Dr. Dolittler

Support available for bereaved pet owners

 

khulyp@bellsouth.net

Q. Our cat was euthanized last week, but I can’t shake the fear that he is still alive and suffering. I even went back to the vet later that day to hold his body and make sure he really was gone. I know this sounds crazy, but I’m having a terrible time accepting his death.

Many of us have the same feelings after our own beloved pets die. We agonize over their last moments and experience the irrational fear that they are still suffering even when we can see that they’re gone.

I used to think clients like you were a little nuts until I experienced the same thing after one of my pets died. I couldn’t let go of the image of his remains inside the freezer (where we hold them until cremation). Then came another tragedy when one of my dogs drowned. A decade later, I still have nightmares about his final moments.

These are all normal human responses to traumatic experiences. It helped me to discuss my “crazy” ideas with others who had been through the same thing, but that’s easier said than done in a culture isn’t always understanding about the loss of companion animals.

With that in mind, here is a short list of organizations, accessible online or via telephone, that can put you together with people who understand what you’re going through:

• The Argus Institute at the Colorado State University Veterinary School: argusinstitute.colostate.edu/grief.htm

• The ASPCA grief counseling hotline: 877-GRIEF-10.

• Cornell University pet-loss support hotline (6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday): 607-253-3932; find out more at vet.cornell.edu/org/petloss/.

• The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement: aplb.org.

• There’s even a great website for those who have lost a beloved horse: hoofbeats-in-heaven.com.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Read more Pets stories from the Miami Herald

  • Animal Island: Dog doesn't get along with other canines

    Q: My 5-year-old Maltipoo is sweet and lovable, but when she sees another dog, she starts growling and whining. She barks at all breeds, from Yorkies to Great Danes. I would appreciate your advice on what to do when this happens and why she acts this way.

  • Pet Vet: Dealing with an itchy problem

    Skin problems, particularly itchy skin problems, can be quite frustrating to deal with, both as a caretaker trying to help our companion, and as a veterinarian with the same goal.

  • Talking Dog: Training and treats can stop leash pulling

    Question: I have taught my dog Brutus to walk on a leash without pulling, which he does perfectly, but only on the way home from the park where he gets to run every day. On the way to the park, he pulls so hard that he retches, and I can hardly control him. I've put a harness on him so he doesn't choke himself, but it hasn't helped. -Brent

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category