I was reminded recently while at a visit to the beach with my family of the powerful attachment some of us have to the dearest members of a family, our pets. While at the beach with our two dogs, a young man walked by and exclaimed to his family “he looks just like Franky” while pointing to my little chihuahua-mix. He then asked to pet my dog to which I said, “sure”. It’s important to understand that my chihuahua is a bit grumpy in his old age and doesn’t usually show affection to strangers. He knelt down and pet the dogs head and my dog responded uncharacteristically by giving him kisses on the nose. To watch the exchange of emotion between the two beings melted my heart. The young man told us his “Franky” had passed away a couple years ago and he was so happy to see a dog that reminded him of his treasured pet. In that moment, I was so glad my little dog could offer some happiness to this stranger. I was left reminded of the powerful attachment and that special bond some people experience with an exceptional pet, and ultimately the loss many feel after losing that exceptional pet.
I have chosen to use the phrase “exceptional pet” to describe the pet that forms a special and specific bond to a person. The exceptional pet is the one that you remember most fondly and recall with the deepest emotion after they are gone. The one that cannot be replaced. It is a relationship and bond that likely cannot be truly understood unless experienced first-hand. I decided to reach out to a dear friend of mine who lost her exceptional cat earlier this year and also has the unique perception of working in the veterinary field and sees people every day who have to put down a beloved pet. She wrote the following words and graciously gave me permission to use them in this blog post.
“When you grieve the loss of a pet, you may feel guilty that you made the decision in haste. You may feel embarrassed that you are so distraught over an animal. You may feel angry that no one understands your pain. You may feel sad that you lost a friend and a life-long companion. These feelings are all natural and necessary. Please find someone to speak with; a friend, a family member, a therapist, or a support group. Find solace in knowing that other people have experienced the same feelings. Know that you are not alone in your grief.”
If you have recently experienced the loss of your exceptional pet and are interested in beginning therapy with a fellow animal lover, please contact me today at email@example.com. Grief is not something that has to be experienced alone, nor be ashamed of. I look forward to speaking with you and hearing your story.
-Dr. Sarah Jacobs Paul
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
To make an appointment with Dr. Sarah, please call (619) 403-5578 or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dr. Sarah Jacobs-Paul (registered psychological assistant PSB 94023195 ) is a wonderful doctoral-level clinician who works under the license of Dr. Abi Weissman (PSY 27497).