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grey smiling dog laying on his side in the grass next to a tennis ball

A Fospice Journey: Yoda’s Bucket List

LifeLine’s goal is to find happy homes for all of our shelter pets, including those with terminal illnesses. They deserve the same amount of love and fun-filled days, even if their time with us is short. Every year, shelter pets arrive in our care in need of fospice (foster+hospice) homes. Because of compassionate fospice parents, dogs like Yoda are given a renewed chance to be part of a family and spend their days riding in the car, sunbathing in soft grass or chewing on a new toy!

Meet Yoda

At 6 years old, Yoda was rehomed to LifeLine. Shortly after, our team sadly learned that he was suffering from congestive heart failure. We knew that whatever time Yoda had left should be spent in a loving home. A fospice parent, Michelle, quickly stepped up for Yoda.

Michelle has been fostering pets for almost 10 years. While Yoda is Michelle’s 25th (!) foster, he is her very first fospice pet. When she heard about Yoda and his condition, Michelle knew he would be a great fit in her home with her wife and resident dog.

Yoda was a little sad and mopey the first few days at home, but quickly settled in. Michelle gives him daily medication and ensures that her home is set up so that he can easily move around. Despite these adjustments, there have been some wonderful surprises along the way.

“He always hops up and wants to go on a walk! He has the heart and the energy!”

Yoda, a grey dog, laying down in the grass outside

After a few days of decompressing, Yoda seemed to perk up, had more energy and was ready to explore his new neighborhood. Michelle and her family even joked that he is a “Benjamin Button” dog who is aging in reverse.

LifeLine believes that this is one of the most important reasons to become a fospice. Typically, animals entering fospice homes do not have a good, long-term prognosis. But removing them from the stressful shelter environment does wonders for their health and comfort. We have seen cases where terminal pets living in fospice homes outlast their prognosis by months or even years!

A Part of the Family

With Yoda settling in well, Michelle wanted to start doing things for him that she would normally do to spoil her own dog. Inspired by other fosters and friends online, Michelle put together Yoda’s Bucket List! She wrote the list to fit his needs, but also to be a happy reflection of their time together. Everything from “firsts” in their home, like getting a bath or meeting new friends, to fun events like throwing a birthday party. For every item checked off the list, Yoda is given a special new memory.

Michelle wanted to do things for Yoda that he might not have done in his past. This dedication of love and compassion is common for pets in fospice homes. And, as you can see below, Yoda and Michelle are still happily working their way through the list.

The Bucket List

Fun Done

Fun to Come

Our Fospice Program

While the circumstances and prognoses for each pet may differ, know that you are not alone when becoming a fospice parent. Our foster network supports you every step of the way. All food, supplies and medical treatment are also provided to you by LifeLine.

Michelle first heard about becoming a fospice from LifeLine’s Foster Facebook group. Since bringing Yoda home, she has utilized the same group of dedicated foster parents to share updates about Yoda, as well as reach out for support. Becoming a fospice parent is easy, and there are both cats and dogs in need. You don’t need prior foster experience to open your home, and fospice pets can live happily with your resident pets.

Our goal is to monitor his situation. As long as he has a good quality of life where the good is outweighing the bad, then we will keep giving him all of the love and attention he deserves!”

Advice from Michelle

When asked if she had advice for anyone interested in becoming a fospice, Michelle shared this with us:

  1. Pursue a foster that fits into your lifestyle. Yoda has not been much different than any other foster Michelle has brought home. Her existing lifestyle was a good match for Yoda’s needs and energy levels.
  2. Give yourself and the pet a grace period. The first few days can be overwhelming as the pet settles in.
  3. Make sure everyone in the home is on board. This helps to set realistic expectations about your foster journey.

While becoming a fospice can be emotionally challenging, it is ultimately a very rewarding experience.

At the end, there’s going to be a lot of tears, but my job is to provide him a family and a home while he’s here with us”

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