By: Joel Boyce
John Grogan, the author of “Marley and Me,” perfectly sums up the unique love that humans have for their animal companions:
Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.
It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.
And he’s far from the only person to lament the short time we have with a beloved pet. After all, we’re together in sickness and health.
So what do you do when your animal friend inevitably faces the end of their life? Here are a few anecdotes that demonstrate just how important pets can be to their human families.
1. Mayor takes cross-country road trip with 10-year-old dog
As the mayor of a town in Massachusetts, Paul Heroux hadn’t taken a vacation in over three years. But that changed when his beloved Mura was diagnosed with an aggressive blood cancer and given only a few months to live.
Heroux dropped everything and embarked on a cross-country road trip that was all about making his dog happy. Mura has even been picking their destinations, apparently pulling him south toward California once they hit the Pacific Coast.
I definitely agree that when going out for a walk or a ride, your dog should be at least as involved in making decisions as you are.
2. Photographer spends 100 days remembering her beloved cat
Preston Gannaway, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, processed her grief for her recently departed best friend, Isis, the only way she knew how: by poring through 17 years worth of photographs to share on Instagram for 100 days.
Sometimes pets are lost suddenly, and we don’t have much time to give a proper goodbye. In Gannaway’s case, she needed months after Isis’s death to finish saying her final farewell. The result is a testament not to a cat’s final days but to her entire life with her human companion.
3. Foster Family Has Goodbye Party for Dying Dog
It doesn’t happen as often, but sometimes it is the animal that loses their human first — and this was the case with Peanut. Fortunately, after her owner died, a rescue shelter and a foster family worked together to ensure that her final days were good ones. They even gave her a big goodbye party – an incredibly kind gesture to celebrate a dog that they had known only a short time but had fallen in love with nevertheless.
I’m sure the owner that predeceased her would have appreciated this loving gesture.
4. Veteran and His Dog Have a Perfect Day
In an excerpt from the book, “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die,” author Jon Katz tells the story of Harry, a former soldier, and his canine best friend Duke. Suffering from a weakening heart, the dog was expected to pass away soon. To celebrate his life, Harry spent an entire day with Duke, visiting all of their favorite places — and even prepared a special dinner of sirloin steak for the animal.
Many little moments in this story make it special, but there are two important takeaways for me. First, Harry didn’t plan this perfect day just before an appointment for euthanasia. He didn’t let the day be soured by the thought that it would be his last day with his dog, because it wasn’t.
Second, this day was not about a huge grand gesture like a big party or a trip, but it was still special. It was all about revisiting and enjoying familiar sights, with a focus on making Duke happy — which, in turn, made Harry happy.
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