DEAR ABBY: You gave some nice advice to "Afraid of the Loss" (June 25), who wrote concerning the impending death of a beloved pet. I think your suggestion of a support group is helpful, but having lost a pet I had for 16 years, I have experienced the deep pain this man will feel.
Adding a second pet to his home while his pet is still alive often energizes an older pet. When the time comes, it will help the human to have another loving pet to help with the grieving.
As I learned, only time was able to take the deep hurt to a place where I could think of him without tears. Keeping the ashes of a pet can be comforting, whether you choose to bury them later or tuck them away in your home.
Most important is having a plan for when that moment comes so you automatically know what needs to be done. It really helped to have all the details of his final moments thought out so I felt in control.
I wouldn't have missed the love of my dog even knowing the pain that has to come in the end. It's something that should be on everyone's bucket list. -- CATHY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CATHY: My thanks to you and all the readers who sent heartfelt letters supporting "Afraid." It's easy to see why dogs are called man's best friend because of all the love, affection, entertainment and companionship they give us, and why we only want the best for them in this life and after. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your pet is your child. Anyone who doesn't understand that isn't worth worrying about when the loss occurs. Will it hurt? Of course. But the pain does ease in time.
When my first dog died, I spoke with a grief counselor at the local veterinary college. It didn't make my pain disappear, but it helped me to understand it more. Your pet does not live in the future, but in the moment. Enjoy every moment you have together and accept the unconditional love your pet has given you. You will get through it. -- DEB IN BELMONT, MICH.
DEAR ABBY: Having shared the love of many pets over the years, I have found that dealing with the loss of our furry friends never gets easier, no matter how many times you go through it. I just reflect on all the cherished times I shared with them, and I know I did my best to make their lives grand. I know I'm better off for having shared their company.
Having rescued all of my past and current pets from shelters, I saved them from an uncertain life. I gave them a loving home with affection, stability and a warm bed. While they all leave us at some point, their memory lives on in our hearts.
I think Irving Townsend said it best: "We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan." -- FOUR PAWS FATHER
DEAR ABBY: "Afraid of the Loss" is not alone. Anyone who has known the love of a dog knows the fear of losing that unmatched companionship.
When my dog was reaching the end of his lifespan, a fellow dog-lover advised me to get a puppy. I'm passing her advice along to "Afraid." Get a puppy or go to the shelter and adopt a dog -- any dog. You will save the dog, and the dog will save you right back. -- MONIQUE IN TEXAS
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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