The Loss of your Pet article published in "Animal Fair Media, Inc" March 2013
All of the sudden you walk in the door of your home and there is emptiness. There is no pet to greet you; curling around your legs, wagging his tail, attempting to please you. The one who sits at your feet or curls up on your lap with no judgment at all.
You spend years with the animal that knows your routine, your habits and adjusts to them. Often you have raised them as a pup and kitten and watched them grow up, or you take in a pet that is older and needs attention. The pet becomes part of your family. We take the responsibility to make sure our pet is feed, walked, watered, played with and taken are of. We provide the basic needs and then we become emotionally attached to our pet. Kind of, what we do for our friends, our spouse and our children to be there to take care of them and we get something back in return. Yet, unlike friends and children who grow up, the pet is always there. He is there to great you when you are happy or lonely.
Pets are therapeutic to all of us. They offer a comfort with no conditions. You do not have to please a pet because they please you with no demands. They will purr and snuggle, growl and play.
Therefore, the loss of a pet is still “grief and loss”. Most of my friends say they know when their pet is getting older or sick. They know when they are fading and struggle with; should they keep them alive, are they in pain or should they let them go? Some friends have a sick pet that keeps them up at night and they are unsure if they are being cruel to put them to sleep prior to their nature death. Certainly, this sounds like what most pet owners do. They doubt their instincts about the right thing to do for their pet, since the pet cannot talk and tell them.
A loss is still a loss; that is why we often hear our friends say their dog or cat is going to “dog or cat heaven”. This is part of the grieving process. The grieving process comes in stages; loneliness, and depression such as “I miss my pet”. Do I want to purchase another puppy or kitten? Do I need to spend some time grieving for my pet? We are human and we want to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. That is why we respond to the stories of puppies and cats abused or put in cages and cannot find a home. My favorite media story on pets “… the mother dog Amanda, paced back and forth between the house, putting her 10 day old puppies in the safest place she could find – a Fire Truck”… …she didn’t stop racing back into the smoke and fire until all her puppies were safe and the firefighters were spraying her with water”. Certainly, I need not say more about how we like our pets and how they offer comfort and have an instinct of their own!
Help out with a local pet shelter
Temporarily take in a pet until a permanent home is found
Start a new activity you have wanted to do after work
Get together for dinner with your friends
Work with the nursing homes, Hospice and Children’s hospitals that take a pet in to give them comfort!
And realize it is OK to be sad!