Author Archives: petsremembered

Amazing Survival!

A typical story in the days following a severe earthquake – anywhere in the world – tells of a rescue dog and his/her handler finding a person buried under the rubble. We have heard those stories so often that we have come to expect them, maybe forgetting what a miracle those stories of survival are. I heard one of those stories on the news last evening, but it had a different twist to it.

First, this occurred nine days after the earthquake – can you imagine surviving for nine days, i.e., being buried alive for nine days? Even if your injuries did not kill you by then, the lack of food and water probably would, as well as the rock bottom despair and heartbreak of the disaster and your seemingly hopeless predicament.

Second, there was a dog involved, but it was the dog who was buried under the rubble. Rescuers – who by that time were, no doubt, searching only for those who had perished, heard faint barks and whimpering from down under. They dug through the rocks and earth until a Golden Retriever emerged, wagging his tail and “smiling” as only those happy breeds do, despite the circumstance.

It’s quite an amazing story and I’m glad to have heard it, but I can’t help but wonder if the dog’s people survived. If they did, what a wonderful reunion they had with their dog. If not, I have to believe there are many people who would love to adopt the Golden who persevered and lived to tell, in dog language. The wonder and love of pets is amazing.

Mr. Ed

I had long forgotten about Mr. Ed, the talking horse, until I read the obituary for Alan Young recently. Mr. Young was the man (the only man) Mr. Ed spoke to on the television show, which ran in the early 60’s. I don’t remember watching the show a lot, but enough to think it would be cool to have an animal (pet) who you could hold a conversation with. Wilbur (the name of the character Mr. Young played) and Mr. Ed had a funny relationship. Of course, how could a talking horse not be funny?

It occurs to me that the desire to talk to animals has existed as long as people have been forming bonds with animals, i.e., a very long time, maybe since human beings began walking on the planet. And although our pets do not speak English (or Spanish, Urdu, French, . . . ), they certainly communicate with us and with each other. It isn’t difficult to understand our pets when they want to eat or go for a walk or get their belly rubbed. And most of us think we know many of their other wishes, or we think we know when they are sad or not feeling well.

I’m thankful for the many dimensions that animals – whether they are our pets or are the animals who out there on their own – add to our lives. They enrich us and keep every day interesting, as well as entertaining. I’m sure the golden Palomino who played Mr. Ed died a long time ago, but his memory lives on. I’m grateful that Mr. Ed and Alan Young, as Wilbur, introduced me early on to the amazing bond possible between humans and animals.


The years fly by!

April is Kona’s birthday month. Kona is our beautiful, personality-plus, high-energy large dog, unlike any dog we’ve had before. April 17th is her day and this year she turns 3. Given the short life span of our pets, especially most large dogs, we know that while 3 sounds like a pup, she qualifies as a young adult. When I think back three years, it’s hard to believe we didn’t know her then because she is such an integral part of our life now. It is hard to remember what mornings were like when she wasn’t there to enthusiastically greet us and welcome the day in.

Birthdays – whether it’s the birthday of a person or pet we love – remind us how quickly life goes by. When life gets hectic and the hours zoom by it’s easy to overlook how special every day is and how fast each day becomes history.

Give the people and pets in your life a hug today and appreciate the now!


Springtime and Pets

Spring is here! Even though winter was mild this year, spring is a welcome season. Longer days, warmer temps, and the newness of buds, tulips, leaves, and grass make me smile – hopefully, you, too! And with Easter upon us, little bunnies (not just chocolate ones) come to mind.

Since Skip and I opened Pets Remembered four and a half years ago, we’ve been touched/intrigued by the wide variety of pets brought to us for private cremation. Although cats and dogs make up the majority of pets we cremate, rabbits, birds, ferrets, mice, rats, horses (head, hoof, and heart), donkeys, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, chickens, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and a variety of reptiles are also in the mix. No matter what type of pet folks bring in, or from whom we pick up, the grief and sense of loss is similar. I find that reassuring and comforting because relationships are so important in our lives, both human relationships as well as human-animal relationships. When we have strong bonds with others, our lives are often healthier in many ways.

In talking with pet people, we have often been told that folks might want a certain type of pet, such as a dog, but due to circumstances, are unable to have the type of pet they might prefer and long for, and so they adapt to a type of pet that works for whatever situation or circumstance they find themselves in, and develop a wonderful bond that sometimes even surprises them. I enjoy hearing those stories and the world is full of them.

Whatever pet you have, enjoy the sun, the increasing warmth, and the relationship that continues to grow between you and your beloved pet.


Pets & Christmas Trees

Our Kona is the most inquisitive dog we have ever had. Since I put up our Christmas tree, which is quite tall, every so often I see Kona staring at the tree, especially once it has been touched and begins to sway ever so slightly. Her other fascinating is the Nutcracker, holding guard near the tree. Interestingly enough though, Kona does not seem tempted to touch the tree and I appreciate that. Legend, on the other hand, shows no interest in the tree or any other decor, although in his panic to escape the vacuum cleaner the other day he plowed right over the Nutcracker, leaving the Nutcracker flat on his face.

Boots (whom I still miss!) was the most mellow dog we ever had, but as a puppy, Boots pulled ornaments off the Christmas tree. He was quite sneaky about it until he pulled the whole thing down, along with the ornament he was tugging at. Boots’ first Christmas with us was notable in that I finally had to take all of the ornaments off the tree after it toppled over numerous times due to his obsession with the ornaments! Thankfully, Boots outgrew his ornament tricks by his second Christmas and eventually came to love laying under the tree, or at least close to it, given his size. Maybe it was fitting then, that Boots died about noon on Christmas Eve three years ago.

However your pets respond or react to Christmas decor and festivities, shower them with love and hugs. You never know how many more Christmas’s they will be there to entertain and love you!



Our Birthday Boy

Next week our yellow lab, Legend, turns nine years old. Legend came into our home when he was 5 1/2, so we never knew him as a pup. At this point, he often acts like a grumpy old man, with a lowly growl and frown upon his face, although he warms up with treats and a belly run, once you can convince him to roll over.

Our last lab, Boots, was ten (six weeks shy of his 11th birthday) when he died, so even though Legend doesn’t have any obvious health issues, apart from some arthritis that slows him down, it is unlikely that he will be with us for too many more years. That is one of the big drawbacks, as all pet lovers know – our pets have a short life span, at least in comparison to ours. That means we just have to make every day count and make the most of the time we have. For our dogs, a good day is one that includes a walk (or two), play time, nap time, being with their humans, and of course, meal and treat time. And because our dogs come with us to Pets Remembered, every day is a good day for them!

Legend will get a few extra belly rubs, a leisurely walk, and maybe an extra special treat on his birthday, but for him it will be pretty much like every other day. And for us, we will give thanks that he became part of our family when he needed a forever home! As frustrating as he can be at times, it’s hard to imagine our family without him, so Happy Birthday Legend!


Pets & Halloween!

As we anticipate an evening of trick or treaters at our door for Halloween this Saturday, I have to smile as memories of our black lab, Boots, come to mind. Halloween was Boots’ favorite holiday because he loved all of those cute little kids coming to our door. For a few years we tried dressing him as a bumble bee. He wasn’t too keen on the outfit but Boots was an obedient and mellow dog so he didn’t put up a fuss and he looked so darn cute/funny. I miss Boots, even though he’s been gone for almost three years. I will especially miss his mild and calm presence on Saturday night when our two current dogs (Legend & Kona) bark their heads off every time trick or treaters ring our doorbell.

Of course, I love Legend and Kona, too, but given my memories of Boots on Halloween, it’s a good reminder that every pet is special, and every pet has his or her particular quirks – some more lovable than others! We still have the bumble bee outfit. Legend is too big for it, but maybe if we can coax Kona into wearing it she will channel a little bit of Boots and enjoy the visitors as much as he did.

Happy Halloween to all pets and people!

Difficult choices

Both the national and international news these days are full of stories of people having to flee their homes, whether due to fires consuming much of California or due to war and conflict in Syria, Afganistan, and other parts of the world. Although folks in California and migrants on the other side of the globe have very different stories, a common thread for many of them is leaving pets and livestock behind, not out of choice but necessity.

For many of us not in their shoes, it is difficult to imagine having to make the choice and walking away from animals – whether pets and/or livestock – in order to save our own lives. I hope that is a choice I am never faced with. My heart aches for those people dealing with a myriad of losses – their home, for many their country, their way of life, and their pets. Recently, as we have remembered the anniversary of the destruction of New Orleans, I remember the many stories of pets being saved in the aftermath of the flooding. Some folks were able to have wonderful reunions with their pets and some pets found new homes. I hope that is the case, once again, for many of those families in California.

Love up your pets today – and if you don’t have one, there’s one waiting for you in a shelter!!




How do I know when it’s the right time to say goodbye?

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a pet, especially when they are such a big part of our lives and family. The question every pet owner dreads is “is it time to say goodbye?” There are usually no easy answers.

As a veterinary technician and pet owner I have frequently been asked by clients, “if it was your pet, what would you do?” As a technician this is not my decision to be making for a client, in fact no one can make that decision but you. The Veterinarian team is there to guide you with medical decisions for your pet especially in cases of trauma or severe debilitating illness where a pet may be suffering. But no matter how clear cut the medical decision is to humanely euthanize a pet, there will still remain those conflicting thoughts and emotions, making such decisions for pets is often a very agonizing and personal one.

As pet owners, what is the first thing that we generally see when we enter our home? At my house I am always greeted at the door by my five yorkies with all kinds of barking, jumping, and dancing around, as if to say “we missed you and are soooooo glad you’re home.” I can’t imagine coming home and not being greeted in this manner. I have had to ask the dreaded question and make the difficult decision for my pets in the past and I will have to make it in the future again and again, I will and have relied on my pets to let me know just when that time comes.

Owners will question themselves. Am I doing the right thing? Should I get a second opinion? Is he/she in pain? Can I do more? You may even think that your pet is having a good day, so now isn’t the time. We don’t want to put the cart before the horse so to speak, and end life too soon. However, I think we would be upset if we made our beloved pet suffer needlessly and unnecessarily for even an extra day. How do we make that final decision?

Unfortunately there are no rules for something like this. Everyone has unique and personal experiences with their pets and also with death and dying. From never having to euthanize a pet, to having to go through the experience many times over the years. As a pet owner it may be the most difficult decision you will ever have to make. I know it is always difficult for me. We know when they aren’t feeling their best, and we know when something isn’t right. I know that I don’t want any of my pets to be in pain or to go through any unnecessary suffering, and I feel that as pet owners we are pretty in tuned to our pets. When clients would ask “how do I know when it’s time?” I would ask the client to think of three to five things, (activities) that come to mind that their pet really finds pleasure and enjoyment in doing. Maybe it’s a ride in the car, or a favorite toy, walks, swimming, playing fetch, chasing squirrels, hearing is it time to eat or something as simple as lying at your feet when you’re sitting at the table or in your easy chair. Amazingly it is our pets that will be the ones letting us know how they are doing and they will help us in making this difficult decision. As those activities they so enjoyed begin to diminish then perhaps it is getting to be time to say good-bye, I believe our pets are best at telling us these things.

Where is the best place for saying good-bye?

We have more options today allowing a better end-of-life experience for our pets and for ourselves by offering in-home euthanasia services. For those that may be suffering from medical issues and find it to be stressful on both the pet as well as ourselves, this is an option where your beloved companion can stay in the comfort of his/her bed surrounded by family and things familiar to them, and not laying on a stainless steel table in a sterile environment with strange sounds and smells that make them anxious and uncomfortable. This is also a better way for you to take the time you need with your beloved pet/friend not feel rushed because there is a room of strangers waiting for their turn in the room you are occupying. Also you may only have one way to exit the clinic, and it’s a room of people with dogs and cats, and puppies and kittens waiting to be seen. Or if you are uncomfortable euthanizing your pet at home, you may have a hard time seeing the area everyday where your pet passed, or you will never be able to go back to that clinic due to euthanizing them there. Pets Remembered offers the use of their Comfort Center as an alternative location for your convenience.

Just remember that when the time comes, and you euthanize a pet, allow yourself to grieve your loss, and take time to heal. For dealing with grief we have some resources listed on our website.

Melanie Dittmann

To Get a Pet!

I have yet to see the recently released Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get? I have read a couple of reviews on the book, and one reviewer stated that the book was clearly a draft that was never completed by the famed author. What I like – without even reading the book – is the topic: getting a pet. While there have been a few times in my life when a pet was not part of my life, those times have been few and far between. In my experience, pets have greatly enriched my life, despite the fact that my dogs have sometimes been inconvenient and even maddening!! (Currently, mud serves as a magnet for Kona – need I say more?)

In the big picture, as I see it, life is short and whatever brings joy to us is worth doing and worth pursuing. Of course, whatever brings joy also brings pain (ouch), but that is true for all relationships, human and pet. I love the idea of looking at one’s life and considering what type of pet is best for each person. There are so many types of pets and so many types of people and lifestyles, so something for everyone. Which pet is right for you?


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