Why We Chose Hospice For Maya
Why We Chose Hospice For Maya
Why We Chose Hospice For Maya

Maya…Our Great Pyrenees Princess

My week has been full of emotion, and my focus was not on design or the last bit I needed to accomplish for our One Room Challenge reveal.

We had to make the difficult decision to let our sweet Maya go. We chose to use hospice to help Maya transition from our home to heaven. My biggest prayer right now is that it’s true…

all dogs do go to heaven, especially this one.Click To Tweet

Maya Wood

Maya joined our family in 2008. We decided to get a pure breed dog due to past experiences with pets from the pound. One experience was oh so good, but had a sad ending. The other experience was a total nightmare.

My brother, Dr. Sean Jennett, had to help me through that one. He told me that it was OK if the dog we brought home wasn’t a fit for our family; some are and some aren’t.

Rico, an Australian Cattle Shepherd, was recommended to us as a great family dog. He turned out to be a complete “alpha” with me and our son which caused a whole bunch of problems. The relationship was so bad that when he and I went into the dog training facility, people rolled their eyes and the trainer put us in a corner as far away from everyone else as possible. Rico was not the beloved pet we had hoped for, but rather a Tasmanian devil dog that we resented.

After many tears, frustration, and council with Sean, we found a home for him where he thrived. The family who took him in, no questions asked, had a special needs daughter whom he bonded with immediately. God has his ways. Thank you, LORD!

After taking a little “pet break”, we decided to try one more time. If it didn’t work out, I was done.

We learned about the Great Pyrenees breed from the Sandy Hollar Christmas Tree Farm in Leicester, NC. They had them all over their property as guard dogs for their farm animals. We had never seen that breed before and completely fell in love with them.

Sandy Hollar Farm

After extensive research on Great Pyrenees, we made our decision. They are known as confident, loving, gentle giants and we needed a loving, gentle dog for our family. Maya was that and so much more. We knew that big dogs have shorter life spans, but we didn’t think she’d pass at 9 ½.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Maya was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy last August. According to the Canine Genetics Diseases, “Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet.”

Our vet, Dr. Tim McMullen, said it’s a terrible disease because there is absolutely no cure. She’d only get worse and a time would come that we’d have to decide if her quality of life was gone.

As she progressed, we ended up with rugs all over our wood floors to help her feel comfortable moving about the house. Her feet constantly slipped out from under her hips because she couldn’t stand up straight. She bumped into walls and furniture and would even fall down at times. It was so hard to watch her struggle.

April Johnson…Asheville Pet Photography

I was fortunate to have won a pet photography session with April Johnson. She started her business after her own god passed quickly at the age of four. She understood how important it is to capture beautiful moments of families with their beloved pets.

Since Maya couldn’t move around well, April came to us. We had no intention of being photographed with Maya, but I’m eternally grateful that we were.

I put together a little video of her life. I’m proud to also include photos taken by my daughter, Samantha. She’s a budding photographer who loved capturing moments with her sweet puppy- sister she affectionately called “doge”.

Life tip: Take time to capture the memories with pictures and video, if you can.

Decision Time

Maya’s quality of life decision came this past week. She started losing control of her bowels and was so embarrassed when it happened. She’d avoid all eye contact to try and hide her “accident”. At other times she’d want to play and interact like a puppy but couldn’t. It was as if she was trapped in an aging body that wouldn’t cooperate.

Maya was quietly suffering, and her weight loss was evident despite all her fluffy white fur.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Maya stood at the top of the stairs that morning and peeked around the corner at me. She was ready to come down and needed help. As I looked back up the stairs, I greeted her with the usual, “Good morning Princess,” and fought back tears. It’d be the last time she’d ever walk those stairs. It’d be the last time I’d ever see her look down at me from above.

Maya top of stairs

I’d never had a dog as long as we had her. She lived in our home as a cherished member of our family. Maya was our baby!

Hospice for Pets

Dr. Beth Marchitelli came highly recommended. She’s a mobile pet hospice, palliative care veterinarian who performs home euthanasia. While it felt like we were playing “God” with Maya’s life, she assured us we were doing the right thing.

It was an easy decision to have Dr. Beth come to us because Maya hated car rides.

The moment Beth walked in our home, I lost it. She greeted George and then came directly to me with her arms open wide. Beth hugged me hard and said, “It’s great to meet you but this sucks!” I had to agree.

Dr. Beth noticed right away that Maya’s gums were very pale pink. She said that was an indication something else was seriously wrong, possibly cancer. Without an autopsy, we’ll never know.

What I do know is this.

Waking up each morning with the knowledge that this fateful day was coming was so hard on us all.  We walked and talked about everything under the sun but that. We tried to dismiss the inevitable, as we went through life and took care of Maya, because our hearts were breaking.

No matter how much we loved her,

we couldn’t ignore that she was suffering.

After getting acquainted, Beth asked to go to a place where Maya would be most comfortable. We chose the living room because that was one of Maya’s favorite places to lay. Beth suggested we give her something to eat to help distract her from the first injection. Our snack of choice…a bag of bacon. Maya enjoyed her last treat as she ate every crumb from George’s hand, while the sleeping medicine took effect.

After Maya was sound asleep, Beth explained the how she’d help Maya pass on to a “better place”, constantly reassuring us in our decision. She made it sound so simple and peaceful.

We shared stories about Maya and her unique traits, like how she’d only eat sautéed zucchini (not raw), or pick lettuce out of a sandwich to eat everything but the lettuce. She’d hug you with her head and her whole body as she leaned into you because she was just that big. When our son was little, Maya would chase him around the yard until she knocked him over. She’d then open her big mouth and place it ever so gently around his arm or leg, but never bite down. Her movements simply declared “tag…you’re it!”

We laughed and I cried.

The most beautiful part of this whole gut wrenching experience was that we were able to hold Maya, pet her and tell her how much we loved her…until she breathed her very last breath. I can still feel her breath on the back of my hand as I held her paw.

Beth left us alone with her until we were ready for her to take her. I held Maya and sobbed, getting mascara on her white fur. George stayed by my side, rubbing my back as I hugged her…the strong support that he always is.


All dogs go to heaven. Rest in paradise sweet Maya

Maya’s hugs

I’m crying as I type this. My heart is still so sad.

Why I’m sharing Maya’s story…

The reason for sharing Maya’s story is to let you and others know there is a special option to help your beloved pet move onto a peaceful place. There is something so beautiful when you can share a meaningful goodbye with your fur babies.

They are part of our homes. They are a part of our lives. They are a part of our hearts.

My other reason for sharing Maya’s story is because we loved her so much and we wish everyone could have known her. Writing this post is somewhat therapeutic; we have bragging rights and always will. She was one stunning creature! Don’t you agree?

I’ll never forget this experience, nor will George. He was hesitant to have me there because

  1. I’m so emotional, and
  2. The last time he went through this, we had to put our Paco down in Texas. It was not peaceful. Paco seemed to know what was happening and looked into his eyes with fear as his heart stopped beating.


If you’re going through a tough time like this, here are some resources to help you.

Veterinary Wisdom Pet Parents provides resources, products and referrals to provide you with helpful support during your stages of planning.

The PAUSE Program: offers counseling or consultation appointments for emotional support for pet loss, assessment and resource referral services. This is part of the University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Program. PAUSEline: (865) 755-8839

4 Paws Farewell:  this is Dr. Beth’s site.

Asheville Pet Photography

We are so grateful.

I want to thank April for capturing beautiful moments with Maya. April, you are so kind and loving with what you do. You’re understanding, compassion, and empathy for what Maya was going through will never leave me, especially when I look at the photos you took of her. What you give to the world is a treasure. Never stop!

 I also what to offer a huge thank you to Dr. Beth. Your compassionate heart and soul were so comforting. You’re right…it did SUCK! Even though time heals hearts, that will never be easy. YOU help people in ways I could have never dreamed of. George and I will never forget you. You hugged me as if we’d known one another forever. Times like these create fast friends…thank you. By the way, you and my brother would make great vet partners…just sayin.  He’s got your same gift.

Thank you to Dr. Tim and his staff for taking great care of Maya. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your time on the phone Tim and your recommendation of Dr. Beth! P.S. you remind me a bit of my brother. That’s a compliment.

To my brother Sean, who is always there to answer my questions, give me honest feedback and understanding, and be with me through my tears and heartbreak. You are an amazing doctor, and brother, and I’m so proud of how you too help pet parents adjust and get through these difficult moments. You are so gifted, just the way God intended you to be.

To our family and friends who shared love and understanding with us.

Thank you. GOD for Maya! You did good! Forever she is in our hearts. She’s free to roam and play with you up there…till we see her again.

Thank you all for the gifts of time with Maya. For the memories. For the grace. For the love.

Never forget…

Love on your pets. Take photos and videos. Find ways to remember the moments, and always make the most of them. For one day, they will be gone.

I made these little prints for my kids and ourselves. I can’t show you how I did it, simply because Maya is up in heaven now. There are smudges and mistakes due to the fact that I made them the morning of. They are not perfect, but what is. The important thing is that we have her print and we made a new memory once again.

Should you want to make a Paw Print Card with your pet…

Maya's Paw Print

Paw Print

1. Cut cardstock to your desired size. I cut cards to 5×7  with a paper cutter, in case they get framed. No paper cutter? Scissors and a straight line work perfectly too.

2. Get a paint brush and paint (pick a color you love).

3. Trim the fur from their paws. Maya had a bunch and that’s why our prints are so unique. If they are sensitive, like Maya was, you can also use electric clippers to trim fur away.

4. Paint their paws and stamp them on the paper. Maya was laying down and she wasn’t very cooperative that morning, so they are all different.

5. Have a washcloth with soapy water to clean their paws. I washed her paws but didn’t get all the paint off. I left to get more cloths and she decided she’d had enough of me and my craft idea, so she got up to move. I came back to find black paw prints on the rug. The acrylic paint came up easily enough with soapy water, but I honestly didn’t care.

6. Find a font you love and print it on a piece of paper. Lay the card over the printed “name”, against a window for light, and trace it. Other options: print on a piece of cardstock before you stamp their paw. OR hand write the name if you prefer.

7. I added her time of life on the back of each print. You can also date the artwork as you create them.

If you, or someone you know, are going through a difficult decision like this, know that there are great resources to help you. Please share this story and information with them. Together, we may be able to help someone through their tough time.

God bless you and your families, including your four legged babies.

OH how my heart breaks for you! i’m so sorry. our pets are the ONLY ones that love you unconditionally. my thoughts are with you. my prayers are with you. God will comfort you. AND, i believe, God will have Maya waiting on you in your mansion <3

Thank you Dawn! I’ll gladly take your beautiful prayers and thoughts. When we both get there, I’ll be sure to introduce you to her. Love and hugs to you..

Beautifully said, Lisa. I can relate only too well. Blessings to you all at this time of sorrow.

Thank you, Sybil, for your thoughts and for taking the time to read Maya’s story. That means the world to me.

In tears now, as I type this. In 2014 we said goodbye to our Cane Corso, Spartacus, he had Osteosarcoma. We still miss him. In 2015 we brought home Cherokee, our Great Pyrenees puppy. Needless to say I don’t even want to think of his getting older. Thank you so much for sharing your joy and sorrow with us. I honestly believe we will see our beloved, furry friends in the “Age to Come.”

Heidi, thank you for your story and words of comfort. I love your dogs names! We’ll miss Maya for a long time to come. I’m so glad that you have Cherokee. They are such a love! I do look forward to seeing Maya again. Till then, thank you for your sweet comments…and tears. 🙂

Lisa, holding you in the Light as you grieve Maya’s death and celebrate her life.

I was privileged to be asked to be present when a good friend sent her beloved Maltese on, with the help of Dr. Beth. She is everything you said.

A couple of months ago, our dog vet left private practice, and Gracie (who is 15) had stopped enjoying car rides. We had been managing her kidney disease with our vet’s help, but I dreaded having to load her in the car to go and see someone we did not know. So I called Dr.Beth, who came out for a consult/intake, and a week later with her assistant for a blood sample and blood pressure reading, as well as toenail covers to help with movement on uncertain surfaces. She loaned us a raised feeding platform to make eating easier. And she checks in with us periodically.

I think Gracie is going to be with us awhile – maybe months. And when the time comes, Dr.Beth will be back to say sweet things to her and to hug us, and help us with the final gift of love that you gave Maya.

Thank you for sharing your story, and Maya’s. I may be giving April Johnson a call…

Oh Barbara, thank you for your story. I pray that Gracie is doing well. It’s so hard to watch them suffer. But what a blessing that you have Beth at your side. She’s amazing! If you do call April, you’ll be forever grateful. Please share photos of Gracie. I’d love to see her. 🙂

I have experienced this one too many times. I too had a beloved dog with degenerative myleopathy. He was a big, black and goofy GSD AND the torment I saw in his eyes as he slowly lost the ability to walk broke my heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the vet come to my home a few times. As heartbreaking as it is, it is also comforting to see how relaxed and peaceful it is for them. Honor Maya’s legacy and adopt another dog. She would want you to share your love with another. BTW, there are breed specific rescues..

Sandy, thank you for your words. It’s so hard to watch the torment in their eyes; you said it perfectly. I appreciate your encouragement to honor Maya in that way. Thank you.

How beautiful this was to read, even tho’ it is now through tears as I write this to you. Our dogs are our family and mine are no different than your Maya was/is to you. I have a senior now, Stan, he is a Boston Terrier and is 13. He is down to one eye, lost a few years ago from an ulcer, and his other is now a bad cataract, but he can still see a bit to be able to find his ball and carry it around. We lost his cousin, Bea, at 12, from liver disease, just this past October. She was a special little soul with such a spark, she was a spitfire for sure, but a loving little 14 pounds of trouble and I miss her every day. I still can’t look at her paw print, but her photo’s are everywhere. My little Chihuahua boy Rocky mourned her loss as did his sister Peeky. They loved her and Peeky kinda looked after her towards the end as Bea was having mild seizures and was quite wobbly at times. Stan was fine, I think he knew more than we know about the passing of a pack member.
Those photographs are amazing and you will treasure them forever. I appreciate what you did for your companion and how you did it, final moments are so difficult and it never gets easier either. The important thing is that you were there and she knew you were there. You did do the right thing. Truly. Know in your heart she is safe and loved at the Rainbow bridge until you meet again.
Much love to you and your family for me and mine.
Victoria, BC

Victoria, thank you for sharing your pack with me. You have your hands full. 🙂 They are so intuitive. We’d know so much more if only they could speak. I’d tell my brother, “If only Maya could tell me how she’s feeling.” I thank you also for reading her story. I’m touched by all the comments and stories I’ve received in return. Much love to you and your family AND pack…as well! Lisa


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