pet urns

Pet Urns

pet urns

I know any conversation relating to the loss of a pet is a tough one to have, and talking about pet urns doesn’t make it any easier.

I will never forget the first time I had to say goodbye to a pet. Her name was Calypso, and she was 3 weeks old when I found her in a pile of garbage on my way home from work. I had her until her kidneys failed at the age of 17.

When the vet came in after taking tests, and told me there was nothing to be done, I went hysterical. Seeing that piece of paper you have to sign, giving them permission to end your beloved pet’s life is almost unbearable.

I was overwhelmed when asked what I wanted to do (cremation, did I want the ashes back…), my head was spinning. I had never been faced with anything like this and I was totally unprepared.

Of course I knew I would want her back with me, and then I was given a sheet with pictures of urns. I had no clue what I was looking at, how much anything costs (it’s surreal talking money), or what to choose. I pointed to something and that was that.

It turned out to be a lovely cherry wood coloured wicker box, and it was nice enough to sit on my bedroom dresser.

How to choose

When I looked around at what was available (years later when I wasn’t in the depths of despair), I couldn’t get over how many styles and design options there were. How in the world do you choose?

Will you keep them with you?

If you’re having your pet cremated with the intention of burying or scattering ashes, there doesn’t seem to be much point in spending a lot of money. It’s up to you, obviously, but I wouldn’t.

There is something called a “scatter canister” (I don’t know if that’s the universal term for it) which are round tube shaped sturdy containers that you can use to scatter the ashes when you’re ready, or keep them forever. The ones I have are of a forest scene and they are quite nice.

I used to keep them on the bottom shelf of my tv stand, so they weren’t “in your face” or obvious to visitors what they were, but I could always see them so I felt like they were included.

Pride of place

If you’ll be holding on to the ashes, and you want them displayed in a prominent place, I’m guessing you’ll want the container to blend in with the room it will be kept in. Our tastes differ, but there is bound to be an urn you’ll love, that will look good wherever you’re intending to keep it.

Dogs and cats

I will obviously be highlighting urns for dogs, but all (except for one I believe) are also suited for cats. I will, however, feature a couple of cat-specific urns.

Pet urns

The Living Urn Planting System

living urn planting system for pets cremains

I find this fascinating, and certainly the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of such a thing.

It is a biodegradable urn and planting system, that transforms the cremated remains of your beloved pet into a beautiful enduring tree, plant or flowers.

You get the biodegradable urn and planting system, then you go to your local garden centre and choose the tree seedling, plant or flowers you’d like. Simply follow the instructions, and then watch the beautiful living memory grow from your pet’s cremated remains. Lovely!

AngelStar Pet Urn for Dogs

AngelStar pet urn for dogs

I think this cream coloured urn is gorgeous, with the touching words on the front, and paw prints on the top. It measures 5” high, with a 2”x3” area for a photograph of your pet. It has a very versatile design, and would fit in to most decors.  

Pet Memorial Box Urn 

pet memorial box urn

I love this because it’s more than just an urn. You can display a photograph of your pet, and also make a paw impression that can be added to the outside of the memorial box, next to the picture.  Everything you need to make the clay print is included, as well as a lovely poem and teal coloured paw print necklace. Your pet’s collar or ID tag can be added as a keepsake.

Engraved Series Pet Urn 

engraved pet urns

When I saw this I couldn’t help but think I Dream of Jeannie and Arabia, and personally I think it’s stunning. Beautifully etched and constructed of solid brass, it’s perfect for dogs, cats and other pets. Available in 5 colours and 3 sizes to accommodate pets up to 70lbs. 

Near & Dear Pet Memorials Box Pet Urn

memorial box pet urn

If you’re looking for something simple yet stunning, with a purpose that isn’t “obvious,” then have a closer look at this memorial box. Available in cherry or natural, it is made of medium density fibre board, and has a bottom sliding panel. It is perfect for pets to 15lbs.

Odyssey Series Pet Cremation Urns

odyssey series pet cremation urns

This beautiful brass urn is solid and heavy, with a lid that screws on easily. The pad at the bottom is a nice touch, protecting any surface from scratches. The edge of the lid can be engraved, as a tribute to your beloved companion. What I like about this is how unobtrusive it is sitting on a shelf. Nothing “in your face” about it. Suitable for pets up to 70lbs, it comes in 3 sizes and 5 different colours.

Photo Pet Memorial Urn

photo pet memorial box urn

If you love the look of wood, then this is for you. Simple but beautiful, it is available in oak or walnut, and horizontal or vertical styles. Being able to display a photo is important to many, which is another wonderful feature of this urn. The acrylic window slides out of the bottom so it’s easy to add a favourite photograph. I like the fact that it isn’t obvious that it’s an urn. Available in sizes medium and large, they can hold pets up to 120lbs.

Granite Garden Rock Urn

granite garden rock urn

Urns don’t only have to go inside the home do they? This granite garden rock, made of stone particles mixed with poly-resin, will protect your pet’s ashes while outside. If you spend more time outdoors than in, how beautiful to sit outside in the garden, and know your beloved pet is with you. It has an attached name plaque, with 2 lines of engraving and 20 characters per line included in the price. This urn holds pets up to 100lbs.

Onyx Pet Urn 

onyx pet urn

This onyx pet urn is stunning! Handcrafted, each urn blends natural banded Onyx shades of green, brown, honey and burgundy tones. These gemstone Onyx pet urns are richly polished, with the lid expertly handcrafted to allow the option to seal.

Perfect for cats, small dogs and other pets up to 14lbs, although other sizes by this manufacturer are offered. This rectangular urn is 5″L x 4″W x 2″H

Cat in Basket Pet Cremation Urn

cat in basket urn

While all (except one) of the above highlighted urns are suitable for cats, you may prefer something cat specific. I would. This hand painted cat in a basket in is crafted from cold cast resin, and I think there’s something very peaceful about this design. The urn opens by a bottom panel covered in felt to protect the surface of your furniture.

Hand-Engraved Egyptian Brass Cat Urn 

urn for cats

I love the Egyptian feel of this 100% brass, hand engraved and painted cat urn. It closes securely with a threaded lid and has a felt-lined base to protect surfaces from scratches. Appropriate for a cat weighing up to 25lbs.

Pet urns – conclusion

This really is a depressing topic, I know, but when we invite a pet into our home, we know this is part of the deal. Sad, but true nevertheless. I like to have my pets’ ashes with me, it makes me feel like they’re still part of the family.

Whether you choose to display your pets’ ashes in a prominent place or not, with the selection of pet urns available, I’m sure you’ll find something that will honour the memory of your pet and keep him or her resting comfortably.

the loss of pets I have loved

The Loss of a Pet: Will You Be There at The End?

the loss of a pet will you be there at the end

When the time has come and you’re about to experience the loss of a pet, will you be there at the end?

No matter how long it’s been since you said goodbye to your last furry family member, it’s always heart wrenching, and you never forget that feeling.

I stay

I have always been there (except once which I’ll explain further down), and will continue to be there as long as I’m able, because I have no doubt it is the right decision for me.

Is it easy? No, it’s one of the most horrific experiences of my life. Knowing there’s nothing I can do to stop the inevitable from happening, and having to say “I’m ready” is tough beyond words. Why do I do it? Because I know it would eat me up alive if I wasn’t there to give them comfort.

Our dog Bailey had pancreatitis, and was at the vet in another city. The end was unexpected, I had no car, and it was late in the day. My husband worked in the same city, and since they were besties, he was the right person to be with him.

Some go

Several people have told me they couldn’t handle being there, and while at the vet I have seen people leave the room, because it was too much for them to witness, and heaven knows it is.

The person who leaves is no less brave than the person who stays, nor did they love any less.

the loss of pets I have loved

Guilt

I want to talk about the guilt some people feel at not having been there. It can hit anytime – soon after, or much later when the grief has subsided.  

That is a road you don’t want to walk down.  

I can certainly understand why you feel the way you do, but not only is it unproductive, it will eat you up inside. Easy for me to say? No it’s not actually, because I know guilt, and I have to learn to handle it regularly.

Please explain this to yourself – you’re feeling guilty in your current state of mind, but you made the best decision for yourself in another state of mind. How can one judge the other?  

Understand what I’m saying?

How will you decide?

While it’s not a topic we want to think about, it’s a good idea to know who would want to be there, and who wouldn’t. At the time, circumstances may force different decisions, but it’s still a good idea to know who stands where, before you’re forced to decide with very little time to think.

If the idea of having it done in a cold, and unfamiliar environment makes you sad, many vets will come to the house. It is an option a lot of people prefer, as it allows their pet to be calm and comfortable in familiar surroundings. It may be easier for you to be there if it’s done in your own home. I hesitate to use the word “easy” because nothing can be further from reality, but you know what I mean.

If this is a strong consideration, know in advance if your vet offers this service, or would you have to look further afield.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you keep changing your mind, I’m the queen of reversible decisions.

If it helps, think about it like this – would you feel worse if you were there, or weren’t there?

Reasons people stay and reasons people go

Here are some reasons why people stay, and why they go. There’s no right or wrong decision, only the decision you make.

Stay

  • Get comfort knowing their pet went peacefully
  • Sure they were treated with respect because they witnessed it
  • Want their pet to know they were with them until the very end
  • Know for sure their pet died – sometimes you have to see to believe
  • Can’t regret not being there

Go

  • Don’t want their pet to be stressed by their reaction/emotions
  • They don’t want it to be the last memory of their pet
  • Don’t want to see death

The loss of a pet – conclusion

It is not our place to judge if someone decides they aren’t able to be there in the last moments of life. Some wouldn’t be anywhere else, others prefer a different final memory. What’s important is you do what’s right for you.

You have to believe your pet knew how much you loved them, and are grateful for how you cared for them.

When you face the loss of a pet, will you be there at the end?

 

Were you with your pet or not? Would you like to share the reasons for your decision? Would you make the same decision if there’s a next time? Sharing your experiences helps others, just write in the comment section below.  

explaining the loss of a pet to children

Explaining the Loss of a Pet to Children

explaining the loss of a pet to children

It’s hard enough for us to cope, imagine explaining the loss of a pet to children.

Sadly it’s one of those things in life that are inevitable. Of course it’s to be dreaded, but if handled properly, it will serve as an important lesson in loss, love, life and compassion.

The bond between them

Do your pets greet the kids at the door when they come home? Do they serve as a confidant, the first one your child talks to? Are they best friends, a support to help them feel less alone in the world?

It is a bond that people who don’t have the pleasure of sharing their lives with animals, can never possibly understand. Yet it is an important one.

how to explain the loss of a pet to children

What you should not do

It’s a natural instinct to want to shelter your kids from the bad in the world, but you won’t be doing them any favours in this case.

Please do not lie and say the dog/cat/rabbit… ran away, or got lost. First of all it’s the wrong thing to do, and why would you allow your child to worry, wondering if he’s okay, and hope he’ll find his way home one day?

How to share the news

If your pet is old, or has an illness that he won’t recover from, you will be able to explain what’s going on, over time. They will see the animal isn’t well, be aware of your trips to the vet, medication etc… so will have time to understand and absorb.

It is an opportunity to teach your child proper care of animals, and compassion for others. Explain the importance of preventing suffering, that everything possible has been done to help, and when the time comes the vet will give him a quick injection that won’t hurt, the pet will not be scared or in pain, and he will die peacefully.

Be careful of the words you use. It’s okay to say things like “died” “death” so they understand what that means, but using words like “put to sleep” or “going to sleep” are not a good idea. They associate those words with bedtime, and can scare and confuse them. Call it what it is.

explaining pet loss to kids

 

How much to share

You know your children, and their age and ability to cope will determine how the detail you go into, and the words you use to explain what’s going on. Answer their questions, don’t ignore them.

What if your pet dies suddenly?

If something drastic happened, and you had no time to prepare yourself, never mind the kids, briefly and calmly explain what happened. Let their questions guide the conversation.

Where do pets go when they die?

I don’t know whether or not you’ve ever broached the subject of death with your kids, but that’s a tough one for any of us to answer. You could talk about your own belief or understanding of death, what your faith says about it, or give an honest “I don’t know” because none of us know for sure.

Helping them cope with the loss of a pet

We all feel a range of emotions when experiencing loss, and they will as well. Loneliness because their friend is gone, anger, guilt because they didn’t always take care of their pet like they said they would.

Encourage your children to express their feelings, and share yours as well. It helps to know you’re feeling the same. If they don’t want to talk right now that’s okay, but don’t let them keep their feelings bottled up for long, and be sure they know when they’re ready you’ll be there to listen.

pet loss and children

Helping your child heal

You’re keeping the lines of communication open, and encouraging your kids to share their feelings. What else can you do to help?

Your children may want to have a funeral. It’s a chance for them to say goodbye and do something special. There are pet cemeteries if you prefer, or a backyard burial means they’re still close.

If your pet will be cremated, perhaps they’d like to help you pick the urn.

How about a scrapbook full of pictures, funny stories… Go shopping with your kids to pick out a special book, coloured paper, stickers, markers… Even if they already have everything at home, they may want things they pick out specifically for this occasion.

Other ideas include planting a tree or bush, buying a paving stone with your pet’s name on it, a picture frame with the pet’s name and picture, or buying some supplies for the local shelter. Explain how this will be helping lots of other animals that are waiting for a home feel so much better.

Adopting another

You may be ready to adopt another pet rather quickly, but hold off for a bit. Your kids may not be ready for such a big step, and they may get angry, feeling theirs wasn’t important and so easily replaced.

Hopefully you will be able to give another animal a home, when everyone is ready. The priority is helping your kids understand what has happened, grieve, accept, and be happy with the memories.

explaining pet loss to children

Explaining the loss of a pet to children – conclusion

Not an easy conversation to have with grownups, never mind kids, but necessary nonetheless.

Be honest about what happened, let their questions guide you, help them understand what a kind and compassionate thing you all did, and how it’s okay to be sad because they were lucky enough to love someone so much.

Explaining the loss of a pet to children isn’t easy, but see it as an opportunity to teach them about loss, love, compassion and the joy that comes with sharing their lives with animals.

 

 

 

the loss of a pet

The Loss of a Pet

the loss of a pet

It’s not a topic anyone wants to talk about, I know I don’t, but the loss of a pet is an inevitable part of sharing our lives with them.

Like you, I have said goodbye too many times. You never get used to it, and it never gets easier. Nothing prepares you for the moment the vet walks in with that euthanasia paper, requiring your signature that will force you apart. I’m tearing up as I write this, because it’s not a moment I can ever forget.

What choice do we have?

Of course it’s horrific, and I’ve met many people over the years who refused to get another animal, because saying goodbye was too hard. Totally understandable, you can’t fault them.

That’s not how I see things, but we’re all different aren’t we? There is no shortage of animals needing homes, so while it’s devastating to say goodbye, I’m always open to helping another.

What this post is about

This article is the first in a series, exploring a wide range of issues surrounding the loss of a pet. This first post is an overview, and future ones will address each topic in more detail.

loss of a pet

When is it time to say goodbye?

Sometimes the answer is clear cut, other times a lot fuzzier.

There are circumstances when you have no choice – your pet is terminally ill, or so badly injured there’s nothing more that can be done. It’s those times when it is morally and ethically the right decision to make.

The less certain times are when it’s quality of life. In my experience, these decisions have been the worst ones. Should I have done it sooner? Did I do it too soon?

While the cut and dried cases were always heart breaking, they never haunted me because the answer was obvious. The quality of life decisions, or those that were a result of negligence on the part of a vet, have never left me.

Your trusted vet is someone to rely on for his knowledge and experience, and so is your love for your animal. It is never about what we want, only about what is right and humane for them.

explaining the death of a pet to your kids

Explaining it to the kids

As hard as it is for us, at least we’re able to intellectually understand what’s going on, even if we feel differently in our hearts. With children it’s harder, especially young children.

It is about explaining that the pet is ill, everyone has done everything possible to help, and now he’s suffering. A simple injection is all that’s needed to let him go, so they don’t worry it will hurt. Obviously the words will be your own, but it’s not a good idea to lie and say your pet ran away or is lost. Death is a part of life, and although we want to spare children from having to deal with it, sometimes we’re confronted a lot sooner than we’d like.

Compassion is such an important lesson for kids to learn, and this is a perfect opportunity. It’s a chance to teach them how important it is to do what’s right for their pet, to not allow them to suffer, even if it hurts us for a while.

Encourage them to talk about their feelings and show them it’s okay to feel sad, because you do as well.

Cremation or burial

Ideally you want to know the answer to this before you’re faced with the decision, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Think about involving your kids in this decision.

coping after the loss of a pet

How to cope

A pet is much more than someone that shares our home. They are family members as important as any other, and sometimes even invaluable helpers in everyday life. When they’re no longer around, the void can be massive. When your dog isn’t at the door to greet you every day, or your cat isn’t sleeping on your head, it’s a big adjustment.

My dog Bailey used to follow my other dog Red up and down the hall, then corner her and lick her ear. I don’t know how long it took for me to stop “seeing” him walking down that hallway.

Grieve

Don’t bottle up or deny your feelings. This is someone who was an important part of your life, who deserves to be missed and mourned. We all have to go through the pain, or we’ll never get to the other side of it.

You’re entitled to your feelings

Don’t be embarrassed or uncomfortable about how you’re feeling, and never, ever allow anyone to belittle you for them. They can say what they like, but we know he or she was not “just a dog/cat/rabbit…”

To tell you the truth, I pity those people for never having known the love and joy animals bring into our lives.

Get support if you need it

If you’re struggling (as we all do at times), speak to someone who can relate. There are an unlimited number of resources both online and in person, where help is available. Type “pet loss grief support” into your search engine, and you will find help immediately.

Create a memorial

Creating a memorial is a great way to honour the life of your pet, and the joy they brought into your home. Don’t be surprised at how much better it can make you feel.

Do it as a family, separately, or both but include your kids as much as possible. Plant a tree, create a photo album with everyone contributing their favourite pictures, make a donation to an animal shelter in your pet’s name…the ways are endless.

Stick to your routine

Your routine has been shaken, but do what you can to maintain the structure. It’s important for everyone, including remaining pets. Don’t forget the loss will affect them too.

Take care of yourself

It’s an emotionally and physically exhausting experience, a shock to the system. When I lost my first pet, a cat named Calypso, I couldn’t do anything but lie in bed for 3 days and cry. I couldn’t move, eat, or go to work.

Do what you have to, but don’t neglect yourself for too long, or you could get stuck in an endless cycle of no energy to get out of bed, not eating, so no energy and around it goes.

Eat healthy, get some rest and keep exercising. At least a walk around the block so you don’t lose complete momentum, and you want to release those endorphins, which will help make you feel better.

Helping seniors cope

As people age and begin to lose friends, and the support system they’ve relied on, the companionship of a pet becomes that much more important, not to mention special. Loss not only brings feelings of emptiness, but reminders of our own mortality as well.

Some of the ways you can help include:

Make sure visitors come around to keep them company

Bring your own pet to visit

Ask if they would consider fostering or adopting an older pet. It would bring some life back into the home, and they would be doing a wonderful thing by saving a life

What about volunteering at a local shelter? Even if they aren’t physically able to walk a dog, they could spend time giving cats and dogs some much needed attention

Recommend a pet loss grief support group. Not only will it give them other people to talk to who can relate, it will get them out of the house and they might even make new friends

Leave them the number of someone to speak with if a group is not an option

Encourage them to get involved in activities or volunteer work, so they aren’t home alone all the time

grief of losing a pet

How long does grief last?

I suppose we would all be comforted if we knew when the pain would end, but grief of any sort doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes it comes in stages, sometimes in waves. Some people feel better in a matter of days or weeks, others months or years. We could be feeling better, and then suddenly something reminds us and we get sad again.

What’s important is to not rush it, but let the process happen naturally.

Be careful that grief doesn’t consume you, and if you are having a hard time coping I recommend you join a pet loss bereavement group as soon as possible. Don’t go through it alone.

The loss of a pet – conclusion

There’s no easy way to get through the grief, so there’s not much choice but to feel the sadness, and the pain, and let time help heal us. Take the alone time you need, but reach out if and when you need help. There’s no shame in needing a shoulder…we all do at times.

The loss of a pet is devastating, but we can get through it, and maybe one day be ready to share our life, love, and home with another animal in need.

 

teach your dog how to use a dog ramp

Coping With the Loss of a Pet

coping with the loss of a pet

I know how impossible it can be, coping with the loss of a pet.

You want to lie in bed and cry. Well, why not? I’ve done it, and it’s certainly better to cry it out to release your grief, then to keep it bottled up.

Just please make sure you don’t get lost in it. If you’re having trouble, get grief counselling, find a support group, and you are more than welcome to contact me as well. I am a certified Pet Loss Grief Support Coach.

Here are some ideas/tips/suggestions that may help you

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel. That goes double if it’s coming from someone who doesn’t share their life with animals, or has never experienced this kind of loss.

Honour your grief, don’t deny it, don’t repress it.

Surround yourself with people who understand – pet loss support groups, chat rooms, hotlines and counsellors. Volunteering there can also help.

Keep a journal where you can record your thoughts, feelings and memories.

You had a routine, and now it’s changed. Start a new hobby, try a new activity.

Remember the good times.

Create a memorial – a plaque for your garden, plant a tree, make a scrapbook…

Having a funeral is a way for you and your family to openly express grief.

Go to the beach and watch the waves – do something peaceful and contemplative.

Why not get some books and read about other peoples’ experiences? It helps knowing others have been through similar.

The human-animal bond has no strings attached, not something we experience too often in our human relationships is it? Honour what you had, treasure it.

It is not unusual to find it hard to sleep or eat, but making yourself sick won’t help. Take care of yourself.

Your other pets may be experiencing the loss of their mate, so keep an eye out for changes in behaviour, eating… Stick to the same routine they’ve been used to, and give them some extra TLC.

After experiencing the loss of a pet, many people say they are not prepared to live through that again, while others run out too quickly to try and “replace” the one that’s gone. Give yourself some time, and when you’re starting to feel more like yourself, consider bringing a homeless animal into your life. You still have a lot more love to give, and offering a home to an abandoned animal is a wonderful thing to do, not to mention how great it is for the soul.

Coping with the loss of a pet – conclusion

There are lots of options available, including online pet loss grief support, and local pet bereavement support groups. Many shelters also run regular groups, so contact your local shelter to see if they have one. If they don’t, why not offer to help them start one?

Here are a few sites that may help. I do not personally endorse any of them, I just provide them for you as a place to start.

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

Pet Loss Grief Support, Rainbow Bridge & Candle Ceremony

Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support

I know how difficult coping with the loss of a pet can be, so please ask for help if you need it. 

chewie2

How To Cope With Losing a Dog

chewie2

How to cope with losing a dog.

Feeling sad and grieving over the loss of an animal companion is normal, so don’t let anyone make you feel like it isn’t.

As much as we would like to avoid experiencing the heartbreak, the truth is – we can’t feel better if we don’t allow ourselves to first feel bad.

However, feeling bad does not mean sinking into a dark place that you can’t get out of.

Finding healthy ways to cope will allow you the opportunity to grieve, to accept what has happened, learn to treasure the time you had and recover. Notice I never said forget.

I hope some of these ideas give you comfort

The number one suggestion I have is to not let anyone tell you how you should feel. That goes double if it’s coming from someone who doesn’t share their life with animals, or has never experienced this kind of loss. No matter how much, or how little time, you had with your pet, you created a strong bond, and you’ll grieve as you would the loss of any other member of the family.

Honour your grief. Express your grief. Don’t deny it, don’t repress it. If that means screaming, throwing things (make them soft objects, and don’t aim at anybody please!!!!), or lying in bed in the dark, then do it. Just notice how long this is going on. Do it while it’s helpful, but don’t let it become self destructive.

Surround yourself with people who understand. There are many pet loss support groups, chat rooms, hotlines and counsellors you could reach out to. Talk to others and contribute as well. You never know who your words will console.

Start your own pet loss support group. It may be therapeutic for you, knowing you’re honouring your pet in such a significant way, while helping others at the same time.

Keep a journal where you can record your thoughts, feelings and memories. Share it, or keep it just for yourself.

You had a routine, and now it’s changed. It’s normal to feel a bit out of sorts for a while. Now might be a good time to start a new hobby, try a new activity. It will help fill that void, and create a new outlet for you.

Remember the good times. At the beginning you almost feel like they’re still around. For quite a while after one of my dogs died, I would look down the hallway and swear I could see him looking in each room for my husband. That does fade, but the memories don’t, and you’ll eventually be able to laugh at all the crazy antics they got up to.

Sometimes it helps to create a memorial. One woman I know keeps her dogs’ urns and collars on a little side table. It’s not a depressing shrine, but a nice tasteful way to remember them, and make them feel like they’re still part of the family. Have a plaque made up for your garden, plant a tree, make a scrapbook. Your memorial is whatever you want it to be.

Having a funeral is a way for you and your family to openly express their grief. It’s a way for humans to express grief, and honour those that passed, what’s the difference if this loved one had 4 legs instead of 2? Never mind what people say, and walk away from anyone that utters a snide remark. Pet cemeteries exist, so people must be using them.

Go to the beach and watch the waves, go for a hike, do something peaceful and contemplative.

You know that death and taxes are two things that are inevitable, right? It’s hard to say, and hard to accept, but we will all die – some sooner than later. It’s good to remind ourselves that life is short, and we should live and love to the fullest.

It’s too easy to feel alone during this time, which of course will only make you sadder. So much has been written on this subject, why not get some books and read about other peoples’ experiences? It’s always helpful to know others have been through similar.

The human-animal bond has no strings attached. No games, no nonsense, just unconditional love. That doesn’t sound like something we experience too often in our human relationships, does it? No wonder the loss is so devastating. Honour what you had, treasure it, and when you’re ready, find another furry friend to bond with.

The passing of a beloved pet is emotionally and physically draining. It’s not unusual to find it hard to sleep, and hard to eat. Making yourself sick is not going to do you any good. You’re not expected to have peaceful sleeps and be ready for 6 course meals, but you have to take care of yourself. If you haven’t read this before – exercise releases endorphins, which will help boost your spirits.

It may be difficult to talk about your pet right away, or even say their name. You may find it helpful to share stories and memories, with others in your household. After all, they have also been affected.

Your pet was a member of your family. And as with the loss of any family member, you’ll grieve. Since when do family members have to have 2 arms and 2 legs?

You may not realise this, but your other pets may be experiencing the loss of their mate. Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour, eating… Try and stick to the same routine they’ve been used to, and giving them some extra TLC is a good thing. Having other animals to care for will also be good for you.

After experiencing the loss of a pet, many people say they are not prepared to live through that again. It’s easy to say when emotions are raw, so don’t even go there. The opposite is true as well. Some may run out too quickly, as there’s the tendency to try and “replace” the one that’s gone, and that’s not a reason to adopt. Give yourself some time, and when you’re starting to feel more like yourself, consider bringing a homeless animal into your life. You still have a lot more love to give, and offering a home to an abandoned animal is a wonderful thing to do, not to mention how great it is for the soul.

How to cope with losing a dog – conclusion

I know it can feel impossible sometimes, trying to figure out how to cope with losing a dog, but I truly hope you find comfort here.

 

Close Down Puppy Farms

Saffy’s Story – The Story of a Rescue Dog That Will Melt Your Heart

 

 

This is a Puppy Mill

As I write this story, tears are streaming down my face and my heart is broken. Saffy died yesterday afternoon.

In spite of this, her story must be heard.

Saffy (or Saffron Cleopatra – the formal name my husband gave her), was rescued from a puppy mill, also known as dog hell. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I urge you to look it up right now. It’s too important not to.

We rescued her 9 months ago (January 2013) from a shelter where I volunteer.

Saffy puppy mill rescueShe had been there since the previous April (2012) when she was rescued, having spent 7 years in a chicken coop, breeding for pet shops and online sellers.

The head vet tech told us, she was the worst case they had ever come across.

We had rescued many senior and special needs dogs from that shelter, but their problems were always physical. This is the first time we encountered one with emotional damage.

With no guidance or advice, we were totally unprepared for this challenge.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find much practical help online, so we lived and learned.

We quickly discovered that: looking at her led to uncontrollable shaking, she wouldn’t let anyone walk behind her, and bending down to put her leash on led to her peeing and pooping from fear.

The heartbreak at watching this poor dog is indescribable, but we never give up on any animal we bring home, and we were not about to give up on her.

Saffy puppy mill rescueShe spent the first few days in a corner of our bedroom, back against the wall. I would leave her food and water, walk out and shut the door, before she would even go near her bowls. If she caught me watching her, she would run back onto her bed.

After a few days she started venturing out. It was quite obvious she wanted to be a part of things, but had no idea how.

Thankfully we had another dog in the house (for readers of my website that dog is Red), and she quickly attached herself to her for comfort.

Once out she needed a new safe spot, and she quickly decided that would be our couch, her back against the corner. Close enough to the action, but far enough removed to feel protected.

She was more petrified of my husband (the kindest soul to animals on the planet!), then of me, and when he walked into the room she would run across the couch like a lunatic, then pee.

I have all the patience in the world for animals, but that was too much. Peeing on a tile floor is one thing, a fabric couch another. We ended up covering the whole thing in garbage bags, with blankets on top. Quite the sight, but what don’t we do for our animals?

For several months, she was driven by fear. She had never been on walks, and would freak at the sight of a car, or another human being.

One day while on a walk with my husband she panicked, and got out of her collar. Even though that collar was a proper fit (I’m a bit paranoid about that on any dog!), sometimes it happens, and you can only watch in horror as they take off.

Have you ever tried to catch a dog that was nothing more than a bundle of adrenaline? We all know you can’t chase a dog, so we tried to get her to run after us – forget it. My husband tracked her on his bike and watched helplessly as she swam across canals, and darted in and out of traffic.

We called the humane unit of the police department, and animal control, then hung flyers around the neighbourhood.

At least we knew if she was picked up, we would get her back because she had ID tags on her collar, and was microchipped.

Once it got dark, we had no choice but to go home.

Saffy had been gone 6 hours, when there was a knock on the door. A policeman had found her, and she was sitting in the back of his police car, like nothing happened.

I will always be grateful for the care they showed, calling me as they drove around the streets all evening, looking for her.

After this, we decided to only walk her in a secluded area behind our house.

I was so paranoid about her escaping, that I took extra precautions. I had her wear a harness and used 2 leashes – one on her collar, the other on her harness.

Saffy puppy mill rescueCan you imagine all this happened in just two months? Then we returned to England where we live most of the year, and over time she started to gain confidence.

What helped is the fact that I spent 24 hours a day with Saffy. She became very attached to me, and would constantly look for me whenever I left the room.

You can’t possibly imagine how great that felt!

Incredible progress, after such a horrific life.

Sadly it wasn’t to last.

About 3 weeks before she died, we had a breakthrough! I petted her for the first time, and I cried. Imagine how far Saffy had come, to allow me to do that. No shaking, no fear.

What was even more amazing was the day she let my husband pet her.

And so it was – after 9 months, and virtually overnight, she was becoming a confident, well adjusted dog.

Then tragedy struck our family. She wasn’t eating well, and her behaviour had changed – quieter.

Long story short, she died in surgery and we have requested an independent body to investigate. It was sudden, and inexplicable, but we say the vet panicked and didn’t know what to do.

To say we are heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel. It’s not an exaggeration to say, every minute of our lives for the past 9 months revolved around helping Saffy gain confidence.

We were looking forward to years with her.

It all seems so cruel doesn’t it? What hurts the most is, knowing she will never have the life she was just beginning to enjoy.

Close Down Puppy FarmsIf you’re considering bringing a pet into your lives, please rescue one from a shelter, rescue group or animal control facility. Animals from pet shops, and sold online come from puppy mills, no matter what they tell you.

Every year, around 4 million healthy and adoptable animals are killed in shelters throughout the U.S. Each one of them deserves a home. Please adopt, don’t shop!

 

This was written Oct. 1, 2013 one day after Saffy died.

 

Honouring the memory of those we have lost

Top 14 Ways to Honor the Memory of a Dog

14 Ways to Honour the Memory of Your Pet
In memory of my puppy mill rescue Saffy, who knew only a brief moment of peace

I speak from experience when I say, finding ways to honor the memory of a dog will go a long way to helping you heal from their loss.

Honouring Calypso

The first time I ever had to say goodbye to an animal was my cat Calypso. I was beyond devastated and had no idea how to cope. I knew I had to find a way to feel close to her, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. I had her ashes, I keep all my pets ashes, but that wasn’t enough. After seeing her name on a watch band while on vacation (imagine that!!) I decided I would engrave her name on a heart charm I had found a couple of years before. It may sound hard to believe, but once I started wearing that necklace I felt so much better. 

In memory of Saffy

This is a very painful story for me so I’m just going to let you read it here. What I do want to share is the way I chose to honour Saffy. I started The Saffy Pearson Resource Centre as a way to do something good, and keep her name alive. I go do various locations and set up a stand to answer questions people have about caring for dogs and cats. It can’t erase how devastated I am to this day because of the circumstances of her death, but I can do something to honour the life we shared.

If you, or someone you know, is having a hard time dealing with the loss of a pet, here are 14 ideas to choose from to honour that bond. Please be sure to seek professional help if you are depressed and can’t snap out of it. 

Memorial ideas

Put together a scrapbook, memory book or memory box with your favourite pictures, poems or letters you’ve written, even an id tag. The contents can include anything you like.

A plaque in a pet cemetery or park where your dog liked to play.

Volunteer at your local shelter, and offer a homeless animal some love and attention. If you can’t do that, make a donation in your pet’s name.

Keep a tag, collar, blanket or favourite toy.

Personalize a keepsake urn necklace with your pet’s name, and add some ashes.

Bury your pet in a pet cemetery (or backyard if you’re allowed), and mark it with a gravestone. This gives you a place to visit. Hold a memorial service and invite close family and friends if you like, or keep it small and private.

Garden stones can be ordered with paw prints, names and even inscriptions.

Keep a photo frame in a special place in your home. It’s nice to be able to glance at it, and feel like he’s still a part of the family.

Engrave your pet’s name on a charm, key ring or some other object. Wear it, keep it in your purse, pocket, on your desk…

There are many online memorial sites where you can share your stories, get support, help others work through their grief and light virtual candles.

When you’re ready for a new furry friend, rescuing a homeless animal from a shelter, rescue group or animal control facility, is the greatest tribute you can make.

Way to honor the memory of your dog – conclusion

I know all too well how heartbreaking it is to lose a loved one, and how helpless it can make us feel. The image at the top of this post is of a candle I lit in memory of Saffy. I will never get over losing her, it was too shocking and too sudden, but somehow that act did bring me some comfort.

I hope in this selection of pet memorial ideas, you will find the best way to honour your loved one, and that it will bring you peace. 

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.

saying goodbye to your dog

Saying Goodbye to Your Dog…Will You Be There?

 

saying goodbye to your dog will you be there

I know what a tough prospect saying goodbye to your dog is, something we avoid thinking about as much as we possibly can. Having said that it is important to find the strength to give it some thought, particularly when it comes to deciding whether or not you will be with him or her when it’s time.

The moment we have to say goodbye is so heart wrenching many pet guardians aren’t able to be in the room when it happens. No judging please and no feeling guilty. It doesn’t mean they didn’t love their dog completely or was less caring or responsible, it just means it’s too hard for some people to bear. By the same token others couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

What would you do?

Perhaps you’ve already been faced with this decision and you know what you’ll do. Maybe you weren’t entirely sure you did the right thing so will do the opposite next time. Quite possibly you haven’t had to say goodbye before Saying Goodbye to Your Dog Will You Be Thereand you’re not sure what the “right” decision is. 

This is very important to understand – there is no “right” decision, only the one that you can handle. 

Having to think about the unthinkable

The reason why it’s so important to give it some thought is because it’s irreversible, and when you’re in the middle of heartbreak it’s hard to think clearly.

I will never forget the first time I had to say goodbye to a pet, it was my beloved cat Calypso. She wasn’t eating so I took her to the vet who told me her kidneys were failing and it was time. I knew she had issues but it felt like she went downhill quite quickly so I was stunned…and in pieces. Not only because I loved her so much but  because I had never faced anything like this before and had no idea what was going to happen. My vet was so amazing but there was “stuff” to take care off, and that stuff included being handed a form with big letters saying Euthanasia across the top and being asked to sign it. That’s when I thought I would literally faint. Then the questions came – did I want her buried or cremated, ashes back or not, what kind of urn…

As I write this I realise it sounds like they were heartless but that was absolutely not the case. My vet couldn’t have been more compassionate, but there were important questions that needed answering. 

I had never thought about this subject before, but I knew without hesitation being with her and comforting her was the only place for me. I stay with every pet except I was not able to be with Bailey, but luckily my husband was. I was okay with that because they were best buds and I know Bailey was happy being with him.  

When you’re faced with having to make an immediate “yes or no”, “stay or go” what do you do? I hope the following will help.

Why you might decide to stay

Feeling your dog is comforted by your presence which in turn may give you comfort and peace

Wanting yours to be the last face your dog sees

The fear you might regret/feel guilty not having been there

Knowing how impossible it will be, but doing it anyway because you want to be there for your dog as you have been until now

The vet’s office can be a very scary place with some unfamiliar people around, having you there can be a great source of comfort

Even if you “know” he’s gone, sometimes not actually seeing it can leave you doubting whether it happened 

You want to rest easy knowing he passed quickly and painlessly

Why you might decide not to stay

You’d rather not remember your dog’s final moments surrounding by strangers in a clinical setting

You want your last image to be of him alive in your home, garden, on his favourite bed… 

Concern your emotions will stress your dog

You may be scared of death, almost superstitious

Another option

There is an alternative to taking your dog to the clinic and that would be having a vet come to your house. Your dog will be in a familiar environment, surrounded by everyone he loves who loves him. Perhaps this option is one how to cope with the loss of a petyou’re more comfortable with. Check with your veterinary practice to see if they offer this service or can recommend someone who does. Otherwise a search for “in home euthanasia” should give you some possibilities.

Who wants to be there

Something else to think about is who might like to be there – your children, other family members…If you’re doing it at home you have more flexibility than a vet’s office that can only accommodate so many.

Knowing what to expect

You’ve read the reasons why some people choose to stay, and why some choose not to. You’ve also seen there is another option to a vet’s office. What about knowing what to expect? It is entirely possible being unfamiliar with the process frightens people (which is understandable), and influences their decision whether to be with their dog or not. Have your vet explain what happens step by step and see if that helps you decide.

I will mention one thing – being asked for payment right then and there is not something anyone should expect to experience…yet I did and it made an already heartbreaking experience all the more horrific.

A terrible experience I don’t want you to share

Sadly I’m no stranger to saying goodbye and it never gets easier, however nothing was more disgusting than when I had to say goodbye to my cat TT at an animal hospital in Florida. Although he had cancer for a few months he was doing okay until he suddenly had what seemed like a massive stroke, so we rushed him to the hospital. We so hard saying goodbye to your dogknew we were going to say goodbye and that nothing could be done. What we never expected was for a receptionist to come into the examination room to collect payment before they would put him down.

That tells you everything you need to know about the type of place it is, I don’t care how well known they are.

I mention this because payment is something you need to be absolutely clear about. Your practice may know you well enough to let you leave without paying, respecting your grief, but they don’t always tell you they will not send your pet for cremation (if that’s what you decide) until payment is received. Yes that happened to me as well. I assumed because I had been going there for years and they allowed me to leave without paying (respecting my grief), I could pay when I picked up my cat’s ashes (another cat not TT). When I hadn’t heard from them in a couple of weeks I called and found out they had left my cat in a freezer the entire time. I went ballistic at the owner of the practice, crying and screaming on the phone.

They may not have wanted to say anything at the time out of respect, but a friendly phone call a couple of days later would have been the right thing to do. How are we expected to know their policies.

See why I want you to ask in advance?

Saying goodbye to your dog

A sad topic to be sure but an important one to think about. Whether you decide to stay or not is a decision only you can make but I do hope this post will help.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Explaining the Death of a Pet to Your Kids

Explaining the Death of a Pet to Your Kids

One of the more difficult parts about losing a pet, may be explaining the death of a pet to your kids. For most kids, pets are family, their best friends. Who greets them at the door when they come home? Do your children have private chats with their pets? Do they seek comfort and companionship from them? Do the animals help your children feel less alone in the world?

It’s natural to want to protect your kids from the unpleasant. But death is a reality of life, and you won’t be doing them any favours to pretend otherwise. If you handle the conversation correctly, explaining the death of a pet to explaining the death of a pet to your kidsyour kids can be a wonderful opportunity for you to teach them important lessons about loss, and how to deal with it in healthy ways.

Please don’t pretend nothing happened, or tell them the pet went away/ran away. It isn’t fair to leave them hoping their pet will return some day. They need to understand they’re gone permanently.

I may be stating the obvious here, but don’t just throw the news out there to them. Gather everyone in a quiet room, no distractions. Once you’ve told them, encourage them to express their feelings.

Explaining the death of a pet to your kids may not be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

 

Have you been in this position before? How did you handle it? Would you like to share your experiences so others can gain some helpful tips to use with their children? Just leave them in the comment section below.