Dr. Sara’s Journey
I became a vet in 2000.
Frankly, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I find nothing more fulfilling than offering pets the care and dignity they deserve. I spent 11 years in a local vet practice and loved it, particularly the wonderful relationships I developed with my clients.
Over time, I developed a real passion for end of life care. I feel like this is an area that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. There is a lot we can do to make our furry friends comfortable in their last moments, days, weeks and months. After all, our pets bring us unconditional love, joy, companionship and support. Wouldn’t we want to honor them with a comfortable, loving, and peaceful end to their lives?
Because of this passion for comfort/palliative care and euthanasia, I realized it was time to start my own practice. It was a big deal for me and I was nervous; it was never a goal of mine to run my own business, not to mention one that’s mobile. When I started, there were not many who did in-home hospice and euthanasia, and even fewer who combined it with acupuncture for palliative care – all my areas of expertise. I was also concerned that I wouldn’t have a deep level of connection with new clients, since the timeline of the relationship is typically much shorter.
Still, I had to give it a go. So in 2013, I founded Compassion 4 Paws.
What an incredible experience it’s been.
I’ve found so many benefits to having an in-home practice. When I assess a pet in their home environment, I’m able to offer important suggestions on making them comfortable that wouldn’t be noted in a traditional clinical setting: for example, raising food bowls to make it easier for dogs to eat, or switching litter boxes out to make them more accessible to older, arthritic cats. And when I provide acupuncture treatments, it’s done in the pet’s own environment where they’re most comfortable.
When it comes to euthanasia, it is peaceful for everyone involved. From the pet’s perspective, they are in their home with the people they love, and they drift off to sleep. From the family’s perspective, they too are in their own environment and are reassured by the fact that their dearly loved pet is comfortable.
It’s such a contrast to the euthanasia I saw when I was in general practice – animals would come in absolutely terrified about being at the vet clinic. I always thought that was so sad since these were their last moments on earth. And it’s so important for owners to have a positive experience in that sad situation; it’s something they will remember for the rest of their lives.
I love what I do and could never return to a general vet practice.
What surprised me with my business was the depth of the connection I have with my clients after all. Even though the timeline of the relationship is shorter than in a clinic setting, the end-of-life journey is such an intimate time between the owner and their pet, and I am honored and privileged to be a part of it.
Although I have a busy practice and am passionate about what I do, my business hasn’t been without challenges.
The single biggest issue? Paperwork! I was shocked at the mountain of paperwork involved. In fact, it seemed like an actual appointment was the least time-consuming part of the process.
To start off, gathering a patient’s information before an appointment was difficult, because I was always on the road. And after the appointment, a lot of time went into notices of euthanasia (sometimes two or three for one patient), drug logs, sympathy cards, appointment notes and more.
Having five to seven appointments a day resulted in a lot of paperwork – and a lot of my time. As a result, I’ve had to turn down many clients because I simply couldn’t fit them in and wouldn’t have been able to provide them the level of care that I refuse to compromise on. I lost precious time with my family, and actually, most of my evenings were spent simply catching up on paperwork.
In the beginning I managed, but couldn’t sustain it in the long term.
And so began REX’s journey.
My husband Dennis and I researched different software options that would streamline my administrative workload, but none of them met the specific, repeated needs of a mobile hospice vet. Dennis is a problem-solver by nature, so he and I discussed in great length what kinds of software features would make my life – and the lives of other mobile hospice vets – so much easier.
And so it began. Dennis rallied a team of software developers and consultants to tackle our ambitious project, and after much time and effort, REX was born.