As pet lovers we are fortunate to share our lives with our animals. Whether they are with us for months or, in some cases, many years, they can touch our lives very deeply and become like family to us.
Yet, the sad truth is that we will outlive many of our pets.
As painful as it may be, we will probably have to say goodbye many times in our lives to beloved pets. No matter how many times we experience that final parting it never seems to get any easier.
We can do all we can to give our pets a good quality of life. We can treasure each day we spend with them and make each day as comfortable as possible for them, especially in their later years. But, as people responsible for their care, we have to be able to recognize when it’s time to say goodbye.
Sometimes your pet will tell you by a look in his eyes that it’s time to part. Or you can see that it’s time by your dog’s stumbling gait or a general decline in their quality of life. There comes a point when you and your vet have done all you can and you know that your pet no longer enjoys life.
That’s when you have to do the responsible, loving thing and say goodbye.
It’s not easy. If you are taking your pet to the vet’s office then you should try to take a friend or family member with you. Saying goodbye to your pet is an emotional time and it helps to have a friend nearby. The same applies if you’re saying goodbye at home.
If your vet is helping your pet to take his leave then he or she will probably ask you if you would like to bring your pet’s body home or if you would like them to take care of it. Consider your answer carefully.
If your vet takes the body then your pet will probably be cremated with other pets and you won’t get any ashes back. Some people are fine with that option, but other people wish later that they had asked for the body.
If you do bring your pet’s body home you will have to consider your plans. You can bury your pet if you have some land. Or, you can look into a pet cemetery or a private cremation. Some people prefer the sense of closure that comes with handling these details themselves.
If you live in a place that has a pet cemetery you may want to consider their services. You can spend as much as you want. Pet cemeteries usually offer caskets, monuments, maintenance, and flowers – many of the same features as a human cemetery.
Pet cemeteries often have cremation services, too. There are usually options for “single” cremations, in which your pet is cremated alone; or you can have your pet cremated with a few other pets.
The better cremation business allows you to watch the process and you are guaranteed to get back your pet’s remains, rather than some other pet’s ashes.
You can also choose an appropriate urn for your pet’s ashes. Some people like to keep the urn in their home or you can scatter ashes in a place that your pet was fond of during life. There are also virtual memorial sites online so people can pay respects to your pet and he or she can be remembered.
Saying goodbye to your pet can be very difficult. No matter how long they are with us it never seems to be long enough. People of many different spiritual beliefs have found comfort in the “Rainbow Bridge” poem about owners reuniting with their pets in the afterlife:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals that had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.
Photo by Beverly & Pack
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