The day I found the doggie pad page on facebook, I had looked at a lot of shelter dog images and seen some of the dogs lying on little pieces of cloth or blankets on their otherwise bare kennel floors and thought…wow, nice that they do this for the dogs. Not everywhere, just some, and it was a good thing for the dogs. That night I found doggie pad page and project – a lady got inspired one day and started making blankets for other dogs elsewhere … – so inspiring, I decided to make a page here just to show you that if you are open to it and willing …you’ll see a need where you are and start acting. Here is her facebook page: The-Doggie-Pad-Project. Read how it all came about (copies from the page on facebook, in case you don’t have a facebook account) – or scroll for more images at the bottom of this page 🙂
How the “doggie pad project” began …
I was looking at the pictures of the dogs at MCACC eastside that were posted on Craigslist by one of the gals that take pictures of them, in hopes of finding them a home. I noticed they all look so sad and were laying on the bare concrete. I emailed the photographer Kathy and inquired if the dogs ever have anything to sleep on … Kathy responded that when there are materials to put in the kennels, they do …
This was heartbreaking to me. As I looked at my dog Bowie, who was adopted from that facility, I wondered how many cold lonely nights he spent there. I just knew I had to try to do something to help the shelter dogs! For a few days Kathy and I emailed back and forth about the situation. I shared my plan that “Every dog in the shelter would have something to sleep on every night” Kathy was wonderful and supportive! As I don’t drive, she offered to come and pick me up the nights she takes the pictures!
I posted on Craigslist asking people to donate any comforters, blankets, bedspreads that they don’t need for the shelter dogs. Many like myself, did not know that there was a need for the bedding and I started getting responses.
The first pink comforter showed up and I looked at it and thought that this could give one dog a bed, or I could cut it into smaller pieces and help more than one … and the sewing began …
In the first couple days, I had made 35 doggie pads from donations. I was so excited and Kathy came to get me to go to the shelter to place them. We were there after hours, so the kennels would be unlocked so we could gain access. I was introduced to Janet and told her about our plan and showed her the 35 pads. Janet thought it was wonderful, but there were 357 kennels! She advised to try to give the adoptable dogs the bedding to help us narrow down deciding which dog would be off the concrete that night. note : Bowie was located at PetSmart by MCACC, so I had never been to the shelter before …
I realized that our efforts that night were only a drop in the bucket, so much more needed to be done. There was one mamma dog in there with her new litter of puppies, she looked so sad trying keep her puppies warm and fed. We placed a doggie pad in her kennel and watched her arrange all her puppies on it. Then she looked up at us and in her eyes I could see that she was so grateful. Kathy and I both had tears in our eyes and knew we were about to start an amazing journey together.
I stepped up my postings on Craigslist, thanked all that donated and told them about our first night at the shelter and having to choose which dog would get something to sleep on and the mamma dog with her puppies. I promised that I would keep on sewing as long as I had the donated materials to work with. The emails and donations came pouring in! So many wonderful people stepped up to help! I was sewing at least 40 hours a week and Kathy and I were placing them at night when she was taking pictures …
I began wondering where all the pads were going, as I didn’t see the last ones we brought. It was then I learned that they were all picked up in the morning and bagged to be washed. Then at night, if there were any to put down, more bedding would be placed. We were shown the huge pile of soiled bedding in plastic bags and MCACC did not have the facilities to keep it up.
Kathy and I talked about it and decided the only way to keep the doggie pads in use, was to ask for help with laundry. There went another huge plea for help on Craigslist to help … again we had another great response from kind folks. LuAnn’s office raised money to pay for a huge laundry day at the laundromat, where a gal name Jessica spent 8 hours washing and folding with me. Many others, that I never got to meet, went on their own and picked up 3 or 5 bags and washed it with their own money. Others offered to bring some home and get them cleaned up and returned.
It was an uphill battle, despite our efforts we couldn’t supply the demand needed … I am not sure how it happened, but once in a while a laundry service was used and caught us up … thank goodness!
The donations kept coming and I kept sewing as I promised. I started taking pictures to show all that were helping and what their donations were actually helping! Then I burned out both of my sewing machines and ran out of thread. We didn’t have the money to buy a new machine or supplies and I was so sad, so much more needed to be done!
My husband Bob went on Craigslist and contacted everyone that had a sewing machine for sale (I didn’t know about this at the time) and told them what my friends and I were trying to do for the shelter dogs. An amazing lady said she would just give me, her sewing machine so we could continue on … A lady that works with LuAnn donated a box full of threads which LuAnn brought to me! We were back in business! I said many prayers of thanks for all these wonderful people that have come together to help the shelter dogs!
I have met some of the most beautiful people in this world by working together on this project! There is this one senior that has really touched my heart. She is not in good health, but likes to go to yard sales on the weekends. She spreads the word about the shelter dogs sleeping on concrete and asks if they would donate any bedding they have in their sale … every sunday that she was able to get donations, I find them by my front door, waiting to be sewn into doggie pads … even to this day!
I lost track of the total amount of doggie pads made after 4,000. Aside from MCACC east and west, some also went to Circle L, Circle M, Helping Orphaned Hounds, Lost Paws, Rockstar Rescue and Second Chance Ranch rescues … Just to name a few!
Now that the nights are cooling down, I have started asking for more donations and help with placing the doggie pads in the kennels at night. Many from last years effort have responded that they will try to help and a few new ones too! I try to educate that its best to make the doggie pads from a donated comforter rather than just placing the whole thing in one kennel. The doggie pads helps more than one dog at a time and reduces the amount of laundry! Also, by giving them bedding and getting them off the cold concrete, it may help their chances of getting adopted and not getting sick. For those that will not get out of there, maybe just give them a little love/comfort in their end of days …
I pray we can achieve our dream of “Every dog, has something to sleep on, every night in the shelter”.
There are so many people involved in this project and projects of their own, maybe, just maybe …
Dear Lord as we start each day
There’s just one gift for which I pray
Please watch over all dogs everywhere
And Bless them with someone to care.
Watch over the pups with plenty to eat
and hungry strays out on the street
Those getting treats each time they yap
and those that struggle for every scrap.
Those that sleep on a nice soft bed
Those with hard ground under their head
Those who play with girls and boys
And those that never had any toys.
Those kept clipped and brushed and clean
And scruffy ones that don’t smell too keen
Those who get to ride in cars
And those that sit behind a cage bars.
Those that flunk obedience school
Dig up the yard snore and drool
Chew up your stuff, chase the cat
And still they’re loved in spite of that.
And those that are as good as gold
But left out to shiver in the cold
Chained up and forgotten there
They long for a warm home to share.
Please God as we end each night
Help more people do what’s right
For each dog they meet, to do their best
And send your comfort to all the rest.
“Maybe I can’t make a difference for all animals. But, I can make all the difference for some of them.“
If you don’t yet know of Rocky Ridge Rescue …it is worth spending a little browsing time – the calendars look good too – here is a link to the about page http://rockyridgerefuge.com/about/
I LOVE what she does ♥ – and check out the facebook page 🙂
Page and information links for the life of “Koani” assembled here for all of you who love canines, domestic or wild, and want their lives with us humans to be one of responsible, joyous coexistence.
The beautiful story “The Gift” below is taken from the Wild Sentry Newsletter #53 Spring/Summer 2007, the one titled: Koani’s Last Days. Link to the website: wildsentry.org
I am touched by the story and live of this wolf, Koani, ambassador to her species, and the way Pat Tucker and Bruce Weide changed their lives to do her justice, if such a thing was possible, to give her life meaning, her, who could never be free, and allowed themselves to be transformed in the process. Years after Koani’s death, it looks as if a movie about her live will finally be finished. Anyone loving canines and wolves, this is a story to investigate.
I am sharing the story – The Gift, by Bruce Weide – because I think it makes a case for education. I say this in light of the issues facing all canines sharing this planet with us. You never know the effect something seen or heard will have on a young person’s live – and working in schools and with children must become commonplace for the sake of compassionate respectful and responsibly managed coexistence for canines and men.
by Bruce Weide I grew up knowing wolves were bad, it was part of my family folklore, I’d seen it in movies, read it in books, and confidently reported that “Wolves eat people” in a 4th grade science assignment. Something changed my mind and it happened only days before I held the life of a wolf in the crosshairs. Before I read Leopold’s Thinking Like a Mountain, or Lopez’s Of Wolves and Men, or Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, I saw a documentary, Death of a Legend. This would’ve been 1968 and the program was ahead of its time. I was 15 and, like Leopold, full of trigger itch. This essay first appeared in Wild Sentry #38, Dec. 2002. I wanted to reprint it because, as I see it, this was the first step that led to my involvement with wolves and my time with Koani. In addition, this is my testimonial to the transformative power of education.
MY FINGER TIGHTENED AGAINST THE TRIGGER, and with a
bit more pressure, less than that exerted by the breath
of a hummingbird, it would’ve been a shot clean
through her heart.
I lived in Alaska shortly after the earthquake and prior to
the pipeline, in 1966. My best friend, Derek, and I knew we
could make our bloody fortunes killing wolves. The way we
saw it, we would perform a service for our country and get
rich on the $50 bounty paid for each dead wolf. I was thirteen
at the time and didn’t pay attention to wolf politics. Wolf politics didn’t exist at the time. Most people knew that wolves were bad and should be killed.
True, Adolph Murie had published his seminal monograph,
The Wolves of Mount McKinley in 1944—but, except for other
wildlife biologists, not many people read wildlife research studies. Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, published in 1963, told a new story and provided a catalyst that would help change people’s attitudes towards the wolf. But I, and many others, had yet to read the book. Most people still didn’t question the evil of wolves.
One’s point-of-view is acquired from stories that provide
the foundation for how one interprets reality. Mythologist Joseph Campbell captured the essential importance of stories when he pointed out that myths, and therefore stories, are the protective nest that humans instinctively build to protect our young. We can’t help but tell stories and from them we learn the values with which we perceive the world around us. Here’s a personal example from my family folklore.
The story tells how Grandpa escaped being eaten by a wolf.
As the story goes, one day my Grandpa, who as a boy lived on the open plains of Nebraska, was kept after school. (For being naughty? No one ever brought that up, but being
devoured by a wolf is a penalty for fairytale disobedience.) In those days, of course, everyone walked many miles to school, be it through rain, sleet, or snow. As Grandpa started his long trek home in the fading light, he noticed a wolf following him. The wolf pursued him the entire way. Only through the grace of God did Grandpa make it to the back porch door—the wolf hot on his heels with only one intention: to make Grandpa its next meal. Or so the story was told. No one ever thought about the fact that a wolf, able to run forty miles-per-hour, could’ve slaughtered Grandpa anywhere along the route home—had it truly wanted to dine on him. From what I know now, but never would’ve stopped to consider 45 years ago, is that the wolf’s behavior exhibited more curiosity than hunger.
In the fourth grade, I wrote a report about wolves in which I listed the main items in a wolf’s diet: elk, deer, cattle, sheep, and people. I possessed a firm belief that wolves presented a clear and present danger to humans.
In the fall of 1966, Derek and I and our fathers boarded the
train out of Anchorage and rode the rails north to hunt moose.
The train stopped to let people off anywhere along the route.
When you wanted to go home, you stood by the track, the train
stopped, and you climbed aboard. We disembarked at Honolulu,
an abandoned train station. We set up camp and hunted.
Late in the afternoon of the third day, as Derek and I
searched for moose, I noticed a wolf on a low ridge top, a
hundred to two hundred yards away. Actually, I don’t remember
how close the wolf was to us—this happened 36 years ago and
elements of the hunting trip have gone fuzzy or been forgotten
entirely. But the broad strokes of the story, the important details,I recall as if this pivotal event in my life occurred yesterday.
The air held the light and clarity of a brisk autumn
afternoon. I saw the wolf but said nothing to Derek. The wolf
remained on the ridge as it followed and watched us. After five minutes—maybe it was less, maybe it was more—I motioned
Derek to stop, put a finger to my lips, and pointed.
Derek’s eyes grew large and he nodded enthusiastically.
“He’s yours,” Derek whispered.
I raised the 30.06 to my shoulder. The rifle stock felt cool
against my cheek as I sighted-in through the scope. The wolf stood, its legs close together and its narrow chest fully exposed. In the chilled air the wolf’s breath floated like thin fog in the yellow light of afternoon. I set the cross hairs over the wolf’s heart. A slight breeze stirred the tawny gray fur around the wolf’s neck. I slowly exhaled and released the safety, holding a finger over the mechanism
to muffle the sound. The wolf must’ve heard the dull click because its ears perked up and its head cocked to the side. I formed my finger around the cold metal of the trigger and began to squeeze.
Through the scope, the wolf’s amber-green eyes stared at me. But the wolf’s eyes did more—and I know this will sound farfetched, especially coming from the memory of a boy only thirteen with little appreciation for wolves.
I felt as if the wolf’s eyes peered into my soul and then on
through me. I felt exposed and naked before a primal and enduring force, as if I were an inconsequential ghost that only partially obscured what really mattered.
“Take him, he’s yours,” Derek whispered, his voice tense
and urgent. “Shoot!”
The wolf stared into me. The eyes reflected intelligence
and a maturity that, at the time, I couldn’t come close to
comprehending. Much later, I would understand that the eyes,
honed by millions of years, were those of a supreme predator.
I questioned what I was about to do. My finger around
the trigger relaxed. And then tightened. And relaxed.
On a Sunday afternoon, a couple weeks earlier, I’d
watched Death of a Legend, a documentary that told a new
story about wolves and didn’t portray the animal as evil. The
program examined the wolf’s natural history and explained how
stories, fairy tales, folklore, and legends influenced our perception of the animal. But a particular scene from the documentary replayed itself in my mind’s eye that autumn afternoon as I stood with rifle poised and cross hairs targeted on the wolf’s heart.
In black and white footage, a dark wolf runs across the
snow. A group of men line up like a firing squad and open fire. Patches of snow explode around the wolf. A bullet slams into the animal and she falls. The rifles continue to fire. The wolf struggles to stand as another bullet hits her and another and another. The wolf slumps to the snow. The men continue firing. The wolf doesn’t move except when bullets cause the body to jerk in epileptic spasms. Tufts of fur burst into the air. Finally the rifles cease. The men run to the wolf. One of the men lifts the wolf ’s head for the camera. The wolf’s tongue hangs from her mouth and her eyes glaze as the men smile and congratulate each other.
I peered through the tunnel of a riflescope into the eyes of the wolf, seeing neither malevolence nor good. I saw ancient memory so deep that, like a well, the bottom remained obscured by mystery.
I slid my finger from the trigger and lowered the rifle. “What’re you doing?” Derek hissed.
“Nothing,” I said. “You just threw away fifty dollars,” Derek hissed in a tone that clearly implied I must be crazy.
Derek raised his rifle. I held out my hand to stop him.
“He’s mine,” I said.
Thirteen-year-old males aren’t the best at articulating their
feelings. Years would pass before I found words to describe
what I felt when the wolf looked into my soul. In fact, for
many years I never spoke of the incident because, on one level, I felt foolish. But on that autumn afternoon, as the heat of the wolf’s eyes burned into my memory, I felt, as irrational as it seemed, that I’d done the only thing I could do.
Please don’t make the mistake of viewing me as someone
who thought he’d done the right thing. At the moment, I felt
guilty of committing a grave wrong. As an adolescent boy I
strived hard to display manliness and I felt as if… no, I knew
I’d compromised my manhood. Nevertheless, something led
me to the enigmatic knowledge that inaction was the only action I could take. In some unspoken manner, I must’ve communicated this to Derek. And good friend that Derek was, he didn’t question me any further.
There’s no denying that looking into the eyes of a wolf
affected me. But the real question remains, without having seen the documentary, would gazing into the wolf’s eyes have stopped my finger? So many years later, it’s a point open to debate. I believe that environmental education in the form of a wildlife documentary presented me with a gift in the form of a new story that allowed the wolf’s eyes to speak to me. I do know that the eyes of the wolf acted like a mirror that reflected my soul. Right or wrong, I didn’t want to see myself as one of those men in the firing squad. That was not the role I wished to play in the story of my life.
A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups. And set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the
eyes of a little boy. “Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”
“Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the
sweat of the back of his neck, “These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.” The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket,
he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?” “Sure,” said the farmer, and with that he let out a whistle.
Here, Dolly!” he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence,the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others,doing its best to catch up….
“I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would. ” With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.
Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands. ” With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup. Holding it carefully he handed it to the little boy.
“How much?” asked the little boy. “No charge,” answered the farmer, “There’s no charge for love.”
One thing I realized, way before things went the way they did, was my deep gratitude for working with and being with Skye. The sheer delight at observing her, the privilege of getting to know her, the opening of my heart in such a short time was amazing to see. Somewhere I read: and take many pictures while you can. It might have been from a youtube video of a young German shepherd who was poisoned, and I could tell the owner had been deeply affected. While Skye is now in the best home I could find for her – she is doing probably much better than I am :). May this be a reminder for you to cherish your time with your 4 legged or winged companions – and allow them to do their magic.
This is excerpted from Jon Katz’s new book, “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die”.
It is possible to take something beautiful and lasting out of the heart-wrenching experience of seeing the animal you love move inexorably toward death. Nobody can take the grief away, nor should anyone try, but our love for animals is nothing but a gift, and it keeps on giving, even when they go home.
A man named Harry, an Iraq war veteran and tennis coach from Minnesota, hit upon a simple and profound idea to transform this otherwise sad experience into a blessed one.
It was a gray morning when the vet told Harry that his dog Duke’s heart was failing and that it wouldn’t be long before he died. Harry was not surprised, but still, the news depressed him. Listening to the vet, Harry later told me, he’d gotten an idea, one he thought would pay tribute to his life with Duke and give him something to feel besides sadness and loss.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to give you a Perfect Day,” he said quietly to Duke as they left the vet’s office. He would take the day off from work and create a sweet memory with his dog. It would be a special day, filled with all the things Duke loved most, as close to perfect as Harry could make it. He would take his Canon PowerShot along to capture some images of the day, to preserve the memories.
Duke was a border collie/shepherd mix. He had always been a lively, energetic dog and would herd anything that moved. Walks, work, food, Frisbees, red balls—these were the things Duke loved, along with chasing balloons and popping them.
Harry went shopping for supplies, and when he came back Duke was napping on his dog bed. He went over, lay down next to the dog, and hugged him. “Pal,” he whispered, “tomorrow is for you, your Perfect Day.” He was embarrassed to tell his wife, Debbie, about the plan, but she sensed what was going on and gave the two of them the space they needed. It was her belief that the dog, more than anything else, helped Harry heal from the trauma of Iraq. He couldn’t look at Duke without smiling, and when he had first come home, he hadn’t smiled too often.
At eight the next morning, Harry got up. Duke was lying on his bed, which was next to Harry and Debbie’s. The dog rose a bit slowly, then followed Harry down the stairs and into the kitchen. Harry opened the refrigerator and took out a hamburger patty and two strips of bacon, cooked the night before. He put them on a plate and into the microwave.
Duke was riveted. When the plate came out—Harry touched it to make sure it was warm but not hot—he dumped the meat into Duke’s bowl, along with his heart pills. It was as if Duke couldn’t believe his eyes. He was almost never given people food. Looking up at Harry, as if asking permission, he waited until Harry nodded and said, “OK, boy,” before inhaling the food.
A feeling of sadness came over Harry as he thought about how Duke would soon be gone. He wandered into the living room and lay down on the couch. Duke came over and curled up next to him. Harry began to sob, softly, then more deeply and loudly; Duke gently licked his face.
His dog was dying. But they could spend one last day together.
After a few minutes, Harry rose to get dressed. Although he worried about straining the dog’s heart, he let Duke follow him up the stairs. On this day, Duke could do anything he wanted. No corrections. He sat on the bedroom floor and watched Harry put his clothes on. When Harry said “Sneakers,” Duke labored to get up onto his feet, walked over to the closet, and brought Harry his white running shoes. Harry had enjoyed training his dog to bring him his sneakers, and Duke seemed to love it too.
Harry went back downstairs, followed by Duke. He picked up a bag from the pantry and walked out into the yard. Inside the bag were two dozen high-bounce red balls. One at a time, he threw them and bounced them off the back fence. Duke tore after one gleefully, then another, catching some, narrowly missing others as they whizzed past his head.
When Duke started to pant, Harry stopped.
Next they went to the town pond. Harry sat by the water’s edge while Duke waded in, paddled around, swam back, shook himself off, then repeated the routine about a dozen times. Every few minutes Harry tossed the dog a liver treat. It practically rained the small and pungent treats. Once again, Duke looked as if he could hardly believe his good fortune.
They came back to the house and napped. After lunch, Harry took Duke to the vast state park outside of town. He picked a flat, gentle trail, and the two of them walked a couple of miles. Eventually, they came to a stone abutment with a beautiful view. Harry walked over to the edge and sat down. Duke clambered out and curled up beside him. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and the wind ruffled the dog’s hair. Duke held his nose up to the wind, picking up the scents of the earth.
God, I love this creature, Harry thought. I never feel this peaceful, this much at ease. It is something to remember, to honor.
They sat together for nearly an hour, enjoying a bond of complete understanding and affection. If only the world could stay like this, Harry thought, this simple, this good.
Harry knew that Duke was tired, so they took their time walking back, stopping frequently to rest. A few years earlier, Duke could have hiked all day, and sometimes they did that together. But not anymore.
When they got home, Harry cooked Duke some prime sirloin, then chopped it up. The dog was beside himself, looking up at Harry as he ate, expecting the food to be taken away. That evening, Harry put one of his favorite Clint Eastwood movies into the DVD player and Duke hopped up onto the couch, put his head in Harry’s lap, and went to sleep. When the movie was over, Harry carried the dog up the stairs and laid him down on his bed.
Several weeks after the Perfect Day, when Harry came home from work, Duke was not there by the door to greet him, and he knew he was gone. He went into the living room to find Duke dead. He knelt by his dog, closed his eyes, and said a prayer. Then he dug a deep hole in the backyard and buried Duke there, along with some bones, his collar, and some of his beloved red balls.
Of all the photos Harry took on the Perfect Day, the one he loved the best was of Duke sitting out on the stone ledge in the state park, taking in the sights and smells.
Harry passed on the idea of the Perfect Day to friends and other dog owners struggling to come to terms with their own pets’ failing health. Many have since shared with him the stories of their dog’s Perfect Day. It makes him happy to think about Duke’s legacy—all those Perfect Days for all those other great dogs leaving our world behind.
This is part of a comment from youtube: …Souls are not prerequisites for unconditional love, compassion, or respect….
And another: …. Meanwhile, knowing that we made a difference in the lives of the ones we did love while they were here will have to be enough…..
It does not matter what religious orientation you follow, if any.
Jon Katz new book explores life after pets die
By Zorianna Kit
(Reuters) – Best-selling author and animal advocate Jon Katz has been writing about dogs for over a decade. Many of his own, past a present, have taken center stage fiction and nonfiction books such as “The Dogs of Bedlam Farms,” “A Dog Year,” “Izzy and Lenore” and “Rose in a Storm.”
Katz wrote his latest, “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die,” which comes out on Tuesday, to provide guidance, support and advice for people on how to handle the loss of a pet.
Reuters spoke with Katz to discuss his new book and how people can cope with life when the family pet passes away.
Q: What was the biggest surprise for you in researching books about pets and grieving?
A: “I found that almost every book had to do with the afterlife. Not a single book said, ‘This is what is known about things that will help you grieve.’ So I started talking to vets and psychologists and gathering information and interviewing maybe 200 different people about what was helpful to them.”
Q: And what did you find?
A: “People need to bring rituals into grieving. Memorial services, remembrances, pictures — those are concrete things that make grieving tangible. The Internet offers all kinds of opportunities for this like making digital albums and Facebook pages. People used to have to hide grief. You couldn’t go to your boss and say, ‘I need a week off, my cat died.’ You probably still can’t, but you do need to say, ‘I’m having a tough time.'”
Q: No doubt your own personal experience went in to this.
A: “I’m one of those people who has always struggled with emotions and revealing them. When my dog Orson died, I did this very male thing of ‘It’s just a dog and I’ll just move on.’ I was very slow to grasp the emotion. But Orson is the reason I started writing about dogs. He’s the first (dog) book I wrote and HBO did a movie about him (“A Dog Year”). Writing this book inspired me to go back and look at the impact of his loss and on my life, as well as other dogs that I’ve lost.”
Q: You ended up putting Orson down. How does one deal with the guilt of making such a decision?
A: “It’s important to remember that the animals are not grieving with us. They’re very accepting. They’re not lying there thinking ‘How could you do this to me? Why aren’t you keeping me going?’ Pets don’t do the human things of guilt and anger and recrimination that we do. They come and go with great acceptance.
“One idea that I advocate is the dealing with guilt directly. Acknowledge the good life, remember the good things you did with your pet — the places you took them, the affection you showed them. Remind those who have lost a pet that they generally gave their pets a good life and that’s a good thing, so don’t forget that.”
Q: Is there any way to prepare for a pet’s death?
A: “If you’re going to love animals and have a life with them, the odds are you’re going to lose them. It’s helpful when you get a dog to accept the fact that this dog is not going to be with you your whole life.”
Q: Is getting another dog acceptable in getting over the previous one? It’s not a betrayal to the one you lost?
A: “I’m always happy when people choose to get another dog because it’s a healthy and healing thing to do, and there are millions of them needing homes. But there is no single time frame to do it in because grieving is an intensely personal experience. In my case, I get another dog as soon as I feel ready. As a dog lover, it is right for me to have them.
“With children, I don’t think it’s good if you go out and immediately get another dog or cat. Animals are not disposable any more than people. Children need to see that the loss is important, and the family should take time to honor that.”
Q: Is grief more difficult if you rescue an animal?
A: “When you rescue something, it’s very different than if you adopt or buy. Rescuing implies saving. When you rescue something and then lose it, it can be a huge factor in the intensity of the grief. I have two rescues, Izzy and Frieda. I’m working on a book about Frieda now, ‘Frieda and Me: Second Chances.’ She opened my eyes to that world of dogs that nobody wants who are often the dogs you love most.”
Q: The pet industry is bigger than ever, and it seems like people grieve over the death of animals more so today than ever before. Do you agree?
A: “Today people are developing very powerful relationships with animals. The whole idea of community is breaking down. American culture is being increasingly disconnected and fragmented. Families are breaking up and Americans spend so much time in front of screens that they’re not spending time with each other.”
Q: And that means…
A: “We need connection. We need support, love, affection. We need to bond and animals are filling this hole. And they’re doing great work at it — unconditional love, non-judgment
and companionship you can absolutely rely on. It’s a little troubling to think they are doing this instead of people.”
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
There are many ways to deal with it. This was posted on facebook by Rasta’s Rescue Ranch:
Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.
I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.
Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:
Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.
Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.
Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.
Much of the info on this post is compiled from several sources on the internet. I gave credit where available.
Here are 2 totally worthwhile posts on the search and rescue dogs of 9/11. The first one has some illuminating account on how search and rescue, and only finding death bodies can affect one of those K9s.