been doing for months, and thought we were doing right (i.e. administering subcutaneous fluids), she was able to ‘tweak’ our technique so that it is now faster, easier and much less stressful for both us and Kramer. Her experience (vet tech), knowledge, advocacy and genuine care/love of animals and he wide range of services offered, make her an indispensable resource. TRUST ME!"
– Lolita aka “Kramer’s Mom” (Redmond, 2014)
"(Professional Member) Dr. Sara is wonderful and I can tell her heart is in the right place too. The very fact that she was willing to come after business hrs and weekends, told me a lot about her. I went through a long list of referrals and no one would accommodate my schedule limitations. So thank you for referring her to me."
– Helen Anne and Aisha (Seattle, August 2013)
TELLING THEIR STORIES...
We didn't want to have someone come immediately euthanize our cats, nor did we want someone telling us not to. We needed someone to enter the murky middle with us and help us sort out what was best for us and our cats. AHELP stepped in and gave us exactly that and more. Here's our story.
Fizzy and Gabby were litter-mates. They came to us near Valentine's Day nine years ago. They were eight years old at the time and sweeter than honey. Fizzy hid for days, while Gabby followed us everywhere until she settled into her new life. Actually, she would always keep very close tabs on us with her eyes if not with her entire being. It was her way. Fizzy soon settled in too, in his own loungey, lovey way, and we became each others' family.
They died within a week of each other in late June. Fizzy went first, then Gabby. I had thought we were prepared. My husband and I had read Gail Pope's inspiring little pamphlet on helping our pets die naturally, called Into the Light, and we felt sure we would be ready and able to help Gabby and Fizzy die in their own way, in their own time, when the time came. We also thought our vet, who had helped us so much that last year, would be there for us in the end, but we'd been mistaken on all counts. When the time did come, we were far from sure of ourselves, let alone ready, and we had no vet to help.
I was panicking, and Tom was following close behind. That's when we connected with AHELP. Hours later, I was on the phone with one of their recommended veterinarian's, Dr. Christey, trying to get a sense for Fizzy's pain level and whether we needed to euthanize, when, from beneath our bed, he quietly slipped away from his sweet earthly form. I suspect he could feel us relaxing now that we had the help we needed. And, just maybe we finally stopped hovering over him long enough to give him the space he needed to cross over. Gabby took a few laps around the kitchen and hallway, then yowled her goodbyes to Fizzy out the open sliding glass door, something only Fizzy had ever done. She became unusually distant as Tom and I took turns holding Fizzy for the last time.
Then we were three. And, Team AHELP.
A few days later, Dr. Tina, Michelle, and Katie (Team AHELP) came over to help us assesS how Gabby was doing in her dying process. I was worried that having all five of us in our small apartment might be overwhelming for Gabby in her seemingly fragile state. How wrong I was! Since Fizzy's death, she had lost some of her pep, and it was clear to us that her own death was very near. But when AHELP arrived, she perked up so much that they were nearly unconvinced that she was on death's door. Gabby was thrilled that we were having these kind-hearted, animal-loving women over in her honor. Never was her social, outgoing nature so clear to me as it was in those moments, and how I wished we'd had more gatherings for her sake.
Gabby hung on for several days after that. With AHELP's help, Tom and I hung on too. We continued to waiver as she declined. Was she in pain now? Did she need our help now? How could we be sure? How could she be dying anyway? I couldn't handle it. I struggled mightily with all of this while Tom and Gabby settled into what became our caring routine in Gabby's final days. She had chosen to spend her remaining time in our small closet-like office space overly packed with stuff, so Tom and I moved in and hung out there with her.
Perhaps I could have worried less about whether we were doing this "right" for Gabby and Fizzy. In hindsight, Gabby really did seem to be soaking up every last drop of the undivided attention she was getting from us, and it even seemed that she was doing her best to make it last as long as possible. With our help, she enjoyed time on our laps, time in the warm sun, drinking water from the faucet, and breathing in the fresh summer air from open windows. Most of these she enjoyed up until her final hours. Then, almost exactly one week to the hour after Fizzy had gone, Gabby too reached out and released her final breath into the quiet night.
Then we were two. And, Team AHELP.
Dr. Tina, Michelle and Katie entered into our chaos whole-heartedly. They accepted us. They listened to us and to Gabby. They consulted with each other at length over our situation, even as it changed from moment to moment over the course of that week. They were there for us completely at every turn and gave us our space when we needed it. They lent us books and soothing harp music (which proved to be the perfect thing in Gabby's final hours), they sent us cards and encouraging emails, answered our many questions and helped us understand our options around euthanizing or not, burial, cremation, memorializing, and grief support, all without telling us what to do - amazing! One night, Katie even provided Reiki for Gabby from a distance, and we all became so calm and peaceful that we promptly fell deep into much needed sleep. All these months later, they continue to check in with us and extend their listening ear. We can't thank them enough for the great generosity of their caring, capable support.
When our beloved animal friends enter into their dying process, however we help them to die, it's a really big deal. We cannot know exactly how things are going to go for us or our pet until we're living it, and our best laid plans and prior experiences don't necessarily prepare us for what happens next. For anyone who finds themselves in need of reliable, professional, loving support at such a time, we highly recommend Team AHELP. You don't have to have all the answers up front in order to get the support you need, and you don't have to go through your experience alone if you don't want to. AHELP will see to that.
– Ingrid Lawrence, Seattle, WA (October, 2015)
Michelle and the AHELP Project came into our life when we needed them most. In addition to having anxiety and severe hip dysplasia, Scotty had recently been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and a partially paralyzed larynx. We adopted Scotty 2 years ago and have done everything we felt we could to improve his health. Unfortunately our current living situation, top floor condo with no yard, was not the best fit for Scotty. Our situation was also taking a toll on my relationship and my 13 year old cat's health who was just diagnosed with a stress related illness. We just didn't know how to create a harmonious living environment with all of challenges we were facing.
Having met AHELPers at their February Friendship Day Open House, we remained in regular email contact, and Michelle reached out to me just when I felt we had run out of options. She sensed my desperation and sprang into action, asking if she could donate an affordable home consultation through her Partners to the Bridge business. She asked me what we needed and presented several scenarios to help us make the best decision for all involved. Seeing that Scotty's fur was dry and thinned out, Michelle recommended that we change his food to a raw diet which would help with both his IBD and obvious physical appearance. She also suggested we consider discontinuing the flea medicine we were using since Scotty's health was so fragile. Michelle made several phone calls and reached out to the other animal loving people she knew to see who could help us. She also provided me with resources for someone I could talk to while I was going through the grieving process since we didn't know what the future held. She put me in touch with a wonderful lady who does energy healing and gave me the name of some counselors.
Michelle spoke with several of her AHELP co-founders, and expressed the urgency of our home situation. AHELP co-founder, Anna Neumann, made arrangements for temporary therapeutic boarding for Scotty through her business Creatures Young and Old. Within a few days, he was at Anna's enjoying a less stressful environment and another mellow dog buddy. Anna was the perfect person for Scotty to be with. She is calm, caring and completely devoted to the wellbeing of animals. Scotty has flourished in his new environment and has received the relaxation and relief that he so badly needed. His fur has also greatly improved and we are very happy that we changed his food to a raw diet. In the meantime, my cat is also doing much better and hasn't had any more episodes of interstitial cystitis.
Scotty had a medical emergency while staying with Anna. Fortunately Dr. Tina Ellenbogen of Mobile Veterinary Services, and another AHELP co-founder, was kind enough to change her schedule in order to provide a follow-up visit 72 hours after the emergency vet visit. This was a huge help since Scotty doesn’t like going in the car, so it was much less stressful having Dr. Tina come visit him at Anna’s house instead. When Dr. Tina first met Scotty, she took a liking to him and saw what we see in him. She was very supportive during our conversations and provided many helpful resources as well.
Through this experience, my relationship has also had some much needed breathing room which has allowed us to reflect and make the best decisions going forward. Michelle and the AHELPers were so loving and non-judgmental, acknowledging the love that we have for Scotty and how much he means to us. Michelle continues to listen, comfort and support me through email and phone calls. Michelle and the AHELP community showed us the true meaning of It takes a village. Under Michelle's direction, AHELPers provided Scotty and our family with such care during a time when I felt completely overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear and the unknown.
Scotty will be coming back to live with us in a few weeks and we are better prepared this time. We will also be changing our living environment so that it is better for all of us. It is so comforting to know that there is a local organization who is dedicated to helping people and their pets in their great time of need. I can honestly say that our situation would've turned out much differently if it wasn't for Michelle and the AHELP Project. They are truly a blessing in our community.
-Amy Sharkey, Brier, WA (October, 2012)