Posts Tagged ‘pet loss support group’

A Naked Lady

August 22, 2010

It’s natural to assume that the grief associated with pet loss is a purely post-mortem event.  Not true.  For many, the grieving process begins the minute they receive a serious or scary diagnosis, even if the animal has the potential to live for another year or two.  This is why I established and continue to facilitate a Client Support Group within my community.  Not only are people who have lost their pets welcome, so too are those struggling emotionally while caring for a sick four-legged family member.  The way participants support one another is fabulous- there’s typically a healthy mixture of smiles and tears as they talk about their beloved animals. 

From time to time, someone recounts an event (I like to refer to them as little taps on the shoulder) that let them know that they’ve been “paid a visit” by their deceased pet.  Last week Stephanie told just such a story.  A few weeks after relocating from Seattle to northern California, her beloved Bear, a huge and gentle Labrador mix, became profoundly ill with symptoms referable to cancer within the pelvic canal.  With a heavy heart, Stephanie opted for euthanasia after which she fled back to Seattle to receive the emotional support she needed from family and friends.  Upon returning to her new California home a week later, a delightful surprise awaited her.  Right at the spot where Bear urinated first thing every morning appeared a two-foot tall, solitary, pink flower on a thick sturdy stalk- one we affectionately refer to in these parts as a “Naked Lady” (Amaryllis belladonna).  With a smile on her face and tears streaming down her cheeks, Stephanie described her encounter with this crazy looking pink plant, the likes of which she’d never seen before.  She knew, in her heart of hearts, that it was a sign from her beloved Bear that he was okay.  And I believe her!

Have you ever been “paid a visit” or received a “gentle nudge” from a beloved pet that has passed away?  Please, do tell.

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend abundant good health!

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

Dogs, the Opiate of the Masses

July 13, 2009

 I facilitate a Client Support Group at my veterinary hospital.  We meet regularly to provide support for those struggling emotionally with the illness or loss of a beloved four-legged family member.  The last session had most of us in tears.  Some in attendance just listened; others bared their souls, talking about feelings of heartache, guilt, emptiness, and loneliness.  The mood was somber and supportive. 

Two darling dogs, Hannah and Coco had accompanied their moms to this particular session.  Throughout the evening, these mischievous girls let us know in no uncertain terms that they were interested in meeting each other. At the end of our meeting we turned Hannah and Coco loose and watched them run, spin, pounce, posture and play.  It was unadulterated exuberance and delightful mayhem!  During this brief doggie romp, I looked around the room and was tickled to see huge grins on the faces of everyone in the room. It was as though everyone had received a drug that transformed expressions of pain and sadness into undeniable joy.  The change in the room was stunning and profound, and provided, for me a unique feeling I shall never forget.  While in the midst of this magical moment, the thought that swirled through my mind is the title of this blog, “Dogs, the opiate of the masses.” 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health, 

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

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Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross