It’s Ok to Grieve

Last week I posted about understanding and supporting your pet when they grieve. Today I want to talk about when we grieve for a pet that has passed. For a great many people the attitude of a pet passing was simply “What a shame, it’s just a..(fill in the blank), you’ll get over it” Or the majority of the human race feels that animals are not worthy of a deep grief from a human. Luckily, that attitude is changing as is our global consciousness towards animals. One example is for K9 police officers who are killed in the line of duty - are given a funeral with full honors. Even Bretagne, the last search and rescue dog during 9-11 walked through a line of firefighters on her final walk before being released to the Rainbow Bridge Click here for her story.

When we make an agreement with an animal - regardless of species to share their lives with us and us with them, we make unspoken, yet understood promises to and for each other. We forge a “contract”. In this contract, we promise to care for them, give them food, shelter, medical care and to become a part of the family. They promise to give us their all, to be our teachers, our companions, our guardians and our comedians with unconditional love. One of the promises we must always make, and one that we must always agree to, is that when they ask us for the final release, then we must honor that request. We cannot and must not let them suffer. To do so would mean we would go back on our promise.

During the time of the contract, our animal companions truly become bonded to us and are family members - 100%. It stands to reason that the bonds of love are also forged during that time. When a furry family member passes, our grief is very real and very valid. Everyone grieves in their own time in their own way. The important thing is to let your grief flow the way it needs to. There are a few online resources for grief support groups. Or if you’d rather punch pillows/cry/scream that’s ok too. Remember to be gentle with yourself during this time. No one can tell you when you have grieved enough.

One thing to always remember - the bonds of love are unbreakable. While the physical form is gone, spirit and love are endless and eternal. Pets who have recently passed will hang around for about a month or so to make sure we are ok. So, don’t be surprised if you think you see your pet out of the corner of your eye or from behind the curtain.

If you have recently suffered a loss of a beloved animal companion and you need extra help Please contact us.

Understanding Your Rescue

Rescuing a pet comes with many benefits for all parties involved. The people get a new family member and the pet gets a new life. With a rescue also comes a new set of potential emotional/behavioral issues that can leave the adoptive parent puzzled. Here are just a few issues and what you can do to help your new family member move through them.

Pet has accidents in the house: Rule number one with any rescue of any age is you will have to housebreak them. They are entering a new house and a new routine - so there may be some accidents. It’s up to you to show them where it is appropriate to go potty and to learn what your pets cue is.

Pet is chewing things: The act of chewing can stem from a variety of reasons. If the pet is young, they could be teething. Your pet could also be bored. Offer your pet something appropriate to chew and keep the things you don’t want to be chewed out of your pets reach.

Pet is aggressive: This one is a little tricky. Is the pet guarding a resource like toys? Is the pet food aggressive? Is the aggression coming from fear? In all of these cases - if other dogs or small children are involved you need to manage the situation. If you have multiple dogs - every dog should have their own space to eat away from the other dogs. Fear can be lessened by building up your pets confidence (basic obedience training with positive reinforcement is a great start). Sometimes an aggression issue requires more in-depth work with a specialist.

Once you are in a place of understanding about your rescue - you and your new family member will have a long and happy life together!

Do you need help with a new furry family member? Do you want to find out what happened before you adopted them? Look on our Programs page for more information.