“The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be.”
- Konrad Lorenz
Anyone who has loved an animal knows the deep sorrow that comes with losing a furry best friend, and the difficulty it brings in moving past the loss and trying to seek solace in that they once were by our sides. Just because the sun has set on their lives and they are no longer physically with us, does not mean we cannot celebrate them and honor their very existence. By doing so, it not only keeps them near to us even after they are gone, but it is also cathartic for our grieving hearts.
1. Write About Them
Whether you keep a personal journal, write a blog, or pen poetry, sharing moments from their lives can be so beneficial. For me, after the loss of each of my beloved dogs, I found myself working through the grief by sharing moments of their lives in my FiveSibes blog, and still do!
There are so many wonderful memories of days spent with our pets, why not relive some of those wonderful memories and share with others? I host a weekly FiveSibes #FlashbackFriday Blog & Media Hop for just this purpose, where I invite others to “hop along” and share a moment and/or photo of their own. I have a saying for my flashback moments, “Memories are visits for the heart.”
2. Create a Memorial Space
A memorial space can be a variety of things, indoors or out. You can create a special spot in your home where you keep cherished photos along with their collar and tags, and a favorite toy. It can also be an outdoor area; a garden spot with flowers, solar paw lights, and a memory stone that you can visit and quietly reflect on your life with them.
3. Design a Memory Wall
Matte and frame favorite photos. Find a spot in your home where you can create a memory place. Or, you can choose your favorite photograph and commission an artist to create a portrait to hang up on a wall in your home. Then, each time you pause in front your memory wall, it will remind you of what a beautiful life s/he had and shared with you.
4. Have a Special Trinket Made
Whether you make it yourself or purchase, memorial trinkets can be anything, including a piece of jewelry that in your own way represents your pet, to having some of their fur woven into an ornament or clothing accessory. Maybe it’s having a mug or mason jar candle with a design of your dog’s likeness, or even have a custom plush replica made. Whatever brings you peace and healing joy, go for it.
5. Get a Tattoo
Maybe you always thought about getting a tattoo of your pet, but never did. This is a perfect time to get one whether it is a portrait or their name or whatever is symbolic of their life. Just before having it done, a) sketch out the design you wish to have; and b) ask around for recommendations for good pet portrait tattoo artist.
6. Foster a Shelter Animal
So many dogs are waiting for their forever homes in overcrowded shelters, and, sadly, many never get a chance. Many of these animals only have a certain amount of time to be rescued or adopted before they face euthanization. Perhaps this is a good time to welcome a foster dog into your home, to not only help the homeless dog, but also help you through your grief.
Maybe your heart is not quite ready to welcome another dog into your home. And that’s okay. We all heal in whatever time it takes to heal. Kamira Gayle, a pet grief blog writer at impurrfectlife.com, offers good advice on not only how to deal with pet loss, but also how to move past the grieving stage. “I learned to find healing after loss,” she says. And what did she discover through her own pet loss to help her overcome her grief? “Volunteering. Believe it or not, helping others, specifically helping pets actually helped me find immense healing.”
8. Make a Donation
Another great way to memorialize your pets is to make donations in their name. It can be new or previously loved/gently used items or a cash gift to a shelter or rescue. You can also donate funds to a non-profit organization that specializes in what your pet may have passed from. Another special idea is to check with your local university to see if you can create a scholarship in your dog’s name for a student studying to be a professional in the pet world such as a veterinarian or veterinarian technician.
Whatever it is you decide to do to memorialize, celebrate, and honor your pet is completely up to you. Remember, your memories are yours to keep and cherish, because memories truly are visits for the heart.
Did You Know?
A great place to purchase items to donate in your pet’s name is from 4Knines.
From vehicle seat covers to leashes, harnesses, seat belts, blankets, and even dishes, they have it. Plus, 4Knines donates a portion from every purchase to help animals in need.
To check out their catalog of high-quality items and to see what charities they have donated to over the past 10 years, visit their website HERE.
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author. Her canine books include EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle (ArcticHouse Publishing). Her internationally top blogsite is FiveSibes™ , based on her five Siberian Huskies, and includes an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed.
Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul & Rosie the Riveter book series, Woman’s World Magazine, AmericanPet Magazine, American Dog Media, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy has been awarded the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers of America Association for “Excellence” for her writing, photography, and fiction. Her book EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and the NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. She was named “Best Author” by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four of her books were named “Best in Print” by AmericanPet Magazine.
An official International Purple Day® for (K9) Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy partnered with the nonprofit Purple Day® Every Day presented by The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for her #Paws4Purple initiative, and she created the #FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K9 Epilepsy Online Resource Library—all inspired by her epileptic Siberian Husky, Gibson, in order to help other Epi-dog families find accurate information to help their Epi-dogs.