I grew up with dogs and as a young man had a couple of dogs that became good friends -- I recall a Lhasa Apso by the name of John Milton in particular. He was less than two years old when I lost him. One minute we were playing on the floor of my parent's basement and the next he was gone -- a burst cerebral aneurysm I was told later.
Just recently we learned that a couple of old friends in Michigan lost one of their best friends, a standard poodle that went by the name of Charley. I don’t think I’ve ever known a more pleasant or friendlier creature than Charley and can only imagine the pain his loss brought on our friends. In fact, I think it's probably safe to say that a good companion and friend taken from us is never an easy loss to bear.
“People love their pets,” writes the Humane Association of the United States, “and consider them members of their family. Caregivers celebrate their pets' birthdays, confide in their animals, and carry pictures of them in their wallets. So when your beloved pet dies, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your sorrow. Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love during the time they share with you. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you've already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss: knowing that it is okay to grieve when your pet dies.”
The HAUS reminds us that the death of a family pet can be particularly hard on seniors. “Those who live alone may feel a loss of purpose and an immense emptiness,” notes the HAUS in their handy online guide (see sidebar). In addition, the loss of a pet “may also trigger painful memories of other losses and remind caregivers of their own mortality.”
According to the Humane Association, it is absolutely essential “that senior pet owners take immediate steps to cope with their loss and regain a sense of purpose.”
One solution is to adopt another pet of course, but that poses other dilemmas for the senior: the pet may outlive the caregiver and of course a new pet may strain a person’s physical and financial abilities to provide adequate care.
Humane Association recommends several things to help cope with the grief that comes with the loss of a family pet: write about your feelings, call your local humane society to see if they offer support services, and explore the internet for pet loss support groups. You might also consider preparing a memorial for your pet, sharing the importance that "Metronome" or "Gwitty" or "Bandit" had on your life.
So, how can you go about honoring the memory of your old friend?
One way is to plant a special tree or shrub in your yard. You might also create a scrapbook of photos and give it a special place in your home. Or you might consider holding a special service at a nearby pet cemetery where you can even donate a tree or bench with your name and the name of your pet on it.
According to the International Association of Pet Cemeteries there are more than 600 active pet cemeteries in the United States, and many operate in conjunction with other pet-oriented businesses such as boarding kennels, grooming centers and the like. Established in 1896, the Hartdale Pet Cemetery in New York is the oldest operating pet cemetery in the US. The largest is reportedly the Bide-a-Wee Home Association, also located in New York, with supposedly more than 5,000 burials in one of their cemeteries alone.
In the Rhode Island area there are a handful of choices: you can check with the Potter League in Middletown (see sidebar); and there is Rose Hill Pet Cemetery in Peace Dale, RI. Angelview Pet Cemetery and Crematory in Middleboro, MA provides a large number of services, including memorials, memorial services, burials, and various funerary items as well.
One of the more curious pet cemeteries in Rhode Island is on the grounds of the K9 Instincts boarding and training facility in Portsmouth, RI. The cemetery was originally opened in the late 1930s, making it probably the oldest pet cemetery in the state. It is also the final resting place of Pookie, the “good friend and faithful companion” of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Pookie apparently passed away while the family was visiting Rhode Island in 1956.
Whatever you choose to do, one thing is for certain: the loss of a treasured member of your family will be something you’ll remember for years to come. I suspect that it's not just the loss of a "good walking pal" or a "playful puppy" that has left such a large hole in so many lives. I wonder if what isn't really missed is the loss of the utterly, absolutely unconditional love and loyalty that is second nature to the family pet; attributes that many believe they may never ever find anywhere else.
The Humane Society of the United States - http://www.hsus.org/ Information on pet cremation - http://www.angelashes.com/petcremation.htm The International Association of Pet Cemeteries - http://www.iaopc.com/ Pet cemeteries in Rhode Island - http://www.pet-loss.net/resources/RI.html Pet cemetery in Portsmouth, RI - http://www.k9instincts.com/ Angelview Pet Cemetery http://www.angelview.com/ Potter League in Middletown, RI http://www.potterleague.org/
It's been a predominantly hot and sticky week here in Providence. We can of course be thankful for no snow, I admit, and are least grateful for a shift back to less humidity and cooler temps this weekend.
Anyway, little rain and mostly sun has greeted us pretty much every morning. (photo: I admit, I was taking pictures at a local cat show; and yes, pretty much what you'd expect -- lots of cats.)
Like the title says today is Sunday, Father's Day and we can't help but think about our missing dads as we go about today's household chores.
Of course not a day goes by that I don't think about my dad -- it's been months since Rush Medical College agreed grudgingly to the DNA testing and then everything fell off the radar. It's finally gotten to the point where our Vermont attorney has sent them another letter, this one quite threatening but what other choice do we have? I cannot help but wonder, particularly today, if these folks who are at the other end of this story, who probably have fathers they love dearly, if they would like to find themselves in our situation.
A rhetorical question I suppose and I am left to simply wonder at the rationalizations that must zip around the office cubicles and labs at a place like Rush Medical Center.
And of course we are thinking of Tunis, Susan's dad. There never was a harder working soul and the smiles he would get on his face listening to the stories of Uncle Jack or Uncle Don were always worth the price of admission to any family outing -- and here I'm particularly reminded of those on that bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.
But one father is still with us -- Joyce's husband Carl and it looks like the two of them will be joining us at Dick and Dorothy's house in Douglas later today! It'll be great to hear all the news from the North woods and we're bringing the sparkling wine . . .
Otherwise things have been pretty much the same around here: Susie continues to work on developing new desserts for Gracie's and Nell's Sweet Treats continue to sell briskly at the downtown Providence market on Saturdays. (Click here for more details.) I'm finding myself drawn deeper and deeper into the mysterious world of content management systems for the web and frankly am lovin' every minute of it.
So for the moment we are well in good spirits and doing OK. We hope you can say the same and if not that your winds will change for the better and soon.
Oh, and did I mention that we're going back to Paris in September? I didn't? Well that's another story. . .
Like the title says, Gracie's had their booth set up again at the Providence downtown market this last Saturday. In fact they plan to continue to set up at the market on Westminster street through the month of June and then again in September. Susie baked French-style macaroons as well as shortbreads, chocolate cupcakes and oatmeal cherry cookies; Gracie's also put out their trio of sandwiches, on fresh-baked breads and croissants of course, along with plenty of cold drinks (corn syrup-free thank you very much).
This is all very new for everyone but the look and feel of the Gracie's booth is making enormous strides to be sure. Anyway I think the photos pretty much tell the whole story. . .
This probably isn't going to be what you think it's going to be -- no, this is about death of a household pet.
The thing is, I'm writing a piece on pet cemeteries for the August pet issue of Prime Time magazine and given my interest in how our species deals with death, I was intrigued by how (some folks) grapple with the death of a household pet. I grew up with dogs and as a young man had several dogs for friends -- I recall a Lhasa Apso by the name of Milton in particular. One minute we were playing on the floor of my parent's basement and the next he was gone -- a cerebral aneurysm I was told later. (photos above from an old pet cemetery in Portsmouth, RI.)
Just recently we learned that not one but two of our friends have lost their own good friends -- and I think it's probably safe to say that a good companion and friend taken from us is never an easy loss to bear. For some, the grieving process calls for finding a way to memorialize the importance that "Metronome" or "Gwitty" or "Bandit" had on their lives, to share their sense of loss with others seems, I suppose, a crucial step in getting on with their own lives.
I suspect that it's not just the loss of a "good walking pal" or a "playful puppy" that has left such a large hole in so many lives. I wonder if what isn't really missed is the loss of such utterly and absolutely unconditional love and loyalty that seems to be second nature to the family pet; attributes that some believe they may never we'll never find anywhere else.
So, this last Saturday I drove over to Massachusetts and paid a visit to the Angelview pet cemetery and crematorium. It was an absolutely beautiful day, a bit warm perhaps but still a wonderful day to be outside, strolling the grounds, contemplating the many memories of absent friends:
Like the title says, this has been a week of firsts for us in Providence.
The first time we paid over $50 for a tank of gas in our Mini -- we can only imagine what the fillup costs might be for folks driving Ford Excavators. Thank heavens we can walk to work. . .
The first time the weather climbed above 34 degrees Celsius (93F). Fortunately the condo has a/c -- which works.
Strange as it may sound, this past week we ate at a Vietnamese restaurant for the very first time -- Minh Hai in Cranston. Delicious food, warm people, a great way to spend an evening out. Check out my blog entry on Dining in Providence. And speaking of dining out, it was also our first experience(s) at a waterfront dining in Rhode Island. More of that right here.
And of course the big news is the launch of Nell's Sweet Treats. The folks at Gracie's think so much of Susie and her delicious baked goods that they arranged for a line of sweets to be sold at local markets as well as in the restaurant. Wonderful packaging and a great design.
Oh, and if you're interested in cats, I was at the West Warwick Cat Show today, Sunday, taking some photos for an upcoming article for the August "Pet" issue of Prime Time magazine:
In the next week or so I'll be cobbling together information and more photos for an article on pet cemeteries for the same issue -- and I'll be thinking of Stan and Margie and the loss of their good friend Charley.
Another twist on the Gerrish story in Winter Harbor. It seems that a local woman -- a baker as it turns out who had once worked with Roxanne and Patrick making pies and such -- is planning on renting the place year round! She's going to turn it back into a basic, no-frills bakery and cafe serving up homemade goodies. Rumors abound that the roads in and around Winter Harbor, particularly the asphalt leading to Birch Harbor, have received major face lifts this year; long overdue to be sure. We hope to report on the veracity and accuracy of such claims later this summer.
Still scorching at almost 95F and tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. Heat seems to be the watchword this week.
We hear only bits and pieces of the continuing saga of J. M. Gerrish's Provisions and Market. It certainly sounds as if there may not be a Gerrish's open this year. But then we are so far away that all we get is hearsay. Still, the Ellsworth American reported recently that the cafe is still closed and still up for sale or lease. (Click here for the full story). All of this must be so unsettling for many of the folks in Winter Harbor.
All I know is that we spent one of the best summers in modern memory drifting between that cafe and Schoodic Point. We did some incredibly interesting things and met some extraordinary people. For that experience we'll always be grateful.