Category Archives: dogs and mourning

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.

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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…

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand