Posts Tagged ‘Pet Loss’

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
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook    

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

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

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

A Gift From Alice!

June 16, 2009

A woman named Alice recently sent an email via my website asking me for guidance.  Her veterinarian had recommended dental cleaning for her seven-year-old Shiba Inu (an adorable breed) named Posey.  While Alice was in agreement that the dental cleaning was truly warranted, she was terribly worried about Posey undergoing general anesthesia.  Posey had no significant risks for anesthesia, but Alice was influenced by the painful loss of her last dog who died unexpectedly under anesthesia.  Her email was sent to solicit my advice on how to proceed.

I certainly understood Alice’s concerns- who wouldn’t feel the same way?  I responded to her email by encouraging her to read the chapter in Speaking for Spot called “Important Questions to Ask Your Vet….and How to Ask Them.”  Specifically I referred her to the list of nine questions she would find within the chapter pertaining to general anesthesia such as:

-How can we be certain my dog is a good candidate for anesthesia?

-Will an intravenous (IV) catheter be placed prior to anesthesia?

-What anesthetic monitoring equipment will be used?

Alice responded a few days later.  The tone of her email had changed entirely- she sounded profoundly upbeat.  She had asked her veterinarian all nine questions from the book.  As a result, she felt empowered and had tremendous confidence moving forward with Posey’s dental work.  Two weeks later I heard from Alice again.  Posey’s dental work was completed and everything proceeded without a hitch (and Posey’s breath was vastly improved).  What a fabulous gift such feedback is for me! It makes all that effort that went into Speaking for Spot feel incredibly worthwhile.  Thank you Alice!

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

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

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot
Become a Speaking for Spot Fan on Facebook

A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com