Booboos Website Sanctuary
Booboos Website
  
  BOOBOOS - SMALL BEINGS
Death of a pet

In February 1997 I dedicated this website to helping others grieving with a painfull loss and to help children understand that little animals are just like people in so many ways.

Children and pets need our care, our attention, our patience, understanding, and, yes, our love.

When our pet dies, we feel a grief beyond measure. The passing of your pet is a natural process for all live on earth. Of course, we understand but some times we need the understanding of others who are going through the same pain.

The MPG movie clip (with audio) to the left was made in December 1996, when Booboos was feeling better.

MPG Movie of Booboos- 1Mb
Gerbils
Booboos opened our eyes and our hearts. Thank you Booboos.
 

I hope you'll share some of your good times with the rest of us. The Booboos Website was created in an effort to share experiences with my friends all over the world, giving advice when I can, as best as I can only as a pet owner, and learning more from others. Now I'd like to share what I've learned by creating a pubic chat area and a links page to other websites and associations.

Children Need to be Involved
The death of a pet is often the first opportunity parents have to help children during times of grief. Unfortunately, parents often don't want to talk about the death assuming that by doing so the children will be spared some of the pain and sadness. Children, however, are entitled to grieve for their pets. Any child old enough to love is old enough to grieve. Many children love their pets with all their hearts. To them their pet is their best friend. They need to grieve.

Death of a pet Although the signs of grief apply whether the loss is of an animal or a human loved one, grieving is a personal process. Some people take longer than others to come to terms with denial, anger, guilt, or depression, and each loss is different. If you understand that these are normal reactions, you will be better prepared to cope with your own feelings and to help others face theirs. Family and friends should be reassured that sorrow and grief are normal, natural responses to death.
Empathy may take years to learn when considering little animals. However, we believe children are open to the idea, naturally learning to place themselves into another's place, into their mind, their thoughts and feelings. When your all too innocent pet dies, you'll feel guilty to some degree. It's usually inescapable but it's natural. You'll find a dozen reasons why you are at fault. That's grief trying to find an answer, a reason. If you didn't feel it, you'd probably not be worth being around. Believe us, your pet knew you loved him or her. There's nothing anyone can do, really, to lesson that grief, your heartache.


Pets Are Important
August 23, 2009.Our dear friend Harvey who had been with us for over then years has has not come home. We feel someone took Harvey and all we can do is hope he has a wonderful new friend. It's been three years and we've moved so we do understand we will probably never see him again, even though he has a microchip. Click for a large picture of Harvey
Sylvia, a wild crow, came hopping up to our country home back in August 2003 with a badly broken wing. She allowed us to pick her up. She was starved and in obvious pain, near death. Our vet performed a delicate operation and placed metal pins to support the wing as it healed.

Click larger view

Click larger view

 A WILD CROW WITH A BROKEN WING

Sylvia can fly now but not nearly as well as she should to survive on her own. I built a 20 foot by 10 feet tall cage where Sylvia spends her days and nights. The cage now has tarps to keep her dry and a large nest.

On winter nights I bring her inside where she sits on a perch in the living room and falls to sleep in a dark corner seven feet off the floor.

We let her loose once in an attempt to release her back into the wild. She used all her power to fly to a tree as best she could. She stayed there all night long in the cold and rain. The next morning she was still on the same branch. We coaxed her down and she flew into a field where I was able to get her, bring her inside where she crows to the sound of my voice when we called her name. She wants to join a flock but can't fly high enough. That's painfully obvious. We fear she'll not last long. But we have not given up. We can only hope her wing will eventually heal well enough so she can fly away. But it looks doubtful. I'm looking for another crow who has a similar condition who would like to keep her company. (That was 8 years ago)

June 2004 - Update - More on Sylvia and her new friends!

February 2005 Update - Through the winter, all three crows have become extremely healthy. It is quite amazing. Even Roshi has healed the point he can fly as well as Dylan. And even Sylvia seems set on getting out and flying. She seems to have gathered some strange ability to fly nearly as well as the other crows.

March 2005 - Update - All three crows have experienced incredible health, so much so, that I came to the conclusion that I could not keep them caged any longer. We opened the cage door, for one crow at a time, and watched as they took off into the sky and trees. For the very first time in his eight year life, Dylan was about to fly for more than 20 feet. He flew far over the treetops, hundreds of feet into the air, swooping down then up again, in obvious joy, for about five minutes before lighting in a tree. It was just amazing to see.

We believed we saw them here and there for the next few days, coming back for some food, then they were off, enjoying Spring and their new freedom.


 WHEN GRIEF COMES TO YOU
We learn about empathy, hopefully at an early age. But too often children of all ages don't understand that little animals, beings of all sizes, are more or less like ourselves, afraid of getting hurt, in need of love and attention.

Two darling gerbils were placed together for comfort
Graper and and Maggie
They lived together the last 8 months. I so happy I took the time to help them get along, share one another.
Graper, a male gerbil on the left, died in his sleep in January 2000. Maggie, on the right, took a few steps, falls, then chewed, but still seemed to enjoy life. We love her so and know she misses Graper and needed our attention more than ever. Click image for larger JPG. (note, Maggie died June 5, 2000. I had her put to sleep after two months of hand-feeding and daily bathing to keep her clean. She went to "sleep" comfortably and without apparent discomfort, without the usual clutches of death. As with all our gerbils, we miss her so).
Graper and Maggie were born long after Booboos died but because of Booboos, we've learned to take greater care and therefore enjoy and appreciate them more.

  A Pet is a Family Member Too

The term man's best friend brings to mind unconditional love, constant companionship and acceptance. And why shouldn't it? Your pet can take you for a walk, listen when you need someone to talk to or even guard your house. A pet can also lower your blood pressure, change your heart rate or alleviate feelings of chronic loneliness. With this capacity to love, comes the necessity to grieve when that best friend dies. The death of a pet is, without a doubt, a traumatic experience. It can be horrible, quite often worse than loosing a relative.

Grandma, click for larger picture
Grandma was a very old cat and came to us one afternoon as a stray, barley hanging onto life. She was starved for food and for affection. I took her in, gave her a warm bed and lots of warm milk which she loved. I'll never forget how she would stare at her empty bowl then look up at us with a long meow, as if wondering when I would fill it for her. A few months later, in the summer of 2001, I had to put her to sleep but felt wonderful that her last few months were filled with love and care and knowing that she felt love.

A Pet's Death is Traumatic
No, it's not just a dog or just a cat. The animal is a family member. With the death of a pet the family experiences a very great loss. A difficult problem, however, is that society often denies you the need to grieve for your pet. You may even be chastised for openly and honestly expressing your feelings. As a result, you may bury, hide or even try to ignore your grief. This is not good, grief should be expressed. Although denied understanding and support, your family needs to grieve the death of your pet. Grieving means to express your feelings, no matter how painful, outside of yourselves.

Clichés Don't Help You Heal
Your family will probably be greeted with many clichés when your pet dies. Clichés are trite comments intended to diminish the loss by providing simple solutions to difficult realities. Comments like, It was just a dog, or you can always get another one. Or be glad you don't have to take care of him anymore are not constructive. Instead they hurt and make your grief more difficult.

Memories are Very Helpful
Memories are one of the best legacies after the death of a pet. Talk about and embrace these memories. Your pet entertained, comforted, frustrated and always loved you. Remember those times. If your memories bring laughter, smile. If they bring sadness, cry. Remember, though, memories made in love can never be taken away.

I found Pokey in the river being attacked by grown geese. She was nearly dead and exhausted. I searched for an hour but could not find her mother. I took her home where she followed me around the house as though I were her mother. The next day I reluctantly, but knowingly took her home but the next day took her to Portland Audubon Society where she found other ducks close to her own age and was later released back into the wild.

Your Emotions Will Be Mixed
When your pet dies, you will probably experience a variety of emotions: confusion, disorganization, sadness, explosive emotions or guilt. Don't repress these feelings and ignore anyone who tells you that you should. Don't overanalyze your response. Just allow your feelings to find expression. As strange as some of these feelings may seem, they are normal and healthy. Each Family member probably had a unique relationship with the pet. Allow for different emotional responses within the family, and be careful to respect each person's need to grieve in his or her own way.

Should You Choose Euthanasia?
When you love your pet, no question is more difficult than whether or not to use Euthanasia. Yet this difficult choice is often the right one, particularly if your pet is in agonizing pain or the quality of life has deteriorated. Talk to your veterinarian about euthanasia. Fortunately, humane procedures can end needless suffering for both you and your pet. The intravenous drug used for euthanasia does not cause pain. After visiting with your vet, make your decision based on your own good judgment. If you have always treated your pet with gentleness and love, you will make a wise choice based upon reality. Some owners want to be present when their pets are euthanized. Some do not. Do what you feel is right for you and the family.

Whichever choice you make, you may still want to spend some special time saying good-bye to your pet. If you do decide to have your pet euthanized please understand that it is natural for you to feel guilty about that choice. And if you decide not to use Euthanasia, you should also understand you will probably feel some degree of guilt. No matter what your choice, I always find some way to figure I could have done something differently. Even telling you so won't make any difference. It will happen. And the reason is because you love your pet so much. If you did not, you would not be here and you wouldn't care as much. And you'd be less of a person. And your pet would not have loved you as much.

Premature Replacement Can Cause Problems
The temptation after the death of a pet may be to run out and get another one right away. In fact, you're often encouraged by family and friends. Although it may sound like a good idea, you should be careful about premature replacement. You need some time to grieve and to heal when your pet dies. A new pet demands your energy and attention which at some point you may be ready and willing to give. Right now, however, you should first attend to your grief. Be especially careful about premature replacement of pets with children. It sends a message to a child that says when something is lost all that you have to do is buy another one. In reality, that is often not the case. It also devalues the significance of the pet that just died. While there is no specific timetable for when to get a new pet, when in doubt - wait. Allow an additional healing to occur. When the family is ready for a new pet, involve the children in the discussion and selection. You'll know when it's time for another pet. Follow your instincts. If it feels right, it generally is.


  Death of a Pet (How to Cope)

When most people think about the relationship they have with their pet, unconditional love, constant companionship, and acceptance comes to mind. It seems like pets are always there when you need someone to talk to or are able to make you laugh at their silly antics when you need it the most. Pets simply bring us joy. That's why when we are faced with a companion animals death, it can be an extremely painful period in our lives.

Frequently the death of the animal has not occurred yet but is fairly imminent because of some terminal disease. I recommend looking visiting your veterinarian first for help and guidance through this tough period.

Unfortunately, other people that you may turn to like friends, co-workers, and family members can often deny you the need to grieve for your pet. You may even be chastised for honestly expressing your feelings. Comments like, You can always get another one; or Come on - it was only a pet; are common. Remarks like these can hurt because they imply that your relationship with your companion animal was insignificant and can easily be replaced.

"We really have to focus, not on the loss that we feel, but the good times (that) we had with the pet." said Lane. Even though your companion animal is no longer around, the memories of all the happy times you shared will always be with you.

Click for a large picture of Harvey Harvey was another stray I knew from the office, so everyone gave him attention. Harvey is just adorable. Such a pleasant, unworried, friendly cat. One day he was found at the office with a badly broken leg, hiding in the bushes. His leg was hanging in place badly fractured. The local vet doubted his leg would heal even with a splint and suggested I consider having him put to sleep. But Harvey was calm and seemed to trust us.
So I took Harvey to an excellent animal hospital in Oregon. He had two steel pins inserted into his leg bone and had to wear a cast for four months and be caged for most of that time. However, I had great fun taking Harvey for short walks while he was still wearing his big cast. He enjoyed it as much as I. He lives with my wie and I, along with my other cats and pets. Harvey is my favorite. We really best friends.

 

 

But when a pet dies, holding a memorial of some sort can also help a lot, said Lane. Planting a tree, making a contribution to a worthy cause, or doing a good deed in your pet's honor are some symbolic things to remember your pet by. Holding a funeral service can also help. You may choose to bury your pet at home, in a pet cemetery, or have the remains cremated. If you need help in handling this matter, ask your veterinarian.

One temptation that people should avoid is to run out and get another pet right away. Sometimes you'll even be encouraged by family and friends to do so. Although it may sound like a good idea, wait until your grief has subsided and you've accepted your loss fully. While there is no specific time table for when to get a new pet, just follow your instincts, you'll know when the time is right.

here are many signs of grief, but not everyone experiences them all or in the same order. You may experience denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance, and resolution. Your first reaction may be denial -- denial that the animal has died. This reaction may occur even before death, when you first learn the extent of your animal's illness or injuries. Often, the more sudden the death, the more difficult the loss is to accept.

Anger and guilt often follow denial. This anger can be directed toward people you normally love and respect, including your family and your veterinarian. People will often say things that they do not really mean, perhaps hurting those whom they do not mean to hurt. You may feel guilty or blame others for: not recognizing the illness earlier; not doing something sooner; not being able to afford other types of treatment; or for being careless and allowing the animal to be injured.

Eventually, you'll come to terms with your feelings. You can begin to resolve and accept your pet's passing. When you have reached resolution and acceptance, the feelings of anger, denial, guilt, and depression may reappear. If this does occur, the intensity of these feelings will be much less, and with time, these feelings will be replaced with fond memories.

Rituals Can Be Helpful
Allowing and encouraging your family to have a funeral for the pet can be helpful. It provides a time to acknowledge the loss, share memories of the pet and create a focus for the family to openly express emotions. While some friends or even family members may think having a funeral for your pet is foolish, don't let them take this special time away. Design a ritual that best meets your needs as you gather to pay tribute to your pet who was and always ill be loved.