Of all the experiences we share with our dogs, letting them go is undoubtedly the most difficult. Deciding when the time is right, when the length of a life is no longer worth its quality, weighs heavy.
Stephanie Cousins understands the emotional tremors that families experience losing a pet and understands too, the desire of many people for the end to be gentle and loving and in their dog’s most familiar place, their own home. That’s why the experienced vet decided to set up a specialist service where she will travel to the dog and their family to help everyone face and cope with the inevitable.
Steph lives in Castlewellan with her husband Barry and their young children Evelyn and Thomas, plus of course Dodi the Shih Tzu, 11, Willow the one year old Golden Retriever, and cat Inca, eight. She spends her days balancing looking after the kids and traveling all over Northern Ireland to help people say goodbye to their pets from the comfort of their own home.
“I’ve had the idea for some time. With vet practices being so busy home visits are a luxury very few vets are able to provide, and in most cases dogs end up being taken to the surgery for their last journey, a situation that can lead to much distress for everyone involved”
For Steph’s clients she ensures that the end comes gently, first giving a sedative to ensure the animal is peaceful and pain-free. When the family is ready Steph can also take the pet to a crematorium where they can collect their ashes less than a week later. None of it is easy, she says, but it is easier than having to say goodbye in a clinical setting.
Steph took the first steps to setting up her business by getting involved in the Exploring Enterprise Programme run by Down Business Centre. Working closely with Business Adviser Joan O’Hara she completed a training course that introduced her to self-employment and covered areas such as market research, promotion, finance and taxation, business planning and the legalities of self-employment. Stephanie is now moving forward to the Go For It programme where she will develop a detailed business plan for Home Vet NI.
“Joan’s advice and support has been invaluable. The Exploring Enterprise Programme highlighted to me all the key steps I needed to consider and take in setting up my business. I’m now looking forward to getting involved in the Go For It programme and at developing a formal business plan as a road map for future growth.
“Since I launched Home Vet NI it has been very busy. One of the personal reasons for wanting to set up my own business was to have more time to spend with my family. While I set out with a plan not to travel more than an hour from home, I’ve been asked to go much further afield than that. As a result life is very hectic but thankfully I have great support from my husband Barry and my mum Majella so I am really enjoying growing the business.
I am motivated to help dogs (and their owners) have a dignified and peaceful end of life experience. I am currently running my own business full time, which initially was the aim in 5-10 years down the line. To have achieved this after one year in business has been unbelievable and I feel very lucky’ says Stephanie Cousins.
To find out more about Stephanie’s pet euthanasia service please visit https://homevetni.com