day, that’s not much of a life. If they are still trotting around and playing, it doesn’t matter what the medical tests say. If they are enjoying themselves, let them have a life.” When it comes time to take a dog or a cat to the vet for the last time, “I think that you just know,” Wood said.
In these days of advanced veterinary
medicine, pet owners have more options. A specialist may be able to treat a condition to prolong a pet’s life. “To some degree, that’s a good thing that we have options,” Bender said. “But some regard it as more difficult. They have to decide to commit to dealing with the expense and it makes them feel guilty if they can’t afford to.” Bender estimates that the cost for treatment by an animal oncologist ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. “But there are people that do run up those bills,” he said. “And it’s difficult for me to judge. If they have $5,000 and it’s their choice to spend it on their dog rather than take that two-week vacation, that’s up to them.” Wood appreciates that she has never felt guilty at her vet’s office when she could not afford extensive treatment. “They don’t make you feel awful if you can’t do things that are almost ridiculous,” she said. “They don’t make you treat your pets like a kid.” When the time came to say good-bye, staying with the animal during the process
“Talk to others. Surround yourself with an outlet to grieve. It’s OK to cry.” -GINNY BRANCATO
was never a question for Wood. At her vet’s office, she said, a comfortable room with a sofa and window allow the owner and pet some final time together. “It just seems kind of a hard thing to let them go through that without” their owners there, said Wood. “From our experience with our pets, we just love them so much, and I would feel like we were deserting them … If you love them that much, you’re going to stay with them through that. You can’t make sure they are comfortable, but we hold them and pet them and talk to them.” Most pet owners make the same choice,
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Bender said. “Some people don’t want to be there, but I would say 70 to 80 percent of them do.” Bender said that Grove Center Veterinary Hospital vets can travel to a home in certain areas of the county if requested. “It doesn’t have to do with the size of the dog,” he said. “It has to do with if they feel more comfortable than in the hospital.”
When pet owners express their grief,
the staff at Grove Center takes the time to talk to them, Bender said. For additional help, Bender recommends rainbowsbridge.com, a website that offers
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pet-loss grief counseling, as well as gives pet owners the opportunity to create an online memorial to the animal they lost. “We provide one-on-one email support and phone support with the help of volunteers,” said Ginny Brancato, owner and founder of Florida-based Rainbows Bridge. “Our volunteers are people who have suffered a loss and now help others out with a shoulder to cry on and let them know that they are not alone in their grief.” According to Brancato, the website receives 45,000 unique visitors a week, with about 125 people sending emails and 25 people asking for pet-loss grief support each day. Brancato offers advice for owners dealing with grief. “Get the support you need. Talk to others. Surround yourself with an outlet to grieve. It’s OK to cry. It is so important to know that you are not alone,” she said. “Many people who lose a fur baby feel guilty ... Many feel crazy because society has said, ‘it’s just an animal.’ But it is not. This animal was loved and cared for and part of their family. To many, it is their only family.” Wood’s dog Abu might have been hard to handle, but she is still missed. “She was into everything and she was a challenge, but she had a lot of personality,” said Wood. “Even though she was so nasty, she was the only dog you could actually just put your arms around … and snuggle her on the sofa.”
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October 2012 | Special Supplement to The Gazette
All About Pets