It is never easy saying good-bye to a friend. The bond we share with our pets is a special one. Our pets rely on us to feed them, clean them and exercise them and in return give us love and affection, comfort and joy. It has been several years since I have lost one of my personal pets. Back in 2002 I had to euthanize Dina, a 17 year old Siamese cat I had adopted after her previous owner had passed away and there were no family members to take her and her brother. Sonny had been euthanized 3 years before and the mention of his name still brought a tear to my eye. Despite the fact that I was not ready for another loss, in the summer before I graduated from Vet School, Dina’s kidneys had decided they had enough. A decision had to be made about her quality of life and my gut knew what had to be done. Coming home that afternoon to an empty apartment, pet free for the first time since I was 6 years old, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt empty and lost.
I was lucky, then and now, to be surrounded by people who understand my bond with my pets and who feel the same way. I have endless shoulders to cry on from my classmates from school, my colleagues at work to my friends and clients. Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury and after going through the loss of a pet it can feel like there is nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. It is important for people to allow themselves to grieve and to realize that there is nothing wrong with going through a bereavement period for a pet. There are resources available both online and over the phone that can help if someone feels like they need extra counselling. Use them. I know I will likely need them when the time comes for my Kenzie to go.
OVC Pet Support hotline: http://www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/petloss/ (519) 824-4120 ext: 53694
Canadian Centre for Pet loss bereavement: http://www.petlosssupport.ca/
Web based support: http://www.petloss.com/
Walking With You, Tim Boulton, grief counselor: http://walkingwithyou.ca/ (519) 831-2082
Dr. Ilana Smolkin