Dealing With the Loss of a Pet


       Wednesday, the front page story in USA Today was titled Mourning 2.0, how we are using technology to deal with the loss of a loved one.  I’ve been waiting for an appropriate time to do a blog post on mourning the loss of a pet  and that helped me make my decision.  I had a client who recently lost a pet, just a few days before they were going out of town.  Dealing with the loss of a pet is a very traumatic experience.  Grief over the loss of a pet is very normal emotion.   Just because your pet isn’t human doesn’t mean it wasn’t a part of the family.  The good news is that if you do have to deal with the loss of a pet, there are many resources available to help you with your pain.  Social media is one way, but if you prefer human interaction, there are a lot of professionals to help you as well. 

    As with just about anything these days, the internet is an easy source for information and there is a lot there.  If you’re going the online route, probably the best place to start is the website for the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.  This is full of information and experiences of many people who have dealt with the loss of a pet. 

   There are facilities that will handle what you want to do with your pet.  Two places I’m familiar with are Dreamland Pet Memorial Center in Kennsaw and Deceased Pet Care in Chamblee.   Both of these places have experienced people who will handle the situation with compassion.  Both facilities have plenty of resources on their websites, including a list of books that may help you.  They also conduct group therapy sessions as well.  Paws, whiskers & wags is another place in Decatur that offers many of the same services if you live in that part of town.

      If you know someone who has been struggling with the death of a pet for more than a year, has had significant weight loss or gain after the loss, has suicidal thoughts you may want to suggest they get some professional help.  You can address this with them by acknowledging what a difficult process this is and they want to get some professional help. 

    At a recent seminar I attended, Jennifer Wilmoth, LAMFT addressed the grief issue.  She says that if you have children in the family, they should be involved in the process and help make some decision about what is done.  The issue should also be addressed directly.  Don’t tell them, “It’s off to a farm.”  You can help someone by telling them your favorite memory of the pet.  You can also ask them to let you do some specific things for them.  Tell them to give you 3 things to do instead of asking what you can do.  It’s usually not helpful, despite your good intentions; to them the pet is in a better place, how you lost a pet or that you can always get another one.  It’s important to remember that everyone grieves in different ways, and to give them time and the space they need. 

    Social media can be a benefit when many of your friends are a long way from you and can’t be there in person to share your grief.  They may be able to post some pictures of your pet they have and can post stories they have of experiences with the pet. 

    If you have a pet, it’s inevitable that you will have to deal with the loss of the pet.  Hopefully before that happens you’ll have many years together and many happy memories.  When that does happen realize that there are many different ways to allow people to share your grief and help you. 

       Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides dog walking and pet sitting services as well as providing cat care in Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock.


Books for Pet Lovers

    Many of you will get a well deserved holiday on Monday.  Whether you are at the beach or enjoying a staycation, you may want to pass the time with a good book.  And as a pet lover, you may want a book with a pet as a main part of the plot.  One of my sitters, Cathy, has alerted me to an author, Blaize Clement, whose main character is a professional pet sitter.  I don’t think the main character, Dixie Hemingway, is based on me, (the biggest mysteries I’ve had to solve are where did the ball go, or who got into the treats when I wasn’t looking) but I do know what kind of adventures you can have dealing with animals.  There are 6 books in this series.  Cathy also works at the East Cobb Library and says they are available for checkout there. 

   Cat lovers may be aware of the 29 books the late Lillian Jackson Braun wrote that featured former newspaper reporter James Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats.   One of my favorite novels with a pet involved in the plot is Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors.  Lab owners will read about something Boodle does and say, “That’s happened!”

    If you want something a little more serious, there are a couple of books ImageImage

out that deal with the impact animals can have on humans.  Gwen Cooper writes about how a blind cat taught her about love in Homer’s Odyssey.  Laurie Sacher and Kim Meeder take an in-depth look at relationships in Blind Hope.  A blind dog comes into Sacher’s life and the book explores relations while the co-authors were working at a youth ranch in Oregon.

    There are many other books that have written with a pet theme.  What are your favorites?  Enjoy your holiday and good reading!

    Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides dog walking and pet sitting services as well as providing cat care in Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock.

Your Dog Walking Kit

You don’t have to be a professional pet sitter to need a kit for when you walk your dogs, even if it’s just around your neighborhood.  There are a few things that you should carry with you, whenever you walk a dog.  They will fit in a fanny pack or other small bag and may be very important.  Some of these things, hopefully you won’t need, but if you do, it’s nice to have them handy.  In extreme cases it could save you or your dogs.

The most obvious thing is pick up bags. Most dog owners have plenty of these.  Dispensers are made that attach right to your leash or your belt.  You can by the rolled up bags or use old newspaper bags, bread bags, produce bags, or whatever you have around the house.  If you walk your dog around your neighborhood or other public place, you must pick up after them.  Most of you know that.  Always keep some spare bags in your kit.  You may find someone else who needs one or there aren’t as many in your dispenser as you thought.

You should have a piece of cloth than can be used as a muzzle.  This needs to be at least 6 feet long and an inch wide.  You can find out more about this in my first aid entry.  If the dog gets injured it must be muzzled before you can attempt to treat it.

No matter how strict the neighborhood is on leash laws there always seems to be a dog that gets out.  The best way to handle this situation is to avoid it.  Go in another direction.  But if it’s unavoidable and you or your dog is confronted by another dog, you have to be prepared.  Carry a boat horn or a spray bottle with white vinegar with you to ward off the unwanted approach.    

If you walk in the dark carry a small flashlight.  I do not like the retractable leashes, especially if you walk more than one dog, you walk your dog in a high-traffic area or in the dark.  Even if you carry a flashlight and your dog is at the far end of a retractable leash, the driver of the car, may see you, but not your dog.  I tell my sitters to carry a 6 foot leash and use that on the dogs when the owners have a retractable leash.  It’s too easy to be distracted by one dog, when the other one wanders too far and gets in trouble.

I keep treats handy as well.  This way you can reward the dog or help it in its training.

Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides dog walking and pet sitting services as well as providing cat care in Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock.