Nicola Coyle, a retired nurse living in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire in the U.K., couldn’t bear the idea that old, sick dogs ended up in shelters where they faced a sad, lonely end. She started The Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project, a non-profit, from her home.
She finds dogs approaching death in shelters and adopts them, giving her energy, time and money into making their final day’s happy ones.
A lonely fate
Old, sick, dogs end up in shelters for various reasons. Sometimes owners leave beloved pets in shelters when they get ill because they can’t afford treatment and know that they will receive the care they need.
Other dogs end up in an animal shelter because they are ‘working’ dogs no longer considered useful.
When dogs are old and sick, the likelihood of them being adopted is slim and they can spend their last days feeling abandoned and lonely. Sometimes these dogs are even euthanized as the shelters become overcrowded.
The Grey Muzzle – a haven for dogs at the end of their lives
Nicola used her own money to start The Grey Muzzle because she realized the need for end-of-life care for dogs. She takes the dogs into her home where they experience what it is like to be part of a family again.
She never knows how long she will have the dogs because some die shortly after she takes them in while others live longer than expected. She only takes dogs in when a veterinarian says they have about six months to live.
The shortest time she’s had a dog in two weeks and the longest time is around a year. When they die, she has them cremated and buries them on a special plot at her home.
To give the dogs she adopts the necessary attention, she only takes in two at a time. Instead of being locked away, they get trips to the park, ice creams on the beach, steak dinners at the pub, birthday parties, and plenty of cuddles.
It can cost quite a bit to provide this type of special care but as more people became aware of her efforts, they started making donations to the organization. ‘
Nicola’s organization only received an official name after she cared for a bulldog named Dougie who was discovered one morning tied up outside a vet’s surgery. He had lymphoma and was very poorly but she saw what a difference it made to him to feel loved and safe.
Nicola has already changed the end-of-life for thirty dogs. The work that she does is difficult because she has to watch the dogs die and experiences grief each time. She allows herself a little time after each dog dies. It can be tough emotionally and the loving support from her family helps her to cope.
Her work has brought attention to the fate of sick, old dogs. Despite the fact that it takes an emotional toll on her, it hasn’t stopped Nicola from her mission. Her selflessness and dedication to these dying animals is inspirational.