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One of the saddest things about pet ownership is the loss of your special family member. Jed was a mixed breed who lived with us for 15 years.
Jed's Story is not unlike that of many others who have and will experience a deep feeling of loss for a loyal friend and companion.
We faced a real challenge with Jed because he didn't die of a sudden injury or ailment. He was a dog who remained very healthy up until 13 years. The problem was that he was simply getting old and his body was failing him. His eyesight was failing, his hearing was going, and he was having occasional days where he couldn't walk. I agonized for the last year, watching him deteriorate and knowing that there was little I could do. Finally, his appetite diminished and his bodily functions began to cease. I knew his time should have come but he was hanging on in misery. I gave serious thought to putting him to sleep for several days before I finally made the decision. It was so difficult to do - the feelings of guilt and pain were so great. I found a poem named The Last Battle that helped me very much, I hope it helps you too. A gentleman wrote a beautiful story about his experience with a beloved pet, he titled it Dogs Don't Have Souls, Do They?, it's worth reading.
While dealing with his loss I came across several things that helped me put my feelings into perspective. One of those things was a writing named The Rainbow Bridge. This touching story helps describe the hopes of those who have known the love, loyalty, and friendship of pet ownership and experiened a loss.
The most important thing I learned from my experince with Jed was that the decision to put your pet to sleep doesn't end with an injection. I wondered, what would happen to Jed's body? I found that the bodies are usually not treated much better than household trash. I wanted something better for Jed, but it was winter and he was a very big dog - we knew that digging a grave would be very difficult even if it was Summer. Someone at the vet's office mentioned cremation and mentioned that there were places that would cremate individually. We decided to have him cremated and either bury his ashes in the spring or keep the ashes on the mantle of the fireplace. There are companies that sell canisters to use for cremation or to hold locks of hair or other momentos. I found several companies that do such work even providing specialized engraving and photo imprinting services. It's been some time since we've been through this and I'm still happy with the decision to cremate and handle the disposition of his remains ourselves.
If you are currently dealing with a loss, remember that the love and affection exchanged between you and your pet will remain with you forever and that there may come a time where the two of you will meet again on the Rainbow Bridge. Until then, don't rule out filling your life with the love of another and providing a loving environment for another of God's creations.