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The Bello Project

10-year Retrospective

By Tracey Robertson, Pam Keetch, and Sara Rodenhizer


A Decade of Honouring the Bond Between Pets & Their People


Welcome to the 10-Year Retrospective of The Bello Project, Home Hospice Association’s first official program and an initiative that epitomizes our commitment to compassionate and comprehensive end-of-life care. Launched in June 2014, The Bello Project ensures that pets can stay with their dying owners to the end, providing essential support to both during this critical time. Beyond this, the program offers peace of mind to pet owners that their beloved companions will be well cared for and, when necessary, helps to find a new loving home for a pet at the appropriate stage of their owner’s illness journey.


Over the past decade, the need for a unique service like The Bello Project has resonated with countless people. Perhaps even more importantly, though, it has invited individuals, agencies, and entire communities to expand their views on what constitutes comprehensive care, extending the program’s impact far beyond the immediate needs it fulfills. This retrospective celebrates the connections we’ve strengthened, the community support we’ve built, and the significant difference we’ve made in the lives of pets and their people.


Join us as we revisit significant milestones and go forward with renewed enthusiasm for compassionate care that recognizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living beings.


Milestones: 2024-2014


  • Integration of The Bello Project into the Houseless Hospice Pilot Project with “Rehoming Houseless Pets.” 

  • Launch of Agency Partnership Outreach Campaign, exploring partnerships with rescue organizations and hospices.


  • Renewed partnership with Featherstone Wineries and Muddy Paws Wine Festival post-pandemic. 


  • Continuation of HHA Pet Lovers Death Cafés. 


  • Featured in article “Beyond the Clinic Walls” by Bello Project RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician) Mentors in OAVT (Ontario Association of Veterinary Technician) Journal. 


  • Presentation to Champlain Community Support Network in Ottawa. 

  • In-person volunteer training held at Burlington Humane Society.

  • Transition to online events including the first Bello Project Training Workshop online and Pet Lovers Death Cafés. 

  • Launch of virtual Open Peer Support Forums for RVTs. 


  • Winery Dogs of Ontario supports The Bello Project. 

  • Hamilton SPCA supports The Bello Project with a booth at the Wiggle Waggle Festival.

  • Once again named the charity of choice at Featherstone Wineries’ annual Muddy Paws festival.



  • Selection as the charity of choice for the Muddy Paws Wine Festival hosted by Featherstone Wineries. 

  • Second annual Blessing of the Animals by St Peters Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cambridge. 

  • Cedarview Animal Hospital names The Bello Project as their in-memoriam charity. 

  • Training video production at Cambridge Animal Hospital with RVTs. 

  • Participation in the Dachshund Rescue of Ontario’s Wienerpawlooza with Pawcasso’s Studio.  

  • First Googler Doodler Day, engaging the tech community. 


  • Pam Keetch joins HHA, bringing leadership and passion to The Bello Project that propels our initiatives forward. She subsequently becomes Ottawa (Eastern Ontario Region) Chapter Champion. 

  • Ocea, a beloved pet, is cared for by The Bello Project. 

  • Kayla Moryoussef walks in the first Moonlit Memory Walk for her dog Herman, the first person to walk in memory of a pet. 

  • Presentation of The Bello Project at University of Guelph Retiree Association. 

  • The Bello Project visits Pet Valu as part of Team GrandPaws recruitment.​​


Spotlight on
Pam Keetch: Program Manager and Chapter Champion ​​​

Pam’s deep connection with her community and history with dog rescue highlight her commitment to compassionate care. Joining HHA in 2017, she quickly became indispensable to The Bello Project, with HHA Co-Founder, Tracey Robertson, calling her “the light that keeps the Bello Project candle burning.” As Program Manager and Chapter Champion for Eastern Ontario, Pam has greatly increased public awareness about supporting pets and their dying owners. Her inspiring efforts and dedication make her a trusted figure to both her team and the pets and owners we serve, embodying the true spirit of The Bello Project.​​​


  • HHA becomes a Canadian Registered Charity. 

  • The Bello Project participates in AMEX’s Corporate Volunteer Day, filling care packages for pets & their dying owners.

  • First grant from Senior’s Secretariat (Ontario Government) for Team GrandPaws. 

  • Creation of a training program with RVTs and volunteers. 

  • First in-person pet caregiver training event hosted by Dogtopia.



  • Nomination and win of the Innovator of the Year Award by PIJAC. 

  • Partnership formed with Dogtopia for in-kind office space. 

  • First “Bubbles for Bello” and “Photos with Santa” fundraisers hosted by Dogtopia. 



  • Home Hospice Association is registered as a nonprofit. 

  • Launch of The Bello Project and its dedicated website. 

  • First partnership established with PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada). 

  • First major donation of $2,000 from Buddy’s Buddies (Jacquie Bishop Cleary). ​​​

3 Things We’re Most Proud Of

Reflecting on the last decade, we’re incredibly proud of the strides The Bello Project has made in promoting HHA’s vision of comprehensive end-of-life care for all. Here are three achievements that stand out:

1. First Grant for Team GrandPaws

This milestone allowed us to develop specialized training programs, significantly expanding our service capacity and enabling us to support more people and pets


2. Collaboration with RVTs

Our work with Registered Veterinary Technicians and volunteers has been pivotal. Together, we've established a comprehensive volunteer training program, launched the Death Café for Pet Lovers, initiated a Peer Support Forum, and advanced the “Providing for Your Pets in Your Advance Care Plan” workshop


3. Development of Key Resources

We’ve transformed initial concepts into full-scale resources, including detailed reference materials, instructional videos on pet care, marketing materials, and presentations. These have empowered our volunteers and agency partners with the tools they need to succeed, expanding our program’s reach and effectiveness.

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“Talking about death is challenging for a lot of people, but for many — especially the pet lovers among us — thinking about dying through the lens of the pet-human bond opens the door to many important conversations and planning for the end of life. In this way, The Bello Project has been a true gift to so many people.”

HHA Co-Founder & CEO

Our Paw-sitively Amazing Fundraising Partners

We wouldn’t be where we are today without the generosity and support of our Partners. Our key partners include:

  • Featherstone Winery & Boreal Foods: Muddy Paws Wine Festival enhanced public awareness and significantly boosted fundraising efforts.

  • Canadian Dachshund Rescue Ontario: Wienerpawlooza.

  • Cedarview Animal Hospital

  • Dogtopia: Providing in-kind office space and hosting fundraisers.

  • Google: Supporting through Googler Doodler Days fundraising events

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Partnership Spotlight

Featherstone Estate Winery

“The Bello Project is very professionally run and has the heart-and-soul approach that we love to engage with. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of running an organization, but taking the time to participate in a charity like HHA gives you a new perspective and a deep sense of satisfaction. By amplifying The Bello Project’s message together, we can reach a wider audience.”

Louise Engel


What significant benefits has Featherstone experienced from its association with The Bello Project through the Muddy Paws Festival?

“Our staff greatly enjoys participating in the event and it’s a big boost for morale! Plus, Featherstone Winery is further solidified as being a ‘dog-friendly’ location, and there has been a positive impact on our reputation.”

Challenges & Lessons Learned 

Building Agency Partnerships

Over the past decade, establishing strong agency partnerships has been one of our most significant challenges. Our mission to enhance end-of-life care across Canada relies heavily on integrating our programs with existing services offered by community agencies to maximize our impact. Despite the broad appeal of initiatives like The Bello Project, fostering these collaborations has been difficult, especially for agencies already operating at capacity with their current commitments. Initially, we aimed to collaborate with either a pet-specific agency or a hospice partner. However, implementing our predominantly home-based care model introduced several challenges, requiring these agencies to adapt by developing new volunteer procedures and project management workflows.

Impact of COVID-19

Just as we started to make some real progress, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, significantly disrupting our momentum. Like many other organizations, we saw about 80% of our volunteer base vanish almost overnight. From 2020 to 2022, our fundraising efforts came to a sudden halt, forcing us to pause many of our partnership efforts

Adapting to New Realities

Despite these setbacks, we adapted and persevered. Our leadership innovated by shifting much of our training and events to online platforms—a move that not only sustained, but in some cases, enhanced our engagement. Initiatives like the online HHA Death Café for Pet Lovers helped us stay connected with our community, providing support to those feeling particularly isolated.

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Looking Ahead

These challenges have taught us invaluable lessons in resilience and flexibility. As we move forward, we carry these lessons with us, ready to face future challenges with renewed vigor and an even stronger commitment to our mission.

1. Re-establishing the RVT Mentorship Program

We’re excited to revitalize our mentorship program for Registered Veterinary Technicians. This program focuses on ongoing education, volunteer support, and professional development in end-of-life care, leveraging the skills of an already compassionate workforce dedicated to pet welfare.


2. Integrating The Bello Project into our Houseless Hospice Pilot Project

We are passionate about extending the reach of The Bello Project to include marginalized, street-involved populations. This expansion involves re-homing pets of houseless individuals when necessary, ensuring that no pet owner worries about their companion’s fate. This initiative represents a significant step towards inclusive and comprehensive care.


3. Finalizing Agency Partnerships

We are close to finalizing partnerships with our first Humane Society and Hospice. These collaborations will significantly expand our service capabilities and strengthen the support network for pet owners and their animals during end-of-life care.

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“Establishing community partnerships, fundraising, and increasing public awareness are key goals for The Bello Project. Going forward, we’re excited to work with agencies on the ground to broaden our reach, deepen our impact, and enrich the spirit of compassion and care in our communities.”

The Bello Project Program Manager


We extend our heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers, partners, and supporters. Special recognition goes to Featherstone Winery and our Pet Lovers Death Café facilitators for their steadfast support. We’re also grateful to everyone who has embraced and contributed to The Bello Project’s vision, including the following individuals and organizations:


  • Boreal Pet Foods

  • Cambridge Animal Hospital

  • Cedarview Animal Hospital

  • Canadian Dachshund Rescue Ontario

  • Dogtopia

  • Jacquie Bishop Cleary

  • Karen Black at Indigo Photography

  • Louise Engel & Featherstone Estate Winery


  • Sue-Ann Staff Winery

  • Vineland Estates

  • Westcott Vineyards

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