Woman creates dog ‘hospice’ to give dogs love and dignity in their final moments

Nicola Harrison (formerly Coyle) has taken on a rewarding job, but one that always ends in heartbreak – she takes in dying dogs and gives them the care, love, and affection they deserve in their final moments, writes moneysavingbasics.

Sadly, many people abandon their pets when they become terminally ill. It sounds heartless, but sometimes it’s simply because of financial constraints or the inability to handle care.

Other times it’s more selfish – people simply can’t handle watching their pet die. In these cases, pets end up dying in unfamiliar places.

It’s truly heartbreaking to think of an animal taking its final breaths without a loved one to give them a final cuddle and goodbye like they deserve.

Harrison feels this pain and is doing something amazing to make those moments bearable for as many dogs as she can handle by opening a pet “hospice” in the UK.

But the hospice isn’t just a depressing place where dogs go to die. Harrison makes it as fun as she can for her residents. And there’s a lot of leeway one can give (especially in terms of treats) when longevity is no longer an issue.

Harrison got the idea while she was working at a kennel and was upset to see so many lonely dogs with so little time left.

That eventually led her to open the Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project from her home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire which provides end-of-life care for abandoned terminally ill dogs that have less than 6 months to live.

These pups get to spend their finals weeks and months celebrating birthdays, getting ice cream, and even indulging in steak dinners. And they get loads of love and attention – and that’s partly why Harrison can’t take in too many animals at once.

“We take them down to the local pub – it’s really dog-friendly, and they’ll get a steak dinner too. Many have not led a very nice life too, used for breeding or guard dogs, so when they’ve become unwell, they’re not useful anymore and left,” she told Metro.

Harrison estimates that she spends up to $600 on each dog to make their time comfortable and special.

Because of the cost and time, Harrison limits herself to two dogs at a time so she can give them maximum attention, though the turnover rate is obviously high.

“The longest I had one is one year, the shortest was two weeks. It’s so rewarding when you can make those times special. I don’t know when their birthdays are, so we throw all of them a birthday party,” she said.

And she does grieve every dog that spends time at her hospice.

“We all get very attached to them, it’s very emotionally intense and we do mourn and grieve for them. We do need to have breaks between them.”

Harrison is a retired nurse and while she once paid for all of the dogs’ expenses out of pocket, once people found out about her pet project, she started receiving donations online.

Now that she has more resources, her efforts have expended to providing advice and outreach to pet owners who are caring for their terminally ill dogs. Grey Muzzle provides “guidance, support and help with medications.”

While the 48-year-old good samaritan makes each dog a bucket list including lots of treats, vets have warned others that you need to know what you’re doing when you feed them human food since that could shorten their lifespan even further.

Of course, some dogs have nothing left to lose.



10 Common Dog Health Problems

Some health problems are specific to certain breeds, such as breathing complications for flat-faced dogs. But several other canine health issues can affect any dog. Here are 10 typical health conditions you need to watch out for in your four-legged best friend:

Top 10 Common Dog Health Problems

Skin Problems

One of the most obvious signs that your dog has a skin condition is itching. Other symptoms that may suggest that your dog has a skin problem include rashes, redness, dry skin, lumps, bumps, skin sores, dandruff, and hair loss.

Ear Diseases

Approximately 20 percent of dogs suffer from ear disease. It’s particularly common in breeds with floppy ears like cocker spaniels and basset hounds. It’s common to see wax buildup or discharge in their ear canal. But others may experience pain, itchiness, redness, swelling, and crusting in the ears.

Urinary Tract Infections

Simply known as UTI, this condition can make it uncomfortable for your beloved companion to pass urine. Signs of urinary tract infection include drinking water more than usual and passing urine more often than usual. Your dog may also only pass a small amount or lose bladder control. Additionally, you may see blood in their urine or notice a strong smell to it.


There are countless reasons why your pet may throw up. You don’t need to visit the vet each time your dog vomits. But it’s also not something you can just ignore. Don’t try to guess. If the vomiting persists or occurs with other symptoms like diarrhea or lethargy, you need to rush to the vet. It could be a sign of severe health problems, such as poisoning or gastrointestinal blockage.


This symptom may occur on its own or be accompanied by vomiting. Its potential causes are similar to vomiting. One or two episodes of diarrhea may not be a pet emergency. But recurring diarrhea can result in dehydration.


At some point in their lives, your pet may have to deal with discomfort due to internal or external parasites. Symptoms of parasites generally vary, depending on a few factors. These include the kind of parasite that has plagued your pet, where it lives, and how severe its infestation is.

Dental Issues

Like us, your dog can develop canine dental diseases due to high levels of plaque buildup. Several signs indicate that your pet may have dental disease. These include difficulty eating, bleeding of the gums or teeth, loose teeth, and bad breath.


Nearly 30 percent of the general dog population is considered obese. Several factors contribute to a pet’s risk. These include age, genetic predisposition, lack of exercise, and overfeeding, among others.


This joint problem can restrict your dog’s mobility. Bring Fido to the vet if you see your dog slow down or limp before and after walks. Other signs include licking or chewing on tender areas and behavioral changes.


Symptoms of dog poisoning vary widely, depending on the kind of toxin a pet has been exposed to. The signs can range from vomiting to drooling, breathing difficulties, seizures, or worse, coma. Some of the most common poisonous substances are human foods like chocolates, grapes, raisins, onions, and caffeine. Other known culprits are human medications, household cleaning products, pesticides, and some plants.

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