I’m a lot like you! An Allied Service Practitioner’s Journey into Animal Hospice

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Animal Hospice Group - Michelle Nichols, AHELP Project

I’m a lot like you! An Allied Service Practitioner’s Journey into Animal Hospice

By Michelle Nichols
Animal Hospice Group Co-founder

“I know I have what it takes to help people whose pets are aging, ailing, and dying…I just need a roadmap to get me there.”
~ Michelle Nichols (2009)

Fast forward twelve years from 2009 and after more than a decade in the field, I find myself walking alongside my fellow Animal Hospice Group Founders, having proudly developed the first robust educational curriculum in animal hospice and palliative care for people like myself, unlicensed allied family practitioners working in animal hospice and palliative care.

In the beginning…

I found confidence in knowing I had what I needed to become a pet hospice professional as a base: the tools in my toolbox from over 10 years of professional grief counseling and education in the human healthcare field. As an animal caregiver, I had a lifetime of loving and living with animals and unique personal “lessons learned” from them too. Importantly, one of those valuable lessons was about forging my “path of least regrets,” and the peace of mind knowing I’d done what I could to see them live their best life until the end of life. This became the mantra that most resonates with the Animal Hospice Group students we teach and the pet hospice caregivers I now help.

Back then, I did whatever I could to continue my education through mentoring and self-learning. I was stumped to give my new vocation a name, and recall how grateful I was to have it resolved when an early influence told me later that she considered me one of the first self-educated Animal Hospice Case Managers. I immersed myself in my professional endeavors and enjoyed related joys and challenges.

I accepted leadership positions until becoming the 2019 President of the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, and met IAAHPC founder, Dr. Amir Shanan, who later became one of my Animal Hospice Group Co-founders and close friend. I admired IAAHPC Conference speaker Gail Pope across the ballroom; later, she would become a compatriot who shared the same dreams. Through higher education from conferences like the Nikki Hospice Symposium offered by Animal Hospice Group Co-founder, Dr. Kathryn Marocchino, I was able to round out my exposure to influential thought leaders. Human hospice volunteering in our local medical center taught me about hospice philosophy and also underscored how very similar the worlds of human and animal hospice care are. 

What I learned as an Animal Hospice Case Manager  

Animals approaching the end of life can often seem so fragile in body, yet still strong in spirit. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, on the other end of life the same is true and through the animals, I learned that it is the same for all beings. 

As the circle of life approaches closure, the caregivers of beloved animals I would help were JUST LIKE ME and overwhelmed when not knowing where to turn for help. This internal caregiver struggle could feel insurmountable and their fear could lead to the hope that their animal loved ones would eventually die in their sleep, or else give them the sign that “it’s time,” sometimes never perceptually coming to them under the cloud of the caregiver's grief. I understood what they were going through, and told them “we got this.”  I could help the caregiver find their own path of least regrets.

Beyond supporting caregivers, I found great satisfaction in teaching and mentoring others…and then I joined forces with my three co-founders who agreed:

To help more People and Pets with Animal Hospice, we must develop programs that train 


That includes YOU!

Now that you’re becoming familiar with the Animal Hospice Group and our Animal Hospice Certification, you may ask yourself why you should choose the Animal Hospice Group Certification for yourself at this point in your life, and potentially for your career. TAKE THE NEXT STEP TODAY!

I encourage you to reach out to us to chat about the Animal Hospice Group and our Animal Hospice Certification, and so I can learn about your journey, too. We all can learn from one another! 

Michelle Nichols, MS
Animal Hospice Group, Co-founder & Instructor/Lecturer
President and Founder, Animal Hospice, End of Life, and Palliative Care Project


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