By Christine A. Bournias
Care For Your Pet Like Their Life Depends On It
It’s simple: Give your pets the best life they could ever ask for—NOW, while they’re here with you.
Much like losing a significant human, losing our pets can be devastating. Many people have said that losing a pet is even more intense than human loss. And nobody can compare the degrees of pain felt by an individual person.
We’re all different.
Fact: If you love your furry friend(s) with all your heart, you will have to say good-bye at some point. Going into this kind of special relationship with your pet—even while knowing this difficult fact—from the get go—is the most unconditional love there can be.
Pet Parents everywhere go into the love affair knowing this reality. Then their love and admiration increases, and the bond between pet and caregiver strengthens. Living in the moment and being as prepared (as you can be) in advance helps ease our mind. But, no matter how much you prepare, loss is never easy.
Pets play a vital role in our daily lives and become a huge part of our families. They lighten up our days and nights during challenging times and keep us healthy. Our pets become our companions, our confidants—our cuddy buddies.
Whether furry, fuzzy, or feathered, the pain of losing a pet is real.
But, let’s first talk about dogs…
There’s Always That One Special Dog
Many of us have felt the pain of losing a precious pal. Your dog becomes a member of the family. Preparation for the inevitable while your pet is still alive is key. Everything that you do for your dog each day adds up to their total quality of life. It’s not just the first week or last week of their life that we remember or think about—it’s all those memories in between.
It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.
Some say that losing your first dog is most difficult, however, we understand that each and every dog you own offers you its very own unique love. Nonetheless, there are just some dogs that make a bigger impact than others.
If this bond is not love, we don’t know what is.
No matter if it’s your first, fourth, or fortieth animal to love and care for, the bond between you two couldn’t be stronger. You love each one of them all in various ways, but as the saying goes, there’s always that one special dog.
Much More Than Love:
- Financial Commitment
- Medical Attention
Our companions keep us responsible and remind us to play. You as a Pet Parent have a responsibility to protect and care for your furry friend with all your might.
It’s truly unfair that we typically outlive our beloved furry family members.
There are five common stages of grief that occur when we lose humans – and when we lose animals:
With the loss of any loved one, profound grief is normal. Grief must be met with an abundance of resilience. Look it straight in the eye and conquer its power over you. TODAY.
Bottom line: We never truly “get over it”, we just simply get through it.
Caregiver Responsibility: Care For Your Dog Like Their Life Depends On It
Our pets look to us to keep them safe and be their #1 health advocate from the beginning to when it’s time to help them cross over the rainbow bridge.
When you decide to care for a furry friend, make sure you’re ready to accept every stage of your dog’s life—from puppy to adulthood. Look to senior pets for loads of surprises and lots of interesting facts. With knowledge as your power, you can offer your precious pal the care they deserve at all times.
Okay, we understand.
These ideas can’t bring your dog back—nor can they keep them (physically) alive forever. However, they may serve as helpful reminders throughout your dog’s life—and when it’s time, through the grieving process.
By supplying the best life possible for your dog now, you can breathe life into your heart forever.
Keep In Mind: Love Is Not Enough
Paying close attention to details about your furry friend are all part of dog ownership. Regular health & wellness exams, spaying or neutering responsibility, grooming appointments, overall body observations, as well as a keen awareness of any changing signs in your pet, are just a fraction of the responsibility.
Caring for a dog is inside and out—nose to tail.
Owning A Dog Is Much More Than Love. Do You Have What It Takes?
- Financial Commitment
- Health & Wellness
- Medical attention
- More Patience
1. Make Memories
Take lots and lots of pictures of your dog.
A photograph speaks volumes. While a photo of your dog is not the real thing, it can help capture magical moments in your life. Even when you think you’re capturing plenty of photographs, one day you’ll look into that family photo album box and wish you took more shots of your puppy.
Many pet care hotels offer up holiday costume contests, bubble bashes, and fun photo opportunities for your pet. These pet places are known to take lots and lots of pictures of your furry friend too!
Your dog may not know exactly what’s on the menu of the day, nor do they fully understand party themes, but they do know when kind people and fellow dog friends are giving them the favorable attention they so much crave.
You’ll be glad you took your dog to their favorite Pet Hotel.
Silly — yet safe — activities with your dog all contribute to your sacred vault of memories.
Photo Credit: Breanna Elizabeth, Best Friends Pet Hotel (Willow Grove)
Do fun stuff with your dog.
Spend time that you didn’t think you had. Yes, you must make time. From puppies to senior dogs, provide your pet the opportunity to enjoy their life with you.
A good dose of physical exercise and mental stimulation for your dog will allow you both the chance to stay active and healthy.
Perhaps it’s time for your dog to enjoy a new experience, training protocol, or change of scenery? Get outdoors, go for a hike, sit by the lake, plan a puppy picnic, or teach your dog a game of basketball. “Shooting hoops” or jumping through hoops will be new and different for your pal.
Go ahead, drop to the floor, get on all fours and have some fun. What better way possible is there to experience life, than to experience life with your dog?
The Moment Comes But Once
When your dog licks your knee or kisses your hand when you give them a yummy extra snack, don’t push them away. This loving gesture from your dog might be their way of showing you trust, acceptance, and affection.
When they bark, validate what they’re barking about. When they’re whining, get to the core of where the behavior is coming from. Don’t just holler at your dog to be quiet. Identify their needs and tell them “Thank You.” (Now that’s a switch. Try it. It works.)
Try your best to have humor in their every shananigan when your dog runs around the house with a choice article of your clothing hanging from their mouth. Maybe they’re zooming around the room and laughing at you.
Maybe you’re unhappy or impatient with your dog. But, these are the trying times to refocus on your dog and giving them their best life. Their behavior might be your dog’s honest attempt at keeping you close to them. Think of it like us keeping a photograph of the person or persons we love by our nightstand—meaningful.
Pay close attention and you’ll discover your answer of what you’re looking for them to do. They aren’t just pestering you to go in and out, more times than not, they just want you to go outside with them!
Remember dogs will be dogs. They just want to please you. You just have to show them how. Demonstrate what behavior you want.
More Fun & Entertainment
Just for fun, you can bake a sticky treat or tuna snack for your cat. Blend up safe dogeritas or make yummy, homemade dog safe ingredient ice cream in warmer weather! Freeze and stuff their favorite dispensing toy each week. And, when they’ve had more exercise time than normal, treat your pal to a spa-like pet massage in order to ease and comfort their tired muscles.
Enjoy the humorous, rambunctious behaviors that your dog does. Make a conscious effort to pause and enjoy your dog—right when the moment happens. We all have a ton on our minds these days, but try to remember that exact moment in time as it occurs.
When your dog jumps up and down to see you when you’re home from a long day at work, remember all the hysterical tries of training the word “off.” The training process is what matters. Don’t strictly strive for success. Encourage desired behavior, but laugh when it doesn’t happen.
Sharpen your dog’s skills for small wins. Nobody’s perfect. Practice is perfection, even for your dog.
2. Live In The Moment
Remember to live like a dog.
Your furry friend only knows what’s happening at that given time. Their attention is now, then it’s gone. They don’t dwell on the past or anticipate the future. They reside in the present—with no expectations. They’re just happy now.
Learn new tricks, even if your dog is unsuccessful. The process is what matters. And timing. Laugh. Make mistakes together. Exercise patience. These moments are part of your forever memories. Dogs learn by conditioning and association. They respond with immediate reward. That’s why timing is critical, especially when they’re learning.
Dogs learn to live in every moment. Every. Single. Precious. Moment.
Nothing is off limits when it comes to having more fun with your pet. Keep your pets occupied and happy with many fun things to do and lots of things to think about.
Constantly look for ways to provide healthy physical activity and mental stimulation. Pet puzzles and games can be effective in keeping your pet’s mind sharp throughout all stages of their life.
Homemade tunnels and obstacle courses and hide and seek sessions can be a wonderful way to live in the moment with your pet. Nose tricks and interactive mind games help your dog stay alert.
One on one attention, mental stimulation strategies, and reading books to your pets are just a few activities that you can do with your pet. Several pet care facilities add on “extras” like reading to their guests, blowing bubbles, or taking action videos.
Never, ever wish that your pet will slow down. Because, inevitably, they will.
Create Adventure: Live For Now
Whether it’s a new direction around the block or a curious sniff and walk together. Adding adventure to you and your pet’s life is worth the extra energy you will expend.
“Because of my dog, I started a small business, developing a program that incorporates dog exercise sessions. If I wouldn’t have made the time to exercise with my pup when he was 16 weeks old, I may have never started my dog yoga business.” —Sandy S.
Delight your pets and keep them happy.
No matter what age, you need to be willing to try new things and be innovative in your approach with your furry family member.
Make A Pact To Try Something New
Socializing your pup early on can provide adequate activity and favorable stimulation that they need. Senior pets can also benefit from new training courses, tips, and tricks.
Dogs need their person(s), but they also benefit from being around other dogs.
Doggy Day Camp
Pet Hotels provide safe and healthy pet care for your furry friends.
From Doggy Day Camp back-to-school parties to cleaning up for doggy prom dates, your dog will appreciate the attention.
Seek out your local and trusted Pet Hotel to watch your pets while you’re out and about. Camp gives your dog a chance to meet new humans and dog pals. Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages enjoy carefully monitored playtime with dog pals. These Pet Professionals examine your pet’s age, size and temperament before even entering Camp’s play yard.
According to an article titled, “What You Should Know About The Stages of Grief” by Healthline, fond memories of our companion can fill the empty space left by the loss of a cherished pet. As you remember the pets who’ve passed through your life, please don’t forget the part of the relationship that included the best care you provided to them.
Expert boarding facilities or professional Pet Sitters can offer advice on pet care, socialization, training, play and stay plans too.</a. Discover local experts that know pet behavior and will assist you in finding the ideal play and/or stay environment for ALL your furry family members, including older Guests.
Take all the time you need to heal. The healing journey is a marathon. Not a sprint. Grieving is an individual experience. It is normal and okay to grieve.
There’s no rush on getting over your dog. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s also never ‘just a dog.’ Your dog was yours. The unique relationship was between you and your dog alone.
You loved your dog in ways you alone understand. You don’t need to justify or explain this affection.
Your dog was important to you, and that’s all that matters.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 1972, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories established
Pet Memorial Day.
You’ll never really understand this pain until your pet’s quality of life diminishes and you find yourself holding on for dear life. Your dog will tell you when it’s time. As unusual as it sounds, ask your dog to tell you they’re ready. Then give them permission to let go, when it’s time.
“I struggled with the decision even on our ‘Rainbow Bridge’ day. My Veterinarian stood by my side and said, ‘You don’t have to make the decision—I’ll make the decision for you.’ I don’t know what I would’ve done without my Veterinarian’s strength. —Chris B.
Keep Both Past And Present Pets Front Of Mind.
Proactive actions often offer a tangible way to cope with the grief of losing a family member and give you the chance to share your memorials.
If you’re seeking a way to memorialize your pet, here are some ideas to consider:
- Don’t try to change your dog. Accept them just the way they are.
- Keep a journal of each day with your dog at Doggy Day Camp
- In honor of your admiration of your pet, author a book
- Devote your mission to helping other Pet Parents
- Surround and immerse yourself with animals
- Establish a powerful support system with like-minded individuals
- Get creative: Design a memorial tattoo or learn how to paint a portrait of your pet
- Write a poem, letter, or blog about your pet
- Take nothing for granted and organize a keepsake photo album well in advance
- Plant a flower, tree, or garden memorial dedicated to your pet
- Create a stepping stone with a paw print, and place it in a pet garden.
- Donate funds to a local shelter in honor of your pet’s name
- Volunteer playtime or foster pets most in need at a rescue organization
- Organize a volunteer group to go to local dog parks to clean up debris
- Help train new animals for rescue and recovery by donating time to your local police department or fire rescue canine unit in honor of your pet’s name
- Plan a fundraiser event for a worthy animal cause
- Consider creating your pet’s Social Media page and join relative groups such as “iheartseniordog” for community support and pet topics
- Find resources for interesting ways to make memories at home with your dog
- Seek out a career that revolves around the pet industry
- On September 13, include #NationalPetMemorialDay within your Social Media posts
Stay Prepared And Pre-Plan
All pets deserve dignity and respect for the end of their life. A final resting place should be a beautiful celebration of your pet’s life. Your pet’s sensitive needs must be treated with utmost respect and care.
Research beautiful memorial tributes across the nation and in your area. Make certain your selected memorial is a special place to visit your pet on a regular basis. Harperlawn Pet Memorial Gardens in Michigan is just one location that offers you and your pet peace and serenity on lush and sprawling grounds.
National Pet Memorial Day
National Pet Memorial Day is the second Sunday in September. The holiday offers us an opportunity to remember the pets who’ve passed through our lives. Observe #NationalPetMemorialDay in your own unique ways.
Children And Pets? Write A Letter To Your Children From Their Dog Angel:
- Describe their first moments together
- Reiterate that there’s room in their heart to love and care for another fur baby
- Explain that their special angel dog will bring a new pet to them when they know they’re truly ready, no sooner
- Let your kids know that their next dog will indeed pick them to love
- Confirm that there will always be a permanent place in their hearts for your dog
Know When (Or If) You’re Ready For A New Pet
Recognize if you have enough love in your heart for other animals that come after your little buddy.
Try wrapping your arms around a new dog to connect with. However, if you’re not ready to care for another pet—or if there’s not a connection immediately—don’t force the healing process.
A new pet can bring a sense of joy and fresh starts to a family. They can’t replace the dog you lost, however, they might provide a hopeful beginning. In addition, this new furry member of your family could possibly give a renewed sense of responsibility for you, your children, and/or other grieving family members.
How To Keep Your Dog In Your Heart Forever
Our pets remain a fabric thread, woven into our heart strings.
While your home may be awfully quiet without the shuffle of paw prints or constant jingle of dog tags from the other room, your little buddy will never leave your heart.
Keep your dog in your heart—always. They would want you to be happy.
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog…
You are his life, his love, his leader…
He will be yours faithful & true, to the last beat of his heart…
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion…
My Charlie boy” 💙 —Steve C.
When you lose a pet, take all the time you need to heal.
The healing journey is different for everyone. Take care of yourself, your children, and your other pets that you may have in your home. They need you too. Be strong, yet be gentle on yourself during this painful healing journey.
Healing could be about dedicating your life to the pet industry or expressing yourself with the newness of fostering a rescue animal or volunteering time at your local shelter. Please allow yourself permission for a new chapter in your life.
Most notable, while your dog—or dogs—are with you, live large. Celebrate every one of your pet’s birthdays. Capture memories. Laugh with each tail wag. Enjoy each precious moment.
It’s simple: Give your pets the best life they could ever ask for. Don’t wait. Do it now.
NATIONAL PET MEMORIAL DAY
On the second Sunday in September, National Pet Memorial Day offers a moment to remember pets who have passed.
Would you like to purchase a day of Camp for another dog in honor of their name?
Best Friends Pet Hotel offers themed parties and safe exercise for loads of fun. Camp benefits your dog’s physical and mental well-being. Current vaccinations are required for an interview. Book an appointment today.
Want to know more ways to create memories with your pet? VISIT: Best Friends Pet Hotel or call your local Best Friends Pet Hotel.
About The Author:
Christine A. Bournias resides in Michigan with her 2-pack; two new beautiful adopted miracles. As her “Angelwriter”, Nicodemus (1997-2010) is the wisdom behind the stories she shares. Christine champions the magnitude of building the bond between a dog and their person(s) by means of respectful communication and enduring admiration.