Category Archives: dogs and mourning

Sister Gracie

It’s been a bit busy this week, so I haven’t had time to post until now. One reason for the busy week has been that I have appeared in The Press, the Christchurch region’s newspaper.  The reporter wanted to know more about dog massage (which of course is a favorite subject of mine).  Both Daisy and I are very grateful for the free publicity, which came out of the blue in the form of a phone interview.

The article generated a very special enquiry in the form of an email:

May I ask if Daisy is a Pinerock pointer?  I lost my beautiful old lady Gracie in May and this morning I almost fell off my chair to see that face.  Even friends have asked how I found the massage worked with Grace.  That’s how alike they are – my girl had just turned 13 so they could conceivably be a similar age.  Happy to send you a picture if you like.

And so it transpired that I learned more about Daisy’s sister, who lived with another dog named Shamus, who still grieves for her.  Indeed, it is eerie to see how much Daisy and Gracie resembled one another.  The bloodlines are clearly apparent…

Gracie

Gracie on sofa

Gracie Digging

shamus and gracie couching

"I will take her ashes to the Pointer Memorial Garden at Pinerock where Pluto the Pointer watches over their souls."

“I will take her ashes to the Pointer Memorial Garden at Pinerock where Pluto the Pointer watches over their souls.”

Gracie’s mum may come for a visit to meet Daisy one day.  I’m sure Daisy would be as welcoming as always and we will share more stories of Gracie.

A farewell service for Oklahoma pets

Last weekend, a memorial service was held for the Oklahoma pets who perished in last month’s tornadoes.  The service was conducted at the Orr Family Farm which is located next door to the Celestial Acres Training Center, a training facility for horses where many died.

Perhaps one of the most touching stories of the losses suffered was that of Fred, a black Labrador.  He survived the storm buried beneath debris that was subsequently bulldozed over several times.  He was rescued but passed away five days later.  His veterinarian said, ‘It doesn’t seem fair.’

Full story available at The Oklahoman

Saying goodbye – a special tribute

When Kaiser, a two-year old German Shepherd member of the Plymouth, Massachusetts Police Department, was struck suddenly by severe kidney disease, it was decided to end his suffering.

On Friday, members of the Department gathered to give Kaiser a final salute as he entered the vet’s office.

photo courtesy of the Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation

photo courtesy of the Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation

Officer Jamie Lebretton, Kaiser’s handler, told followers on the Foundation’s Facebook page that  I feel privileged to have had a front row seat to witness his bravery and heroic actions while serving the people of Plymouth and my brothers and sisters in blue.  Out of love and respect for Kaiser, and with the input from our excellent vet, trainer, and family, I have made the heart wrenching decision to end Kaiser’s suffering. ‘

Kaiser was laid to rest at the Angel View Pet Cemetery in Middleborough.  He joined the police dog squad at the age of 5 months in 2011 and is gone too soon.

The care and love shown for Kaiser is just another story of so many – stand up and be proud that we love and bond with our dogs!

Crossing Eve

Today was a sad day at the Old Friends kennels of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  When I went to sign in for the afternoon, I was told ‘Old Friends will be closing at 3 today; we’re crossing Eve.’

Crossing, as in the Rainbow Bridge.  Eve was a paraplegic when I met her last year, but she had a spirit about her which said ‘don’t pick me up, I’ll get there by myself thank you.’  And her best friend was Dumpling, the little toothless mixed breed girl that I fell in love with.

Eve, in May 2012

Eve, in May 2012

Eve’s progress and care was documented as part of the Guardian Angels program, which profiles special animals from around the sanctuary and encourages monthly donations.  Caregivers update the Guardian Angel journals on a regular basis.

From a distance, I monitored Eve’s progress through the journal; also hoping to catch a glimpse of Dumpling, which I did through this wonderful video:

Through Eve’s journal, I read about the donation of her mobility cart and options to keep it from chafing.  When Dumpling got adopted in December 2012, I read about Eve’s grief at the loss of her friend and the efforts of caregivers to find her suitable companionship.  And in March of this year, Eve exited the Guardian Angel program to give way to another special needs dog.

So when I arrived here last week, seeing Eve and other remaining Old Friends was a top priority.  It is a comfort to know that I was here at Old Friends today to say goodbye to her.

Eve today, before crossing

Eve today, before crossing

A painting of Eve hangs in the foyer of her kennels at Old Friends

A painting of Eve hangs in the foyer of her kennels at Old Friends

A final Guardian Angel entry is now live on the Best Friends website to mark Eve’s crossing.  Read it here and perhaps go back in time to read more about this very special, special needs dog.

Eve will be laid to rest at Angels Overlook, the cemetery for sanctuary animals.

Eve's mobility cart and stroller, which were used in happier days

Eve’s mobility cart and stroller, which were used in happier days

Do not cry, I am with you

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

Do not cry, I am with you

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said ” it’s me.”

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
and say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out…then come home to be with me…

Source:  Unknown (I found this in my old email files and it is so appropriate to all of us who have loved and lost a dog)

The legend of Greyfriars Bobby

Back in August, in my column on Dogs and grief, I cited the case of Greyfriars Bobby.  This dog, according to legend, kept a 14-year vigil at the grave of its master while being cared for by local businessmen.

Research by historian Dr Jan Bondeson is published in a new book entitled Greyfriars Bobby:  The Most Faithful Dog in the World and tells a different story.

Dr Bondeson believes that the story was fabricated by James Brown, the curator of the cemetery and John Traill, the owner of a nearby restaurant, to encourage the tourist trade.    Mr Brown was known to accept donations for Bobby’s care and Mr Traill’s restaurant benefited from the many visitors to the churchyard.

Dr Bondeson says that the men likely replaced the original Bobby when he died with another dog to keep the legend going.  In addition, he cites that in Victorian times there were many dogs that were fed and kept by the public that made graveyards their home.   Bobby just became a celebrity amongst these dogs.

For a beloved member of the family

This column, For a beloved member of the family in memoriam, was written by Bella English, a columnist for The Boston Globe newspaper.

It touches on that special relationship we have with our dogs, and the grief and mourning we experience when they pass.

I hope this item resonates with you as much as it does with me.

In memoriam

On Monday, we lost a great dog by the name of Olliver (yes – that’s the correct spelling). A Dalmatian, Ollie had great spirit, which showed through even more when he lost the ability to walk in July 2010.  The veterinary profession have been stymied as to the reason for Ollie’s sudden loss of function and his owner has generously offered Ollie’s body for study at Massey University.

With the love and constant care of his owner, Ollie was engaged and alert until his sudden crash on Monday with internal bleeding.  I miss him.   Working with Ollie three times per week over the last year, we connected in a way I haven’t had the privilege of doing with any other dog.  Rest well, Ollie, my special boy.   I will take you with me for the rest of my days.


The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.  When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.  There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.  There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.  All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour:  those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing:  they miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.  They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddnely stops and looks into the distance.  The eyes are intent, the eager body quivers.  Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.  You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.  The happy kisses rain upon your face, your hands again caress his beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you pass over the Rainbow Bridge together…

Sea burials for your pet

New England Burials at Sea offers a special service for pet burials at sea along the US coastline from Maine to Miami.

The most common service is for scattering of cremation ash, although the company also offers organic cotton shrouds for full body burials by enquiry.

The company was founded by Brad White, a self-confessed dog lover and owner of Schipperkes who understands that pets are part of the family.

Ceremonies start at $95.0o.  A poem is usually read after the ashes are scattered, followed by flowers or wreaths that are placed on the water.  Owners can email a photo of their pet to Captain Brad before their charter so a photo of their pet is included on the sea burial certificate.   The burial certificate records the date, time, and latitude and longitude (location) where the ashes were scattered.  Many charters are unattended by the pet’s family, but in one case Captain Brad says that over 40 people attended a pet farewell ceremony on his boat.

Read more about the pet burial service here.

A quick Google search shows that there are several other firms offering pet burials at sea.  They are:

San Diego Burial at Sea

Newport Landing Burial at Sea (Los Angeles area)

A Burial at Sea Maritime Funeral Services (Rhode Island)

Amazing Gracie’s Pet Burials at Sea (San Diego area)

Losing a father

I have often felt that Daisy and I have a lot in common.  She likes purple (in fact, her collar is purple) and so do I.  She likes ice cream and so do I.  She’s  eats red meat – and guess what? – so do I.

Today, however, we have now another thing in common.  We have both lost our fathers.

The phone call came through this evening.  Shaka was ill this morning and with very low blood pressure.  The vet thinks he may have had a tumour that finally overwhelmed his system and she said that he wouldn’t recover.  There was really no choice but to put him to sleep.

When I told Daisy about it, she went out in the yard and wouldn’t come in for a while.  This was most unusual for her, particularly because it had started to rain and she doesn’t like getting wet.   I think she understood but some people will say I am anthropomorphising her behaviour.    All I know is that I was upset and, usually, if I am upset then Daisy wants to be at my side.  This time, I think she needed some time to herself.

I am grateful that Daisy only saw her Dad two days ago; he was a kennel dog and she was in kennels thanks to a business trip.   As it turned out, it was their last chance to play together.  I am also grateful that for the better part of the last three years, Daisy was able to visit Shaka every week for day care.  Her day care arrangements ceased earlier this year when her day care provider moved farther out of town.  Still, she and Shaka saw each other whenever Daisy needed a kennel stay or when I massaged another dog at the kennels.

Shaka was a ‘cool dude’ and I’m certain that Daisy inherited her placid nature from him.

Here are photos taken in 2007, at Daisy’s seventh birthday party.   We both think he was a very handsome and distinguished dog.

Shaka won best dressed at Daisy's birthday party in 2007 with this tuxedo.

Daisy and her Dad in a family photo, taken at her 7th birthday party