Vol 13 No 1

Spring 2011

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Features in this Issue:

Paw Prints On Our Hearts

2010 Annual Survey

Recent Adoptions

Thank You

Fond Farewells

Letters to GRRI-NJ

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Tales of Gold

Paw Prints On Our Hearts

When I agreed to become the editor of our newsletter, I never realized how difficult it would be to decide what topic to write about for each issue.  With most of us having access to the Internet Ö and, therefore, more information than we can possibly digest on any given topic Ö itís hard to come up with something creative to write about that you, our readers, would find interesting.  For this issue, however, the topic kept presenting itself to me in a multitude of ways as I and many of my friends and acquaintances have recently shared an experience that, unfortunately, all pet owners must experience at one time or another.  And so, even though itís a tough topic to address, my article for this issue of Tales of Gold is about how to cope with the loss of a pet.

All of us love our dogs (and other animals, too) so much that when we have to let them go, the pain we feel is unbearable and the impact these losses have on our life can be quite dramatic.  Some of us may experience such intense grief that we actually begin to wonder if weíre crazy, and people who donít understand the special human/animal bond may think we are, too.  So, how do we cope with a loss of this magnitude?  What kinds of things can we do to help ourselves through this difficult time?

Feel Your Feelings Ė Itís okay to cry and scream.  Losing a pet is, for many of us, losing a treasured member of the family.  Donít be embarrassed to feel your feelings Ö even if there are people (you know who they are) who look at you with that look that says ďcome on, it was only a dogĒ!  Your grief is very real and not only is it okay to express it, itís important to.  Surround yourself with people who understand what your pet meant to you and feel your feelings; if necessary, seek out support for yourself.  There are bereavement counselors who specifically deal with pet loss or you might want to contact a pet loss hotline or pet loss support group (either on-line or in person).  The Internet is a great source of information on this topic.  Just remember Ö your feelings are valid and you are not alone; there are many other pet owners who have experienced the same thing you are going through.

Your Petís Belongings Ė This is a really tough one and thereís no right or wrong answer.  Some people find the need to remove all of their petís belongings from their home immediately.  If this is how you feel, then go ahead and do so.  A word of caution, though.  You may just want to store them and not dispose of them, just in case there comes a time when you want them around again.  When my roommate Sue and I lost our beautiful Golden boy Schuyler, it was almost too much for Sue to bear Ö he was and always will be her soul mate and everything seemed to remind her of him.  We did move things like his leash and collar to a place where we didnít have to look at them all the time but we didnít get rid of them.  A few years later, we decided to use his collar to create a memorial to him.  You see Schuyler was a digger (I know Ö a Golden who digs Ö imagine that!) and every time he went outside in the yard, heíd dig up a rock and bring it to us, presenting it as if it was the most beautiful thing in the world!  Consequently, the rock pile by our back door was huge.  Since we didnít want to just get rid of the rocks, we decided to get a really large glass jar and fill it with as many of Skyís rocks as would fit, then placed his collar and tags around the neck of the jar.  It now sits on our coffee table as a wonderful tribute to our special boy! 

The same thing applies if you feel the need to have your petís belongings around to comfort you.  When a friend of mine lost one of her very special Goldens, she waited several months before she could move the bed he slept in from her room.  One day, she decided it was time to move the bed.  Well, that simple act of moving the bed absolutely devastated her so, guess what?  When you go to her house and look in her room, his bed still sits at the side of her bed, just like it always did.  Some people might think thatís crazy Ö for her, itís comforting.  Bottom line Ö do what makes YOU feel comfortable.  No one else can be the judge.

What to Tell Your Other Pets Ė Yes, you need to tell them!  For those of us who have multiple pets, itís important to remember that those pets form a very special bond between themselves that we are not privy to but that is very important to them and their existence.  Therefore, when one of the pets in a multi-pet household dies, the others need to know what happened.  I clearly remember the rainy June day that my beautiful golden girl, Missy Marie, went to the Rainbow Bridge.  Her passing was totally unexpected and I never thought when I left the house with her that morning that she wouldnít be returning with me.  I remember saying to her vet ďthe other dogs are not going to know what happened to herĒ and he very gently explained to me that I would need to go home and tell them which is exactly what I did.  It was heartbreaking to do, but they needed to know that she wasnít coming back.  And even though I did this, it didnít stop her ďloveĒ Schuyler from sitting by the front door waiting for her.  It took many months before Sky left that door, and the only thing we could do for him in the meantime was comfort him and provide him with extra love and attention in the hope that with the passing of time, his grief would lessen.

Honoring Our Beloved Pets - There are many ways to honor our pets once they have made their journey to the Rainbow Bridge.  Many places now offer funeral and burial services for your pet.  If you choose to have your pet cremated, you may want to take some of the ashes and spread them in one of his/her favorite places.  As I mentioned earlier, you may want to create some type of lasting memorial to your pet.  A few ideas are to place a favorite picture of your pet next to a memorial candle and/or a beautiful vase of flowers or to plant a special tree in your yard.  When my gorgeous Golden, Brandy, passed away I chose to have his ashes returned to me.  I then ordered a very beautiful pendant that was specially designed to hold a small amount of his ashes and I wear it around my neck so that I can always keep him close to my heart.  While some people may find this type of thing strange, I find it comforting Ö and thatís really all that matters!  Remember Ö this is about you and your pet!

One thing is for certain Ö our pets leave their paw prints on our hearts forever!  The love of a pet is unconditional which is why the feelings of loss are so intense.  And although sometimes it seems like our grief will last forever and we will never smile again, keep this thought close to your heart.  One day, each of us will be reunited with our loving companions at the Bridge!!! 

I wish you peace.