pet loss

Currently volunteering a 3hr shift to the Pet Loss Support Hotline at MSU CVM. I am a firm believer that our ‘pets’ are a part of our family and if you are grieving, struggling to cope with their loss, then there should be someone there to help you. Tonight, that might be me!

If you or anyone you know is struggling with the loss of a pet and feels like they need someone to talk to, there are options!

  • The Listening Ear 24-hour Crisis Hotline: (517) 337-1717
  • The Iams Pet Loss Support Resource Center: (888) 332 7738 [M-F 8-5]
  • WSU Hotline: (886) 266-8635 
  • Until April 20th, 2017 MSU Pet Loss Support Hotline: (517) 432-2696
    6:30 pm - 9:30 pm EST [T,W,Th]
Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because of those illusions.
—  Dean Koontz, from “A Big Little Life.”

A tribute to Moa
May 2011 - October 2017
Barred Rock Hen

All my birds are special, but sometimes you get one that is extra special. Trying to explain why in text, without experiencing her presence… it’s hard. Moa was our boss hen; matronly and firm, but never mean. If a rooster was acting out of line with one of the girls, she was the first to hustle over and chest-bounce him into the next county. During the times that I was without a rooster, she took many of those duties; standing guard, always making sure the other girls were safe.

She always had to be near me. She demanded hugs– she was one of those chickens that would walk up, press herself against any part of your body that she could, and wait for you to hug her. She’d stick her neck out and wrap it around you, like the famous video of the little boy hugging the hen. I don’t really have any photos of this, because I was her main squeeze apparently, and it was extremely hard to get a photo of when you were being hugged. I might have videos but my heart is too raw to look right now. Maybe later. The second to last photo above is the best one I have of this behavior. After the hug, if the other hens were all safe, she’d hop into my lap for a snooze while I pet her keel.

My heart fell earlier this year when she started to show signs of egg peritonitis. We took her to the vet and were able to do several successful procedures to help her, including rounds of medication. Still, her body was failing and her genetics were working against her, as she came from a commercial hatchery where volume takes precedence over health; a rant for another time.

I couldn’t let one of my closest friends suffer. After it was determined by two vets that there was no hope, and as her body grew more and more tired, I took her. While in the waiting room, early morning sunbeams swept in through the large windows and I set her down in them, hoping she had enough energy to enjoy it. Sunbathing was her favorite activity, after snuggling. She was weak, but she quickly assumed the sunbathing position and made soft contentment noises. She ate a pile of mealworms with great gusto with sun-bathing breaks. We saw our vet soon after and I said goodbye to one of my best feathered friends.

Photos are captioned, but if you can’t the captions:
Moa, 3 days old.
A painting I did of Moa, larger than life.
My big lady.
Moa was kind and matronly to the other chickens.
Moa loved to snuggle.
Moa and myself. She was always with me, every day.
Moa would touch her face against mine. She never pecked me. (note: I knew Moa very well and trusted her, but please use care as chickens can accidentally harm you if they get curious, especially around eyes)
Big lady Moa in my lap.
Moa’s last car ride. She had to hug me the whole time. (I was a passenger)
Leaving this earth on a sunbeam. This was before the vet saw us, she’s just sunbathing happily.

The hardest parts aren’t even when I come home and he’s not there to greet me, or when I go to bed, he’s not there to snuggle. It’s when I wake up in a daze and look to the foot of the bed wondering where he is. Or when I’m on the couch and scan the room absentmindedly looking for where he’s laying. Or when I’m cooking and I drop something and I go to call his name to come eat it. And fleeting moments of thinking about him home alone but the remembering there is no one there.

This is so difficult. I miss him so much. I am constantly wracked with guilt that I didn’t do enough or spend enough time with him while he was here. Which is insane, I know I did everything I could and I loved him every minute of every day. But my heart is so heavy.

I’m going to a Pet Loss group tonight. I know it won’t have all the answers, but I hope it makes me feel better.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

Author unknown.

A euthanasia is always a sad occurrence. They can involve a beautiful outpouring of love, or a smile shared over happy memories, but they are predominantly sad. Some are much sadder than others, and though I have basically mastered the ability to suppress my sorrow at the time, there is one type of euthanasia that will always get me.

Kids, saying goodbye to a pet older than themselves.

These animals have been there for the kid’s whole life, they’ve been a fixture. The kids are old enough to understand what’s going on, and they’re in such distress. Their expression is a combination of fear, sorrow and denial. Part of them knows the euthanasia has to happen, and that it’s for the best, but they don’t want it to be true. Sometimes they try to bargain, asking for one more day, or even one more hour with their beloved pet to say goodbye.

There’s only so much time.

I understand these kids, more than they will ever know, because I was one of them, once upon a time. That photo above is me pretending to be asleep so my parents wouldn’t take my cat away for the night, and the few strands of fur I kept from her. (She wasn’t allowed to spend all night in our beds.)

I remember her well, and she is likely the main reason I am a vet today. She was almost twenty years old, and she had life figured out. She got herself ‘accidentally kidnapped’ by my parents who then adopted her as an adult cat, and outlived three younger cats. She spent summers in the sun and winters on the ducted heating vents, ate lots of fish and enjoyed sneaking as close as possible to people who hated cats.

I was eleven when her time came. She was wasting away, and trips to the vet became suddenly more frequent. I remember one visit that my mother was certain would result in my cat’s euthanasia, but the vet gave her an injection, probably dexamethasone in hindsight, and she bounced back for a week or so.

It was like magic, and it left a lasting impression.

But it was only a week or so. I think my parents were hoping she’d last through Christmas, to make it easier on us kids, but it wasn’t to be.

One day she couldn’t keep her food down. Not even salmon mousse. So we went to the vet that afternoon.

I was eleven. I knew it had to happen, but somehow I believed that it could be put off. I considered running away from home with my little cat, as if I could avoid the inevitable. I remember going through denial and bargaining so strongly.

I remember her death, and I remember her burial. I can still recall that sorrow decades later.

It was Christmas Eve. I had wrapped presents for her under the tree.

I understand those kids, because I was one of them. I suspect I still am.

I will give them every day with their pet that I can find.

But eventually, these days run out. These kids always get me.


I haven’t really posted recently because this past week has been an emotional rollercoaster…
My boyfriend and I love our cats with all our hearts, but I’ve been dealing with various health issues for years and in the past few months, it came to the point where I wasn’t sure if I could handle the kitties and if I could provide them with the best possible life while struggling with my own physical health on a daily basis. After much consideration, we decided to look for a new home for Leo and Minnie. As if it was meant to be, we found them an amazing, loving, pet-centred family. They already have a dog and they just lost their cat of 20 years. Yesterday we said goodbye to our furbabies so I’m still an emotional wreck but we know it’s for the best… Leo has a new play partner in their dog, and Minnie has their two story house with a huge window that she can explore to her hearts content. And of course they have each other, because we would never separate them. They immediately bonded with the new family and even though we are sad and miss them deeply, we are so happy for our kitties and their new adventure.


I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”
I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.
I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said ” it’s me.”
You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.
The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
and say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out…then come home to be with me.