Losing a Beloved Pet
Tonight’s blog is dedicated to my former in-laws whom, just a few short days ago, lost their beloved little schnauzer, Nikki. She, like all our pets, was more than just a dog to them, she was their loving companion for over 11 years.
Many of us have experienced a real emotional connection with a pet and can identify with how much love we receive back from these little animals. Our main communication with our pet is one that leads from the heart. Void of words, they manage to communicate back to us and thus a bond is formed. There’s an exchange and an attachment which moves way beyond a typical “owner/pet” relationship.
My children and I experienced the death of our toy poodle “Puck” 8 years ago and to this day, we still miss him and will occasionally reminisce about our favorite Puck moments that still make us laugh.
What is it about caring for another whether it’s a person, plant, or pet that fosters these chemical responses in our biology, thereby attaching us to whatever it is we’re caring for and even prolonging the lives of both person and pet? Research on this phenomenon shows supporting data for this hypothesis that loving and caring for a pet not only has the ability to increase one’s lifespan but also proves a psychic bond between owner/pet is illustrated in Dr. Rupert Sheldrake’s “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home.”
For my own children, taking stewardship of the various animals we’ve adopted during their formidable years, has proven incredibly helpful in teaching them to be responsible for not only themselves but to think of others in a nurturing way as well. These animals have included, but are not limited to: dogs, cats, lizards, birds, a frog, fish, 1 garden snake, and a dying baby Pygmy goat nobody else wanted.
Some of these animals were with us many years while others, like the snake, were short-term visitors. I loved that my children wanted to care for these animals and encouraged them to take responsibility for their care, especially after the novelty wore off. I wanted my children to understand that even when a puppy is no longer an adorable little puppy, he still needs to be loved and cared for. The commitment of a pet can be an invaluable gift we give our children.
Pets can also serve as a tool for helping children to understand the lessons of life and death. Our little Pucky was hit by a huge truck and killed in front of all 3 of my children plus, the entire Boy Scout troop meeting on my front lawn for their weekly gathering. One of the scouts went into the house to use the restroom and didn’t know to watch for a quick and free-spirited dog who loved to bolt out the front door whenever he saw an opportunity. This was a game for Puck but this little boy was caught off guard and Puck shot right out into the street. It was a gruesome day and the end result was a tearful and solemn burial that afternoon.
My children had never experienced a death, in any form. We were all in shock and forced into grieving that day. Accessing the universal information field at Puck’s chosen grave sight, the following words were offered to comfort and console: “How blessed is the child who experiences the passing of a beloved pet; this is part of the cycle of life, for there is no death and Puck’s transition can be used as a preparatory experience when the occasion will one day present itself when the loss will be magnified over a loved one such as a grandparent. It is important to understand this experience can be seen as a gift, providing your children with a basic understanding of this concept for when they must part a relationship where the grieving will be greater.” This was a beautiful message shared with us and I will forever be grateful for the wisdom and peace offered. Mourning a lost companion is part of the temporal life cycle and as difficult as it is to say goodbye, there’s always another little one out there that will someday benefit from forging a new companionship.
Tonight, please join me in sending love and condolences to my in-laws as they say farewell to their friend and companion, Nikki.
Action Steps: Spend a few quiet moments thinking about all the animals you’ve cared for over your life and send them feelings of love and appreciation for all the good times you’ve shared and the lessons they’ve taught you. Namaste’
Dr. Ruper Sheldrake – Pet Phenomenon