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Join me today (Sunday, Feb. 10) for a discussion of pet loss and how to cope with it on Animal Blessings radio online at 5:30 p.m.–6 p.m. Central time.
Pets are more than just animals — they’re family. And anyone who’s ever lost a pet knows it’s terribly heartbreaking. Whether it’s your first time to lose a pet or your third, it never really gets easier, only more familiar. Thankfully, there are many ways to ease the sorrow and help you recover from such a devastating loss. If you or someone you know is suffering from the loss of a pet, then take a minute to read these seven tips to help you cope and return to a more peaceful state of mind.
One of the most important things you have to remind yourself of following the loss of a pet is that it’s important and perfectly OK to grieve. Everyone grieves in different ways and for different periods of time. It may last a few days or a few years. Either way, it’s a completely personal experience that may require taking off work or spending some time alone to bounce back.
A big part of the healing process is expressing your grief openly. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and memories. Holding it in will only make the grieving process more difficult and painful. This is especially important to remember when talking to your children about the loss of a pet. When explaining the situation, be sure to express your own grief and reassure your kids that it’s OK to be sad and that you also feel the same way.
Spending time with your surviving pet can help you cope with grief and ease the pain of losing an animal. Surviving pets may need a lot of TLC at this time because they are also affected by the loss. Even if they weren’t close, your surviving pet may whimper and act lethargic because they are distressed by the sudden changes. Comfort your surviving pet and try to create a positive emotional state within the home.
Whether it’s spending time at the park where you used to walk your dog, volunteering at an animal shelter, or making a donation in your pet’s memory, these special moments can help you turn a painful situation into a positive one. If you like to write, paint, or make music, you can dedicate it to your beloved pet.
Keeping a journal is one of the best things you can do to record your feelings, thoughts, and memories about your pet and keep track of your grieving process. Doing so will help you work through the grief and make sense of the things happening around you.
Memorializing your pet can help you overcome your loss and remember the good times you had together. You can have a memorial for your pet in private or with the company of friends and family. Some people write a letter to their pet or create a photo album and leave it by an urn or their pet’s burial spot. You can memorialize your pet on his or her birthday or anytime you feel like reminiscing.
Many people have been in your exact shoes and know what it’s like to lose a beloved pet. Seeking support is a healthy and encouraged way to cope with the death of a pet. There are many forms of support available to grieving pet owners, including pet-loss support hotlines, pet bereavement counseling services, and online support groups with chat rooms and message boards where people can tell their story and share comforting words. Support can also come from friends and family who knew your pet and can help you hold on to the good memories.
Petlitzer Prize Writing Contest Seeks Halloween-themed Pet-related Short Story Submissions
Love animals? Love to write? Love Halloween? Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related, Halloween-themed short stories to the Petlitzer Prize Contest. “The name ‘Petlitzer Prize’ just came to me one day, as a kind of play on words, a sort of Pulitzer for animal-related works,” said multiple-award-winning author/animal chaplain, Sid Korpi, (“Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” http://www.goodgriefpetloss.com, named “Best Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” by Premier Book Awards) who came up with this contest to recognize quality efforts in writing regarding animals and celebrating the human-animal bond.
This round of the Petlitzer Prize contest is devoted to pet-related short stories of a Halloween-themed nature. Stories may be fiction or creative nonfiction, 400–700 words in length. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2012 with winners announced live on the Dog Works Radio show on or around Halloween Eve. There is no fee for entering, but only one submission per category is allowed.
Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:
1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!
2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations!
3. Entries must be received by October 15, 2012. A winner will be chosen, aired and posted by no later than Oct. 30. (I and a panel of pet experts, including but not limited to Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto, dog trainers and co-hosts of popular “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio show, will be judging the submissions.)
4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.
5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the deadline is reached.
6. Winners (First, Second, Third and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. (As well as on the Dog Works sites.) First place winners also will receive a handsome medallion. If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.
7. Winners will also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show “Dog Works.” (Air dates will be announced in advance, and the show will be available thereafter in archived form.)
8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.
9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with “Petlitzer Prize Entry” in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will forward only your actual submitted story with your name to my fellow judges. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.
Sid Korpi is the award-winning author of “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” as well as a motivational speaker, professional editor/writer, actress and animal chaplain.
My hubby will be my stand-in for this event. (I’ll be at the Carver-Scott Humane Society’s Walk Fur Love event at the same time.) Come see one of us if you’re out and about with your pet.—Sid
Bring your dog, and come have FUN! Try out agility, tracking, or K9 Nose Work®, do some shopping, have someone else give your dog a bath at our Dog Wash, and much more.
If you have a dog, then you can bring it along and have a blast.
If you know someone that has a dog, then pass this along, so they can join in the fun.
If you wish you had a dog, then come out and get your fix.
For more information visit our we site http://activedogsportstraining.com/?page_id=355
Free goodie bag for the first 100 people to sign in.
Sunday May 20 from 1-4 at Carver Lake Vet Center 2201 Ventura Dr. Woodbury, MN 55125
Sorry that the volume isn’t very loud, but you can get an idea of some of my pet loss presentation. Stick with if for a while, the sound gets a teensy bit better.—Sid
Please join me and host Janet Roper for a discussion of pet loss and holidays, among other things at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talk2theanimals/2012/02/15/pets-matters-of-the-heart Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. Central Time.
By Bob Shaw
email@example.com Updated: 11/07/2011 12:08:35 AM CST
Sid Korpi is glad that death makes house calls. When her cat, Giles, approached the end of his life in August, Korpi called on a unique in-home euthanasia service. Called Minnesota Pets, the St. Paul business does euthanasia—and only euthanasia. It has no clinic to treat animals, just four veterinarians who make about 20 house calls a week, each one ending an animal’s life. Customers say their pets die more peacefully at home. Korpi said that instead of dying in a clinic, her cat died in her lap, surrounded by love, peace and candlelight.
“There was no stress from cramming him into a carrier. I didn’t want to have to drive him somewhere with tears streaming down my face,” she said.
The idea for the business first dawned on Dr. Rebecca McComas four years ago, as her two beagles aged. Being a vet, she always planned to euthanize them at home. “I would never consider doing it in a clinical setting,” McComas said. “Then I started talking to other vets, and they said they wouldn’t do that in a clinic, either.” So, she asked, why would anyone? She knew that other clinics performed in-home euthanasias but wanted to have the first Minnesota business to specialize in them.
But the business does more than stick needles into dying animals. The vets are expert grief counselors. They dispose of the body afterward. And they offer mementos of the pet, such as a clay imprint of a paw. The basic visit costs $225, up to $375 for cremating the body and Advertisement returning the ashes. McComas helps customers deal with a form of grief that is misunderstood—and underestimated. When someone’s mother dies, friends and family share the grief. Everyone understands it. But when a pet dies, it’s not the same. “A lot of clients report that the loss of an animal, for people with a primary bond, is worse than that of a mother, father, sister or friend,” said Lisa Havelin, a grief support specialist with Minnesota Pets. “It’s incomparable. It’s much worse.”
That’s because pets spend an enormous amount of time with their owners. “We get used to them. They go in the car with us. We are with them all day,” said Havelin. “We do not spend that much quality time with other people.” That makes the loss of a pet hard to explain to others. “It’s disenfranchised grief,” Havelin said. But can’t a person who loses a pet just get a replacement? “For some people who do not have a connection with the animal, they can say, ‘Fine, I will replace a black lab with another black lab,’ ” Havelin said. In other cases, the animal-human bond is very strong.
“It’s just like with people. You may have a lot of people in the course of your life, but some stand out,” Havelin said. “I have had animals my whole life, but two or three of them have been especially difficult to lose.”
Linda and Allen Anderson of St. Louis Park realized last summer that their 19-year-old cat, Speedy, was no longer living up to his name. “He was falling down,” Linda Anderson said. The cat stopped eating and drinking, and death seemed imminent. But McComas said cats are very hardy – and can sometimes live for weeks without food. That means that an owner determined to let nature take its course will watch the cat deteriorate—painfully.
For the Andersons, euthanasia in a clinic seemed too cold, too impersonal. “Speedy hated vets,” Anderson said. McComas showed up at the house, dressed in surgical scrubs and carrying a bag with the equipment. Together, they talked about Speedy’s life. “She was very kind,” Anderson said. The experience was perfect, she said. “To be able to do that, with him on my lap and my husband there, to give him that last dose of love—it was a remarkable experience.”
Korpi is a Minneapolis author of the book “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” and an expert on grieving over lost pets. So when her own cat, Giles, was near death in August, she liked the idea of a peaceful death at home. When the vet arrived, Korpi lit a candle and dimmed the lights in the room. “Giles came right up to her. He knew what was happening—and he was grateful,” Korpi said.
She has been through euthanasias of 16 of her other pets. “Every single time,” she said, “I say that when I go, I want to go like that.”
Bob Shaw can be reached at 651-228-5433. Follow him on twitter.com/BshawPP.
So sorry for the delay in my getting this review posted. Upon returning from Gunflint Lodge and the Wagalot Dog Lover’s Weekend, I was greeted by a week’s worth of work assignments and then had to head out to Fargo for the Fantastic Fargo Film Festival/ValleyCon event to promote “Attack of the Moon Zombies”—winner of the Roger and Julie Corman Award for Intrepid Filmmaking!
Now, much delayed, is my chance to say a big THANK YOU to organizer Lisa Sellman of Aloha Pet Care Service and the owners and staff of Gunflint Lodge. We had a marvelous time at this fabulous, pet-friendly lodge. First off, the food was incredible!! Their chef at Justine’s Restaurant on-site at the lodge easily equaled the culinary skills of any 5-star chefs in the Twin Cities. And all the food, three huge meals per day, were included in the cost of the weekend package. All we paid for was taxes and tips.
Then there were the fun activities Lisa arranged, such as the baking of holiday dog treats in our cabin, where nearly a dozen people and their dogs joined us. Here are some shots of the cabin itself and our pooches checking it out.
Later on, I gave a talk about Pet Loss as Disenfranchised Grief to a receptive audience in the Conference Center.
Then we topped off the full day of events with a viewing of “Attack of the Moon Zombies.” As it turned out, Dan Moore, the man who is standing in the photo above, was one of the best friends of our director Christopher R. Mihm’s father, George Mihm! He was able to give us some terrific “dirt” on Chris’s 5th-grade exploits, which would have given us fodder for blackmail but Chris said all I could get from him was his “boatload of debt, a cat that pees on everything, and excess grumpiness” and besides, he’s proud of his shameful deeds involving drawing pictures of an illicit nature and photocopying them into little magazines for his friends to purchase. He dad apparently called this Chris’s “Larry Flynt Phase.”
On the last day of the retreat, I performed an animal blessing ceremony. Participants tried to hide from the high winds off Gunflint Lake. (When you look across the lake, you see Canada!)
Though we had a bit of rain the first couple of days, there was still some great hiking to be enjoyed in the Superior National Forest. Here, we wander along a Moose-siting trail.
In Grand Marais, we stopped by Gunflint Mercantile, owned by Chelsea Lueck (daughter of our friends Cal and Suzie Lueck, of Dad’s Belgian Waffles fame). Her fudge and candy shop was quaint, charming and demanded we buy a whole bunch of yummy stuff. Chelsea kindly offered to carry my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” for sale and is sewing me a fabulous Westie apron for my upcoming instructional video on preparing raw dog food diets. (More on this as the scheme develops.)
Finally, on our way home, we take nourishment (and a potty break for the dogs) at famed Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors.
Check out my new article in the Sept. 2011 edition of “Living with Loss” magazine:
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