Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Saying Good-Bye to a Pet

The Passing Of A Beloved Pet

In my many years of owning, loving and raising Great Danes, no decision is more difficult or more painful than knowing the right time to have a pet euthanized. I have gone through the complete cycle of whelping, raising, aging, dying and finally grieving. Just recently, after a prolonged illness, I had to make a difficult decision to euthanize my 3-year-old fawn male. I have been through this before and in most ways it doesn't make it any easier - yet I realized because of my experience, I am much better equipped to handle the loss of a beloved pet than someone who is new to the breed.

So this information is for them. It is something I discuss with any potential puppy buyer, along with other important information such as diet, bloat and training. For this heartbreak breed, I feel it is important for any new Great Dane owner to think through the total commitment that is necessary for these animals - from housebreaking to final arrangements.

For many years I had been seeking an appropriate way to grieve over the loss of one of my dogs. Society does not offer a pet owner a great deal of sympathy. When a person dies, there is usually family and friends present to assist in comfort. I know the tremendous grief I felt when I lost my first Dane and I also realize that is why I have always surrounded myself with several others of various ages - so I would never be without a Great Dane.

When a pet dies there is no social ritual to formalize grief, still the loss of a pet affects our emotions because they are a part of the family. At some point, final arrangements will have to be made in order to say a proper good-bye.It has taken several years for me to become brave enough to be RIGHT there, to hold and touch my animal as they are being put to sleep. I have never had to go through the euthanasia process without another Dane friend, so I do feel fortunate for that gift.

Some of my earlier dogs were buried in a friend's kennel. But in later years, I have chosen to have the animals cremated and kept their precious containers stored away ... only because I couldn't quite figure out what to do with them! There had to be a better way to celebrate their lives and conclude the life cycle. I discussed this with other Dane friends who were running into the same dilemma. It wasn't until a following Spring when we were getting the yard ready for planting that we came to an idea that seemed to be a meaningful solution.

Our ritual consisted of digging a whole for the animal, working the ashes into the soil and planting a beautiful flowering plant or fruit tree over the remains. Now we have a beautiful orchard and rose garden that celebrates the memory of our beloved animals. For me, it is a wonderful way to conclude a grieving process and the living trees are a living tribute to our beloved Danes. It has become especially meaningful when I see a new litter of puppies lying in the shade of one of those trees or running through my flower garden - it completes the cycle and I feel they are still with me in some way.

For another article on this same subject see my article "Grief and Loss - Starting Over".

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