“I don’t mind pets on the bed”

Many of us journey through life’s ups and downs with our pets by our side. They’re there for us, and we’re there for them. Because they’re not just pets, they’re part of the family.

These heart-warming stories showcase how pets can be amazing, supportive friends through terminal illness.

“Mum really looked forward to Buffy’s visits”

Susan Brown’s mum was overjoyed to be able to have the company of her cat Buffy at Marie Curie Hospice, Belfast.

“It definitely lifted Mum’s spirits that we could bring her cat, Buffy, to the hospice” says Susan, whose mum was cared for by Marie Curie. “She really looked forward to the visits and to telling the staff about her cats.”

“Buffy didn’t even bother exploring – she was completely at home. She loved sitting on Mum’s bed, or, if Mum was sitting on a chair, then on her knee. People miss their pets when they are in hospital. My mum lived on her own so her cats were her companions and family, not just a pet."

“She loved animals and had a lot of pets”

“I cared for a younger woman at one point who had Cystic Fibrosis” recalls Marie Curie Senior Health Care Assistant Pamela. “She loved animals and had a lot of pets. She had a pot-bellied pig, a 12 week old Dalmatian puppy – and what am I going to do but spend the night with this puppy jumping up over the stair gate, and there was an older dog as well. And there was a kitten, flying around the house – like they do, they wake up at night, don’t they?”

“If you like dogs, you’re welcome here!”

“One lady had two retrievers, and I walked in and that sealed the deal” says Pamela. “She said to me ‘If you like dogs, you’re welcome here!’ then proceeded to tell me ‘this one’s” coming with me, because he was deaf and very old – poor old thing.’ So we sat there and had a cry about that! We do cry with them – I certainly do, because I’m soft!”

“Sometimes the animals seem to know”

“I remember an elderly lady who was at home, and she was dying” recalls Marie Curie Nurse Paula. “Her daughter was sitting beside her with the lady’s dog on the knee. And the dog sat there the whole time, just wanting to be close to his owner. I don’t mind pets on the bed. That’s lovely, for me, because it’s all about being normal, and keeping the patient feeling that everything’s as normal and familiar as can be. Sometimes the animals seem to know and they become different, and all they want is to be beside the patient.”

“Seeing Charlie made her day”

“I remember when I worked in the hospice” says Paula. “A lady brought her Siamese cat in and she was so excited. She told me to call him Charlie. I went down to see him in the room with her, and it had just made her day. And we sat talking about normal things – not about her being poorly, but about things she and I both loved like animals and cats. That was really lovely, that they were able to bring the cat in for her.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may be worried about what will happen to your pet if you’re no longer able to care for it. There’s information on our website to help you plan for your pet’s future