Dog Dad Zack Manko and his dog Sorcha remind us to celebrate the journey with our four-legged family, and to understand when we (or someone we know) struggles with the inevitable goodbyes!
Adding a pet to your life is the start of a special journey, one that requires much but gives so much more back. Unfortunately, this journey will inevitably come to an end. This month, we’d like to talk about what it takes to make the most out of this journey with your pets, and how you can help others do the same.
National Pet Memorial Day
The second Sunday in September is National Pet Memorial Day. Owning a pet is a joyous experience, one that helps us develop responsibility, provides friendship, and teaches us loyalty. Losing them is a difficult event, and properly memorializing them is a powerful way to honor them and the time we spent with them.
For many, this means remembering the many good times and fond memories we created with these critters. Others, however, may want to do a bit more to celebrate the memory of their four-legged friends.
Pet Perennials offers many pet memorialization options to show our pets the tribute and respect they deserve. For example, our Healing Hearts Candles are a cheerful reminder of the light these animals brought to our lives. Similarly, our Memorial Wind Chimes will remind you of all the wonderful times you spent together outside.
Perhaps the best way to memorialize your pet is through new growth and life, with a Memorial Garden Kit. Our signature item, this kit comes with flower seeds that you and your family can plant to create an ever-blooming garden, symbolizing the eternal bond between you and your furry companions.
From keepsakes to eternal gardens, we have items that are tasteful and heartfelt, to help you express your genuine love and thanks to pets that are no longer with us.
Grief and Depression
Additionally, when these special animals leave our homes and lives, there is a period where we must come to grips with the emotions that arise from that loss. While periods of sadness, loneliness, and regret are common, many people also experience more acute or longstanding emotions. For example, some may become angry or frustrated, and lash out at friends and loved ones.
However, while these turbulent emotions are a normal part of the grieving process, many pet owners enter a prolonged depression after their four-legged companion dies. This chronic sadness affects their mood or outlook on life. They may lose interest in activities they used to do, especially those connected with the deceased pet. This depression may even impact their ability to take care of themselves or perform basic life functions.
There are many factors that can increase the risk for depression. People that live alone, whose pets were their only source of companionship or connection, are more likely to develop depression. Other lifestyle factors, such as activity level, diet, and overall wellness, also play a role. Drug and alcohol use can also increase the risk of depression, as do genetic factors and life status.
Making matters worse is that there can often be a stigma against pet-related grief and grieving. There are many who feel or believe that grieving over a pet is silly or unnecessary. At best, these individuals will not show sympathy towards a grieving person; at worst, they will tell a person grieving over the loss of a pet that they have no reason to be sad.
This callousness places unnecessary emotional stress and strain on those suffering the loss of a beloved furry companion. It invalidates their feelings at a time when they need support and care. While some individuals may need some “tough love” to get back to normal, such counsel should occur later in the grieving process, and be delivered with sympathy and respect.
With all that being said, we here at Pet Perennials encourage you to be the first to support any family member, friend, or acquaintance that is going through pet loss. Send them a text, give them a call, or pay them a visit to let them know you care, and to check on their emotional well-being.
If you do suspect that someone may be suffering pet loss-related depression, be sure to keep an eye out for warning signs. Weight loss or gain, prolonged mood swings or other emotional activity, and behavioral changes are all indications that the individual may not be coping well. In such cases, gently suggest that they may be dealing with depression, and should consider seeking help. You can also offer resources to aid them on their journey back to normalcy.
AKC Responsible Ownership Month
While memorializing our pets is a fantastic and symbolic way to honor them after they are gone, we should also strive to do right by them while they are alive. September is the American Kennel Club’s Responsible Ownership Month, and it’s the perfect time to reassess whether or not you are properly caring for your furry companion.
Responsible ownership entails many aspects. Some of these start before you even welcome a dog into your household. For example, before you bring a dog home, you should spend some time confirming that you have the resources to properly care for the critter. Every breed has their own requirements for space, activity, food, and medical needs. Be sure that you have the time and finances to feed and care for them before you decide to become an owner.
Once you do become an owner, responsibly caring for your dog is an ongoing task. It requires a commitment to look after them daily, not just when it suits you. This means feeding them appropriately and ensuring that they get the exercise and activity they need. It also means that you’ll have to see to any special grooming or health requirements.
Of course, responsible ownership is not completely about duty and discipline. It also means bonding with your dog. Play fetch with them, or tug of war. Pet them or lounge about with them. Get out that leash and take them for a walk—we’ve never met a dog that doesn’t go bonkers at the sight of a leash or lead. Make your dog a part of your day and a part of your life.
It’s About the Journey
Dogs are fantastic companions, as are many other types of animals. They are great for families, young couples, and those in their twilight years. We should properly love and care for them while they are with us, and love and remember them when they pass on. September is the perfect month for thinking about both.
From all of us at Pet Perennials, we wish you and your pets the best!