Things to do after your dog has died

Ralphie 2

This poem was written by a friend and colleague, Catherine Young. I hadn't seen her in awhile, and then ran into her at a local coffee shop, where she handed me an envelope with a poem she'd written in it. Oh thanks, I said, focused on other issues at the time. I stuffed the envelope into my purse and thought nothing about it until a few days later when I dug it out to clean up my purse before traveling. And then I read it, and sat down and read it again and got all soppy-eyed and petted Willie and went to the couch and got Tootsie on my lap and read it again. It's the best description I've ever read of how many of us feel after we lose a beloved dog, and it seems especially fitting after so many evocative comments from last week's blog about "dogs as family." Here it is, with a Read More

Helping a Dog Through a Loss

Snapdragons Phx

This is Part II of our case study about helping a dog after a loss (see August 24th blog for Part I). As usual, many of you came up with  insightful and helpful comments. I benefit from your thoughtfulness every day, and I thank you for it. If you are interested in this topic, either personally or professionally, I encourage you to read the first post about Dogs Grieving as well as the comments. Here are some of my thoughts and comments about the most important things to do if a dog is behaving as though he is grieving a loss: 1. ACCEPTANCE. Easiest to say, hardest to do. By "acceptance" I mean accepting that you couldn't prevent the death or disappearance of another, and that you can't 'fix' the pain that your living dog may be going through. If your dog is truly grieving (and I Read More

First Case Study – A Grieving Dog


Lots of you liked the idea of doing some case studies, as well as reviewing and discussing photos and videos. I think it's a great idea, so here goes our first one: Here's Sleeves on the left, and Patch on the right. I'm sad to report that Patch died just last week and her sister Michaela died only a month ago. All three of them, "Boonie" dogs--or mixed-breed dogs as they are called on Guam where they were born, were raised together and were litter mates. The litter lost their mother at 4 weeks, and owner Cin bottle fed them and raised them together. Brother Sleeve appears to be devastated at the lost of both of his litter mates in such a short period of time (not to mention poor Cin, the owner). Sleeve appears to be grieving, and is described as "so sad" by Cin. Usually this Read More

Why I farm

butterfinger lamb rob (2)

Last  Saturday my teenage ewe, Butterfinger, had her first lamb. I found her in the barn pen, licking off a slippery package of skin-covered bones covered with tiny whorls of wool and placental slime. Even though she was a first-time mom, she was a good one. She attended to her lamb just as she should, licking off the sack and clearing her head and nose first, nickering to her repeatedly, and standing patiently during the lamb's first wobbly attempts to find the faucet. After I had seen that things were going well and the lamb looked hardy and healthy, I dipped the umbilical cord in iodine, and my guests and I left them alone and walked up the old farm road to visit the rest of the flock grazing in the breeze at the top of the hill. When we came down the lamb seemed a bit weak; she'd Read More

Give a Dog your Heart – Children’s Book


There's a new book out for children that is designed to help them cope with the death of their dog. It's titled "Give a Dog your Heart" and is written by Aubrey Fine, Ed.D., a child psychologist who has been using dogs in AAT as long as anyone. I'm not completely objective, Aubrey and I co-authored a chapter in his new Handbook of Animal Assisted Therapy, and I found him to be kind, compassionate and a joy to work with. Still, if I didn't like the book I wouldn't post a note about it. The book is beautifully written and designed, has break your heart photos of a black lab, and a wonderful section at the back for children to use as an album and a journal. Hard as it is, pets are such a good opportunity to help children learn about how to wend your way through the woods when you are Read More