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Josh and Denice Norton, a husband and wife team are the founders of River Valley Gateway. Josh is a Colorado native living most of his life here in this beautiful river valley. Denice moved to Grand Junction in 2005 to take a veterinary associate position at Amigo Animal Clinic. God crossed their paths 3 years later and in 2009 they married in the back yard of Josh’s home. Five years later, they began working on a dream they are able to bring alive in the work they do through River Valley Gateway. They are very passionate about providing an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service to our community. They are committed to providing pet parents a way to say goodbye to their beloved pet in the comfort of the home setting and provide the stepping stones to memorialize their four-legged friends. They both understand these difficult decisions being made on behalf of our pets and are available to help walk you through each step of your pet’s end of life journey. 

Their favorite hobby is spending time with their children and getting outdoors to go exploring on their dirt bikes. They are an awesome team and challenge each other daily to grow in their spiritual walk with the Lord. Do they have pets of their own? Of course, they do. First is Buster, the eldest of the canine companions. He can be found napping next to the couch or upside down in the sunshine out in the backyard grass. Next is Poppy, their trusty canine princess. She shows her strengths at feeding time making sure everyone is eating out of their respective dishes to leave nothing behind or else it is hers. She is also their first alert to any intruders approaching the vicinity of their home, front yard or back. Then there is Buddy, he is the wisest of their three feline fur balls. He keeps watch over the front yard during the day and by night is a lap cat — any lap, it just has to be available, he’s not picky. The other two feline joys are Spidey, so named because of his ability to climb anything and last but not least, Little Red, who isn’t so little anymore. They are all great reminders that love truly is a four-legged word. 

IN THE NEWS

Grieving over pets

Veterinarian Denice Norton, left, and her husband Josh are co-founders of River Valley Gateway, an in-home care provider for terminally ill pets. The couple have pets of their own: Buddy, a 12-year-old cat; Poppy, a rescue dog; and Buster, a 15-year-old Australian Shepherd.

By Emily Shockley 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A new Grand Valley business will offer pain management and care for pets on their last wag.

Just as traditional hospice services offer end-of-life care for humans, River Valley Gateway, opening Monday, will offer end-of-life care for furry loved ones. River Valley’s Josh Norton, who co-owns the business with his wife, veterinarian Denice Norton, said in-home care for pets diagnosed with a terminal illness is an emerging trend worldwide and the couple saw a need for those services in the Grand Valley.“It’s about having compassion for animals and taking time to assess their needs,” Josh Norton said. “It’s about the pet parents’ needs also. Instead of just euthanizing a pet and going back to work, we’re surrounding them with support and getting those emotional needs taken care of.”

Denice Norton attended this year’s international convention of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care to learn more about the practice, and her husband recently attended a counseling skills training at the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins. He hopes to earn a death and grief studies certificate to help families through the emotional side of losing a pet before, during and after the pet’s death. River Valley also will offer a monthly pet loss grief support group. Denice Norton will perform an initial consultation with pet owners and consult with the pet’s veterinarian to determine how best to care for a pet reaching the end of an incurable or life-limiting illness. Hospice services include management of pain medication, acupuncture, chiropractic care and other steps to minimize anxiety issues for the pet to keep it comfortable. River Valley Gateway will provide in-home euthanasia services as well, if needed.

Although most of the hospice services are for smaller pets, such as cats and dogs, euthanasia can be provided for larger animals like horses or alpacas.

Anyone interested in the service can contact River Valley Gateway at 250-8493 or visit http://rivervalleygateway.com.