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A Virginia Beach Pet Sitter’s Story of Love, Loss and Hospice

A Virginia Beach Pet Sitter’s Story of Love, Loss and Hospice

By Marvie Newcomb, Owner, Pawsitively Priceless Petsitting

tugger2A few weeks ago, our cat Tugger was diagnosed with several large masses. We took him to the vet because of a limp, and the resulting x-rays showed us why he’s been limping. He had a big mass in his left front leg, another really big one in his right lung and a smaller one in his left lung. Talk about shock. I was numb. I mean, we were there because I thought he’d dislocated his shoulder somehow. Not for this.

The vet started talking about expensive tests and treatments and all I could think about was “I’m currently the sole income of this family and we are barely hanging on, I can’t afford this.” When I tearfully explained this to the doctor and said we’d have to go with a pain management program because we couldn’t afford hundreds of dollars for tests and treatments for something that, let’s face it, is going to kill this cat.  (I’m not a medical person in any way shape form or fashion but I could tell from the x-rays that the largest lung tumor was taking up most of his lung. The leg tumor was pretty stinkin’ big too, remember, we had previously suspected he’d somehow dislocated his shoulder). It was pretty obvious to me that there was no fixing this. I didn’t need ultrasounds and aspirations etc. to tell me that.

The vet didn’t want to hear that and left it to the vet tech to convince me of the error of my ways. There was much guilt tripping. Many tears and after sending the poor vet tech back in, not once but twice, to try to convince me to spend money I didn’t have to spend, they finally gave Tugger some pain meds and sent us home.

After previously experiencing excellent service provided to dear clients by Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, I immediately contacted Dr. Carmack. I explained things to her, told her the diagnosis, such as it was, as well as my lack of funds for more specific tests and she was so kind, so supportive and understanding of our choices.

We scheduled a time and she came out to meet us. Upon her physical examination and going over Tugger’s history with me, she actually agreed that this was probably the best choice for him and for us given all the facts.

She gave us several medications to help keep him comfortable and we went over the quality of life scale together, so we’d know how to know when the time was right to let him go. She gave us all the information we would need in the days or weeks to come. She made everything easy. Well, as easy as something like this gets.

It was about a week later that we had to call her to come back for the second and final time. She made the end peaceful for us. Tugger was able to leave this world with us all beside him, in his very favorite room… the kitchen. His Happy Place. We cuddled him and petted him and told him we loved him and then she helped him gently on his way. It was sad and beautiful at the same time. When we were ready, she brought in the lady from the cremation service and they transported him to the crematorium. Among the many wonderful sweet things she did, Dr. Carmack left us with a clay impression of Tugger’s paw to bake and either hang on our Christmas tree or use as a keepsake.

The cremation service brought him home and now he’s in a place of honor in my office, surrounded by photos of client dogs and cats that have already Gone Ahead. I know they were waiting for him to show him around when he got over the Rainbow Bridge.

Those who've gone before.. click to enlarge

Those who’ve gone before.. (click to enlarge)

If you are have received a terminal diagnosis for your pet, and would like a second opinion, in home veterinary care, or a peaceful passing at home for your pet, we urge you to contact Dr. Carmack at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice. Hospice care is always an option, though not always an option made known. Thank you Dr. Carmack, for all you’ve done for the families lucky enough to have found you. 
With love,
Team PPP

Here are some displays of Tugger’s helpful personality.

Tugger was able to double as a mousepad. Handy!

Tugger was able to double as a mousepad. Handy!



Tugger didn’t always fit in the bed, but he was able to reduce costs with old outgrown beds.


When space was tight, Tugger helpfully recycled space by napping in the recycle bin.

When space was tight, Tugger helpfully recycled space by napping in the actual recycle bin.



Rescue Work

Pet Guardian Pet Service
Pet Guardian is a local rescue organization specializing in saving domestic animals in crisis.

Diabetic Cats In Need
Diabetic Cats in Need is a national organization dedicated to helping diabetic cats live wonderful lives.

GO Rescue
GO Rescue is a local group rescuing dogs from imminent death and rehoming them.

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