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Canine Crime Fighter Crippled by Police Duty
By John McQuiston -

Turk lives every day in pain from injuries acquired on the job as a K-9 officer. Like thousands of K-9 retired police dogs across the country, the retired 5-year-old German Shepherd faces the rest of his life without medical care or benefits for his years of serving with the sheriff's department.

DOVER, Fla. -- Turk relaxed on the couch in his home in this suburb of Tampa. It looked like a well deserved rest for the former K-9 cop.

Then his owner called him.

The 5-year-old German Shepherd struggled to rouse himself, laboring to get his rear legs under him before gingerly stepping off his perch.

Turk's tail wagged behind an unnatural curve in his spine.

"See the hump right here?" Charlotte Raschke asked. "The very two last vertebrae in his back have collapsed into each other."

Raschke was Turk's human partner on the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department for three years. She adopted Turk after his retirement, which has not been a comfortable reward for a job well done.

Tests and treatment for injuries that forced Turk out of service are beyond Raschke's financial means. The sheriff's office, like most increasingly cash-strapped police departments, does not pay to care for dogs no longer on duty.

Raschke met Turk when he arrived from Czechoslovakia for training. Hillsborough County trains dogs for its own police department as well as for other agencies.

"Our sheriff is very pro K-9 so we get the best of care, the best equipment, the best trainers, the best dogs," Raschke said.

The department pays for all of the dog's food and vet care while he's in service. Police dogs live with their human partners when off duty. The constant companionship creates a bond that may go beyond any training.

"If I sent him after a bad guy, he would give his life to protect me," she said.

Turk did not actually give his life for the sake of duty, but he did sacrifice the quality of his life.

Night after night, Turk tracked scents of suspects -- sometimes following a lead for miles -- through water and over fences. He still sports scars from a fight with a razor-wielding suspect. He survived another suspect who held him under water after a chase through heavy brush that left Raschke behind.

"He would fight his way up, still holding onto the guy," Raschke recalled.

The close calls never fazed Turk.

"We get the bad guy, take him out, (Turk's) all happy-go-lucky. 'Alright, what's next,' " Raschke said.

"They just have such big hearts," she said of police dogs in general. Turk is one of three K-9 partners she's had in her eight years working in Hillsborough County's K-9 unit.

But over time, the violent encounters exacted a price that even the strongest heart could not afford. In September, Turk scaled a 7-foot high fence during a pursuit.

"The very next day, I noticed he was slow getting out of the patrol car," Raschke said. "Within a week, he wouldn't get up off the ground."

Police dogs last an average of five years on duty. Injuries forced Turk to retire after just three. It was obvious Turk had a back injury but tests to determine the exact problem would have cost thousands of dollars.

"I certainly don't hold the sheriff's office responsible for it," Raschke said. "I understand."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is not unique. In an e-mail to Pet Pulse, Jerry Bradshaw, CEO & Training Director of Tarheel Canine Training, Inc., a Sanford, N.C., company that trains and sells dogs for police use, said that handlers generally take on all costs of caring for a retired police dog.

The care is often left to the dog's former human police partner. In Glendale, Calif., when a police dog is retired, the city will sell the K9 to the handler for $1. According to the Glendale Police K9 Unit's web site, that transaction relinquishes the department of any liability or responsibility for the animal.

John Usher, Head Trainer of the New Hampshire Police K-9 Academy said the same thing is true in his state.

Turk caught a break when a television station in St. Petersburg, Fla., told his story. After Dr. Juliet Gladden of Florida Veterinary Specialists learned of Turk's plight, she offered to administer the initial battery of tests for free.

The results were inconclusive. The best guess is that Turk suffers from an auto-immune disease that is attacking his joints. He is now being treated with the steroid prednisone, as well as antibiotics.

If the treatment is effective, the steroids may cut Turk's life expectancy in half. But time isn't a factor for Raschke.

If Raschke can "get him four good years," it will be worth it, she said.

If the treatment fails, Raschke is back to square one, with Turk needing heavy doses of painkillers to get through each day.

If he could have a say, Raschke's Rottweiler, Recon, might root for an effective treatment louder than anyone. One recent day as Turk lay on the couch, Recon paced impatiently outside, seeming to wonder why his buddy wouldn't come out to play.

"He doesn't play with the other dogs any more," Raschke said. "They used to chase each other and he won't do any of that."

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Terrier Therapy
By Lucretia Cardenas - Hcnonline

THE WOODLANDS – As soon as Shintsa, a Tibetan Terrier, enters the doors of Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, she is the center of attention for visitors and staff.

And when she enters patients’ rooms, smiles creep onto what seconds before looked like tired-out faces.

Since October, Jackie Kaar, a nurse at Memorial Hermann, has been spending more time at the hospital with her retired show dog Shintsa. They started the pet therapy program at the hospital, and officials hope more dogs and their owners participate.

“I’ve always thought it would be neat to bring in a dog; but at the hospital I worked at before, it was not allowed,” Kaar said. “Shintsa is the right dog for it and she’s gone through training.”

Hospital spokeswoman Linda Nelson said the Memorial Hermann wanted to begin a pet therapy program when Kaar approached them.

“It’s such a good match,” Nelson said. “We like it for the stress level for the staff as well.”

Shintsa visits patients every Wednesday. Last week, her first trip was to the fifth floor, which is dedicated to oncology. Shintsa walked into Angelina Walker’s room, and the patient’s eyes lit up with joy.

“Oh, she is gorgeous,” Walker said as Shintsa hopped onto her bed. Walker lives between Montgomery and Conroe.

Walker began petting Shintsa and rubbing her ears.

Puckering her lips just a bit, she said, “You are pretty. I would like to take you home, but I don’t think my little Lasso would like that.”

Then, while petting Shintsa, Walker shared stories about her dog at home, who she trained to ring a bell to go outside and how, now at 16 years old, her dog is a “grouchy old girl.”

Shintsa’s next trip was to visit 6-year-old Trenton Davis, of Conroe. He was in the hospital overnight, and the nurses said the first time they saw him crack a smile was when Shintsa arrived.

Although Davis didn’t appear to be quite as thrilled as Walker was about Shintsa, he did smile occasionally, groomed Shintsa and fed her a treat.

Kaar wishes she could take Shintsa around to patients all the time, but, currently, it’s strictly volunteer work.

“It would be great it we could get her (Shintsa) in as a resident,” Kaar joked.

For more information about the pet therapy program or how to become involved, contact Manager of Volunteer Services Susan Shelander at (281) 364-2392 or

Pet Communication
By Associated Press -

MISSOULA (AP) — In her living room high above the Missoula Valley floor in upper Miller Creek, Kathleen Mensing spends most of her early mornings in deep meditation, conversing with animals.

She calls herself an animal communicator, and for the past several years she has learned how to tap into an innate psychic ability, which she says all humans possess in varying degrees, to help heal human-animal relationships.

She’s not a psychic medium. Rather, Mensing is a psychic mediator.

Her telepathic work most frequently involves locating lost pets, helping animals understand medical procedures, explaining to young or new animals the rules and expectations of living with humans, and helping abused or abandoned animals through trauma.

She doesn’t have to be in the presence of her nonhuman clients; indeed, she prefers not to be when she is doing her work. Fewer distractions can mean a better telepathic connection, she says.

Within the first few minutes of explaining her unusual work and talent, Mensing is quick to say she knows what she does may sound bizarre to most people.

But, the pleasant, poised and self-deprecating middle-aged psychotherapist asserts she is not schizophrenic. She’s even gone to a therapist to find out for sure.

‘‘Telepathic communication between my mind and an animal’s mind — how it works I don’t really know,’’ Mensing explains. ‘‘But it does, and because there is proof, I keep on doing it.’’

Mensing’s journey into the murky world of telepathy began in 2001 when her dog, Wheatie, was almost trampled to death by a deer in her backyard. The deer was so aggressive that it turned on Mensing when she tried to chase it off.

Wheatie was so terrified that the small Bichon Frise-cross refused to leave the house for four days, and then, suddenly on the fifth day, she bounded outside and began her retaliation.

Wheatie became a 14-pound lion that could not be called back from deer hunting.

Frustrated, Mensing turned to Jane Heath, a Helena animal communicator.

After discussing the problem with Wheatie — in full sentences — Heath told Mensing the little dog was trying to keep her human safe, and that’s why she refused to stop chasing deer.

Heath told Wheatie the best way to protect Mensing was to stay close to her, and during the conversation, heard from the little dog about its abusive past before Mensing rescued it.

As far-fetched as the conversation seemed to Mensing, Wheatie changed her behavior in a matter of days, and transformed from a shy and frightened creature into a confident and happy dog.

Curious about the telepathy, Heath encouraged Mensing to take a class to learn more about animal communication.

Mensing’s teachings launched a full-blown journey to know even more, a journey that has taken her to Europe and Canada to learn from international masters in the field of animal communication.

Mensing, who has worked in many fields, including journalism at the Missoulian, said she communicates with animals in words and writes out the conversations on her computer as she talks with each individual.

Artists, she explained, are more likely to experience the communication in pictures just as dancers are more likely to received the information through feelings.

Telepathy, Mensing said, is a gift most people are born with, but is something that needs to be developed just like any other skill.

‘‘I think it’s like music,’’ she said. ‘‘Almost everybody can learn to play some musical instrument. Some are more gifted than others, but we all have some basic idea of how to play an instrument.’’

When Mensing is hired to help an animal owner better understand a pet — be it a dog, cat, horse, rabbit or any other creature — she first asks her human clients to fill out an intake form that gives her a description of the animal, its living situation and to explain the issue as they understand it.

In the early morning hours, just after waking and a cup of coffee, Mensing quiets her mind and envisions the animal.

She then begins by calling out its name in her mind and introducing herself.

She asks simple questions at first and she asks the animal of the hour to describe its eating area, its living area, where it is at the time they are talking.

Mensing gathers what she calls the ‘‘tangibles” — things that prove what she is doing works. Things like the color of the food dish, the place where the animal sleeps, the thing they like best.

Many of her work’s results are told in Mensing’s newly published book, “The Way I Hear Them.”

Among the stories is the tale of two terriers that return after being lost in the mountains for 10 days, and a poodle that makes instant friends with a kitten after Mensing explains the new house pet isn’t a squirrel.

Mensing reaches for words to describe what it is like to talk with animals.

“Their personality comes through right away and their personal energy,” she said. After a long pause, Mensing explained the actual process “sounds as if you are just thinking a thought,” like having an internal conversation.

Puppies have a short attention span, so it’s only possible to have short conversations with them, she said.

“But older animals with experience, it’s amazing how much wisdom and depth some of them have.”

In the past eight years, Mensing’s abilities have become more keen and she has become more confident as an animal communicator.

It’s why she is now willing to step forward to talk about it.

Her agenda, Mensing said, is not financially based. She wants to help improve the lives of animals and to inspire others with the same curiosity — and the same talent — to explore the possibilities.

“I used to say I was always amazed when telepathy works,” Mensing said. “And now, after all this time, I’m amazed when it doesn’t work.”

Mensing, who has been quietly doing this work, is no longer afraid of skeptics, she said.

Her strength comes from those she helps and from Albert Einstein, whose words she cherishes and knows by heart:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We live in a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

PSPCA Reminds Pet Owners to Protect Animals During Cold Weather

PHILADELPHIA - Winter’s deep freeze has hit the Commonwealth and the Pennsylvania SPCA reminds you to protect your pets from the cold and bring them inside your home. A dog or cat’s fur coat doesn’t mean that it can survive if left outdoors in the cold. Give your friend a warm place to sleep inside, away from drafts.

Recently the PSPCA investigated the case of a dog found frozen to a fence in Philadelphia. The dog’s owner had left the dog outside tied to the fence overnight when the temperature dipped to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your pet has short hair, invest in a sweater or coat he or she can wear to keep warm when going on walks. If you must take your pet in the car when the weather is cold, don’t leave them alone. Like a car can become an oven in the summer, in the winter, your vehicle is like a refrigerator with the potential to freeze your friend to death.

Not only is the temperature dangerous for our pets, but many products used during this time of year can also be hazardous to your dog’s or cat’s health. While the sweet taste of antifreeze is appealing to animals, when swallowed, the chemical can be deadly. Be sure to clean up all antifreeze spills and keep the container out of your pet’s reach. Use antifreeze coolant made with propylene glycol. This form is not dangerous for animals if ingested in small amounts.

Rock salt and snow melting products can irritate your pet’s feet. After walking outside, be sure to wipe off your Fido’s or Fluffy’s feet before he or she licks them and hurts his or her mouth.

Be mindful of wild animals, feral cats and stray animals that often climb under the hoods of cars to keep warm during bitter nights. Bang on the car’s hood before starting the engine to wake the animal.

If you see an animal left outside or in a cold car for a prolonged period of time, contact the PSPCA’s toll free cruelty reporting hotline, 1-866-601-SPCA. A PSPCA law enforcement agent will investigate the call to protect an animal in danger.

Residents Head to Meeting to Back Pet Measure
K Kaufmann • The Desert Sun

About 30 Coachella Valley residents are on a bus bound for Riverside this morning to give their support to a proposed ordinance requiring all cats and dogs in unincorporated areas of Riverside County be microchipped and spayed or neutered.

The new law will be the focus of what is expected to be a contentious public hearing at today's 9 a.m. meeting of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors at the County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St.

“The population of animals is completely out of control; there's no supply and demand,” said Lindi Biggi of Palm Desert, who has organized area support for the ordinance.

The proposed law is aimed at reducing the number of strays and abandoned pets in the county's two public shelters — a figure estimated at 40,000 for 2008, county officials said.

The law would require all dogs and cats in the unincorporated areas of the county to be microchipped. Spaying or neutering would also be required for all cats and dogs older than four months.

Dogs that have licenses allowing them to be unaltered would be exempt. In addition, the proposed law would be enforced only if a pet owner is cited for another violation of animal control laws.

“Everyone is saying animal control officers will come to their homes and take their animals away,” said Supervisor Roy Wilson of Palm Desert, who supports the ordinance. “If they're responsible pet owners and keep their pets contained, they don't have to have them microchipped and spayed and neutered.”

But Terry Toussaint of Yucaipa, who raises malamutes, said even responsible pet owners sometimes lose control of their animals.

“No person, regardless of precautions, can guarantee that one of their dogs will never get out,” Toussaint said. “If one of my dogs were to get out and be impounded, they can refuse to return the dog until it's altered at my expense.”

While the county does not euthanize healthy, adoptable pets, more than 50 percent of impounded animals are euthanized, said Dr. Allan Drusy, chief veterinarian for the county Department of Animal Services.

Even if the new law passes, “there will be no immediate impact,” Drusy said. “In a couple years, you'll be able to see results.”

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Picking Pet Insurance
By Niro Rasanayagam - News

Pet owners in North America spend more than $10 billion annually on health care for their pets.

The cost of veterinary care has been increasing in the last few decades, primarily due to the rapid advancements in medical technologies used by veterinarians. Life-saving technologies that were once used for humans are now available for our four-legged family members, whereas previously many illnesses and conditions were untreatable in pets.

The pet health insurance industry, too, has exploded during the last two decades with a multitude of policies and carriers. It can be daunting and confusing to wade through the numerous packages and insurance jargon, let alone to determine if you should even get pet health insurance for Fido or Fluffy.

The greatest advantage to pet health insurance, of course, is should your pet become sick or need an expensive surgery or treatment, your coverage should kick in. You will have the peace of mind to focus on taking the best care of your pet rather than being distracted by veterinary bills. If the condition is life-threatening, having pet health insurance will also spare you the heartache of ever having to decide between saving your beloved pet’s life or incurring a large veterinary bill.

On the other hand, you could get pet health insurance and pay your insurance premiums, but your pet may never get gravely ill or be hurt badly.

So in these tough financial times, what should one do? What’s the best choice? What should you be aware of?

First, consider the four types of pet insurance plans available:

—Traditional plans. Typically cover illnesses, accidents and sometimes even preventive care, such as vaccinations and wellness exams. You pay a monthly premium to the insurance carrier. When your pet receives treatment covered under the plan, the insurance company will pay part or all of the bill. The more comprehensive the plan, the more expensive it will be.
—Customizable plans. Similar to traditional plans, but you are allowed to choose the levels of coverage and can customize what is actually covered.
—Accident-only plans. Only accidents are covered; does not cover illness or wellness exams.
—Discount plan. You pay a fee to access a network of veterinarians. Your bill will be discounted by a certain percentage as long as you use an “in-network” veterinarian.

General concepts
In a nutshell, there are choices, and not every pet requires an expensive traditional plan. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping around for pet health insurance:

In general, it will be less expensive if you get a plan that will kick in to cover only very large claims or will pay smaller portions of your bills. In contrast, it will be more expensive if you get a plan that will pay most of the bill when your pet receives treatment.

Keep in mind, traditional plans will not cover “pre-existing” conditions. If your pet already has an illness or condition, you might want to get a discount plan.

If your dog is of a breed that’s prone to problems, such as “hip dysplasia” which is common in large dogs with sloping backs (such as German Shepherds and boxers), or respiratory problems, which are common in small dog breeds, talk to your veterinarian about getting health insurance coverage before your pet develops or is diagnosed with the condition. Otherwise, it will be more difficult and expensive to get insurance once the condition has been diagnosed.

Certain pets may not qualify for insurance due to age and breed or there might be a “breed surcharge.”

On the other hand, if you feel your pet is in no particular risk, you could wait until your pet is 5 or 6 years old before getting health insurance. Like people, pets tend to accumulate medical bills as they grow older.

An accident-only plan is a good buy if your pet is very active, if you have a sporting dog prone to injuries or if you feel that your pet is particularly accident-prone.

Be sure to understand how vet emergency services are covered.

Special discounts might apply (for e.g. if you’re enrolling multiple pets, or if your pet is microchipped).

The cheaper policies tend to pay only for accidents and illnesses, but that might be all the coverage your pet needs. The cheaper policies also have higher deductibles, but are nonetheless effective in keeping your out-of-pocket costs down in case of a catastrophic illness or accident.

Shopping around
If you are purchasing pet health insurance, do shop around, obtain quotes, and make sure you’re doing an even one-to-one comparison among the various policies and carriers. Also, before you buy a plan, make sure you fully understand what is and isn’t covered; insurance plans are rife with “exclusions” and special terms. has a helpful resource of what these exclusions and terms mean, and does a good job of breaking down the various plans and what they offer objectively.

Dozens of Pet Rats Dumped at Chester Railway Station
by Laurie Stocks-Moore, Chester Chronicle

DOZENS of rats have been found abandoned on a platform at Chester Railway Station.

The RSPCA is appealing for information after the 42 rodents were discovered in two sealed boxes on a platform at the station at 12.30am on Thursday, January 8.

The boxes were stacked one on top of the other and one of them had an A4 piece of paper stuck to it with a note reading: “Pet rats in transit, handle with care”.

RSPCA inspector Leanne Hardy said: “We don’t know whether they were left on the platform by mistake or whether they were abandoned but I’m hoping anyone who knows anything about them will get in touch as soon as possible.”

The platforms are searched every hour, which means the boxes must have been left between 11.30pm on Wednesday and 12.30am on Thursday.

Only two trains came through the station during that time, one from Manchester Piccadilly and another from the Merseyside area.

Many of the rats, which are a mixture of juveniles and adults, are described as ‘dumbo-eared’ or ‘elephant-eared’, which means their ears are lower and not as folded as the standard type.

There are two females with babies among them, which are still quite small. Most are white with brown or grey stripes.

Inspector Hardy said: “They are in reasonable body condition but many are suffering from urine scolding, which has caused them to have bald patches, presumably from living in a very small space.

“They’re all very friendly and if we can’t find the owner we’ll be looking for new homes for them.”

The owner, or anyone who thinks they have any information about who they may belong to, should call the 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999 and ask to leave a message for RSPCA inspector Hardy.

The rats are currently in the care of RSPCA Warrington, Halton and St Helens Branch Animal Centre.

Staff are inviting anyone who is interested in offering a rat a home to get in touch on 01925 632944 as soon as possible, as space is very limited.

Despite Rough Economy, Japanese Still Paying for Companionship
by findingDulcinea Staff

Lonely people in Japan are still willing to pony up for rented friends both animal and human, and even rented families.

BBC correspondent Duncan Bartlett reports that agencies where people can rent pets, friends and relatives continue to do brisk business in Tokyo.

It is not unusual to pay a stranger for companionship on the island nation. Campus Cafes, where men can go and socialize with female university students, have been seeing increased business, as they are a cheaper alternative to upscale hostess clubs where businessmen and politicians drink with women dressed in kimonos. The exchanges involve more verbal flattery than sex.

At another agency called Hagemashi Tai, or “I Want To Cheer Up, Ltd.,” actors can be rented to pose as relatives at weddings and funerals, or to dispense life advice. Other agencies provide single mothers with temporary “husbands” who do housework and take care of children.

“Cat cafes,” where people can enjoy short-term companionship with cats, and other pet rental companies, are still going strong as well. “People in Japan work very hard and renting a pet can make them feel less lonely,” said Mayumi Kitamura, the rental manager at a pet rental store in Tokyo, to The Daily Telegraph.

The Japanese rent-a-pet business has been flourishing for almost a decade, the Daily Telegraph reported in April 2008, in a nation where space limitations and apartment regulations make more permanent pets a difficult option. There are now about 150 companies in Tokyo that allow people to pay for a variety of “short but intimate encounters with professional pets,” according to the BBC.

In 2007, the Japan Times reported that at the pet rental establishment Zoo Japan, the most popular rental animals are dogs (5,000 yen for a six-hour rental), cats (5,000 yen), hamsters (1,000 yen), rabbits (2,000 yen), ferrets (3,000 yen), turtles (1,000 yen), guinea pigs (2,000 yen), squirrels (3,000 yen), birds (1,000 yen) and squirrel monkeys (100,000 yen).

“When I look into his eyes, I think he’s my dog,” Kaori, a waitress, told the BBC about the Labrador she rents every Sunday. “But when I take him back to the shop, he runs away from me and starts wagging his tail when he sees the next customer. That’s when I know he’s only a rental dog.”

In the United States, the idea of renting a pet has not caught on so quickly. An American dog rental company called FlexPetz was forced to shut down last year when lawmakers and activists raised ethics concerns. In Boston, city officials passed a law prohibiting dog rentals when FlexPetz tried to open in the city. Trainer Ray McSoley, who also called FlexPetz a “four-legged escort service,” argues that dogs need more stability and long-term commitment than pet rental services can offer. But FlexPetz CEO Marlena Cervantes responded that their dogs, who need homes, are happy to be receiving good care and to be leading active lives.

FlexPetz was eventually forced to close its doors in the United States and London. But The Wall Street Journal suggests that those in the United States who want to fulfill their short-term pet needs can take advantage of informal pet-sharing arrangements with friends and neighbors, which some say is more humane than a commercial service because there are fewer people involved in the dog’s life.

Michigan Mom Kills Family Dog with Wiimote
Scott Thorn -

In Marqutte, Mich., Christmas in the White household was happy this year. The children got a Nintendo Wii from the parents, maybe Santa, and were anxious.

The family broke out into a raucous game of competitive Wii bowling when the unthinkable happened.

Ozzy, a five-month-old miniature Sheltie, was watching his owners play with their new Nintendo Wii console when he was accidentally hit with one of the game's remote controllers.

"We had just got the Wii for Christmas," explained owner Kathy White, "so we were trying it out, and that's when Alexis and I were bowling and Ozzy was standing by me and he jumped up and I hit him in the temple and killed him instantly."

Instead of taking the dog to a vet, Kathy called her neighbor to come over to confirm the death.

January 13, 2009: According to Kathy, Ozzy was not moving or even breathing. He was, for all intents and purposes, dead. She called her neighbor, Pene Honey, and started screaming that she killed her dog. Pene felt for a pulse, which apparently slowed and then stopped altogether. Ozzy's nose was breathed into, but it was looking bleak. However, after around five more breaths, Ozzy suddenly coughed and woke up.

The dog was rushed to the vet where it was discovered he had severe brain swelling and underwent cardiac arrest. Luckily, he is now fully on his way to making a complete recovery, and is no longer allowed in the room when the family are playing their Wii.

So, a lesson to all you kids out there: don't let mom play with your Wii.

Do Pets Grieve the Loss of a Companion?
by Dee Siat, Miami Pet Loss Examiner

Many households have more than one pet. When a pet dies the other surviving pet will feel the loss and may show signs of grieving. Perhaps your surviving pet sleeps longer, does not seem as interested in playing or eating, or wants more attention. Dogs in particular have very similar emotions to humans, they know something has changed and they grieve the loss just as we do. The difference I believe is that animals live more in the now, they learn to move on more quickly then we do.

When I lost my beloved dog Dakota her brother although not biologically related began to spend more time in the bedroom. He seemed to be lacking in energy. I knew that he missed her allot, they were very bonded. My two fur babies did everything together they were constant companions for over 10 years. It seemed normal and natural that Gizmo would feel the loss of his big sister.

Animals pick up our energy
Our pets can feel our energy, they know when we are happy and they know when we are sad and not feeling up to par. I sometimes wonder if my little guy stayed in the grieving stage longer because I did and he knew mom was devastated. I was low on energy and so was he. In those first few weeks I spent many hours crying and he was right there taking it all in. Animals do learn to move on very quickly however, we can sometimes impede their natural ability to do so by remaining in a state of grief ourselves.

A study shows that pets do grieve
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) conducted a Companion Animal Mourning Project in 1996. The study found that 36 percent of dogs ate less than usual after the death of another canine companion. About 11 percent actually stopped eating completely. About 63 percent of dogs vocalized more than normal or became more quiet. Study respondents indicated that surviving dogs changed the quantity and location of sleep. More than half the surviving pets became more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers. Overall, the study revealed that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion. Well that just about says it all now doesn't it?

Helping your pet get through the loss
Give your surviving pet more attention and love. Take him/her on a special trip, take them for more walks. I went out and bought new toys for Gizmo and some new treats. Since Gizmo is a Yorkie I took him out to lunch with friends, we went to an outdoor cafe that welcomed well behaved pets. I also took him to flea markets and other outdoor events. When Dakota was with us there were less trips because she was a big girl and it was harder for us to go many places. When you have a smaller dog you can just carry them so I took advantage of his smaller size.

The real key to helping your pet through the loss is for you to take action and get yourself through the loss. When we are happy, balanced and feeling well, so are our pets.

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