Your Resources for Moving Through the Passing of your Pet
One of Pet Parents Place’s favorite pet newsletters is Animal Tales Newsletters from our friend Mike Butts, and this article is from the latest newsletter. Mike also has an amazing group and website of myfourleggedkids
Please take a moment to check it all out and sign up for the newsletter.
Only Downside of Having Pets is They don’t Live Long Enough
Since you are a pet lover you will probably agree with me that the ONLY downside of having Four Legged Kids is that they just don’t live long enough. Our love for them is forever and their time with us is just too short. If you have ever lost a beloved “best buddy” you know the pain and sorrow runs deep, and while it may lessen over time it never really goes away.
In many ways dealing with a sick pet is much harder than a friend or family member. A child can tell their mom and dad that they have a headache, or their tummy is upset. Our pets can’t tell us where it hurts. When our kids are sick, and we take them to the doctor we explain that we are doing it to try and make them feel better…they may not like it, but they understand why. But do our pets?
Whenever we take our pets to the veterinarian, I always tell them “You are not being punished—you are being protected”. Do they understand? And when that day comes that you have to help them reach “The Rainbow Bridge”, will they understand you are trying to end their pain and suffering and that you are not abandoning them? A million things race through your mind and heart when losing a pet and we all process grief in our own ways.
It’s Okay to Use Some Help
Please know that you are not alone and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you could use some help. Because I see so many of you that follow us post you have lost a beloved pet, I want to help and that’s why I wrote this article to give you names, numbers, resources, and even some books on the subject.
You see when we lose a pet sometimes the people that we normally go to for support don’t know what to say or do or offer help. Trying to make you feel better you may here “It’s just a dog—or only a cat, or whatever… Go out and get a new one you’ll feel better.” They would never think of telling that to a lady who just lost her baby; why would they think it would make you feel better after your pet passes away?
Here are Your Helplines
Grief is emotional, not logical–you are suffering from a broken heart, not a broken head and if you need help you are NOT weak AT ALL! Let’s begin with these “helplines” and folks that are trained to help when a person loses a pet.
Nikki Hospice for Pets Foundation (NHFP)
Pet Loss Support Helpline in California
This is the nation’s first official non-profit organization devoted to the provision of hospice care for terminally ill or dying companion animals. It was founded by Dr. Kathryn Marocchino a university professor, and her husband Gianfranco. Callers are invited to leave a brief message if no one answers, and carefully articulate their name and call-back number, especially if using a wireless phone or when emotionally distressed. Calls will be returned as quickly as possible. They also do animal hospice consultation, you can learn more at their website www.pethospice.org. I got a very nice call back from Dr. Katherine Marocchino who is a very nice, professional, and dedicated lady who will be there for you if you need her and the team.
CARE Pet Loss Helpline
A confidential service offered through the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, accepting calls from 1 to 6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Staffed by Chicago VMA veterinarians and staff. Leave a voice-mail message; calls will be returned 7 pm to 9 pm Central Time (Long-distance calls will be returned collect) Or log onto: http://www.chicagovma.org/pet-loss-support/
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Staffed by Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine; Tuesday, Thursday, 6 pm to 9 pm, ET
Tufts University Veterinary Students
Monday through Friday, 6 pm to 9 pm Eastern Time; voice-mail messages will be returned daily, collect outside Massachusetts; https://vet.tufts.edu/petloss/ **Note! They are off for the summer**
Cornell University Veterinary Students Hotline
Monday through Friday, 6-9 pm EST, Saturday and Sunday 12pm-9pm EST; via Google Voice. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/about-us/outreach/pet-loss-support-hotline
HELPFUL PET LOSS BOOKS AND RATINGS
We also found some really helpful books that can help you through this process so I’m including them and the ratings from 1 star to 5 stars with 5 being the best.
Goodbye, Friend by Gary Kowlaski (4 ½ stars)
Kowalski’s book is full of sound, compassionate advice including ideas for ceremonies, spiritual guidance, and readings for peace. Kowalski includes advice on how to take care of yourself after the death of a pet and the importance of honesty when talking with children about this event.
Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty Carmack (4-5 stars)
Betty is a nurse and professional pet-loss counselor, this book draws from her experience of counseling people who have lost a beloved pet, as well as the loss of her own furry friends. Carmack offers pet-loss support to counter “a world that reminds us repeatedly that grief for an animal doesn’t count as much as grief for a person.”
Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide by Julia Harris (4-5 stars)
This choice is meant to help readers to understand the many emotional reactions to the loss of a pet; assist children in coping with and recovering from their loss, and learn how different spiritual belief systems recognize and counsel pet loss. This book includes topics like what happens at a pet cemetery burial, cremation, or home burial; what legal arrangements are available; how to develop a ceremony to honor the pet; and how to cope with the trauma of a terminally ill or runaway pet.
Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates by Gary Kurz (4 ¾ stars)
This book can help you cope with the loss of a pet and tries to answer questions about pets’ afterlife. I must say I love the title of this book!
Three Cats, Two Dogs: One Journey Through Multiple Pet Loss by David Congalton (4 ½ stars)
Mr. Congalton discusses how he took the pain he felt over losing several of his best buddies and channeled that into a passion to help abused and abandoned animals. Anyone who has an animal companion will find this story inspirational and hopeful.
P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna by Sarah Chauncey, illustrated by Francis Tremblay (5 stars)
Another great and wonderful title don’t you think? When a beloved feline dies, many cat lovers are not prepared for the profound sadness accompanying the loss. Our grief is often minimized by a society that doesn’t understand.
The last two books that got my attention (and I really think these are so important- because kids need extra help in coping) are…
Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant (5 stars for each)
These books are great for children from preschool to grade two and take the child to Dog Heaven or Cat Heaven. There will be lots of beautiful fields and thousands of toys and a kindly older man to guide them..