Monday, April 16, 2012

Loss of a Pet

Everyone is different and everyone handles grief differently.  Pet owners requesting euthanasia for a sick and ailing pet always find it to be a difficult task.  My heart goes out to them because it is not easy to watch a pet suffer, but it is no easier to make the decision for euthanasia.

When people find out I work for the SPCA they often tell me their pet stories.  Sometimes those stories include the loss of a pet.  Because pets are often considered a 'family member', the loss can be devastating.  The grief response can range from the immediate need to adopt another pet to the threat of 'never going through that again'.

I had a Great Dane that I loved very much.  When I lost him I realized how empty my home seemed.  I was depressed for weeks.  A year later my brother gave me the gift of another Great Dane.  She was a wonderful dog and as she aged I began to fear for her loss.  I read an article about adopting another dog to keep the older dog active and have companionship when losing the older dog. 

When her time came, I did grieve her loss but I had another dog to comfort me.  I was surprised that my grief was helped by having a second dog.  I was also surprised that he sensed when I needed comfort.  It's been almost 18 years since I lost that female Great Dane.  I still remember her fondly, as well as the male that followed her.  And I often think of Paco, the shelter cat that adopted me. 

So now I have three dogs and another cat.  The dogs are small (no more Great Danes for me), and the cat reminds me of Paco.   It is with fondness that I remember my past pets and my wish for everyone who has lost a pet is that your grief can also be relieved through the love of another four legged creature.  They really do love unconditionally.

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