On September twenty-fourth, the Huyge Family said goodbye to their life-long friend Zoe, who was a playful yellow lab mix. Zoe raised both the Huyge children, Alex and Megan, into adulthood. Alex was in second grade when the family adopted their furry friend. Zoe lived to be sixteen years old, a very long and joyous life with the Huyge’s. Zoe’s will be forever remembered in the happy memories the Huyge’s carry in their hearts.
Smokey was a twelve year old domestic medium hair cat who was loved until her last day by her owner, Lenny, who sent us this memorial:
Smokey was my first pet. I remember her at six weeks old, feeling her breath on my hand, wondering if I would be able to protect that fragile life. And twelve years later the frustration of being helpless with the oral cancer diagnosis. She was sort of a one man horse in that I was the only person she would allow to handle her. She was unique. She was ornery from the day she was born but had a personality I admired. Others will remember her hiss and snarl but I’ll see her joy in finding that perfect patch of sun heated sand to roll in.
Sunday, September fourteenth is National Pet Memorial Day. Founded in 1972 by the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, this holiday allows people to remember their deceased pets in a happy light. Many people tend to remember their pets on the anniversary of their death, which leads to sad memories of the end of the pets life. However, Pet Memorial Day allows people to come together and encourages remembrance of the joyous, playful life they shared with their pet. There are various ways that people may choose to remember their pets.
- Look at old pictures Looking back at old photographs and reflecting on happy times you and your loved ones have shared with a pet is one of the best ways to celebrate this holiday. Taking time to reflect upon the happiest moments you shared with a late pet is guaranteed to lift spirits.
- Visit your pet’s resting place Many people choose to remember their pet by visiting the grave or final resting place of the pet. Bring the pet’s favorite treat or toy to place at the site. This is often a great way for children to remember the pet and the many happy times they shared together.
- Memorialize your pet There are many different ways to memorialize your pet. You can create a living memorial by planting a tree or a plant as a living tribute to your late furry friend. Adding a memorial to an already existing garden makes for a beautiful memorial site. Heaven at Home creates an paw print impression of each pet that passes, an excellent reminder for the family. Another awesome way to memorialize your pet is to create an online memorial. You can share memories of your pet, and even share pictures. Many people can now share their similar experiences and help each other through the difficult time of losing a companion animal. Heaven at Home has an In Memorium section here on the website, and we would love to help you share your happy memories with your pet. If you would like to post a memorial, please email us a firstname.lastname@example.org with your memorial, and please feel free to include pictures!
- Volunteer! Volunteering at a local humane society or animal protection group is a great way to surround yourself with animals! Spending quality time with animals is an amazing way to lift spirits and put a smile on anyone’s face. If you’re unable to donate your time, many organizations accept monetary donations as well!
- Attend a Pet Memorial CeremonyMany counties around Michigan and the country offer memorial services to help us remember our furry friends. A few ceremonies will be held in the Grand Rapids area this year. There will be a 1 o’clock Service of Remembrance at Clock Timeless Pets (located at 1469 Peck St, Muskegon MI 49441) and a 4 o’clock Service of Remembrance at Spring Lake Dog Park (located in Central Park, Spring Lake MI 49456). More information is available here.
To most people, hearing that a beloved pet has developed a life threatening illness or condition is devastating, but trying to figure out what to do next can be even more difficult. Does euthanasia have to be the only option? Not any more. Pet hospice and palliative care is a relatively new and ever-growing field, making it necessary to spread the word about what exactly can be provided through this end of life care for our pets. Dr. Katherine Goldberg, a fellow IAAHPC member, wrote a story called “Saying Goodbye” for the Spring 2014 issue of Bark Magazine.
In this story, Dr. Goldberg walks readers through her experience with a cancer patient named Stryker, a chocolate lab. Stryker’s human family was given two options from their vet: expensive, extensive surgery, or euthanasia. When they were not prepared to undergo either of these options with Stryker, they sought other options. This is when they discovered Dr. Goldberg’s practice, Whole Animal Veterinary Geriatrics and Veterinary Hospice Services, in Ithica, New York. Dr. Goldberg was able to come into the home of Stryker’s family and provide Stryker with palliative care and extend his life by limiting his pain and anxiety. In her story, Dr. Goldberg highlights the options that different people may have. Read the full article here.
Kelsey was a beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever now dearly missed by the Dunn Family, who sent us this memorial:
I just want to thank you again for coming to our house and putting our dog Kelsey to rest. I can’t tell you how much we appreciated you and your bedside manner. It was a very special experience that we will always remember. Thank you again.
Support and Resources on Pet Loss
To have a pet is to sign up for near-inevitable sadness—we almost always outlive our beloved companions. Learning to live with loss is an essential part of life. It’s not easy, but to deny the pain is to deny that we live, that we love, and that we matter to each other.
Honor your emotions
Your emotions are important. Dealing with the loss of a pet is a deeply personal experience. There is no “should” when a pet dies or has gone missing for so long that it is time to say goodbye. Many pet owners find comfort in envisioning a pet crossing the rainbow bridge to a paradise where pets enjoy a heavenly afterlife.
It’s a natural reaction while we are grieving to want to do something. And while there are things to do, it is also important to simply be with the reality and feelings. I invite you to pause from doing, and take a deep breath, and another, and sometimes one more. Take a moment to be with your feelings that honor your pet, your companion, your friend who lived a life of unconditional love and perhaps accepted you even more than you accepted yourself.
Honor your pet’s memory
As you carry on, remember those sounds, sights, smells, and touches. Remember all those habits and little adjustments you made for your pet, some of which you may still make unconsciously. Those are now places in your heart. Perhaps an honoring ceremony will help the grieving process, and ultimately help you to heal. You may want to make a scrapbook or a special box of memories with photographs, some writing, or special objects. Some find it helpful to create a special place of honor in or around the home.
Read the rest of the story, with valuable Resource links, at the Pets Matter Blog, compliments of the AAHA.