Tag Archives: grief

Owner, dearest friend

One of the saddest times in our lives will be those times when we face the loss of our animals.

This poem helps to remind us that grieving is expected – and accepted.

To all my clients who are grieving for their lost dogs…

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

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The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog

For all those who have

loved and lost a beloved pet,

here is a dog’s life

beautifully remembered

…so says the dust cover on my edition of The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog, written by playwright Eugene O’Neill.

Written in the early 1940s about his dog Blemie, from Blemie’s point of view, this small book tells Blemie’s owner how he is feeling and what he wants for his owners after his passing…including things like having another dog and not to grieve for too long.

I see many owners who must face the grief over the loss of their dog (I deal with many older dogs in my massage practice); and I have lived through the loss of my own dogs.  I can relate.

Every pet parent needs support during the grieving process.  I highly recommend buying a copy of this book.

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

Life after Buddy

This article (Hounded by Grief), courtesy of the WBUR, Boston’s National Public Radio station, starts with the haunting words:

I am dogless.  Again.

Boston journalist Anita Diamant pictured with Buddy at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Mass., winter 2013. (photo by Ms Diamant)

Boston journalist Anita Diamant pictured with Buddy at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Mass., winter 2013. (photo by Ms Diamant)

For all of us who have loved a series of dogs, including a special ‘heart dog,’ I think some of the words will resonate with you.

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

Grieving for a pet

Don't weep for me gravestone

Today I have been thinking a lot about pet loss and grief.

It’s just been one of those weeks – a few older dogs who are clearly reaching the end of their lives and one client in particular who seems to be on the verge of needing to make an end-of-life decision for their aging dog….

Most pet owners have experienced grief at the loss of a beloved animal.  I know I have.  And even when you know that your dog is reaching the end of its life, the loss is still shocking when the end finally arrives.

And then I read this Wall Street Journal article, decidedly focused on US employment and employers, about the decisions employees face when grieving for a lost animal.  It’s a little shocking (but not surprising) to know that employers have asked employees who are euthanising their pets to report to work before/after the event.

When I used to be employed in a large public sector organisation as a senior manager, I commented on a proposed bereavement policy.  I suggested that managers should be able to use their discretion and grant a day of bereavement leave based on the loss of a pet.  Managers would know the circumstances of their employee and the role of their pet in their lives because they were expected to know their staff well.

I also saw it as a leadership issue – large employers have the ability to support staff with benefits that smaller firms may not.

The CEO declined (actually, he never declined he just ignored the submission). I found out later from someone in HR (because I asked) that the CEO felt he ‘had to draw the line somewhere.’

Despite the growing research-based evidence of the role our dogs play in our emotional and physical health, owners are not supported through the inevitable grieving process that follows their life-long commitment.

It’s sad.

I’m very proud that I support my clients in assessing quality of life and I follow up with them after their dog passes; many have stayed in touch as colleagues and friends long after their dog has gone.

My only hope is that our workplaces and their policies catch up on what it means to be truly family-friendly.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Get Healthy, Get a Dog

The Harvard Medical School has published a special health report entitled Get Healthy, Get a Dog:  The health benefits of canine companionship. 

The report details the many ways that dogs can improve the lives of humans.

Get Healthy, Get a DogIn promoting the report, the School says:

There are many reason why dogs are called humans’ best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost human health. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active — have leash, will walk. It can also:

  • help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
  • make kids more active, secure, and responsible
  • improve the lives of older individuals
  • make you more social and less isolated

Just petting a dog can reduce the petter’s blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).

The report can be purchased in print (US$20), in .pdf electronic version (US$18) or both (US$29) from this webpage.

I’m pleased to see this type of publication coming from such a reputable institution.  Dogs and humans both benefit when  humans take responsibility for a committed and healthy relationship.  I particularly like that the report also covers grief, since we all will face grieving the loss of beloved pet (given the odds – since we live a lot longer than our dogs do).

The chapters in the report include:

  • Our dogs, ourselves
    • Benefits of dog ownership
    • Service dogs
  • How dogs make us healthier
    • Physical activity
    • Cardiovascular benefits
    • Reduced asthma and allergies in kids
    • Psychological benefits
    • How human contact benefits dogs
  • SPECIAL SECTION
    • Nutrition guidelines for dogs
  • Exercise for you and your dog
    • Exercise whys and wherefores
    • The exercise prescription for people
    • Exercise guidelines for dogs
    • Help your dog avoid injuries
    • Walking with your dog
    • Hiking
    • Running
    • Biking
    • Swimming
    • Playing fetch, Frisbee, or flying disc
    • Agility training
    • Skijoring
    • Playing inside the house
  • Adopting a dog
    • Deciding on the qualities you want
    • Breed considerations
    • Finding your dog
  • How to be a responsible dog owner
    • Basic equipment
    • Veterinary care
    • Dogs in cars
    • Providing for your dog while you’re at work
  • Raising a well-behaved dog
    • Obedience training
    • Housetraining
    • Keeping dogs off furniture … or not
    • Soothing the anxious hound
  • Grieving a loss
  • Resources
  • Glossary

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Goodbye, friend

Goodbye, friend
With Daisy’s passing, it is probably not surprising that I reached for a book on grief and – more specifically – a book about grief over the loss of a pet.

I purchased this book in 2013, but when I started to read it then, it didn’t feel right.  Although aging, Daisy was still in good health and I felt like I was somehow ‘jumping the gun.’  The book went to the bottom of my ‘to read’ pile until last week when I found myself at loose ends in my empty house.

One of the biggest things about loss of a pet is, although deep down we know that our dog has a short lifespan, there is nothing that can prepare you for the emotional tidal wave that comes on the day of your dog’s death.  So, having a book to turn to for guidance is useful.

This book is written in simple terms, with some historic references to cultures and how they view death, dying and the role of pets.  It discusses the decision we face when euthanizing a sick pet, how to deal with children’s grief, understanding the need to care for yourself when grieving, and deciding when it is right to take steps that allow you to move on.

Since Kowalski is a clergyman, he has used his background to prepare a section on readings and poems that can be used in a memorial service for a lost pet.

I’m glad I had this book handy for when I had to suddenly face the loss of Daisy and, based on my experience, I would recommend to all my readers to have a book about pet grief in your ‘tool box’ for when you have to face the sad occasion of saying goodbye.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

At Angels Rest

Today, I ate my lunch at Angels Rest, one of the two pet cemeteries at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  This large cemetery is the resting place of many animals including some sanctuary animals (in recent years, a new cemetery for sanctuary animals and the companion animals of Best Friends staff has been used).

This is truly a peaceful place and a fitting tribute to the role of animals in our lives.  It’s a wonderful location for some peace and quiet and reflection.

Here’s a number of photos and a brief video tour of Angels Rest:

gates from outsideAngel's Rest sign

windchimes

Niches within the walls hold urns and other memorabilia

Niches within the walls hold urns and other memorabilia

Many of the markers have been decorated by the owners of the animal

Many of the markers have been decorated by the owners of the animal

named graves

Mass graves

Don't Weep for Me

katrina memorialSaying stone

My sunshines comes

gates from inside