It is never easy to lose a loved-one. Dogs are family members. They either grow up with us, or join our circle of trust the moment they enter our family. Nature works in mysterious ways. Small dogs live for a long time. Large dogs live for a short time. A Havanese can live up to 19 years if properly cared for, while a Bernese Mountain Dog lives for about 8 years only. This is an important factor to take into consideration, when buying a certain breed. 8 years is not a long time. How can one say goodbye, when the time comes? Ok, so this is not a happy topic, but it is just as important as when one deals with dog training or canine nutrition. It is inevitable. Why avoid discussing it?
As far back as Ancient Egypt, royalty mummified their favorite cats and dogs to ensure that in the after-life they would stand proudly next to them as well. In many countries, today – especially in the US and Australia- pet cremation services are highly respected. Others choose taxidermy, to force immortality into the body of their pet dog. This is more common in Europe. In Eastern Europe for instance, taxidermy is still more common. The topic of pet cremations can be found in pet forums, but its popularity is not felt yet.
However, loss is loss. And if one treats a dog as a family member, then he or she deserves that final respect as well. Some may choose a burial. There are many companies these days that offer pet cremation services as well as grief counseling services. This can be especially important for children, so that they can accept and understand, what it means for a dog to pass away. Writing poetry or creating a pet memorial blog are also means by which one can digest grief. It is thus not surprising that most dog poems are about those dogs that have gone to doggy heaven.
In a span of 21 years, I have said goodbye to 3 Dobermans, 3 Rottweilers, 1 Rhodesian Ridgeback, 1 Staffordshire Bull Terrier, 1 Great Dane, 1 German Shepherd, 3 Pavement Specials (please note the capital letters, out of respect) and 3 birds. The cause: a Gypsy lifestyle, African snake bites, old age and dog fights. There were no cremation services…and taxidermy was not an option. Burial …and poetry were. (Hmmmm…maybe we should’ve had a Havanese?) However you choose to say goodbye to your beloved pet is your own choice and own right. Either way is painful. Although the saying: – “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”- is true, the final moments are still the hardest to live with…