Giving your pets the good life

Dear Friends,

I just finished Jon Katz’s book, “Going Home” for about the tenth time.

Going home

Yes, I said tenth – refer to my “about” section to see my love of procrastination. This procrastination however, is a healthy one. I keep meaning to lend it out to friends who have just lost or are losing their canine companions. Maybe this book isn’t for you, but then again, maybe it is. I found it in the “Self-help” section of our Chapters. I don’t know why, but there is something about that particular section, when I walk through it, that makes me feel even more miserable and low then I already was feeling (cue ballcap and secret mustache disguise).

Katz discusses the difficult task of saying goodbye to furry friends. He further goes on to offer his support and opinions on comfort, grief, perspective and moving forward. I find grief (albeit healthy) can be like a sink hole (unhealthy) – only taking you down… and down. It’s hard to get out of. As I go through my own stages of grief, I find myself going back on this book and taking something different every time, slowly getting me out of the sink hole. I’ve met tons of you through this blog, many of you are going through your own grieving processes. I feel for each of you, wish you well, and I hope you can take some comfort in what I’m about to say.

As most of you all are aware, we lost our best friend Newton to Kidney Disease last Dec. I started writing about my process of losing him here.

Just another great day

The most important thing I’ve taken from his book, is this notion of something called “The Good Life”. It has helped me on those really dark days. You know the ones where you look out the back window and hundreds of great memories come flooding back to you – Overwhelming really.

I know I will always have them, and what I’ve come to realize – it’s not a bad thing. Although sad to remember what I lost, these moments make me happy he was ever ours in the first place.

In an interview done by Jon Katz two years ago for Reuters.com, he said “One idea that I advocate is the dealing with guilt directly. Acknowledge the good life, remember the good things you did with your pet — the places you took them, the affection you showed them. Remind those who have lost a pet that they generally gave their pets a good life and that’s a good thing, so don’t forget that.

Katz further suggests that , if we can allow ourselves to grieve, we can also with time celebrate their lives. He asks the big questions – Did we give our pet a good life, were we there for them when they needed us most, did we make the best decisions when we needed to. He made me deal with these questions – head on – and it helped. It’s my personal opinion that in doing so,  I’ve reached a point of reflection where I can now celebrate his life without tears every single time. Due to his faulty kidneys since birth he was only supposed to be with us a short time (still unfair). We were able to give Newton a good kick ass 2.5 years, and I’m proud that my fiance and I were able to.

I loved the idea of acknowledging the good life, not dwelling on the end (SO HARD) – but all the cheeseburgers, bellyrubs and adventures in between. It’s IMPOSSIBLE not be sad about the circumstances and guilt of saying goodbye to your fur-kid, but relish in those memories of all the in-between happy moments!

While I didn’t enjoy (or wasn’t ready) to take on certain perspectives from Jon Katz’s book, I loved this notion. Remembering the “Good Life” that has helped me tremendously. We gave Newton the best two and a half years we could have. Where we went, so did he. As my new blogger friend, MissHappyCreature, commented on my post – being with their humans is where dogs really want to be anyway (What a wonderful comment – thanks for that!). Newton was loved everyday (by many), had many adventures and experienced a wonderful life. I wish it had been longer, but isn’t this notion of the “good life” what we are all looking for?

As many of you have already heard of Newton’s life lessons –  he has taught his humans to live better lives. The dogs I am now working with at our local SPCA also deserve this “good life”. It’s with great gratitude that Newton has taught us his life lessons, and now we’re able to share this with others.

Now, please don’t think I’m getting preachy on you all. I am not an expert. I just know what has worked so far with my process. Many of you have wrote to me and are feeling/experiencing the same thing. You’re lost. Unaware on how to go forward, more so – not wanting to. I believe you should grieve as you need to. We are all different.

With that being said, the oranges at the SPCA were all walked yesterday – how awesome for them!! So guess who I get to help socialize today 🙂

Hopefully these sessions will help them become little social butterflies and get the “Good Life” they deserve.

puppies
ZOMG – puppy cuteness overload

Not to be cliché:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

Great call Dr. Seuss, although I think it’s ok for a cry every now and again, in between the smiles.

Thanks for reading,

AS

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14 thoughts on “Giving your pets the good life

  1. So sorry for your loss. Newton looks absolutely gorgeous in your pic. This book sounds really helpful. My humans have had some tough times saying goodbye to other fur babies over the years. Great advice about remembering the good life. The puppies are adorable too 🙂

    • Thanks Bailey Boat Cat! You guys are all pretty special to us humans.

      Tell your humans that I am very sorry for their loss, but extremely happy to see that they have such a special new fur-baby in their lives!

  2. The loss of a pet is something that you know will happen but never want to happen. They are family just like our human counterparts, with the exception bein that we like our pets a whole lot more than we probably like our family. I hope that the pain eases over the months but that the memories you have of Newton remain vibrant forever. Keep up the good work with the SPCA and give them the “good life” while you are there

  3. I’m so glad Newton had such a fantastic 2.5 years! He was a gorgeous dog and very lucky to have had such loving humans to take care of him. I just lost my goldie/shepherd w/ just a touch of Chow to color his tongue mix, but he lived a good, long life. I used the same Dr. Seuss quote in my blog, it’s become a mantra. It makes me realize I’d never trade one second of the joy and wonder of having dogs to avoid the grief and misery I feel right now. Working at the SPCA is such a terrific way to honor Newton. Take care and feel better soon.
    Mandi

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so sorry that you lost your furry friend as well, but am glad to hear that he had a great life. All we can do is appreciate them and give them that while we have them 🙂

      I love that it’s become your mantra – it’s a great one to have.

  4. Thank you for liking my post so I could come over here and read this one! It was very helpful to me…need to someday get to that point, as you mentioned, where I can remember my dog without tears.

    • I totally get it, and I’m so sorry for your loss. There is no time limit, so take as long as you like for your grieving.

      I’m happy that the “good life” helped you as well! I loved the thought of it. By the sounds of things, your dog had a great life.

  5. Thanks for your honest posts. I lost my baby cat a few days ago and am still raw from the pain. It really helps to read about how others have gone through the same thing. I still feel cheated that my baby girl had such a short life, and racked with guilt about what I did and didn’t do, but your post is helping me deal with it – so thank you.

    I work in rescue and when we adopt out pets we ask a bajllion questions of their new owners – really, now, I think we should warn them that once we hand the pet over, their hearts will forever be tied together.

    I saw this on a post and thought it might give you comfort –
    “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them.

    And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart.

    If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog,

    and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”

    – Anonymous

    • Hi Tash,

      Thanks for reading! I’m happy that my posts can help you. I too lost a furry kid far too young. It does feel unfair, you do feel cheated. I still have some pretty low days. It’s only been a month. I loved your comment/quote. It’s lovely!

      Something that gets me through – what if they had never been mine in the first place? We never would have had any moments at all together, and to me that is the saddest thought at all. I’m at the point where I still get sad, but I am appreciative that we had the time, albeit short, together at all.

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