Search Results for: pet loss
Pet Loss Support Groups
Are you coping with the loss of a pet? Saying goodbye is never easy. Many people suffer when they lose a pet and find it hard to move forward alone in the grieving process. The Ottawa Humane Society has partnered with Bereavement Support & Education – Ottawa to offer on-going grief counselling to our community.
Due to the ongoing public health crisis, group meetings will be held virtually each month and are facilitated by a certified grief educator
Grief educators provide information on a variety of subjects related to pet loss through guest lectures and informal discussions, working alongside participants to provide compassionate support and in-depth coping strategies for anyone dealing with the loss of a pet.
This program is available to the public free of charge, donations to the OHS are welcome. Participants are not required to bring anything, but may wish to share photos of their pet and other memorial items.
It is important to register for this virtual meeting to allow us to send you the meeting information in advance of the session.
You can sign up by registering with My Time (link below) or by contacting our supervisor: programs via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-725-3166, ext. 298.
Participants must be over the age of 16.
Meetings will run on the following dates:
- Tuesday, July 21 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
For more information about other Pet Loss Support Group locations, please visit www.ottawapetloss.com/meetings.
We have come to the difficult decision to cancel all on-site 2020 summer programming at the OHS. This decision was not made lightly and takes into consideration the safety of OHS staff, volunteers, animals and clients – all a part of our community. We feel that it is important to continue operating by making our essential services a priority, including, care for animals in distress, fostering, adoptions by appointment, and a number of new community initiatives to support pet owners in need, such as our emergency pet foodbank. By cancelling on-site programming, we are able to significantly reduce the number of people visiting the shelter, in line with Ottawa Public Health’s current physical distancing recommendations.
Vet Pet Memorial
The OHS Vet Pet Memorial program provides your clients with the support they need when they lose a pet. When you make a donation in memory of their pet, the OHS will send a letter to your client acknowledging your gift. We will offer our condolences, and provide them with the resources they need to cope, including access to the OHS pet loss support group, and a pet memorial webpage where they can share cherished memories of their pet.
Joining the program is easy. For more information, or for help registering, please call 613-725-3166 ext. 268 or email email@example.com.
Once you have registered, it only takes minutes to provide the name and address of your bereaved honouree. The OHS takes care of the rest to ensure your client receives the follow-up support he or she needs. A tax receipt for charitable donations will be provided to you annually for your cumulative giving.
The OHS is grateful for the support of community veterinary hospitals, and we wish to honour your commitment to Ottawa’s animals. Upon completion of your first year supporting the Pet Memorial program, you will receive a plaque in recognition as a “Proud Supporter of Ottawa’s Animals”.
“While we receive a lot of positive feedback from our clients, by far the most heartfelt thanks comes from those clients we have supported through the difficult decision to say goodbye to their pets. Supporting the Ottawa Humane Society as part of that process is so well received and touches many of our clients, leaving a lasting impression of a veterinary clinic that cares for them and the community.”
– Queensway West Animal Hospital, Kanata, ON
When a Friend’s Pet Dies
Last week, I spent a very pleasant evening in the backyard of my long-time friend, Genevieve —and yes, wine was consumed. At one point, Genevieve mentioned how much she loved the Ottawa Humane Society’s Pet In Memoriam Program. I was intrigued. Friends often comment on OHS programs that are close to their hearts, but never this one. I wanted to know more.
She told me her daughter was off at university and her daughter’s hamster had passed in her absence. “She loved that little creature and took such good care of him. It was really sad. We didn’t know how to make things better until my brother mentioned making a donation to an animal charity in her hamster’s name. So, I went onto the OHS website and found the In Memoriam section. It was really easy to use and I loved the e- or print cards that we could personalize. Even though we were far away, it was such a nice way for us to let our daughter know we loved her and cared about her loss and were right there with her.”
Since then, she told me she has made donations at least 10 times as several of her friends had lost their beloved senior pets over the last few years: “People have been incredibly touched by the gifts. They have told me that it was comforting for them to know that another animal would be helped because of a donation made in their best friend’s name.”
Genevieve told me she knows how it feels, “I’ve had to say goodbye to my very special friends. It’s unbearable. Yes, sympathy cards are thoughtful, but I feel a gift — even a small one — in a pet’s name that goes towards helping other animals in need is a beautiful way to honour the best friend of someone you care for.”
If someone you care about has lost their beloved pet and you want to show them you that you care and understand their loss, visit our Pet In Memoriam page.
If you have lost a pet and need some support to help you through it, consider joining the OHS Pet Loss Support Group.
President & CEO
Does Your Pet Love You? Does Your Pet Love You?
When I was young, I was taught that the way “we” distinguished humans from animals was that humans used tools, and animals did not. It wasn’t long after I saw pictures of chimpanzees using sticks to pull insects from decaying trees. “Tools!” gushed National Geographic, “Now we would have to re-think everything!” Today, of course, we know that there are a dozen or so species that use tools, including lowly crows and octopuses.
We used to think a lot of things about animals that weren’t true — usually things that would diminish their existence from our own. We now know that many species have excellent memories, strong family bonds, feel a sense of loss, and possess many other attributes that we once held as a part solely of our own human existence.
But do animals love? I’m talking about love here, not mere attachment, as there is little doubt that is a part of an animal’s experience. Now, there is a lot we don’t know about the emotions of cats and dogs, and without delving too deeply into the nature of love, John Bradshaw, a researcher at the University of Bristol contends that dogs do “love” their owners. He suggests that cats admire us, and show the same kind of behaviours they show other cats that they like, but like the person you dumped in college, “they just don’t get us.” This is probably because cats have only been living with us for about 10,000 years, and most of their breeding has been to produce colour and style. This is opposed to dogs, who settled down with us 30,000 years ago and have been selectively bred ever since to get along with us better. Had that date in college been selectively bred to get along with you better, maybe he or she would still be around.
In the end, I wonder if it matters. It feels like they love us. We certainly love them. And love, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, no?
Explaining Pet Death to Children
By Sarah Probst, Information Specialist
“For many children, pet death is the first time they will experience grief over death. Handling a pet’s death in a positive way empowers children to handle grief in the future,” explains Julia Brannan, veterinary student and student director of the Companion Animal Related Emotions (C.A.R.E.) Helpline at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. “Being honest with children is the most important factor.”
Terminology is crucial when talking to children about death. When explaining pet loss, use the words “death,” “dead,” “dying” instead of euphanisms. “These are all concrete words that children can wrap their brains around.” Be clear because children’s minds may extrapolate harmful connotations from sugar-coated explanations.
For example, a common euphemism for euthanasia is ‘put to sleep.’ Brannan cautions, “Children may begin to think that being ‘put to sleep’ at night can be an irreversible process.” Brannan warns against telling children that your pet ran away or that you gave it to a friend. “That gives children a different kind of grief. They wonder why their best friend would abandon them or why their parents would want to separate them from a creature that meant so much to them,” says Brannan. Instead, if you have made the decision to euthanize, she suggests saying the following: “Because we love Fluffy so much we do not want her to suffer. We are helping her to die because she is experiencing pain that we can no longer treat.”
Talk about the death of a pet before the death occurs. Brannan suggests inviting your child to take part in the decision-making process. “Not including children in the process makes them feel completely powerless about what is going on with their pet.” When deciding whether to facilitate the death of a terminally ill pet, talk honestly about options.
“Reading books about grief and pet loss to children opens the door for parents and children to talk about the possibility of losing their pet.” Brannan’s favorite children’s books about pet loss and grief are the following: The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by J. Viorst; Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parents and Children by E. Grollman; About Dying: An Open Family Book for Parents and Children Togetr by S.B. Stein. Your local library or book store may have suggestions also.
If the decision is made to euthanize a pet, veterinarians can explain the medical aspects of death: how euthanasia is done, and how the pet will look in death–that eyes do not close, that the body may be warm for a few hours, and that the body will become stiff later. Veterinarians also can explain why a pet did not make it through a traumatic accident. In addition to medical questions, veterinarians can help parents deal with the child’s questions and grief. “Grief issues do not just happen in the clinic; they happen after the child leaves–months or sometimes years later,” adds Brannan.
Parents often wonder if a child should be allowed to be with the pet during death and see the body after the pet is dead. Brannan suggests asking children what they want to do. If the parent or child does not feel the need to be present during the euthanasia, then an alternative is to go back into the room after the euthanasia proceedure and say goodbye. Seeing that the pet is actually dead often helps give children and parents a sense of closure.
During the grieving process, family members at various age levels will react differently. Children under two can sense stress in the house even though they do not know the cause. Brannan suggests comforting them and paying extra attention to them during the grieving period. “Children 2 to 5 typically believe they are invincible,” explains Brannan. Death is a reversible feat that cartoons like the roadrunner and coyote enact. Although they may not understand that their pet is dead, explaining death concretely now will help them understand it better later.
Eight-year-olds might understand that death is irreversible; however, in their minds, the universe revolves around them. “So if they think bad thoughts like, ‘I don’t want to walk Fluffy today. I wish she would just die’ and then a couple months later, Fluffy does die; a child this age might believe that their bad thoughts caused the death of the pet,” says Brannan.
Children may react in ways that adults wouldn’t. They may draw pictures of their pet underground, bury dolls, or ask shocking questions about what is happening to their pet’s body underground. All of these responses are normal and healthy.
Showing your own grief in front of your child is healthy as well. Hiding grief might make children wonder why you don’t miss the presence of the pet in the house. This could lead to them wondering if you would be sad if they died. Grieving and crying in front of a child validates to the child that these emotions are OK to express.
Families can be creative about memorializing their pet. Plant a tree. Put an engraved stone in your cat’s favorite spot in the house. Write a letter to your dog. Encourage children to draw pictures. Each family member should be encouraged to memorialize their pet’s death in a way meaningful to them.
If you or a member of your family is having trouble dealing with the loss of a pet, call (217) 244-CARE for hours of operation. The C.A.R.E. Helpline was developed to provide a supportive outlet for people experiencing disruption in or the loss of the bond they share with their cherished companion animal. The hotline is staffed by veterinary students who understand the importance of this bond and the emotions involved when that bond is threatened or broken. The students have received training by professional grief counselors and receive ongoing supervision by a licensed psychologist.