Accepting a death of a family pet is going through the same grief as accepting a death of a human. Families and friends go through stages of denial and acceptance. Grief often begins before a pet or loved one dies. After the death, mourners typically cry, have difficulty sleeping, and lose their appetites. Some may feel alarmed, angry, or betrayed at being deserted. Later, the grief may turn to depression. There are SEVEN stages of death with pets or people: Anger and guilt are natural, but you must allow yourself to go through all the reaction stages of death: denial & disbelief, anger, guilt, depression, and finally, acceptance. There is no order to these stages. Be sure each person in the family, including children, is allowed to share their grief. Finally, the survivors begin to feel less troubled, regain energy, and restore their ties to others. For some, getting another pet helps, while others prefer to wait, and yet others fear getting a pet. The fear of going through the pain and loss again, knowing a pet's life is brief. Personally, my husband and I, get another pet and truly enjoy them while we can. We try to accept their fate, their short lifetime, but it isn't easily done. Everyone is different. You are not alone.
K-9, WAR & SAR Officers
I have been told that K-9 officers have feelings that only another officer can understand. I don't believe this is true for ALL. There are many civilians out here who DO understand the love and partnership of your dog. Especially the impaired owners and any true animal lover. But if so, talk to each other and be there as a support system. Just remember, we all go through the above stages of accepting death of loved ones. I hope my feelings and thoughts will help you. Email me and I can give you other K-9 officers who would be graciously willing to help you. Remember, pet owners feel as close to their pets, like family, as you feel to your partner. I know this is difficult to comprehend, but civilians also feel your pain. Do not fear getting another K-9, or feel guilty opening your heart to new partner. Each K9 is special and has their own special traits. The one you lost, wouldn't want it to be any other way. I have been told that visitng the memorial website is like visiting the cemetery and is helpful. I never knew I could help others this way, thus will continue as long as the Dandy Company allows me. Thanks DANDY! Please page down if you have children involved in your loss of your best friend. Maybe this will be of some help for you in handling their grief.
To Children About Death of People & Pets
4 Years: Very limited concept, no particular emotion is related. They may verbalize the notion, although no connection of sorrow or sadness.
5 Years: Concept becomes more detailed and factual. They may think death is reversible. They may avoid dead things or enjoy killing bugs.
6 Years: New awareness, begin to form emotions. They may fear their parents will leave them.
Or form no relationship between death as a result of aggression or killing. Some ideas with graves, funerals and burials may develop. They cannot believe they will or can die.
7 Years: Similar to 6 year olds. Just more understanding of situation. Become interested in cause of death, old age, violence and disease. Interested in visiting cemeteries. They deny confrontation with own death.
8 Years: More interested in graves and funerals and what happens after death. Still retain some "magical" thinking regarding death.
9 Years: More logical or biological reasons for death. Now look straight at death, not just peripherals, like caskets and graves. They accept realistically the fact that when they become old they will die.
Reported July 21, 2003
Children say Goodbye to a Pet
MIAMI (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Death is hard for most children to understand and when a pet dies, it can be a very confusing time. Here is some advice for you to help your child cope.
Itís easy to see that the Desantis family loves their pets. Thatís what made the death of their dog Benji so painful. ďHe tried to breathe, but he couldnít. And he was trying very hard and died,Ē Justin Desantis says.
Many people consider their pet a part of the family. Dealing with the animalís death can be just like the death of a relative. And, just like with humans, it can be especially confusing for kids.
ďIt isnít always the why question that gets answered,Ē says Grief therapist and Educator Teddy Tarr, Psy.D., of Miami Childrenís Hospital.
Tarr says there are some things parents can do to help make the loss easier for kids. ďItís not what we say. Itís being there with the child and adding the comfort and the support,Ē she says. Be open and honest with your kids. Donít use words like pass away and sleeping when talking about death. Let them know itís okay to feel sad.
For Ivon Desantis, remembering all the good times they had with Benji helps. She says, ďWe talked about the times we had together. The good times that we had together. They need to feel it, and it lessens over time where you can deal with it a little bit better. But it will never go away. So if you try to hide it, it just makes it more painful.Ē
Counselors say donít replace the pet right away. Wait until the child has come to terms with the loss, then itís okay to bring another one into the home. These kids have two other dogs and a bird to love, but that doesnít mean Benji will be forgotten.
Amanda Desantis says, ďHeís always going to be in my heart and in my prayers. And, I just miss him a lot.Ē
Experts suggest holding onto a small reminder of your pet. Youíll be glad you did. They also say donít choose the same name for a new pet.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Teddy Tarr, Psy.D.
Miami Childrenís Hospital
9729 S. Dixie Highway
Miami, FL 33156
Children get very concerned about their parents when they see them upset. It is important to reassure them it will be OK even though we feel sad. Tell them how much you/they will miss the departed loved one or pet. Tell them it will be much better after everyone has time to be sad for a while. Death is a profound mystery to all, it is only natural for children to continue to struggle with its meaning. Be straight forward with children. Don't tell them pets & people die because they are old. They will fear age and older people and pets. Don't tell them you are putting an animal to sleep, they will fear sleeping. Always remember, you learn to deal with death when young and will be able to grieve in a healthy manner when adults. For further information regarding this, e-mail me and I will send you URLS.
When Is The Time?
Recently I have been asked the question, "When do you know it is time to -make the last trip to the vets office for your pet?" Well, that is a very difficult question to answer. I am not a qualified person to answer, no degrees...just experiences of my own. I suggest reading the poem "The Time Has Come." Others have told me that it helps. You will know WHEN! I swear, I won't let the time go as long the next time, but when your pet looks at you with their soulful eyes, you cannot say when! But than, you soon realize their quality of life is gone. Are they hurting? I truly don't know, ask you vet. Do they know they are dying? I have been told NO. Animals don't know this. Who knows? I do know that if you or someone they love takes them and holds them, that they feel secure. This is very difficult to do. Thank GOD my husband has been there for me. So, find someone to help if you cannot do this. Bob explained the procedure to me. The vet gives a shot to put the pet to sleep, similar to people when they have an operation. This is done before the final injection. Just have someone hug the animal during this procedure if you cannot. I don't think I could handle this. This is the hardest part of being a pet lover. Their lives are just too short. But look back at all of the good memories and they out weigh the ending. Hope this is helpful. If you can contribute any further help for others, please email me. email@example.com
Please understand, I am not a professional regarding any information. These are my feelings.
2. Pet loss is a very personal thing.
3. Allow yourself to cry or express your grief.
4. Give yourself time to grieve.
5. Be patient with yourself.
6. Understand your feelings of loss.
7. You may be angry, depressed, or withdrawn after the death of a pet,
--- possibly do the following:
A. Consider holding a memorial service at your pet's favorite outdoor site.
B. Consider creating a memorial to your pet --
i.e.; a garden, a plaque, album, Website, etc.
C. Family members should agree on getting a new pet.
D. Some family members may have a more difficult time adjusting.
E. Talk to your veterinarian about a new pet and your grief.
F. Consider a referral to a pet grief support group or counselor.
G. Surround yourself with people who understand how you feel and talk with them.
Parting with your pet
Deciding when it's time for a beloved companion to die is a tough call.
By Abe Aamidor - firstname.lastname@example.org - July 28, 2002
Call Abe Aamidor at 1-317-444-6472.
The doctor and his assistant arrived at the Carmel home promptly at 8 a.m. He was dressed in a white lab coat and carrying a traditional wide-mouth leather bag. The family of four sat in the great room on a long couch with their sickly old cat Nexxus. Ari and Jennifer Gleckman, their 2-year-old son Ashton, and 7-year-old daughter Ariana, played with their Maine Coon mix cat. They hugged him and stroked him, and said their goodbyes. Ariana studied a poem she had written the night before. ". . . I was very happy when I saw Nexxus. But when I heard that he was going to be killed I was not happy. I cried. But there was nothing I could do. . . ," she had written. While assistant Gina Elliott held Nexxus still, Tim Howell, a veterinarian at the Cat Care Clinic, 9512 Haver Way, injected the cat with a lethal dose of phenobarbital. "First, they lose consciousness," said Howell. "They may lick their nose, then they go to sleep. It's not stressful at all to the cat." It took four seconds for Nexxus to die. Pet owners may wish their terminally ill or very old dogs and cats would gently go to sleep at night and simply not get up the next morning, but veterinarians say most owners will have to choose euthanasia. And vets acknowledge it will be one of the toughest decisions pet owners will ever have to make. It's not known how many cats and dogs undergo what is commonly called "compassionate euthanasia," but most of the estimated 115 million cats and dogs in the United States will not die naturally. They will be euthanized at some point in time. Theresa Luley, a Sheridan-based veterinarian who exclusively makes house calls, recalled a recent euthanasia for an 18-year-old sheltie mix. "She had a big tumor in her mouth, and the time finally came," said Luley. "When I got there the dog was out in the back yard under a tree and it was a beautiful day and the lady and her husband were home and she had a beautiful poem/prayer that she had written and she asked if she could read it before I gave the injection. By the time she was finished, I was crying, too." Several local veterinarians say they perform, on average, two or three euthanasia procedures weekly -- typically in their clinics. A spokesman for the Humane Society of Indianapolis, 7929 Michigan Road, says his organization performs 25 to 30 such procedures monthly. Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, 2600 Harding St., also accepts pets for compassionate euthanasia. The procedure is the same or similar at all facilities, typically involving a lethal injection of barbiturate. Costs vary, but the Humane Society charges $30 for the procedure and $30 for disposal of the remains. Howell said he would bill for less than $100 for his house call and the euthanasia, the Gleckmans chose to bury Nexxus on their property. Congestive heart disease, kidney failure and cancer are the leading reasons pets are put to sleep. Better veterinary care that has given many pets longer lives has increased the incidence of cancer in old age, vets say. The big question most owners have is how to know when it is time. "It's an agonizing choice," said Luley. "You don't want to wait too long, and you don't want to be premature." In general, when a pet stops being responsive to its environment or refuses to engage in any activities it used to enjoy, then it is time, vets say. "Sometimes it's real clear- cut," said Lisa Sponsler of The Broad Ripple Animal Clinic. "The animal is clearly in pain, and there's no treatment. Other times the illness is real gradual." The Gleckmans decided to euthanize Nexxus after moving to their new Carmel home two months ago. The 14-year-old cat was arthritic, incontinent and increasingly senile and uncommunicative and had resisted effective treatment for at least eight months, said Ari Gleckman. "I had my hand on the cat" after the injection, said Ari. "You could just feel his heartbeat going away." Julie Smith, a local animal- rights activist, recently had her cat Linus put to sleep. Linus had been in treatment for chronic renal failure for three years, but began to be extremely tired and was vomiting a lot. Smith and her husband took the cat into a large sunroom in their home and camped out with Linus for a time; then a veterinarian came to the home to administer the lethal injection via an intravenous plug. "We spent a lot of time with Linus and said our good-byes," said Smith. Money can be a factor in choosing pet euthanasia. Some owners will spend extraordinary sums to keep a sickly cat or dog alive, but others may balk at the expense. "People say, 'I'm going to spend four or five hundred dollars and I'm only going to get nine more months with this pet because it's a metastatic cancer?' You have to respect that," said Dr. Sandra Norman, director of companion animal and equine for the State Board of Animal Health. The Gleckman family was well-prepared for the loss of Nexxus. Jennifer Gleckman says it was at her nephew's birthday party earlier this spring that they found their new cat, UCONN, named for Ari's alma mater. "She was a stray in Irvington," said Jennifer Gleckman. "We knew Nexxus was not going to live forever, so we brought her home."
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