Tag Archives: dealing with grief

Are You a Dog Lover, or a Dog Guardian?

From the Dog Cancer Blog: Are You a Dog Lover, or a Dog Guardian?

dog-cancer-guardianYour role as a Guardian is the first thing Dr. Demian Dressler, author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, talks about in his book, and for good reason.

When we’re facing cancer, we need to be fierce warriors and protectors. This is sometimes a stretch for those of us new to the diagnosis. As Dr. D says:

“Disbelief is a normal reaction; as a fellow dog lover, I truly sympathize. But disbelief doesn’t help your dog. Changing your thoughts from ‘I can’t believe this’ into ‘I can deal with this’ is your first priority.”

Your first step takes you from being a Dog Lover to becoming a Dog Guardian.

We’re all dog lovers, of course. We adore our dogs – and many of us think of them as our family members. But we must, when it comes to cancer, become Guardians first and foremost.

What’s a Guardian?

A Guardian protects. A Guardian stays calm in a crisis and makes choices based on logic and reality, not wishful thinking.

And a Guardian is in charge. You know your dog better than any veterinarian, oncologist, healer, friend, or your dog itself. And so you must take the leadership role in your dog’s care.

Think of it this way: whoever gets paid to take care of your dog is your employee.

You can look at their opinions and expert advice as just that: expert advice.

But ultimately, you are the expert on your own dog, on your relationship to your dog, and on your life.

So: You’re in charge.

You’re the Guardian.

The role of Veterinarians and Oncologists

Your veterinarian employees – or team members, if you prefer — have great expertise that you probably don’t have.

For some guardians, that means those experts make the decisions about cancer treatments. And if that’s what you want to do, that’s fine – as long as you, the Guardian, have decided it is what is right for you.

If it’s not, however, you get to call the shots. Dr. Susan Ettinger, coauthor of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, is a veterinary oncologist, and she assures us that she does not think of herself as “in charge” of any of her clients.

“The owner is in charge, and I help them with my expertise. My responsibility is to use everything I know and everything I’ve experienced to bring clear, calm, reasoned protocols to the table. I have to take everything into consideration, including budget, preference, tolerance to the therapy, and of course, any other health issues the dog may have. I have to work closely with the primary care vet. I have to explain my thinking and recommendations in detail, and be honest about what I think my suggestions will offer to clients. But ultimately, all decisions are made by the owners.”

Emotional Management

Whether we like it or not (and many of us here at Dog Cancer Vet have not liked making the transition from dog lover to dog guardian) we Guardians are in charge.

And so we have to deal with our emotions, so we can think clearly and make good choices on behalf of our dogs.

When you get your copy of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, you might be surprised to see how many pages are dedicated right up front to managing emotions. But Dr. Dressler included the exercises and explanations for a good reason: we humans get dumb when we’re emotional.

Make sure you don’t skip over chapters 1, 2, and 3. And definitely read chapter 4, which reminds us of the dog’s super abilities.

Once your emotions are managed, you’ll be able to tackle the details in the rest of the book.

Because it has soooo many resources, we highly recommend The Dog Cancer Survival Guide for anyone dealing with dog cancer. It’s available everywhere books are sold, including Amazon.com, and also, of course, on our store.

Best Wishes & Doggy Kisses from Our Homes to Yours,

Dog Cancer Vet Team

(The Team of Dog Lovers Who Understand What It Means to Have a Dog with Cancer)

About the Author: Dog Cancer Vet Team

There is a whole team of dog lovers behind Dog Cancer Vet and DogCancerBlog.com, and we’re here to help, because we understand what it’s like to deal with dog cancer. We work for Maui Media, the book publisher which includes paperback and digital copies of the best-selling animal health book Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. This must-read book is available everywhere books are sold in paperback, and digital formats (iPad, Kindle, Nook). It is authored by our veterinarian bloggers Dr. Demian Dressler, and Dr. Susan Ettinger, DVM, ACVIM (Oncology).

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Buried Next to Your Pet? B.F.F. in Albuquerque, NM

I saw this post today on the Albuquerque Journal News website. What a fantastic idea!

Rick Brittain, a Family Services consultant, sits in a room used by families to have a private moment with their pets before they are prepared for burial. He holds an urn shaped like a collie. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Rick Brittain, a Family Services consultant, sits in a room used by families to have a private moment with their pets before they are prepared for burial. He holds an urn shaped like a collie. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

When Laree Perez passes away, she will spend eternity near her whole family – not only her late husband Jerry, but also their three black Labrador retrievers, Fudge, Hershey and Kiss; and Perez’s three horses, Wilbur, Smooth and Splash.

With them will be Qwendy, another German shepherd Perez lost two years ago, and DIXI, her 2-year-old German shepherd, the newest member of her family.

Laree Perez rides her horse Wilbur In 2013. She said she will be cremated, placed in an urn, and buried near Wilbur when she dies. (Courtesy of Laree Perez)

Laree Perez rides her horse Wilbur In 2013. She said she will be cremated, placed in an urn, and buried near Wilbur when she dies. (Courtesy of Laree Perez)

Perez has purchased enough burial plots for the whole brood at a unique interment area at Sunset Memorial Park. Created so the remains of pets and their human companions can be buried together, it is called Best Friends Forever, or BFF.

The quarter-acre area, landscaped into a Zen-like garden and separated from the rest of the cemetery, is believed by the staff at Sunset, who regularly attend national conferences, to be the only cemetery in the Southwest that buries the remains (in most cases cremated) of both animals and humans together.

“We can all be together again,” said Perez, 60, an investment manager and Sunset Memorial Park Association board member who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. A resident of Corrales for 20 years, she also has a ranch in Yeso.

Her husband died almost 18 years ago in a plane crash at age 52, a tragedy that the dogs they shared at the time, which she referred to as her “four-legged children,” helped her get through.

“It’s the answer for people who think like I think, that animals should have a place to go, just like we should, at their time of death,” she said in a recent interview.

To continue reading please click here

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.9.14

mosey and me

“Dogs Never Die”

mosey & me at park 1.26.14

I saw this post on Facebook this morning. It is from a website called Dog Heirs, a wonderful site full of photos, information, tips and suggestions about all things dog. They say the author of the piece is unknown so, if you wrote it and happen to be reading it on my site, please contact me directly and I will attribute to you.

I found this post to be beautiful, sad and comforting at the same time. Mosey has had (fingers crossed so as to not jinx) seven good days in a row since last Friday’s scare. The horrible thing about this journey is just when you breathe a sigh of relief that your dog is “well”, you are smacked in the face with the realization that it is a temporary happiness. The “winning the battle but losing the war” saying comes to mind. Comforting stories such as this one really help. But be forewarned…you will probably cry while reading…I did.

“Some of you, particularly those who think they have recently lost a dog to ‘death’, don’t really understand this. I’ve had no desire to explain, but won’t be around forever and must.
Dogs never die. They don’t know how to. They get tired, and very old, and their bones hurt. Of course they don’t die. If they did they would not want to always go for a walk, even long after their old bones say: ‘No, no, not a good idea. Let’s not go for a walk.’ Nope, dogs always want to go for a walk. They might get one step before their aging tendons collapse them into a heap on the floor, but that’s what dogs are. They walk.

It’s not that they dislike your company. On the contrary, a walk with you is all there is. Their boss, and the cacaphonic symphony of odor that the world is. Cat poop, another dog’s mark, a rotting chicken bone (exultation), and you. That’s what makes their world perfect, and in a perfect world death has no place.

However, dogs get very very sleepy. That’s the thing, you see. They don’t teach you that at the fancy university where they explain about quarks, gluons, and Keynesian economics. They know so much they forget that dogs never die. It’s a shame, really. Dogs have so much to offer and people just talk a lot.

When you think your dog has died, it has just fallen asleep in your heart. And by the way, it is wagging its tail madly, you see, and that’s why your chest hurts so much and you cry all the time. Who would not cry with a happy dog wagging its tail in their chest. Ouch! Wap wap wap wap wap, that hurts. But they only wag when they wake up. That’s when they say: ‘Thanks Boss! Thanks for a warm place to sleep and always next to your heart, the best place.’

When they first fall asleep, they wake up all the time, and that’s why, of course, you cry all the time. Wap, wap, wap. After a while they sleep more. (remember, a dog while is not a human while. You take your dog for walk, it’s a day full of adventure in an hour. Then you come home and it’s a week, well one of your days, but a week, really, before the dog gets another walk. No WONDER they love walks.)

Anyway, like I was saying, they fall asleep in your heart, and when they wake up, they wag their tail. After a few dog years, they sleep for longer naps, and you would too. They were a GOOD DOG all their life, and you both know it. It gets tiring being a good dog all the time, particularly when you get old and your bones hurt and you fall on your face and don’t want to go outside to pee when it is raining but do anyway, because you are a good dog. So understand, after they have been sleeping in your heart, they will sleep longer and longer.

But don’t get fooled. They are not ‘dead.’ There’s no such thing, really. They are sleeping in your heart, and they will wake up, usually when you’re not expecting it. It’s just who they are.

feel sorry for people who don’t have dogs sleeping in their heart. You’ve missed so much. Excuse me, I have to go cry now.”

 

May 6th, 2015 update,

I received the following email from the “unknown” author. I am so happy to be able to credit Ernest for his beautiful words:

Name: Ernest Montague

Comment: Hi:

I saw your posting of my piece, “Dogs never die.” Thank you for offering to credit it. I wrote this a while back about my old Pit Bull, Bolo, and sent it to several friends when their dogs died. Then an acquaintance posted it on Reddit and it has seemed to go slightly viral. In any case, credit or no, I am so pleased to see so many people touched by something I wrote. 

I still can’t read it without crying, BTW.

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