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Saying goodbye: How to prepare and deal with the loss of a fur baby

By AYIE LICSI Published Jul 12, 2022 7:54 pm

Pets aren't just furry animals that live in the house, they're family. Thus, when a dog or cat crosses the rainbow bridge, it can hurt as much as losing any other loved one.

As a pet owner myself, I can't imagine life without hearing the pitter-patter of my dog's paws. Fur babies are a constant source of love, companionship, affection, and entertainment, but alas, their life spans are shorter than ours. Although you can never be prepared to lose a pet, there are some steps you can take to be ready when the time comes.

Create a bucket list

Are there some things you've always wanted to do with your pets? Much like a "hooman" bucket list, you can make a fur baby bucket list for your beloved companion. It can include different activities like travel different cities, watch a sunset, or even something simple like eat a hamburger. And make sure to take lots of photos of these moments!

This was what pet owner Riina Cooke did for her pooch Romeo in 2014 after he was diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer. 

Discuss all your options with a vet

Talk to a vet about the different options regarding end-of-life decisions for your terminally ill pet. Will you continue with treatments and take your fur baby home for possibly an unassisted death? Or will you consider putting your pet to sleep forever? In the end, the choice will be up to you, but it's good to know the available options.

Find ways to say goodbye

To ease your mind from burdens for when the time comes, you can start thinking about how you're going to say goodbye to your pet. Making decisions the day your companion dies may be a sad and distressing time so it could be better to do it in advance. 

As tough as it might be to think about, the next concern is what to do with your pet's body after he/she passes. There are several options available in the Philippines such as cremation and burials for memorializing your dog or cat. Some of them, like Pet to Nature Philippines in Marikina and Pet Valley Park and Crematory in Cavite, give fur parents a clay paw print, hair samples, and a cloth ash pouch or a pendant to remember fur babies by.

You can also erect a memorial at home for your pooch or cat with their collars, toys, and their other favorite things.

Let yourself grieve

Lastly, let yourself grieve and surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Losing a pet is no different from losing a human, especially if you spent a lot of time caring for him/her.

"There are things you feel about this cat, this dog, this bird, that no one else feels, which is true for all grief," family therapist Nadja Geipert told PsychCentral. "Your relationship is completely unique, and your pet is completely irreplaceable in its unique qualities."

The expert added that spending time around anyone or anything forms a bond and when it goes away, "it's like somebody took your limbs away." She also said these intense feelings can last as long as it's going to take.

That said, it would be best to prepare for it not only to help ease your own pain but also to assure your fur baby that they remain well taken care of even if you're no longer physically together.