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The staff at the Angel Refuge Pet Cemetery & Crematory Inc. are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to memorial and burial services, end-of-life care, grief counseling and more.

Current Newsletter Topics

10 Common Questions Asked after the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a cherished animal companion can cause extreme sadness, intense guilt and a whirlwind of other emotions. Often, you will seek answers to questions that may not be black and white. Below, you will find some of the most common questions pet owners ask of themselves while grieving the death of a pet.



1. When is the right time to euthanize a pet?

Your veterinarian will make a recommendation based on your pet's physical condition and long-term outlook. You, however, have the unique insight into your pet's daily quality of life. By evaluating your pet's health honestly, you will be able to work with your veterinarian to come to the most humane decision for your individual pet. The decision to euthanize will never be easy, but is often the final act of love you can provide a pet who is suffering.


2. Should I stay with my pet during euthanasia?

This is a completely personal decision that you will need to make. Many pet owners want to be there for their pets and witness it so they can see it happened peacefully and without pain. This can be traumatic, but not witnessing the death may make it harder to accept that the pet is really gone. Also, you want to gauge your own emotional strength- if you have an uncontrolled outpouring of emotions before your pet passes, it may be upsetting for him or her to witness. Euthanasia can sometimes be performed at home. Discuss your options with your veterinarian beforehand.


3. I've heard of the stages of grief, but what are they?

The grieving process is often illustrated by five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Typically, you will move through them progressively, but everyone grieves in different ways. You'll know you're beginning to heal when you're thinking more rationally and more often of the good times you shared with your pet rather than of the "what-ifs" and the guilt.


4. How can I cope with my feelings?

Having someone to share your feelings with will help you not have to keep them locked up inside. Don't deny how you feel or simply put on a brave face. You must acknowledge your feelings to work through them. Some of your thoughts may be misguided and as time passes you will be able to realize this. Do whatever works best for you as a means of emotional expression – go somewhere secluded and scream, cry, talk, write, paint, create a memorial, or find a new activity to fill the time you previously would've spent with your pet.


5. Should I just get over it?

It is common to hear the phrase "it was just a pet" when others find your emotions to be too extreme or too long-lasting. These people aren't aware that the death of a pet creates the same emotional response as the loss of a human friend or family member. Grieving is natural and thousands of pet owners can attest to that.


6. Who can I talk to?

Share your feelings with family or friends who have pets. Reminisce about your pet. Or, speak with your veterinarian or local humane association to identify pet loss counselors or support groups. Hospitals and churches also often have resources for grief support.


7. Should I do burial, cremation, or disposal?

This is another decision which should be based on your personal wishes. It can be easiest to have a clinic dispose of your pet's remains (often for a fee), but many prefer something more formal. Based on your living situation, a burial at home may be a good choice. However, both burial and cremation depend on your personal or religious values, finances and future plans. Your veterinarian or an online search will provide options available in your area.


8. What should I tell my children?

Be honest with your children and provide as much information as they seek in a way that matches their age and maturity level. Saying their pet was "put to sleep" is not advised, as they may begin to fear bedtime. Allow your children to grieve in their own ways and be open about your own emotions around them rather than teaching them to keep it all inside.


9. Will my other pets get depressed?

Your other pets may notice a change in the household. Based on their relationship, some may search for their companion, eat less and seem to be grieving. Giving your surviving pets extra love and attention during this time will be beneficial not only to them, but to you as well.


10. Should I get a new pet right away?

Generally, it is best to allow yourself time to work through your grief and loss before introducing a new pet into your home and life. A new pet is a unique individual, not a replacement. Try to avoid getting one that looks the same or naming it the same as your deceased pet, and don't expect it to behave exactly the same either. Getting a new pet too soon may lead to resentment or feelings of disloyalty because you still want your old pet back.

Burial Options for Your Beloved Pet

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. Although cremation has become a popular option, other pet parents still prefer burial – either at home or in a nearby pet cemetery. Burial provides the bereaved with a sacred spot where they can go to visit with their deceased companion. It also allows the owner to feel that his or her pet is still present, still at home and not soon to be forgotten.

A burial site can be adorned with flowers, a personalized headstone or grave marker, or even a statue. Many pet parents will plant a flower or tree atop their pet's grave, or bury their pet beneath an existing and protective tree or shrub.

The Options

Home Burial

Home burial is not always an option. For pet owners who rent, move frequently, or live in an urban area, it may not make sense or it may be forbidden or illegal. Many cities prohibit home burials because of the potential hazard it may cause to public health.

If you do opt for home burial, ensure that your grave site is in an area that won’t be disturbed, is at least three feet deep, and that your pet's body is wrapped in or placed in something which is biodegradable.



Pet Cemetery Burial

Some pet owners prefer the formality of a cemetery burial – with or without an accompanying service. Others simply do not have the space of their own to bury a pet at home. Having your pet's remains buried in a pet cemetery comes with the assurance that the grave site will always be cared for and will never be disturbed. This can be reassuring for older pet parents or those who may move in the future and not be able to relocate their pet's remains.

Burial in a cemetery comes with many options for headstones and other decorative add-ons for your pet's grave or casket. Additionally, many companies exist that can pick up your pet's remains and help make arrangements for a complete funeral and memorial service if that is what you desire. Most states have several pet cemeteries. To locate the one nearest you, consult with your veterinarian or visit the International Association Of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories or the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance websites.

Preparing Your Pet for Baby's Arrival
Greeting a new member of the family

An infant brings many changes to a household, and it's best for your pet if you can make many of these changes during your pregnancy. Cats and dogs are sensitive to routines, and by making changes before the baby arrives, you minimize the chances of your pet resenting the baby.

• You should assume that you are going have less time for your pet after baby is born. Start by decreasing the number of hours you spend with your dog or cat in the weeks before your due date. Consider whether your pet's walking, exercise or feeding schedules are going to change and adjust them now.

• Evaluate your dog's obedience training. If he doesn't respond to commands such as "Sit," "Stay," "Heel" and "No," can't walk obediently on a leash, has a jumping problem, or exhibits any aggressive behavior, seek professional help immediately.

• If you have a cat, make sure her claws are trimmed regularly.

• Children can seem very strange creatures to animals. They are loud and fast, erratic and unpredictable, characteristics that can startle or frighten a cat or dog. If your pet has had little or no contact with children, it's important to begin the socialization process as soon as possible.

• As you prepare your home for your newborn (setting up the crib, buying baby powder, lotion and diapers), allow your pet to see and smell these items so he can get used to them. Don't allow your pet to climb onto baby's furniture or blankets. Cats especially like curling up in the crib or bassinet. If your cat does this, remove him or her and keep the door to the nursery closed.

• Create a place for the pet that is off-limits to the baby. Pets, too, need to get away from the baby from time to time.

The Pet Next Door: How to be a Good Neighbor

No pet owner wants to let their pet come to be known as the neighborhood nuisance. Nor does a pet owner want to be considered a bad or inconsiderate caretaker for their pet.

However, dogs bark and cats can sometimes be a nuisance to neighbors, which can lead to conflicts. These conflicts can also be exacerbated if either side escalates tensions by making threats, calling the police, engaging in passive-aggressive behavior, or taking the other side to court. Once any of these occurs, it is difficult for the relationship to recover and re-find a sense of friendship and mutual respect.

Since we don’t choose our neighbors and we must get along with them, there are a few things we as pet owners can do to minimize the risk of conflict and resolve conflicts once they occur. The first suggestion—and one that is a responsibility of all pet owners—is to ensure you understand what your local ordinances say and require you to do.

Your neighbor may have every right to complain about a dog barking late at night or coming onto his or her property or any one of a range of issues that could be covered by local ordinances. Knowing your responsibilities under the law will ensure that you take proactive steps to minimize possible disturbances that your pet could cause.

Despite being proactive, conflicts may still occur. In this case, do not take the issue personally or react with anger or dismissively. If a neighbor has an issue with your pet, try to be respectful and reach out by talking over the issue calmly. A bit of communication and deference can go a long way to keeping the peace.

If your neighbor is unreasonable or you are unable to resolve the conflict, it may be a good idea to turn to a mediator. A mediator is a neutral observer that helps facilitate discussion that leads to a resolution both parties can agree to. Mediators also tend to be less expensive than a lawyer—many law firms also offer mediation services as do local courts—and can help preserve the relationship rather than create a winner-takes-all result.

For more information on mediation, go to www.nafcm.org.

Crematory Options for Your Cherished Companion

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. While some pet parents still prefer burial, cremation has become the most popular option. This may be because more people are renting or living in urban areas where home burial is often prohibited. Some believe that a body is merely a receptacle for a spirit and that more attention should be placed on honoring the memory of a pet than on its remains.

Whatever your beliefs may be, cremation offers the bereaved the option of having a pet's remains returned. They can be kept in a keepsake urn or spread somewhere sentimental. Some veterinarians perform crematory services or there are many crematories who cater just to pets. Since it has become so popular, there are several affordable options.



Private & Viewing

A private cremation ensures that your pet will be cremated alone and that the ashes you receive will be solely his or hers. Viewing cremations are sometimes possible, where you and your family can witness the process from a separate viewing room. This often provides the bereaved with the reassurance they their pet's remains were treated properly and with respect.

Semi-Private

In a semi-private cremation, several deceased pets are placed in the same chamber and divided by a partition. While the majority of the ashes you receive back should be those of your pet, some co-mingling of ashes does occur. Be sure to clarify which option you desire (and are paying for) as semi-private is sometimes labeled as private.

Communal

If having your pet's ashes returned to you is not something you desire, a communal cremation may be the best option. It results in the co-mingling of several deceased pets' ashes who are cremated together without any partitions separating the bodies.

Helping Pets in Grief

Although it isn’t known for sure if pets grieve the loss of an animal or human companion in the same way humans do, many do express their awareness that something has changed. Depending on how long your pets spent together and what their relationship was like, a death can create a significant void within the home that your surviving cat or dog may notice.

Symptoms of Grief

The ASPCA studied pet behavior after the loss of a pet companion during the nineties and found that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes. Some of these changes included:

• Loss of appetite
• More needy for attention
• More or less vocal than normal
• Restless during sleep
• Searching for deceased pet
• Wandering aimlessly



Allowing Your Pet to Say Goodbye

Many pet owners will attest to the searching behavior their surviving pets seem to exhibit after the death of a companion. When a friend suddenly leaves the house and doesn't return, he or she may anxiously wait for their return or search the house and yard hoping to find them. It has been suggested that allowing your pet to see the deceased pet's body can help him or her understand what has happened.

During this visit, your pet may: sniff, paw at, or try to "bury" the body; lay beside it; howl or whimper; invite play by bringing over a toy; or do nothing at all.

If letting your pet say goodbye in this way is not possible, consider clipping a lock of your deceased pet's hair for your surviving pet to smell. If your pet is showing any signs of grief, provide plenty of extra love and attention.

How to Ease Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

What is the cause of this obsessive behavior?

Dogs are pack animals and need a social structure. They rely on other dogs (or humans) for interaction. They need to be socialized and need to understand what is expected of them. Many of them have been mistreated in the past and have been locked up alone for long periods of time. Some of them have been abandoned and have ended up in animal shelters.

Dogs need socialization.

Since our pets are usually not socialized in a pack, it is our responsibility to see that the job gets done. Obedience training is the best method for socializing a dog. Both the dog and the owner learn what is expected of each other. If obedience training is begun at an early age, the dog will learn how to interact with both humans and other dogs. They will not have this insecurity that "separation anxiety" dogs seem to display.

How do you treat this condition?

First of all, establish yourself as the leader. In order to learn this, both of you will probably need to enroll in a dog obedience class. This will also help your dog in the socialization game. He may misbehave during the first few classes, but before you know it, he'll be the star pupil. How does this affect the dog's destructive behavior when you leave him alone? Since you are the leader of the pack, the dog accepts the idea that you are leaving. He does not question your authority.

In the beginning, confine your dog to a crate when you are away. This has two advantages. The first is that your dog does not have the opportunity to destroy your house. The second is that your dog actually feels comfortable and secure in the crate. The crate must be large enough for your dog to turn around and stand up.

When you leave, turn on a radio. A talk show is the best type of program. A tape recording of your voice is even better. The radio or the tape recorder should be placed in the bedroom with the door closed (any room as long as the dog cannot enter). Since most destructive behavior occurs during the first hour, you only need a voice recording that lasts slightly more than an hour.

Plan your departures.Before leaving your residence, give your dog a treat. A chewy bone packed with his favorite treat works very well. This should distract your dog long enough for you to leave. Leave quickly and quietly. Do not say goodbye. When you return, give him another treat. By doing this, coming and going are not so traumatic.

Practice your departures.As mentioned earlier, the most difficult time for your dog is the first hour that he is left alone. Practice leaving and entering. Take your dog out of his crate, put your coat on, and then walk out the door. Return immediately. Greet your dog calmly or don't greet him at all. If he is excited, completely ignore him. Repeat the same exercise; however, this time stay out longer. Continue with this exercise until you are comfortable leaving him alone for an entire hour. This may take several weeks to perfect.

Your dog must have regular, planned exercise. This exercise relieves stress and tension. Just like feeding time, your dog needs a specific time for exercise. Dogs like routine. Feed and exercise your dog at the same times every day. They are creatures of habit.

Curing "separation anxiety" is very difficult. It is definitely one of the most challenging behavior problems in dogs. Enrolling in a good obedience-training course is the first step to take.

Is Sleeping With A Pet Beneficial Your Health?

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic's Center for Sleep Medicine in Arizona reported some people may benefit from sharing a bed with a pet. The study looked at 74 pet owners – 56 percent of whom allow their pet in the bedroom with them. Of those, 41 percent believe sleeping with their pet is beneficial to sleep.

A good night's sleep does more than leave you feeling well-rested. It plays an important role in overall immune function, metabolism, memory, learning and more.

Strengthen Your Bond by Sharing Your Bed

Dr. Ken Tudor, former Veterinary Medical Officer for the United States Department of Agriculture, believes the benefits of sharing a bed with a dog stem from our evolutionary partnership. Domestication of the wild dog undoubtedly included the animals joining "man at the camp fire and later snuggling closely with him for mutual warmth."



In addition to reporting better sleep, respondents also noted a greater sense of security. This could be from the simple reassuring presence of another warm body or because pets often double as protectors who will alert their owners to intruders. Dr. Tudor emphasizes that being in consistent proximity with an animal fosters bonding and a more intimate relationship.

"Some people find that sleeping with their animal actually helps them feel cozy," said Dr. Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the center. "One woman said her two small dogs warmed her bed. Another person felt her cat who was touching her during the night was comforting and soothing."

Results May Vary

Although the majority of pet-owning respondents reported sharing their bedroom with their pet, another 20 percent admitted the bed-hogging, snoring or moving around can be disruptive.

Interrupted sleep has been linked to preventing slow-wave sleep and a worse mood than non-interrupted sleepers upon waking. The Mayo Clinic advises patients who have sleep concerns to inquire about whether or not their sleep environment should be shared with a companion animal.

"I think from a sleep standpoint, multiple pets increase the risk of bad sleep," said Krahn.

Helping Your Elderly Dog with Senility

As veterinary medicine has become more sophisticated, nurturing your pet has become the rule rather than the exception and the population of elderly pets has grown steadily. As an animal advances into their twilight years, changes take place in all organ systems including the brain. Dogs, dependent upon breed, are considered senior citizens when they reach 7 to 10 years of age.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) / Canine Cognitive Disorder (CCD)

CDS/CCD is commonly referred to as senility or "old dog" syndrome. A gradual, progressive loss of thinking (cognition) processes such as awareness, perception of surroundings, ability to learn and memory are the major components of the disorder. CDS can lead to a break in the close bond shared between pet and family members as changes in temperament or house-training can occur. Many people think that it is normal for their elderly dog to gradually lose its energy and interest in life, and choose to tolerate cognitive aging far longer than is necessary. They either avoid veterinary advice altogether or wait until bladder or bowel control is gone before seeking an opinion.

Signs of CDS are fairly straight forward, but it also requires observation on your part. As a responsible care giver, noting changes in behavior of your elderly dog should not be difficult if there is already an established bond. Blood tests, urine analysis, X-rays and other tests may be necessary to diagnose CDS once symptoms appear, as many times other illnesses may make diagnosis challenging due to an overlap in symptoms. Not all dogs show these signs. However, one thing is certain: the signs are progressive and will completely incapacitate your dog in time.


Symptoms

• Weight loss / Appetite changes

• Confusion, disorientation, anxious look, staring into space, getting lost in the house

• Difficulty navigating the environment (e.g. stairs)

• Altered pattern of sleeping and waking

• Loss of learned behaviors such as obedience commands and house training

• Reduced responsiveness or a change in relationship with family such as aloofness, aggression, apparent loss of recognition of familiar people or sounds

• Increased thirst

• Excessive panting

• Abnormal vocalization such as howling or monotonous barking

Treatment

Prior to the advent of deprenyl, a prescription-only drug that helps minimize symptoms by enhancing brain dopamine levels, there was no treatment available. Dopamine is an integral part of brain function because it increases cognitive awareness. If depleted, it results in lower cognitive ability. While deprenyl is not a cure, it can symptomatically reverse the signs of aging by increasing dopamine in the brain and turning back the aging clock. The goal of treatment is to provide a better quality of life for your dog and slow the progression of symptoms. Like any drug treatment, however, not all dogs respond to deprenyl. Statistics show that one-third of canine patients respond extremely well, one-third respond reasonably well and one-third do not respond at all. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell prior to drug therapy if your dog will respond to treatment.


CDS is a very real disorder that can affect any dog of any breed. As your dog ages, be aware of changes both physically and mentally. Adjust his lifestyle to better suit his decreased abilities. By consulting with your veterinarian and providing your elderly dog with comfort and compassion, you are making his quality of life the top priority. That is the best treatment any pet can receive.