Saying Goodbye to “Amber, Pamber, Peaches, Pumpkin, Pie” & 5 Ways to Pay Tribute to Your Beloved Pet

I call my friend Betty my “California Mom”. We met over seven years ago serving together at church. One of many reasons we bonded immediately is due to our love for dogs.  Neither of us would be offended if you call us crazy dog ladies, because quite frankly, the name fits.

cfb0f3ea66b98a0cb4faf29dbf79aa3dBetty had adopted Amber from a lady who could no longer care for the precious pup.  Due to the color of her coat and many of us like to give our dogs endearing nicknames, she became “Amber, Pamber, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie”.  Betty became skilled at rambling off her full name the majority of the time. It was not until recent years that she became simply, Amber.

A few months ago, Betty started telling me how sick Amber was. She was not eating much and was losing weight at a rapid pace.

A trip to the vet detected problems with her liver.

Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto/WebSubstance

Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto/WebSubstance

Each time Betty would report to me of Amber’s worsening condition, my heart would sink. I simply could not talk to her about this subject. One of my dearest friends, and I changed the subject each time she brought it up. I knew how much she loved Amber and the unbearable hurt that was around the corner for her. It’s the day us animal lovers dread the most and I didn’t want to think about it.

On October 3rd, I awoke to a message from Betty informing me that Amber had died in my “sister” Robin’s arms just after midnight.

I envisioned the painful path that was unfolding for my “Mom”.   She and Amber were inseparable and this sting of death was going to be devastating.

The strange part of it is that I speak with grieving families for a living yet I found I could not talk to Betty about her loss.  I responded to her message with my love and condolences but I refused to hear the pain that I knew would be in her voice. Yes, I felt like the worst friend ever.

Why is the loss of a pet so hard? I think there is the obvious, it’s unconditional love. Pets never say the wrong thing, never misunderstand us, and never expect an apology.  They are grateful for just a bowl of food, a pat on the head and a cuddle.

Dogs make life whole O'Connor BlogWe also spend more time with our pets than we do most people in our lives. No, I am not saying pets are more important than people! They are just more constant. In Betty’s case, she was able to take Amber to work and so she was with her beloved pup 24/7.

So how do we begin the grief journey when it comes to our animals? I have described a few ways below. It may or may not surprise you that paying tribute to our pets can be very similar to paying tribute to our relatives.

Have A CeremonyAs Neil O’Connor wrote in his previous post You Killed Lilly-Losing a Childhood Pet”, his father knew the importance of ceremony being a third generation Funeral Director.  Gather family members and friends to tell funny and heartwarming stories about your pet.

Write An ObituaryIt does not mean you are going to publish it in a newspaper, although stranger things have happened. But you could post it to your Facebook page or tuck it away in a special place.  Sitting down and writing out your memories is key to beginning the healing process.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.feltpets.com

Photo Courtesy of http://www.feltpets.com

Design A Miniature Grave MarkerWhether you have buried your pet in your yard or cremated him/her, you can design a miniature grave marker as a tribute.  Include a photograph and place it in a favorite spot in your yard to recall fond memories.

Custom Replica of Your PetThere are multiple companies who will design custom stuffed replicas of your pet if you submit a photograph but these felted ones are my favorite. Isn’t this just the cutest thing!? Have a look at their gallery by clicking here.

Adopt A New Pet This is my favorite option! Betty and I discussed it the other evening. She was concerned it was too soon. My reply to her was, “What if you had died?  Would you want Amber to be alone without anyone to take care of her?” Adopting a new pet is not an attempt to replace the one you have lost. The purpose of a new pet is to make your heart whole again.

 

Are you an animal lover who has experienced a loss such as Betty’s?

How did you pay tribute to your animal?

What did you do to fill the void?

Lori

About Lori

I was born in Long Beach, raised in Cypress and ventured to South Orange County in 1999. I'm a member of Saddleback Church and through volunteering in the Memorial Ministry I was introduced to Neil O'Connor. Neil decided to bring me on board even despite my endless badgering at our first meeting. I am the Director of Care Coordination and also fill the roles of Memorial Marker Design Specialist, Weekend Receptionist and Blog Team Member. Never did I expect a mortuary would be the place I would find my dream job. I feel extremely blessed by the relationships I have formed at O'Connor with the team and the families we are privileged to serve. I now live in Aliso Viejo with my beloved pups Max and Bella. Free time, though often hard to come by, is mostly spent with friends. The Bible verse I live by - I can do everything through him who gives me strength Philippians 4:13
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  • Diane ferdig

    Beautiful, Lori!!!❤❤❤

    • Lori

      Thank you, Diane! You know how terrible I felt that I did not know how to be there for Betty during this most difficult time. Fortunately, she loves me despite my flaws! I am helping her find a new furry baby to adopt!!
      See you November 2nd!!
      Love,
      Lori

  • Katheryn Mitchell-Siroonian

    Lori this is a wonderful article! The pain of losing a pet seeps into your bones. Your suggestions on ways to memorialize them are wonderful. I especially love the felted replicas…who knew?! I look forward to reading more of your blogs and will share this on FB for my other pet loving friends! Keep up the good work!

    • Lori

      Katheryn,
      Thank you so much for commenting! One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting new friends, like you! I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get into down the road…… We are already off to a great start!!
      The felt pets were suggested to me by our Director of Social Media, Molly. They are absolutely adorable and I am thinking of having some made of my Max and Bella.
      Thank you for sharing this on your Facebook page also!!
      Looking forward to getting together soon!!!
      <3<3<3
      Lori

  • Lori,
    I love the options you open up to those of us who have lost pets. I remember loosing my rat, Penny, and having a sweet little funeral service for her. I wrote her “full name” on the box we buried her in and put her favorite blanket inside it with her. It was very sad for me but I still remember the experience rather vividly for how young I was. I see the value in that event and the significance I feel for it and it just affirms for me that everything you’ve written is completely true.

    I can’t tel you how nice it is to have grief for a pet affirmed and shared here to publicly. Thank you for doing such a beautiful job.

    Molly

    • Lori

      Molly,
      Thank you for your loving and supportive comments. It was not until I became an adult (some would debate that has occurred) and started treating my dogs more like children than animals that I understood how truly painful this experience can be.

      It has been nine years since my dog Dudley was put to sleep in my arms. I still remember every single detail of that day. I remember him trying to kiss me goodbye, but he was too weak to get his tongue completely out of his mouth and onto my face. It evokes so much emotion just thinking about it.

      My current pups, Max and Bella, are only six years old and already I am dreading the day that something happens to them. We love our pets so much and have far too little time with them.

      One thing I won’t do when their time with me is over….wait to adopt a new dog. I waited three years between Dudley and Max. I needed to fill that void much sooner.

      Thank you again for all of your encouragement…..

      Much Love,
      Lori

  • Joe Lavoie

    I have been blessed to be a pet owner the majority of my life and yes they are all part of the family , mine was very diverse from cats, and three dogs to fish, ducks , geese , turkeys , rabbits , hamsters and rats . No snakes or lizards were allowed because my mom did not approve of them. No matter what the pet when that time came to say goodbye we did so in a dignified manner well maybe not the goldfish. I was crushed when my cat kiki died so with this I honored him with a feline funeral as I called it and there were my parents right there to support me . So I say yes make sure you honor your pet and at times you do get a new pet but I will always remember my beloved cat kiki. Thanks so much for sharing such a touching story Lori .

    Joe Lavoie

    • Lori

      Joe,
      Wow! I have known you many years and never knew you had such an eclectic collection of animals growing up. I’m with your mom on the snakes and lizards. (Don’t tell Carrie Bayer). 🙂
      Thank you too for sharing about Kiki. Sometimes men have a more difficult time expressing their feelings over losing a pet. I am glad you feel comfortable to do so and honored Kiki in such a special way.
      You know I love you Joe, but more than ever when you reveal your heart with us.
      You’re a great guy!
      xoxo
      Lori

  • Becky Finch Lomaka

    Lori,
    I am not my husband’s first love – his first love was Berkley, a beautiful black lab mix whom he got from shelter. After John and I were married, I quickly began to love her (almost) as much as he did.

    I have seen my husband in deep throws of grieve two times in my life – when Berkley died and when his father died. Although it has been many years since we lost our beloved Berkley, you can still see her collar hanging in our garage and a photo of her in my husband’s wallet.

    Thank you for sharing the very real pain and grief we feel when we lose a pet.

    Becky

    • Lori

      Becky,
      Thank you for sharing John’s grief journey over Berkley. Though men do not always demonstrate the emotions they are going through over the loss of a pet, their feelings are very real. Many attempt to trivialize it because “it was just a dog”.

      My stepfather had to have his companion, Benzo, put to sleep twelve years ago. He still will not entertain the idea of getting another dog. He loves mine and showers them with attention when they visit, but he will never have another dog. He has chosen to avoid experiencing that type of loss again.
      It’s pretty powerful to think these creatures can reach so deeply into our souls and connect with us for the short time we have them.

      I know my current two dogs were gifts from God. They came at just the right time when I needed a purpose, something to take care of. They have brought me more joy than I ever imagined possible. I look at those faces and wish I knew what they were thinking sometimes.

      Thanks again for sharing about John. I have not had the pleasure of meeting him yet, but know I will like him immediately just by hearing of his wonderful heart for animals.

      XOXO
      Lori

  • Lori

    Tom,
    Thank you for sharing about the loss of your dog. My guess? You were concerned about how your mother was feeling so emotional and wanted to remain strong in order to take care of her. You’re a good guy, Tom.
    Thanks for the comment…….
    Lori
    AKA “SHD” 🙂

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Lori . . . thanks for this blog! I couldn’t believe this was coming, and it couldn’t have been at a more appropriate time. I spent this past Thursday to Monday babysitting my 3 granddaughters while my daughter and hubby were in San Francisco. Their family pet, a 14 year old cat named Phoebe Buffay, is in the throws of renal failure. Kristen took her to the vet just before she left for another round of fluids, brought her home and said, “Mom, I want her to die here. I don’t want to leave her at the vet. If something happens while we’re gone, have a ceremony and bury her in the back yard.” I felt a moment of panic, thinking, how will the girls react. I began to talk with my 12 year old granddaughter, Madi, and spoke about how sick Phoebe is, and that she may not make it through the week-end. We cried together, but talked about how Madi had become Phoebe’s “mom”. Phoebe slept with her, cried at her when she wanted to eat or go out in the backyard. I hated to see my granddaughter so upset, but the truth is always better than making excuses when things seem dire. Needless to say, I could not sleep those 3 nights that I was there. Phoebe’s breathing became very shallow, she wouldn’t eat, and only took little sips of water. After the first night, I called my neighbor, Danny, who owns a construction company, and asked if he would make a wooden box for me in case Phoebe died before Kristen got home from San Francisco. He was so sweet – created a small casket like box with a lid that could be screwed shut. He placed it behind the gate, so that the kids didn’t see it. I was so very grateful! Each night I prayed that if something happened to Phoebe, that I could be strong for my granddaughters, and explained clearly why Phoebe died, and how much we would miss her. I have to say that I was truly relieved when, on Monday morning Phoebe was still with us, and that Kristen and Jeff would be home soon. What I want to say is that Kristen was right when she wanted Phoebe to be buried at home. And that she wanted her girls to participate. I have had two sweet pets die . . both of them I had euthanized. I think now, if it would have been talked through, I would have had them stay at home. Thanks, Lori, for giving me an opportunity to express my feelings, and remember my own two pets, Brandy Girl and Moses, and talk about the sweet little cotton ball we called Phoebe Buffay!
    Love,
    MP

    • Lori

      MP,
      I am glad that this post was timely for you.
      It’s interesting, because over a week ago, I had written a completely different blog with different subject matter. Molly decided it was not what our readers would necessarily be looking for from us. Also, it was not one I wrote from the heart so it did not flow as this one did. (Coincidence that I changed to this topic at the last minute? You and I know there are no coincidences)
      It is a sad season of loss for pet owners who are close to me or close to those I love. Phoebe Buffay will be the fifth beloved animal to die in as many weeks for friends or family members of friends.

      I am so sorry Madi has to experience this loss. I am sorry for the entire family, but especially Madi since she has the special bond with Phoebe. I am grateful she had Grammy there to talk to her about what was about to occur and that you were prepared should something have happened before Kristen returned.

      Thank you for sharing your story and for encouraging other readers who may not know how to explain what is about to happen to their children or grandchildren. I am certain your comment will help many….

      <3<3<3
      Lori

      • Patricia Kolstad

        Well . . . as a cat’s fate would have it . . Phoebe must be on her 9th life! I talked with Kristen this morning and she’s breathing better and eating a little more. I guess she’s saying to us “Don’t count me out yet . . . Christmas is coming!”

        • Lori

          Might I introduce Phoebe to a 99 year old named Mildred? They seem to belong to the same “Don’t count me out yet” club!

  • Mark Adams

    Lori….thanks for your blog….I know you are surprised to read this but I too love dogs…my own….unfortunately the two dogs I have had have both been put down…..One of the saddest days in my life was when we took our family dog Suzy to be put down…tests had discovered cancer in her stomach and we followed the vets advice and said goodbye to Suzy….I wore sunglasses in to the vets office because I was crying like a baby when we said our final goodbyes….I do understand the grief that people go through when a pet dies…..

    • Lori

      Mark,
      I know you have to be a dog lover because I know your heart.
      Teasing me about my dogs has become something you are very skilled at.
      You do make me laugh when you make comments about them.

      I am sorry you had to experience all of the pain that came with taking Suzy to the vet that day. Plain and simple, losing a pet sucks! I know you, like my stepfather, can’t think about owning another dog because you want to avoid a repeat of what you went through with Suzy….

      Once a dog person, always a dog person…..someday you will make that leap again.

      Thanks reading and commenting, Brother!
      Lori

  • Elsa

    Lori,
    I Love this post:) I feel the same way you do (Maybe not as extreme ;). Losing a pet is always such a hard loss that is felt deep in your heart. My saddest experience for me was when I was young. I remember getting ready to go to school one rainy morning and as I did every morning, went to say goodbye to our family dog. Our dog had been sick following a recent surgery he had and I wanted to see how he was feeling. When I went to him, I noticed that he was no longer breathing. This was the saddest moment for me as a child and I remember the feeling as it was yesterday. You are so right in that pets are our constant and unconditional love. They always know just the right way to cheer us up when we need it the most.

    • Lori

      Elsa,
      Ooohhhh!! That is my worst fear, finding Max and Bella dead at home. I do not know if there is any “easier” way, but being euthanized at the vet seems to be the way I’ve always known.
      I’m definitely extreme in my love for my dogs, I totally admit it. I have become the person I used to laugh at. They truly have been my little lifesavers.
      I’m sorry you had to experience finding your dog when you were so young. That had to be devastating and hard to understand for a little girl.
      So, I think you and Julian need a dog!!
      Thank you for sharing your story…….
      Love,
      Lori

  • Jeff Turner

    Lori,
    This is such a hard thing for many reasons. For some I have noticed a sense of guilt over the depth of their reaction to the death of a dog, cat or other pet that has become part of the family. I have heard them say things like, “This is so silly to feel this way” or “It’s not like it was a person”, because we should value people more. While I agree that “people” should be valued differently, the loss of a pet should not be trivialized or dismissed. We ought to be able to allow the depth of the emotion that shows up to be expressed and released without apology or guilt.

    We are made for connection and we are part of this creation. Thanks for the reminder that we have permission to have “little funerals” for those who have navigated life with us in powerful, though non-verbal, ways. Our pets can teach us many valuable life lessons, including how to grieve well.

    Jeff

    • Lori

      Jeff,
      It is so true. I have heard people say exactly that, “It’s not like it was a person”. No it’s not a person, but it is a presence in your home. It is a lick on your face, a wag of their tail or whatever the ritual with your pet may be. It is a connection and a habit. As with any habit, especially one that brings joy, there is a sense of loss when there is change.

      We were made for relationships and connections and I whole heartedly believe pets fall within that realm. They can teach us much, including how to grieve.

      Thank you for reading and commenting……
      You are appreciated……
      Lori

  • Sharon Watkins

    Hi Lori

    Even though I have never had real connection with a pet….I have many friends that feel about their pets like you have described and I can relate to that because that is how I feel about my kids!

    But moving forward someday, I may want to consider experiencing the unconditional love of a pet because as you pointed out …”Pets never say the wrong thing, never misunderstand us, and never expect an apology”. There is a whole lot to be said for that!!!

    Thank you for sharing your great thoughts and insights.

    Sharon

    • Lori

      Sharon,
      My pups are absolutely my babies. I think it is hard to get that unless you have experienced an animal that relies on you and that looks into your soul, at times. I swear sometimes Max and Bella know exactly what I am thinking. Bella has this uncanny way of sensing that I am sad. She curls herself up as close as she possibly can to me and looks at my face……just stares with those big, brown eyes. She will not take her eyes off of me until I say, “mama’s okay Bella”. Once she hears that, she can settle in and be comfortable. Animals are incredibly smart and sensitive.

      Once you return from your exciting life journey, I think a pet would be a great idea for you! There are so many that need to be rescued. I know you would give them a very loving home and your grandchildren would love it too!

      Thank you for reading!
      Love,
      Lori

  • Christopher Iverson

    Lori, I love how you connect the pet to the owner’s heart. Pets can make a life so complete. We need to always remember our pets and the love that they provide throughout their wonderful lives.

    • Lori

      Chris (Or Person Pretending to be Chris)
      Who wrote this comment?!?!!? You have been giving me a hard time about my dogs for almost four years!!
      If this is truly how you feel about animals, we need to talk. It’s like I don’t even know you! 🙂
      Lori

      • Shasta Cola

        Hahaha, good one Chris :-p. “Don’t have pets and don’t have children”

        • Lori

          Right, Shasta? I don’t know who he was impersonating!?!?!

  • Shasta Cola

    Aw, this is such a sweet post Lori! I love the felt pets, that’s really cool, I didn’t know they did that! Almost all of the animals I have had in my life growing up did not die while we owned them. I think maybe when the time came near, my parents gave them away before it happened. I did get a black guinea pig when I was 21, that was my very own, and I named him Dracula. When he died a couple years later, I couldn’t believe how much grief it brought to me. I was in mortuary school, and so distraught over it, I wondered how am I going to help people who lose family and friends if I can’t even handle pets?? I took him to be cremated, completely broken hearted, but I still have him in an urn on my counter at home. I think pets are just so innocent, and you spend so much time caring and loving them, that it’s really underestimated how much grief people experience when they lose one.

    • Lori

      Shasta,
      Molly found the link for the felt pets over a year ago when I was initially going to write a post on the loss of a pet. I am glad I waited. The timing was much better for me to write it now. I think they are so cute! I want to get one of Max and Bella.
      It was really sweet of your parents to delay the experience of having to watch a pet die. As you discovered with Dracula, it is painfully tough. I think you are exactly right, pets are innocent and so dependent on us. They greet us at the door the minute we get home and typically follow us everywhere when we are home. They can’t get enough of us, which makes us feel special.
      As for wondering what helping people through grief in your career was going to look like…….we know the answer……you are AMAZING at walking with families through their most difficult times. Not only that, but you allow them the opportunity to view their loved ones for the final time. That is a tremendous gift you are giving to them!
      I’m so grateful to have you in my life!
      Much Love,
      Lori

  • Lauren

    Thank you for writing this! And I love the felt animals, so cute!!
    When my gold fish died, my family and I did a burial at sea by flushing him/her down the royal commode.
    When our cat died we were very sad and didn’t get another cat until a year later. I miss Kuma 🙁

    • Lori

      Lauren,
      Ahhh….the old flushing of the goldfish……I believe we have all experienced that one. Until now, I never thought of it as “burial at sea”. That has a much better ring than “flushing”.
      I am sorry you had to experience the loss of your beloved cat, Kuma. You have walked through much loss for your young years.
      What I see is the ability it has given you to feel with people during their darkest hours. That is a gift that I know you will continue to nurture with each family you serve. I’m so proud of he growth I have seen in you already. I know the sky is the limit for you!
      Love,
      Lori

  • Karen Baker

    Thank you for the article. Pets are family. They are friends and companions who only want to please, with the exception of cats, of course. Cats require pleasing from their subservient humans. The loss of these little Angels can be devastating to us. I have the ashes of my last two pets, Sami and GB because I moved and did not want to leave them buried or scattered somewhere that I was not present. My many other “Angels” are still with me in spirit and in my heart. “In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him, and a cat that will ignore him”. Dereke Bruce.

    • Lori

      Karen,
      Thank you so much for responding. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my post.
      I can’t help but laugh at your description of cats. That is what I understand about them. I’m very allergic so I won’t be able to be ignored by one in my home.
      I will, however, always have dogs to worship me as long as I am able to care for them.
      Enjoy your day!
      Lori

  • Karen Baker

    Lori, Thank you for this post. “In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him, and a cat that will ignore him”. Dereke Bruce. Of course, all our animal friends are Angels, regardless of whether they are dogs or cats or rabbits or horses….etc etc…..

  • Jackie

    I don’t know many people who are good at saying good bye. But when somebody goes, whether human or animal friend, it is healing to do so. I guess we all say good bye and deal with grief in different ways. Some must talk about it a lot, some cry all the time, some withdraw, and I guess some blog, Lori. I am sure your effort will mean a lot to Mom Betty. Our pets are part of our lives, and their parting and absence are sorely felt and long-remembered. A parting reminds us to take the time, share a quiet moment and give back the love they give us and never take them for granted while they are still with us. I am sure Betty gave back as much to Amber as Amber to her. A couple of givers. I am sure the right pet for Betty will show up when it is time. She deserves it. Nice blog post.

    • Lori

      Jackie,
      Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I know it will mean the world to Betty seeing another one of her “daughters” has thought of her.
      I am glad you understand the importance of animals in our lives. I know your cats have brought you a great deal of love over the years.
      I appreciate the reminder not to take them for granted. You know me well enough though to know that Max and Bella are not ignored often.
      Let’s set our prayers and positive wishes on Betty finding exactly the right pet match for the next phase of her life.
      Thanks again, Jackie!
      Lori

  • Lori

    Chuck,
    Animals certainly do wiggle their way into our hearts. Whenever I think of Buck I think of the story you shared with me about the golf club. I know that is a painful memory, but more proof that animals love us unconditionally no matter what.

    There is something to be said for the constant, happy greeting from our animals. They do not get in bad moods. They do not sulk. They greet us, tails wagging and ready to spread their infectious joy.

    I think the Ricciardi household is due for a new vacuum! Adopt a dog! Do it today!!

    Love you back,
    Lori

  • Greg Forster

    Hi Lori,

    I know it’s sometimes tough to lose a pet. I’ve lost hamsters, parakeets, a lovebird, a cat, goldfish and most recently a desert tortoise that had been in our family since 1965 (wasn’t the most friendly of pets, but we mutually tolerated each other on HIS turf). But the animal I remember most was one that didn’t die, but one that I had to give up when I was about 6 years old because we were moving. At least I know that he would be happy, as my father found a good home on a ranch in Agoura Hills where I was assured that he would always be allowed to roam free. But, I never ever saw him again. His name was “Dukey” and he was a large white and black Dalmatian. Although he was large and I was small, he allowed me to unknowingly abuse him to no end. (Like the time my mother found him standing quite still as I was thoroughly “washing/brushing” his back with scouring powder to give him a bath. Problem was, I had forgotten to include the water.) To this day I remember him. He was the only dog I ever had.
    You are quite right when we appreciate and have the opportunity to allow a pet, whether big or small, to join in life with us, become a part of us, share with us, and sometimes heal us in ways that only they can.
    I can’t say that when they passed, that they got much “ceremony”, but the memory of a few of them will always be a good one…and a warm one.

    Thank you for reminding us to respect these lives and memories, as I know that’s what you do with your precious lunchtime every day, going home to make their “needs” the priority even over your own.

    Greg Forster

    • Lori

      Greg,
      Wow! I did not realize that tortoises live that long! That’s older than me!
      I love the visual of you scrubbing Dukey with scouring powder. What a patient pup you had.
      That’s quite an impact to remember Dukey all of these years later. It proves my point that they steal our hearts and are unforgettable!
      Yes, Max and Bella get my lunchtime attention each day, but what I receive in return from them deserves more than a quick walk and a biscuit.

      Thank you,
      Lori

  • Jenn

    I recently adopted one of Tommy’s beta fish and named him “Tommy” of course. A few years ago I had a beta for three years named Mr. Bojangles. They don’t follow you around the house but they do get excited when you come around to feed them and Mr. Bojangles would always jump out of the water and follow my finger and go nuts, even if he just wanted food, it still feels nice to have someone be excited to see you, it can turn your mood around. My new beta “Tommy” has the same kind of personality and reminds me of my old little fishy friend from the past. Even the smallest animal can make you feel like even in the smallest way, you matter to someone or something and thats not something to be taken for granted, pets should be honored in some way when they pass, even if its just to say thank you to them for their unconditional love.

  • Guest

    I recently adopted one of Tommy’s beta fish and named him “Tommy” of course. A few years ago I had a beta for three years named Mr. Bojangles. They don’t follow you around the house but they do get excited when you come around to feed them and Mr. Bojangles would always jump out of the water and follow my finger and go nuts, even if he just wanted food, it still feels nice to have someone be excited to see you, it can turn your mood around. My new beta “Tommy” has the same kind of personality and reminds me of my old little fishy friend from the past. Even the smallest animal can make you feel like even in the smallest way, you matter to someone or something and thats not something to be taken for granted, pets should be honored in some way when they pass, even if its just to say thank you to them for their unconditional love.

    • Tommy

      Thank you for taking care of Tommy.

      • Lori

        Tommy,
        Tommy took care of me. I can’t even begin to describe the void in my heart that will be left after you go. It’s unbearable to think of work without you.
        Love you,
        Lori

  • Jenn

    I recently adopted one of Tommy’s beta fish and named him “Tommy” of course. A few years ago I had a beta for three years named Mr. Bojangles. They don’t follow you around the house but they do get excited when you come around to feed them and Mr. Bojangles would always jump out of the water and follow my finger and go nuts, even if he just wanted food, it still feels nice to have someone be excited to see you.My new beta “Tommy” has the same kind of personality and reminds me of my old little fishy friend from the past. Even the smallest animal can make you feel like even in the smallest way, you matter to someone or something and thats not something to be taken for granted, pets should be honored in some way when they pass, even if its just to say thank you to them for their unconditional love.

  • Mitch Gibson

    I love the ways you have written about in regards to grief & pets. My pets are my “other” kids. they are part of my family. I take “Marley” everywhere. He loves to ride in the car. He recently went through a bout with cancer & came out just fine. But it was odd the feelings i went through. He has been with me 12 years & i can’t imagine being without him. The way you care for your “kids” translates over to the way you care for our families. You have a sweet heart & gentle spirit, keep it up. May God bless you & yours.

    • Lori

      Mitch,
      I am glad you get the pets are like our kids relationship. Since I do not have human children, my dogs are even more spoiled than they should be. Most dogs do love to ride in cars, don’t they? I think it’s the freedom of rolling down the window and letting the air hit their faces.
      I remember you talking about Marley’s bout with cancer. I am so glad that he is okay now.
      Thank you for your sweet comment of how I care for the families we are privileged to serve. I do love people and love to talk, as you know. Dealing with families I have discovered I am better at listening than I thought too. Maybe I have learned to be better. I love to have a man sit and tell me stories of how he met his wife and how they got through fifty plus years of marriage. We are allowed a glimpse into private moments and I think that makes our profession special and unique.
      Thanks again for your kind words, Mitch….
      Love,
      Lori

  • Lori

    Michael,
    Yes, the first pet loss will definitely impact you. Even though you are an “old soul”, we all crumble when it comes to the furry friends we love. You’ll have a great team around you to help put your heart back together when the time comes.
    Thanks for commenting!
    Lori

  • Lori

    Amy,
    I have so enjoyed hearing about your dogs, especially when bath day comes! I laugh whenever I think of the assembly line process.
    Isn’t it good to know that no matter what life throws at us, if we have pets in our lives, we have constant and unconditional love? I find that comforting.
    Thank you for putting up with the Max and Bella stories!
    Love,
    Lori

  • Carrie Bayer

    Lori, this is a great topic! Very nicely written, so honest & true. I’m always devastated when I lose a pet & I’ve had alot of them. It’s so hard to watch them die & just as hard to decide their fate. Either way, you are heartbroken. Many years ago I decided that I would cuddle my cat Shelby as she was euthanized. She was only 2 years old, had lost an eye as a little kitten & then got cancer. I just couldn’t make her suffer even more by leaving her alone to be killed in the place she hated most. I loved on her, talked to her, kissed her as the doctor did his work. He let me continue to love on her for as long as I wanted to after she was gone. I would have taken her place in a heartbeat but that is when I decided I would always escort my beloved pets across the rainbow bridge. I believe that in honor of the pet you lose, you should give another homeless pet a loving family ASAP. People think that’s crazy but like you said, you’re not replacing the one you lost. You are honoring them. Thanks for making me cry at work, BG….. 😉 Love, Carrie

    • Lori

      Carrie,
      I have seen firsthand that you are willing to do anything to protect an innocent animal. I know that when all avenues have been exhausted, and I know that means all with you, that you would give them the most comfortable “Goodbye” possible. What I appreciate about you is you do not discriminate in your love for little critters. You will rescue lizards, birds and other animals that I admittedly probably would not touch….well, maybe if you dared me….
      I think as hard as it is, being with our pets when they die is the most loving thing we can do. Like you, I will be there to hold my “babies” when it is their time to go.
      While my current dogs were pet store purchases, I am adamant about adopting from a shelter the next time I am in the market for a new pet. I have heard there is something even more special about a rescued animal. It’s like they understand you saved them and are so grateful.
      Sorry I made you cry….it wasn’t really me…it was your big heart!
      Love you back,
      Lori aka “BG” 🙂

  • Erin Fodor

    Lori,
    This hit extremely close to home. I am an animal lover and I have grown up always owning a dog. I currently have three and know it is only a matter of time for two of my little ones. Neither of them are as sick as Betty’s dog was, but they are both up in age. I recently had current photos taken, so that I can always remember my little ones. Previously I have not done too much to pay tribute other than keep their collar and photographs around to remind myself of the love and good times. I filled the void and will probably end up again filling the void by getting another fuzzy friend. I will be left with just one large dog and she is not one that likes tocuddle. I will surely miss that, and try for another. Lets hope the next one like to cuddle up!

    Erin

    • Lori

      Erin,
      As I learn your heart and watch you with people, it does not surprise me that you are an animal lover also. I am so sorry you will soon have to endure the pain of losing two of your dogs. Mine are only six years old and I already am dreading when the time comes for them. I freak out each time I see a mole or something I think could be cancer. They just steal our hearts and it is hard to think of life without them.
      I am glad you have decided to get a new “fuzzy friend” when it’s time to say goodbye to your current dogs. I waited three years after my last dog died to get Max. It was too long. While you are shopping, sit with the dog and cuddle to make sure they enjoy it. I have one who loves to cuddle and one who will tolerate me for a short cuddle session.
      Thank you for sharing with us Erin.
      xoxo
      Lori

  • Fitz

    Lori,
    Thanks for sharing. We have Jazz, part border collie/part aussie shepherd, who is about 12 now. He’s been a running partner for years, but he’s getting a little slow in his old age and doesn’t like to go too far; a blown ACL will do that. When I’m on the trails walking or running, I often think of what’s it’s going to be like when he’s gone. It will be sad no doubt but I plan on scattering his ashes. He will then always be with me on the trail where he belongs; chasing rabbits and squirrels.
    Fitz

    • Lori

      Fitz,
      Just as with our family members when we begin noticing them age, the aging process with our pets becomes heartbreaking also. Not being able to keep up like they used to puts that reminder in our face that we might not have them with us too long.
      I love your idea of scattering Jazz on the trail. It will help you relive positive memories of him whenever you are on the trail.
      Thanks for sharing your story of Jazz.
      Lori

  • Joanna Ramirez

    Crazy Dog Lady Lori,
    Nice sweet post. I had a few dogs growing up and when they died, my gramps would bury him in our back yard. I’m not one to become to attached to pets but I can definitely see how one can and how the loss can be just as deep as losing a relative. So, I feel for Betty and the loss of her four legged friend.

    • Lori

      Joanna,
      That’s Crazy Dog YOUNG Lady to you….. I think you may be one to become attached to pets now. I think Malia has changed your heart in big ways and it is so great to see. Even though you have not experienced the bond with a pet, I appreciate your compassion and empathy for Betty as she continues on her grief journey after losing her precious Amber…
      Thanks for reading and commenting…..no, this does not entitle you to a free lunch. 🙂
      Lori

  • Lori

    “California Mom”,
    Thank you for reading and responding to my post. I was not sure you would be able to read it just yet. It is why I warned you the morning it went up and would have understood if it took time.
    Yes, Amber had a full and loving family. No dog could ask for more. She was special and pampered not only by you, but even her groomer. She was a little princess.
    Not perhaps! Your special dog IS waiting. God will bring her to you at just the right time and she will be His perfect pick for you.
    Love you so much!!!
    Lori

  • Lori

    Hello Dog,
    Thank you for reading and commenting.
    It is funny, your story sounds exactly like that of Neil O’Connor. Coincidentally, his name can be synonymous with “Dog” ,on occasion, so you have much in common. 🙂
    Dogs are definitely good therapy! I have two, which means I am just slightly less crazy than you….although you have three big dogs and I have two small….you do the math….
    xoxo
    Lori

  • Diana

    I agree pets have unconditional love. They have a huge place in my heart. Thanks for reminding me of all the wonderful animals I’ve had, for the short time they were here.

    • Lori

      Diana,
      I know we have had conversations about how tough it will be when we lose our dogs. We love them so much and the thought of losing them is so sad.
      My pups sure love their Auntie Diana! As you know, Max can’t wait for the chance to attack you when you come to lunch. Speaking of which, it’s been awhile…the “kids” want to see you!
      Love,
      Lori

  • Shayna Mallik

    Lori,

    What a great blog. Animals have away of stealing our hearts. I love hearing about your babies 🙂 which is what our pups come to be. I had a golden retriever, Roxy, growing up and she recently passed away at the age of 14. She was the best dog and she is missed. One day she could not even get up to go to the restroom outside, this was when we realized it was her time. So myself, brad and my sister and nephew all came over to say our good byes to our companion. It is always hard to loose a pet especially because they still your heart from day one. My parents still do not want to bye another dog, they had Roxy more for my sister and I, but I have gotten a puppy since then, Babalu, and so has my sister, Holi. I think this has helped with the loss. I agree with you to tell your “mom” it is not to soon to have another baby and make that companionship again. It does not mean you forget about Amber, but you can love another puppy.

    Love you

    Shayna

    • Lori

      Shayna,
      I am so sorry your family had to experience the loss of Roxy. It is so heartbreaking to watch our furry companions grow older, weaker and finally to have to make the decision to put them out of their misery.
      I am glad that you and your sister got new puppies to replace the hole in your heart that was left by Roxy’s death. I think it is important that we transfer that love to another pet in need of our care.
      Hopefully your parents will be ready for another dog soon, but they get to love on their grand dogs in the meantime. 🙂
      I am still trying to convince Betty to get another dog….when she is ready…
      Love you back!
      Lori

  • Lori

    Kari,
    I agree that we need to allow others to go through the same emotions with the loss of a pet as they do with a person. They become such constant companions and we miss the habit of caring for and cuddling up with them.
    I love that Jake remembered to bring Malley’s marker. What a sweet young man you have raised! Well, two sweet you men, I must say.
    I am glad you have your new feline friends, not to replace O’Malley, but to fill the gap in your hearts that was left.
    Lori

  • Lori

    Karen,
    Thank you for reading! I agree…unconditional love among people would be a welcome change. It is always nice to hear from a fellow animal lover.
    Enjoy your day,
    Lori