Dogs are such amazing creatures that define friendship and loyalty better than humans ever could. They deserve to be loved and cared for every day of their lives. It’s sad that when they get old, sick, and are no longer as active or as adorable as they used to be, many owners would take them over to animal shelters to be euthanized or left to die alone and in pain. They’d be abandoned in misery for months until it’s time to be put down. Some especially cruel owners would just kick the dogs out onto the streets to die however they choose to. But one woman has started a hospice for dogs that gives them what they need in their final days.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 2.6 million dogs and cats were euthanized by animal shelters across the U.S in 2011 . In recent years, the number has reduced to 1.5 million, probably due to increased adoption and recovery rates. We could do better. 1.5 million is still an outrageous figure.
The Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project
46-year-old Nicola Coyle couldn’t stand this disheartening reality any longer. The retired nurse who is based in the U.K. decided to set up a hospice in her home to cater for sick, abandoned and dying dogs . She goes to shelters, pounds, and other charities, looking for dogs who have less than six months to live due to old age or illness. She rescues them from the grim fate of lonely, sad and miserable last days, taking them to her home to be loved like never before.
The Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project has been running out of Nicola’s home for several years now, but she made it an official project last year. With the help of her equally dog-loving children, Nicola takes in two dogs at a time and makes sure to give them the best days ever before they naturally pass on.
She gives them everything from ice-cream muzzles, doggy treats, pub outings, and steak dinners to birthday parties with cake mashes. The dogs get unending attention from admirers everywhere they go, and the cuddles and ruffles roll in all day long.
Speaking to Metro UK, Nicola says that although the job is a strenuous one, she loves every moment she spends with the dying animals .
“It can be an utterly heartbreaking job, but someone has to do it,” says Nicola. “I’m a complete animal lover and I just can’t bear the thought of them spending their final days, weeks or months without the love they deserve. It can be really tough, but ultimately it’s so rewarding when you can make those times special.”
Donations from other dog-lovers keep the hospice for dogs going
The dogs literally “live their best lives” before the end comes. According to Nicola, she spends an average of £500 on each dog. The money comes from her savings and funds raised from donations to her project. She was singlehandedly running the hospice for dogs for a long time, but about a year ago, she began to accept donations to keep the work going. The funds cover the dogs’ medical bills, bucket lists, and transportation to her home. It also covers the endless supply of treats, regular outings, accessories, and parties.
Many of the stray dogs Nicola rescues have already been slated to be euthanized within seven days if no one comes to adopt or claim them. She takes the sick ones into her home and when they die, she buries them in her backyard garden or has them cremated.
“We’ve got about 20 buried my garden, as well as my parents’ garden,” Nicola continues. “It was getting a bit ridiculous. I couldn’t fit more in the garden so I’ve got about 10 urns in my house.”
Nicola explains that sometimes, the dogs may stay much longer than anticipated, and she’d always keep them for as long as they hold on.
“I think the longest I’ve had one is around one year and the shortest was about two weeks,” she says. “I don’t know when their birthdays are so we make sure we throw all of them birthday party. If they’re well enough, we take them for a day at the seaside, they get fish and chips on the beach and ice cream. We’ll also take them down to the local pub, it’s really dog-friendly, and they’ll get a steak dinner too.”
Amazing support system
Nicola says her children, Harry and Olivia, aged 14 and 15, along with her friend, Lisa Emmans are the reason she’s been doing this amazing work for a long time. It breaks her heart each time a dog has to let finally go, and their emotional support is everything to her.
It’s usually a sorrowful time for everyone around because the dogs are so easy to get attached to. Having their hearts broken time and again can’t be easy, but they have to stay strong for the greater cause.
“Nicola does an amazing job, taking in dogs when they’ve been kicked out by their owners right at the very end of their lives – giving them the love and care most have never received previously in their lives,” says Joanne Smith of Helping Yorkshire Poundies. “I absolutely admire the work of The Grey Muzzle Project.”
The Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project has saved dozens of British dogs from miserable endings ion the cold, hard floor of loveless animal shelters. Visit them on Facebook to learn more about their work and the donation process.
Thank you, Nicola.
- ‘Pet Statistics.’ ASPCA. ASPCA
- ‘Woman Creates Dog Hospice, Makes Sure Their Final Days Are The Best Days. Dog Dispatch’ Dog Dispatch W Perkins. Published October 17, 2018
- ‘Woman runs hospice for abandoned dying dogs to give them the end of life they deserve‘ Metro Lisa Bowman. Published July 2, 2018.
- ‘The Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project’ Facebook