As pet parents, we see our babies every day, so the subtle changes that come with age, or disease, often slip by us, unnoticed until something drastic happens.
I have this discussion with pet parents every day, and helping them understand the signs of it being “the right time” to say goodbye is one of the most important conversations that we have.
If you are facing the decisions; whether due to cancer, or congestive heart failure, or kidney disease, or simply the aches and pains that come with aging; it is hard for us to see the changes that make our babies quality of life decline.
I suggest that you write down 5 things that your baby has always LOVED to do…and don’t use food as one of those 5 things. We once had a Labrador eat an entire carton of Chunky Monkey ice cream minutes before we arrived !! It may be swimming in the pool, running at the park, going for a ride in the car, or just walking around the neighborhood with you. When they can’t do 3 of those 5 activities, (or the walk around the neighborhood is now just a walk to the mailbox), then it is time for you to start thinking about the QUALITY of their life, rather than the QUANTITY of their days.
And know that by choosing a good day to let your baby go, that you are giving them, and your entire family, one final gift…the gift of a good last day! Any pet loss professional or veterinarian will tell you that a waging tail is better than one so weak or in pain that they don’t know we are there. It is okay for you to pick the last day. We have all heard the saying: “it is much better to be proactive rather than reactive” When an emergency happens, (and they always seem to be at 2:00 AM or on a Sunday, right??!!) we become reactive, and that is never a good way to say goodbye.
And if you need permission to make the call and schedule the appointment, I give it to you. You have permission to choose your babies last day, the day that you end their pain, arthritis, cancer, organ failure, or whatever it may be. YOU HAVE PERMISSION to ease their transition from this life to the next.
I would never tell you that it is easy. We have made that decision for 4 of our babies, and we have loved, and cried and said goodbye to them, just as any pet parents would do. But we also knew, at the end of the day, that we aided their journey to a better place.
But know, that in aiding them on their journey, you are giving them one final gift. Our Jewish friends call it a ‘mitzvah’; a gift which cannot be repaid. And know, that we are here and cry with you as you take that first step on healing a broken heart.
Kate and Terry
Beyond the Rainbow
We are now providing in-home euthanasia services in San Francisco, California; Colorado Springs, Aurora, Loveland and Northern Colorado; Dade, Boward and Palm Beach Counties, Florida; Harrison, Freemont, Mills, Portsmouth and Pottawattamie Counties, Iowa; the Greater Omaha, Nebraska area; Middle Tennessee; Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington and Southeastern, Wyoming.
When the time comes to say goodbye, call Beyond the Rainbow at 877 630-PETS, and let one of our Certified Pet Loss Professionals help direct you to caring and compassionate help in your area.
Chief among these is protecting our baby from harm. The acceptance of this responsibility is an intellectual decision we make when we assume the role of “pet parent.”
However, there is also an emotional side to this decision. It is one of fear that we can’t control every situation, we can’t be with them every minute, we can’t always protect them and consequently we can’t be the “perfect” pet parent and ensure the safety of the fur baby we love so much.
When accidental death occurs, whether it’s being hit by a car because they were off-leash or we accidentally left a gate open; poisoning; being killed by another animal; or any other type of accident; we immediately feel guilt because we didn’t control the situation. In our mind, we made a mistake and we failed to protect our baby.
In addition, many other feelings overwhelm us. Perhaps feelings of anger, denial, sadness or a feeling of just being “numb”. We may even react with physical sickness such as nausea and vomiting, uncontrollable shaking or muscle weakness and fainting. These are all normal in such a situation. Just as soon as we learn of the accidental death, our mind begins fighting with itself. It’s trying to make sense out of a situation that “makes no sense”, while our emotions are usually denying that this “senseless” situation occurred at all.
As we begin to intellectually understand what has happened, we start to try to deal with all of the emotions that are bombarding us. It’s at this point that we have to begin to do the work that will move us through the grieving process. Notice that it is a “process”. It is a journey that takes hard work and until the work is done, the grief will continue.
First and foremost, we must acknowledge the feelings we are experiencing. This means we must recognize them, let ourselves feel them and know that they are normal. Guilt will probably be the hardest to deal with. We set ourselves up for this one when we assumed the responsibility of becoming a pet parent. Because we knew we “had” to protect our baby, regardless of what happened, we believe it’s our fault. This is the most insidious of emotions because it prevents us from dealing with the grief in a healthy way.
In dealing with the guilt the first step, is perhaps the hardest…. We must forgive ourselves.
Sometimes our friends, in an effort to help, will tell us it’s not our fault. In many cases this only intensifies the guilt because we are convinced it is our fault. As humans, we need someone or something to blame when bad things happen. The truth is this; accidents happen, we make mistakes and we cannot change what has happened. The very definition of an accident is something we can’t control. If we could there would be no accidents.
We have two choices. We can dwell on the negative or take the healthy positive approach and honor the life and love that our baby gave us.
There are numerous ways to do this.
1. Post memories and pictures of your fur baby on a memorial web site. At Beyond the Rainbow, we offer this to all the families we serve.
2. Create a memorial garden in your yard. Plant flowers, place a headstone if you like, but create a quite beautiful space where you can sit and reflect on the joy your baby brought to your life.
3. Write a letter to your baby telling them you are sorry they died in such a tragic manner. Tell them how much you loved them and how glad you are that they shared their life with you.
4. Encourage your friends to talk about your baby. The only way to “let go” is to establish the significance of the life that was lived. This is done through telling stories and sharing memories of your baby and the things that made him or her special.
5. Have a memorial ceremony. Write notes to your furry friend and tie them to balloons and release them. And release any remaining guilt at the same time.
6. Donate time or money to a charity that serves the needs of animals.
How our fur babies died is not important. How they lived, what they gave to us and why our life is better because of them is what matters. They would want you to share the love you had for them with another at some time in the future. When you are ready, rescue a fur baby in-need and honor the memory of the one you have lost.
The article below, written by our friend, Dr. Marty Becker, gives parents of senior pets some excellent guidelines for when something may be wrong. If you see any of these indications of trouble, call us at Beyond the Rainbow Pet Hospice. Hospice doesn’t require a terminal diagnosis. We treat senior and aging pets, too.
Just like humans as they age (including this veterinarian!), senior pets, too, suffer the physical decline that accompanies advancing years. While they should still have a great quality of life, they’re prone to a host of minor ailments, as well as some that are not so minor and may even be urgent.
You want to call your veterinarian’s office if:
1. You see any bleeding. This can be from a wound, mouth, or nose, or in feces or urine.
2. Loss of control. Your pet collapses, is unsteady on her feet, doesn’t respond to his name, can’t control when she urinates or defecates, or is unconscious — a definite emergency.
3. Changes in appetite and thirst. Your pet suffers a noticeably reduced appetite or is drinking and urinating more.
4. Weight loss. The cause can range from infected teeth and internal parasites to hormonal problems, organ failure, even cancer.
5. Changes in urination and defecation. Is your dog or cat going to the bathroom more? It might be a bladder infection, a hormonal problem, or kidney disease. Does the stool have more mucus or is less well-formed? It might be Inflammatory Bowel Disease, unhealthy gut flora (needs probiotics), even a pancreatic deficiency.
6. Short of breath. While it might be something as simple as obesity, it could also be an indication of a heart problem, asthma, pneumonia, inflammation of the bronchial tree, even an obstructed airway.
7. Lumps. While some skin tags and lumps are just a sign of old age and indicative of an immune system that’s not working as well, a mass might be a sign of cancer. Pay particular attention to the dog’s or cat’s mouth, because tumors there tend to be among the most serious. Other warning signs of cancer include foul odors, swellings, unusual discharges, or bleeding.
There simply is no substitute for taking your pet to the veterinarian at least annually. We have the training and experience to catch many diseases or conditions in their earliest phase, and prevent unnecessary pain, expense, or worse. Do the best for your seniors, and bring them in. They’ve always done their best for you!
Wags and meows (and the occasional neigh),
Dr. Marty Becker
We learned early on in our hospice journey that many pet parents out there that want the best for their furbabies, simply live check to check, and cannot afford the services that a house-call veterinarian can provide. So Chelseas’ Fund was established to assist those parents that need a little help to assure that their baby’s final weeks, days, or hours are spent in the peace and tranquil comfort of their home.
In 3 years, Chelseas’ Fund has helped approximately 50 pets with direct medical care, and provided over $1,300.00 in medical supplies, food and bedding to pets displaced by disasters in West, Texas and Hood County, Texas.
Please plan to join us on Friday, May 9, 2014 for Tulips & Tails…a fun evening of food, drink, raffles and auctions as we replenish the fund so we can help pets well into 2015.
Held at the beautiful Fort Worth Botanical Gardens Oak Room, doors open at 6:30 PM
. You can shop our vendors: Mary Kay, wildtoad toffee, thirtyone, Velata Chocolates, Younique and more…all in time for Mothers Day !! There will be beautiful baskets for you to win, and even a chance to drive a 2014 Lexus for the weekend…AND have your car completely detailed when you return to the dealership on Monday…how cool is that ????????
If you’d like to donate, or get more information, contact Event Coordinator Destiny McGuire at 682 478-6124 with Texas Doll Auctions, or Beyond the Rainbow at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can use the Contact link below.
Come join us on May 9th for a great party for a great cause. You’ll be glad you did !!!
Chelseas’ Fund is a registered 501c3 non-profit corporation and all your donations are tax deductible.
As we approach the Christmas season, especially if this is your first without a beloved fur-baby, I’d like to share a story that I found. It is about a kitten and his reluctance to have Christmas at the Rainbow Bridge. Read below, to see how Charlie helped Sandifur, the newest fur-angel understand:
December is the best month of the year at the Rainbow Bridge. For the dogs there is snow to romp in and the angels always have time to toss snowballs for them to chase. The cats enjoy patting at the snowflakes as they fall, and then curling up near the fireplace for a nice winter’s nap.
But it is the lights that make this time so special. Winter on the Earth, their former home, is a time of lengthening darkness, and in December candles glow all around the globe beginning with Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and continuing on right through the New Year’s festivities. At the Bridge the glow of these candles is reflected in all of the trees, and in the hearts of every Bridge-kid as they observe the month in their own special way; with memories of the lives, and the loved ones they left behind.
For most it is a time of quiet joy, but each year there are always a few who draw apart.
Near to midnight, “home time” on December 24 Charlie realized someone was missing from the Hale gathering. “I’ll be right back,” he told his siblings. He passed many similar groupings as he hurried down the well worn path, many friends called out to him, but he only acknowledged the greetings with a wave and continued on. The path ended at the Rainbow, and there he found a small group of newcomers, each sitting quietly, alone. One of these, the missing Sandifur, was crouched at the very edge, his stumpy tail twitching rapidly, as he stared at the scene below.
“You are missing the party, little brother,” Charlie said.
“I don’t care,” replied Sandifur, “I don’t like Christmas anyway. “
Charlie only smiled. “I felt the same way my first year. Do you remember your very first Christmas with Mom and Dad? Remember the new scratching tree they gave us that year, and the catnip mice? And remember all the good things we got to eat? That was a great time, wasn’t it?” Sandifur nodded, still gazing intently below. “I want to go back.”
“I did too, ” Charlie said, licking gently at his brother’s ear. “But we can’t, baby brother. This is our place now.” “But it’s Christmas, and Mom and Dad miss us so much. Look, mom is lighting a candle right now, just for us and she is crying.”
“Christmas Eve is her time to remember, little one, but tomorrow she will pass out the presents to all of our brothers and sisters, and she will be happy again. I want to show you something. Come with me.”
Together the two kiddens climbed the arch of the Rainbow, and at the very top Charlie stopped. “Do you see that big silver cloud over there? Watch closely.”
As Sandifur gazed the cloud began to swirl and gradually an image came into view. The clearing where he had left his family, and a larger gathering around the big, glowing pine tree. He could see the dogs, many more of them than when he had left, playing fetch and tug of war, and the kiddens, so many kiddens, sleeping in a heap, their soggy catnip mice forgotten in the grass.
Suddenly the kiddens all woke up, and the dogs ceased their play and stared into the darkness beyond the clearing, tails wagging in greeting.
And then, much to Sandifur’s amazement, two humans stepped into the light.”
“Hurry, Charlie, we have to go back,” he said. ” Mom and Dad, they’re here!”
“Not just yet, Sandy. That cloud is our Window into Tomorrow.
Come back with me now, and join the others. The reunion will come. We have been promised.”
Sandy reluctantly pulled his gaze away from the vision of the future, and followed Charlie. They found the others waiting for them at the base of the rainbow. “Is it time?” Charlie asked.
Terrie nodded, “They are waiting.”
All of the Hale Bridge-kids drew together, and looked over the edge, and along the entire length of the rainbow similar groups were gathered, all looking down at their former homes.
Suddenly the light of a million candles from the Earth met the glow from the Rainbow Bridge. “Now,” Charlie whispered.
In unison three words were repeated again and again, and as they were spoken they merged with the bridge of light, flowing from the rainbow to the earth, and back again in ever increasing brilliance, and the colors of the rainbow merged with the light.
“I love you,” they all said, and the love entered every heart of the pet parents on earth, and the hearts of those who gathered at the rainbow.
“Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad,” Sandifur whispered again, watching the lights slowly fade. “I love you. I will be waiting.”
“I will look ahead for there is our tomorrow.”
So during your special holidays, find a moment, light a candle, and remember that they are waiting for us…and then we will cross the Rainbow Bridge together…Never again to be separated.
Hugs to you and yours,
Kate, Terry, Tammy, Cheri, and Dr’s Simpson and Presley
Please make plans to join us on Saturday, December 7th at 5:00 PM, as we pause and remember the fur-babies in our lives that are now fur-angels. We will have ornaments available for you to place on the tree, and ceramic ornaments that may be personalized and taken home. There will be a memorial table, so please bring a photo of your babies, waiting at the Bridge, to share.
Ornament pick-up will begin at 5:00 PM and the program will start at 5:45. Join us at Faithful Friends Pet Cemetery, 3600 Shelby Road in Fort Worth for a time of remembrance and celebration this holiday