Executive Director and AHELP Co-founder

  • About Michelle Nichols, AHELP Project Founder

    My journey into animal hospice became intensely personal when my beloved Boxer, Brodie, faced the end of his life. Under the guidance of my human hospice nurse mother Carol Soukup, RN, I chose to embrace hospice principles, allowing Brodie a peaceful passing at home, surrounded by love. This experience was a revelation, showing me that I had been providing hospice care without even realizing it. Sharing stories of Brodie’s life and gazing at him lying in state peacefully, we asked ourselves the next morning, “Where are all the animal hospice people?” 

    Driven by this profound experience, I found my people and immersed myself in the nascent animal hospice and palliative care movement. After a master's degree and a career in professional healthcare counseling, I recognized I could utilize the tools in my toolbox to educate and support caregivers, working alongside veterinary medical teams through an interdisciplinary approach. I began my first business, named "Partners to the Bridge," then founded AHELP Project to serve more families within a nonprofit model.

    I took on leadership roles within the groundbreaking International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, including serving as their President in 2019. My presentations at conferences advocated the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and showcased how the nonprofit model can effectively support more families through their pets' end-of-life journeys. 

    At the beginning of the pandemic, I saw an opportunity for online animal hospice education to address the scarcity of accessible veterinary services. I co-founded Animal Hospice Group with three thought leaders to build animal hospice education and hands-on training for people of all backgrounds, culminating in the Certified Animal Hospice Practitioner (CAHP) title. I remain on their faculty, and recognizing the need to produce the next generation of leaders in our field, I teach and mentor allied practitioners who support people and their pets.

    At the time of this writing, we approach AHELP's 15th year. I return to our grassroots mission to realize my life's vision: for every animal lover to have ready access to animal hospice and understand their options, being those who will stand steadfastly beside caregivers. After years in development, I have proudly developed the “Partners to the Bridge" Animal Hospice Coaching for Pet Parents. To educate even more animal caregivers and professionals about the field, I  aspire to launch the Animal Hospice Podcast in 2025.

    I share my life with my spouse of 27 years, my 18-year-old daughter, and two Boston Terriers. Sailing on the Puget Sound is our favorite family pastime. I am passionate about riding horses, and in my spare time, I enjoy a special bond with my Boston Terrier Bunny on a Pet Partners animal-assisted therapy team.  

    "It takes a village to bring a being into this world, and human hospice has shown the same is true on the other end of life.

    Supporting the family through the journey from their beloved animal companion's diagnosis or decline to their death takes a TEAM."

    -Michelle Nichols

    Michelle and Bunny 

     Bellevue, Washington





  • Thank you for your good tips in this article, Jane!!

  • "Help for Animal Hospice Caregivers" Donate Now!

    $4,883.00 raised
    GOAL: $6,000.00
    Your generous donation enables AHELP Project to support those who need our help the most. Every dollar goes directly into our mission, supporting animal caregivers and their families while their beloved animals are ill and will make life’s last transition. 
    NEW projects we're rolling out in 2019-2020:

    More families will receive individualized animal hospice services through "HELP for Animal Hospice Caregivers Fund" that was seeded by our successful "Season for Caring" campaign in December-January every year.

    Outreach to veterinary clinics will bring animal hospice education and support to practices in the Greater Seattle and Eastside region animal hospice. The work of our four-person Outreach Team will ultimately enable us to reach more families with AHELP Caregiver Support. 

    Other 2019-2020 goals that we will continue: 

    • We will serve more families with our Comprehensive Care Home Visits, phone consults, and referrals from our Professional Network. 
    • We will offer our monthly Support Circle, and present regularly scheduled educational sessions on end-of-life caregiving. We will continue to produce our popular Creative Healing Circles to engage head, heart, and hands while remembering an animal friend. 
    • We will restart our "Caregivers Tips and Tails" blog. We will partner with guest bloggers to bring useful information and on end-of-life caregiving. In response to public request and with permissions, we'll also tell adapted "Tails" based on our experience through our Animal Caregiver Support Program. 
    • Collaborate with writers to refine our "Quality of Life in your Senior and Ill Animal Friend," our step-by-step guide
    • Promote our Professional Network Members, trusted providers whose services contribute to comfort in illness and the end of life.



  • Thank you for your contribution on the important topic of dedicated care for our animal family members across the lifespan, Patty Ann.

    Read more from Patty Ann Sparano on her blog, www.anothercookieplease.com.

    Would you like to share your experiences in caregiving for our animal friends? Email me or post here about being a guest blogger!

  • Thank you for reading our blog! We’d love to hear your comments and have you participate as a valued AHELP community member on our blog. What is your experience and musings on living with and loving animal friends with chronic illness, special needs, and in end-of-life?
    Please contact me for more information on how to get involved.

  • Contact AHELP

    In order to make the most of our first 30-minute phone call, please use the Family Information Form below. We can be of more assistance with your earlier contact. Thank you very much and we will contact you shortly.

    For more information, please review our Hospice FAQs. If you are unable to use the form below, please contact Michelle Nichols directly at:

      [email protected]

       (425) 223-5722

    NOTE: All information remains private and confidential.


  • Sign up as an AHELPer

    Thank you for your interest in becoming an AHELPer! Our organization, support groups and events are located in King County/Seattle Area, WA. We welcome AHELPers from other areas that are able to help remotely. 
    After completing this short form, you can expect:  
    1. You will be emailed a link to our AHELPer Questionnaire that takes just 5-10 minutes to complete.
    2. You will be contacted by Michelle to set up a time to meet over coffee/tea, Skype, or phone.
    3. We will find you an AHELPer position that fits your preferred gift of involvement, matching your time and your interests. 
    4. Through individual training and mentorship, you will be fully prepared to join our AHELPer Team.
    Our goal is for you to feel rewarded, appreciated, and a highly valued member of our AHELP Community. 
    If you prefer to take this process stepwise, feel free to complete the form and stop there. You will be contacted by Michelle for more follow up. Thank you for your interest in becoming an AHELPer volunteer!
    Sign Up

  • For general questions about our Professional Network, please: 1) leave your comments on our “Contact Us” page, or 2) request a Professional Network Application form to be emailed to you through “Get involved” on the navigation bar.

    Please leave questions about an upcoming event on the Calendar page under that event’s name.

    You may also email [email protected]. Thank you for your interest in AHELP Project!

  • Animal Caregiver Support Program

    Why Caregiver Support Matters

    Enhancing the Well-being of Your Animal Companion

    You say all you want is for “him to be comfortable” or for her to “have a good death.” So you may be wondering, "Why do I need caregiver support?" As a pet owner, your primary goal is to ensure the well-being of your beloved animal companion. But here's the truth: You cannot provide the best care for your pet if you neglect your own needs.

    At AHELP Project, our philosophy centers on Caregiver Support and we understand the vital role of caregiver support in caring for a pet. We know that delivering hospice care for your furry friend can bring great rewards and lasting memories. But we have also seen that this intensive caregiving period can be fraught with challenges.

    Our "care for the caregiver" approach is designed to help you navigate the twists and turns of the end-of-life journey with resilience and clarity. By providing the necessary support and resources, we empower you to make informed decisions about your pet's veterinary care plan while staying true to your values, goals, and beliefs.

    With our support systems in place, you can focus on maximizing your dog or cat's quality of life as new issues arise, increasing tension and standing in the way of your best caregiving. Through our network of Certified Animal Hospice Practitioners, you can access a range of holistic services, such as massage, energy work, and animal communication. These practitioners become valuable Comprehensive Hospice Comfort Care Team members, offering assistance, guidance, and companionship when you need it most.

    At AHELP Project, we've got your back. When the focus shifts from cure to comfort, our team will accompany you every step of the way. You don't need to navigate the challenges of end-of-life care alone anymore. Let the AHELP Project become your trusted partner in ensuring the comfort and well-being of your beloved pet.

    Comprehensive Hospice Comfort Care Team
    "People want the same care for their animal family members as benefitted their human loved ones. Now, the practice of animal hospice and palliative care allows them to do so."

    Dr. Amir Shanan, DVM, CHPV
    Founder, International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care 
    Co-founder, Animal Hospice Group
    Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian

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    Comfort. Choices. Empowerment.

    Animal Hospice, End-of-Life and Palliative Care Project