One of my saddest days occurred when I came home from a summer vacation and learned that our precious poodle, GiGi, had died in her sleep.

Many of us have experienced that feeling, which is similar to losing a family member – well, that’s what GiGi was to us.

Fourteen, furry and fat (dare I say it), but the neighbors and my family kept GiGi well-fed with treats; especially after she returned from being groomed and looked even cuter with bows and matching toenails!

Recently, several friends experienced that same feeling of loss when their beloved friend and companion died. Unfortunately, as many grieving pet owners have discovered, feeling such emptiness over the loss of a pet isn’t widely accepted.

Often, people are afraid to express their grief, especially if they continue to feel sad several days following the death. They aren’t sure whether others will be understanding, sympathetic, or just think it is odd to care so much for an animal.

The stages of grief following the loss of a pet often include guilt, denial, anger, depression and, finally, acceptance.

If someone you know has lost a pet, try to be supportive and avoid statements like “it was only a dog” or “you can always get another one.”

You might also consider the following books concerning pet bereavement: “When Your Pet Dies: How To Cope With Your Feelings,” by Jamie Quackenbush, MSW; “Jim’s Dog, Muffins,” by M. Cohen; and “I’ll Always Love You,” by H. Wilhelm. Check with your local library for other titles.

Deciding whether or when to bring another pet into the home can be difficult; friends often suggest this alternative as a way to shorten the grieving process. But only the pet owner can determine when the time is right for another pet.

SPCA Calendar of Events

Oct. 3 – SPCA volunteer orientation from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 – SPCA volunteer orientation from 2 to 4 p.m.

Oct. 26 – Sally Blanchard’s Bird Seminar, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Campbell Centre Doubletree Hotel. Cost is $12, with proceeds benefiting the SPCA. Call 823-4771 for information.

Oct. 29 – Second Annual “Critters & Chrysanthemums” Fundraiser at DeGolyer House, benefiting the SPCA and Dallas Arboretum, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event includes wine, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction; Mary and Bobby Valentine are honorary chairmen. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Call 651-9611 for information.

Nov. 9 – Second Annual Pet Parade at Glencoe Park, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Various pet categories are included. Entry fee is $5. Call the SPCA for information.

Volunteers Needed

Additional volunteers are needed to staff Repeats! benefit store, 14350 March Lane at Spring Valley. A portion of the store’s sales proceeds benefit the SPCA. Call 241-8066 (Jody or Sally) for information.

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