SAYING goodbye to a much-loved pet is the toughest part of owning an animal. Often people do not understand the heartache it brings.
Today is National Pet Memorial Day — and for Diane James every day is spent helping owners remember the love they shared with their pet.
National Pet Memorial Day is time to grieve for the much-loved pets you have lost[/caption]
Diane is the head of the Blue Cross bereavement service which deals with 12,000 calls and emails a year from pet owners struggling after a companion’s death.
She says: “Pets are part of the family and we support owners who have lost their pets, or if they are missing or terminally ill.
“If you know your pet is very poorly one thing to do is create a bucket list of things they might enjoy that you can use to remember them by.
“You can take pictures, take them on walks to their favourite place, give them food they love and create experiences that you know will make them happy.
“Once they have passed away, another nice thing you can do is create a memory box with their collar, lead, bowl and toys, and make photo collages.
“You can plant a tree in their favourite spot in the garden and write a letter to them to say the things you wanted to but maybe didn’t get the chance.
“People grieve in different ways and our message is that it’s OK to feel sad — it’s not ‘just a dog or cat’ and people shouldn’t think it’s silly.”
Last month Emma McNulty, 18, from Glasgow, was sacked from her waitressing job when she asked to take the day off as her Yorkie, Millie, had died.
Often people do not understand the heartache losing a pet can bring[/caption]
She prompted calls for employers to give compassionate leave to staff bereft at the loss of a pet.
With 41 per cent of owners saying their pet is their “best friend”, Diane says employers should show understanding of the bond they share.
Employment law specialist Danielle Parsons, of Slater And Gordon, agrees.
She says: “The relationship we have with our pets should be recognised. It builds morale and rapport and humanises that employer/employee relationship.
“The staff member might spend some of their time working from home with their pet so they will feel the sense of loss even more. Particularly when people might live alone in cities, they might not have family close by and they naturally become very attached to their pet.
Employers need to be thinking, ‘What can we do to attract the best people and how can we keep our staff happy?’”
Currently, recommendations for bereavement leave, paid or unpaid, are at the discretion of the employer.
Danielle said: “I think it’s right that if employers are offering other work perks, then pet leave — whether it’s to welcome a new pet or say goodbye to their animal — should be considered.”
- For support, visit bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss.
Star of the week
MEET Seamus the Staffie, who once had a bleak future after being dumped in a shelter.
But now Seamus, ten, has a new lease of life after being adopted by Emma Mills-Wallace and has become a therapy dog who brightens up the day for residents at Ashbourne Lodge Care Home in Derby every week.
Seamus works for Therapy Dogs Nationwide and goes for walks and cuddles with the residents.
Emma, 31, said: “Seamus has gone from a dog that no one wanted to being a dog who everyone wants to cuddle. He is such a sweet boy.”
SIMON WOOD, from Wimbledon, South London, has a cockapoo called Fred, aged four.
Simon writes: “Fred was the most well-behaved, lovely dog but suddenly he’s started becoming aggressive to other dogs.
A Cockapoo is a mixed-breed dog that is cross between either Cocker Spaniel breeds and a poodle[/caption]
“He lunges to bite them when we are out for a walk. He goes to doggy day care and they say he doesn’t do that there. I don’t know why on earth he’s doing it.”
I wonder if something happened that gave him a negative view of other dogs recently?
If Fred was frightened by another dog while on the lead, he may be barking and lunging as a defence mechanism as he’s insecure. Try to build a positive association around other dogs by treating Fred’s calm behaviour at a distance from passing dogs first and then gradually closer.
But make sure not to accidentally reward the unwanted when he barks by patting him or reassuring him. Just ignore and go back to rewarding calm behaviour at a distance again.
SALLY JEWELL, from Bradford, has inherited a boxer dog called Rosie.
She writes: “My neighbour died and I took in Rosie who had spent most of her life on lead but is an adorable dog.
The Boxer is a medium-sized, short-haired breed of dog, originally from Germany[/caption]
“But since she’s been with me she’s aggressive and goes for other dogs. I can’t take her out locally as I’m too embarrassed. I’ve had to hire a field so I can exercise her on her own.”
Poor Rosie. If she has not been socialised very well when young, this would be a common reason for her to be fearful of them, and therefore aggressive.
It can be a difficult habit to get on top of if it is ingrained for a long time.
I would recommend seeking the advice of a professional dog behaviourist to work with Rosie, which may be a cheaper option than hiring her own private field.
- Pet Vet Sean McCormack, of the tailored food firm tails.com, is on a mission to help the nation’s pets.
WE have TWO sets of weekend passes for the dog-friendly Millie’s Beach Huts (milliesbeachhuts.co.uk) in Essex to give away to readers.
As well as access to the huts at Walton-on-the-Naze, your dog will get a goodie bag worth £30.
To enter, send an email marked MILLIES BEACH HUTS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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