Hi Fellow Animals Lovers!
It's only my second week blogging and I already feel so very welcome! Your warm wishes and stories about your own adopted animals are truly heartening. I see many of you writing are 4-legged friends yourselves. I can't help wondering if it isn't quite challenging to type with paws...
Brooke is a 2 1/2-year-old bulldog mix. She loves life, is house-trained and great with dogs, cats and kids!
Posh Pets Rescue, New York City: Contact Linda 917-319-4304; firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you mentioned recently losing a beloved furry or feathered companion. I know personally that these losses can feel unbearable. We owe a great debt to our animal friends. They enrich our lives in immeasurable ways. So naturally when a beloved animal dies, I believe rituals to say goodbye are critically important.
Families who have recently lost a pet often ask me what the "proper protocol" is regarding when to get another animal. While there is no "proper protocol," I do not recommend getting an animal if you do not have the mental or physical resources to properly care for one. I do believe, however, that one of the best ways to honor an animal companion who has passed is to help another who is in need. The are many way s to do this, and it is a fitting way to express your gratitude. It allows the life lost to impact another life in a positive way.
The ways you can help can take many forms and are healing for everyone involved. Tending to another animal -- perhaps someone's loyal family pet who was recently relinquished to a shelter due to financial strain, or an orphaned kitten who might need extra care -- can help you to pro-actively counter the feelings of helplessness that accompany grief. Animals need us to be present. They call us out of our grief, and in turn provide great comfort as we see them flourish in our care.
Local rescue groups need help in myriad ways, so you can cater your skills and time availability accordingly. Sponsoring or raising funds for a local rescue group to save an animal whose time is up at their municipal shelter is one way to help. Some groups will let you choose the animal you wish to save. Sponsoring an animal already at a sanctuary is also an option.
Fostering an animal for a local rescue group is a terrific option. It provides the critical time needed to connect the dots between an animal in need and an adoptive home. It also allows those grieving to be in the healing presence of an animal.
To find a local shelter and have them contact you with ways to help, visit BeMyHero.com, choose a shelter and sign up to volunteer. You'll be glad you did!.
And finally, adopting an animal in need of a loving home is always a great way to pay tribute. With one cherished life having passed and another life left grieving, adoption effectively allows one plus one to equal three -- the third being the adopted animal now saved by the love generated between the other two lives. Visit Martha's Pet Adoption Center to search for an adoptable pet near you.
If you opt to adopt soon after your pet has passed, I definitely do not recommend trying to find an exact replica of the animal who died. This sets the new animal up for unfair comparisons and impedes healthy grieving. But adopting an animal who can be valued, appreciated and loved in his or her own right is healthy all around. After all, what is more life affirming than actually saving a life?
It wouldn't be the first time we thought we were saving them -- but it's really these precious animals who are saving us!
In loving memory of the loyal companions we have lost, and in recognition of the animals who need us now,
Dr. Pia Salk
PS I've included a gallery of sweeties in need of a helping hand through foster, adoption or donations. Contact groups directly to inquire. It is always possible this pet has been placed by the time you see them here – which is great!- So be sure to inquire about others you can help if that happens!