by David Caddell, Hospital Director
Every year on the second Sunday in September, people join together in observing National Pet Memorial Day.
On this special occasion we honor service dogs—military, law enforcement, fire rescue—who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, along with the memories of our own beloved pets. Some people simply take a bit of time to remember the many wonderful memories of their beloved pets. Others like to participate by planting a tree or a shrub as a living memorial.
When thinking about my grief journeys related to personal pets I’ve lost, I learned that my memories of them serve as an instrument bringing me happiness and joy. Yes, I do get sad and a little melancholy, but the overall emotions are definitely positive. It’s as though the many, many fond memories I have of them serve as the proverbial gift that keeps giving. Moreover, my family has had the same experience. These amazing, joyful memories help us to remember how much happiness our beloved pets brought into our lives.
Random Things Can Bring a Rush of Memories
Two recent events brought special memories associated with pets I’ve owned roaring back to my consciousness.
The first was my youngest daughter finding her Wii video game console which hadn’t been played in probably six years. We were sitting together in our family room when she fired it up and to my family’s surprise, we saw a forgotten profile for one of our now deceased dogs, Eli. It was very touching moment as the family burst into “Awwws” followed by comments related to the many amazing memories we shared of Eli. My oldest daughter was Eli’s handler when he was obedience trained as a puppy and she was particularly touched by the precious moment.
The second event was a very, very kind email an Ann Arbor Animal Hospital client sent us, complimenting the veterinarian and staff who helped them say “good-bye” to their beloved cat. Coincidentally, the name of their cat happened to be the same as a dog I owned shortly after graduating from college.
In my email reply expressing appreciation and gratitude for their very thoughtful email, I let them know of the great memories I had of my dog which came flooding back due to the simple name association between our two pets and the shared experience of pet loss. I encouraged the client that, as they progress through their grief journey, the difficult experience of losing their kitty will become a source of joy as they remembered how much they loved him and all of the wonderful memories they now have of him (easier said then done, but true… time heals wounds).
The War Dog Memorial
Locally, if interested, Michigan has a War Dog Memorial. These events are in the month of September for honoring two working dogs:
Sept 07 – K9 Buzz Interment- Police Dog
Sept 14 – K9 Niko Interment – Police Dog
For more details, please see the Michigan War Dog Memorial website.