In 2015, an adorable little dog named Peanut was adopted for a non-profit dog rescue called Save-A-Pet. Sadly, the woman who adopted Peanut passed away. Unfortunately, her daughter didn’t have the time to give Peanut the love and attention that she deserved. As a result, Peanut ended up back at Save-A-Pet, but this time, she was in very bad shape. Her teeth were in very poor shape, which makes it very difficult for her to eat. She also had what vets believed to be a cancerous mass growing on the side of her face. Her biggest medical problem was that she was in kidney failure and she had just a few weeks to live.
The people at Save-A-Pet were heartbroken that little Peanut’s life was going to end this way. They didn’t want her to die alone in a cage so they tried to find a place for her to live out the rest of her short life happy and in peace. When the staffers posted Peanut’s story and her photos on their Facebook page, a woman named Jennifer Burke took notice.
According to Jennifer, she never planned to fospice (foster/hospice) an animal. She said that she wasn’t sure that she could handle something like that emotionally. After seeing photos of Peanut and thinking for a while, she decided that she had enough room and love in her home to make Peanut’s final days on Earth special. She hated the idea of him dying alone in a cage in a shelter. Once Jennifer knew that taking Peanut was the right thing to do, she sat down with her husband and her children to discuss Peanut’s situation and they decided to take her in.
Jennifer and her husband realized that her three young children had been fortunate enough to never have to deal with death in a way that would affect their lives. They decided that taking Peanut into their home would not only help Peanut in the most wonderful way, it would also teach her children about life and death and saying goodbye.
When the family went to get Peanut from Save-A-Pet, they didn’t know how much time she had left. Jennifer and her husband knew that the family shouldn’t get too attached to Peanut, but due to her amazing personality and spirit, it was impossible not to become attached.
According to Jennifer, even though Peanut was just 8 ½ pounds and she didn’t have much energy, and didn’t take up much space, she eventually became a large presence in their lives. The entire family became attached to Peanut and they all fell in love with her.
The humans in the home weren’t the only ones who welcomed Peanut into the home and fell in love with her. The family had a 5-year-old dog and two 14-year-old cats. The pets in the home quickly welcomed Peanut into their group. They were very patient with her, and according to Jennifer, it was almost like they understood that she was sick.
Jennifer’s children understood also, and they didn’t do anything that would take too much out of Peanut. The often cuddled up on the couch with her to watch television. They also took her for slow, easy walks, which Peanut really loved.
Due to Peanut’s many medical problems, she often refused to eat. That didn’t stop Jennifer from trying to get her to eat. According to Jennifer, as her kidneys declined, she had no appetite at all. She tried to feed Peanut just about everything in the pantry until she found the foods that she liked best. Since she refused dog food, cat food, and dog treats, she got creative. Eventually, she discovered that Peanut would eat hamburgers, deli meat, and chicken nuggets.
The longer that Peanut spent with the Burke family, the more they fell in love with her. They also realized that her life was quickly coming to an end. Jennifer and her husband began worrying more and more about losing Peanut and how the kids would deal with it. Before they could talk to their kids about it, their kids came up with an idea all on their own. They wanted to throw Peanut a “bye-bye” party. According to Jennifer, it was her 7-year-old daughter, Noa’s idea. She was so worried that the children would be damaged by the loss of Peanut and he was thrilled when Noa decided to give Peanut a final goodbye.
To ask about a party for Peanut, Noa wrote her parents a letter. It read, “Dear Mom and Dad, I am going to throw a bye-bye Peanut party. Please help so I can have it in time. Your first, last, and only girl kid, No. A few days after receiving the letter, Jennifer planned to have the party. Sadly, on the day Noa wrote the note, Peanut began having seizures. Jenifer knew that this was the end, therefore, they had to have the party right away.
For the party, Noa made a poster for Peanut. She also wrote, “We love you Peanut” on balloons. Jennifer bought a cake and the family had the party outside with Peanut. Jennifer says that during the party, Peanut was extremely relaxed. Later that day, Peanut passed away. Although the family was prepared for Peanut’s death, the family struggled to accept that the newest member of their family was gone.
After Peanut passed, Jennifer’s children had many questions about death. They wanted to know how Peanut died and how Peanut’s parents knew how she died. They also wanted to know if her body disappeared when she died. Even though Jennifer and her husband were brokenhearted, they still tried to answer all of their children’s questions. Jennifer was grateful to Peanut for helping her teach her children about love and loss. All of the tears that the family shed over Peanut was entirely worth it because of the lessons that the family learned.
Jennifer says that she hopes her story inspires other people to fospice also. She even documented Peanut’s journey on Instagram hoping to inspire others to open their homes to terminal animals. She says that even though Peanut had a rough life, her family made sure that her last 5 weeks were full of love and joy.
H/T The Dodo
Images via Jennifer Burke – Instagram/Shelter Animals Rock!