February 2016
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Pet Circkles.

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as
human rights. That is the way of a
whole human being." ~ Abe Lincol

Elsie in puff balls

Grieving for a Pet.

By Circkles.com.

Some of our followers may know that Elsie, the beloved English Mastiff and spokesdog for our campaign to shut down puppy mills, passed away just last month. You can read her story here if you are not familiar with it. She lived two years longer than anybody expected and spent her remaining 6 years, after I rescued her from her horrible puppy mill life, living on a 38 acre ranch doing whatever she pleased and being spoiled more than any dog could possibly be.
Having had to handle grieving for a loved and cherished pet several times in my lifetime, I have to say, it does not really get any easier or less painful the more you do it. I have personally lost 5 dogs, 12 ferrets and two horses in my time rescuing animals, and every one of them left a mark on my heart and a memory I will forever cherish. So I thought I would take this time to possibly pass down some words of comfort or advice on the best ways I have found to handle the grieving process over the years and what experience has taught me.

Firstly, let me say, that if you have ever had any concerns or doubts about adopting a pet rather than purchasing a pet from a breeder, or (hopefully not), a pet store, I would like to explain personally why it is so much more rewarding to adopt rather than buy a puppy and it is not just for the moral reason you may think.

I've had both: pets I purchased from breeders and adopted pets from shelters or rescues, and while every animal is happy to have a loving, caring home, rescued animals are twice as happy and will thank you every day for rescuing them from a neglectful, abusive or destructive plight. I saw the joy and appreciation in Elsie's expression and actions every time she would roll in the grass or lay on her back with her legs up in the air letting the sunshine warm her tummy, or go for a dip in her own personal swimming pool. Just to see how much she enjoyed those favorite pastimes of hers, put a warm glow in my heart each and every time. Yes, "normal" dogs bought from a breeder enjoy playing ball, going for walks, doing what average dogs do, but a rescued animal is so appreciative of just being able to do the little things a regular dog takes for granted, like rolling in the grass, feeling the sun on their face or belly, because they are no longer a prisoner in a cage with no access to the freedom to do what they want and experience life as other dogs would. You can see and feel the happiness radiating from them every time they are free to just come and go as they please, enjoy life's little creature comforts and pleasures that every living creature should have access to but for which they had been denied up until you gave them the freedom to experience what living is really suppose to be like. I will be forever grateful for being the one who was able to give this to Elsie. To watch her soak up and enjoy the last years of her life once resccued from a horrible plight; that is an experience that cannot be topped.

There are those who always ask me how I can keep going through the loss over and over again. Because I put all of myself into each and every one of my pets, it takes a heavy toll on me when they pass, and the people around me see this. So they always ask if I will do it again wondering why I would if it is so painful for me.

The answer is partially in the paragraph above where I explain the rewarding experience of being able to give another living creature a better life, and the other half of that answer would be that they also give me so much in return that I can't image going through my life without them. Yes, there's the unconditional love everybody gives as an explanation as to why they have pets, but then there is also the fact that I have learned valuable lessons from many of my pets as well. They have taught me a great deal I would never have known without their presence in my life. They have made me a kinder, gentler, more understanding and compassionate person, and that is something you cannot put a price tag on. And yes, it hurts deeply when they leave, but in a healthy grieving process, you will feel the pain of their parting for just a few weeks or months while in exchange, they gave you years of joy, laughs, companionship and yes, unconditional love. I know many people who grieve so strongly after their first pet dies that they say they will never do it again, and I have been there a time or two myself. But after the grieving process ran it's course for me, I always felt a gaping hole in my life without pets around. So then...the answer has to be, that indeed, it hurts tremendously when they leave us and it is very unfortunate that pets only live a few brief years in comparison to us, but I feel my life is so much richer with them in it that I continue to take the heart-wrenching risk time and time again.

Elsie on stairsThere are a couple of big lessons I have learned about the grieving process.

The two biggest being about guilt and about handling lost companionship. First, let me speak of the guilt most of us feel when a pet or even a loved human passes away. We feel we should have done more, should have said more, should have given more. Being the caretaker of another living being's welfare like we do as pet owners can really lay a guilt trip on you when that life you have cared for dies from health problems or a sudden accident. You may feel all the guilty feelings above of believing you were responsible and should have done more, known more, taken more time, etc.

I recently had the advice from a Tibetan monk cross my path that summed up the best way I have ever found to deal with the guilt of losing a companion you ultimately felt responsible for. She said, "It doesn't matter how you cared for them, it only matters that you cared."

I have gone through the process of beating myself up pretty bad every time one of my pets died too young from lymphoma or cancer or other unforeseen illness. I always felt I should have done more, been better educated as to the dangers of every animal health risk, should have fed them better and cared for them better so they would have been healthier and lived longer. I always knew this was all poppycock too, but it didn't stop me from feeling that guilt each and every time. With Elsie, I was finally able to break that destructive pattern, for one thing, by constantly telling myself there wasn't anything I could have possibly done better for her because I gave her everything a dog could want and then some, and by repeating the quote from the monk over and over in my head. I don't know why I kept thinking all these years that I should have been an expert vet to every pet I had, kept them completely isolated from harms way, and protected them from every unforeseen health risk, but I did. And many pet owners feel this way when a pet passes because of the very nature of our relationship to pets: it is our responsibility to care for them, just like children, so when they pass away, we often feel we have failed them. They put our trust in us and we let them down. But you have to remember that animals do not think in people terms, so you are the one thinking this way not them. All they ever knew and remembered is that you treated them with kindness, fed them, kept them warm and dry and played with them. An animal will never feel you have let them down, they do not think in such terms. So the best way to deal with the grief of losing a pet is to stop projecting human emotions and feelings onto them. This helps a great deal with guilt. And as far as your own feelings; recite the quote from the monk over and over as many times as it takes for it to sink in.

How To Handle Missing Them Every Day.

Pets have become a huge part of our lives and our daily routine and existence, so it's going to be awkward, uncomfortable, painful when that part of your daily routine is suddenly gone. I have constant reminders everywhere I go of Elsie's time spent here. Every time I walk by the place where her bed used to be, when lunch time rolls around and she used to hound me to get her lunch-time bone, when there is nobody to accompany me down to the barn or out to the greenhouses to make sure I get there and back safely during every morning's and evening's chores. All these little memories make one realize just how much of an integral part of our daily lives our pets are. The dog I had before Elsie, Isaac, literally went everywhere with me. He was with me every part of the day as I made my rounds on the ranch doing my chores. He even went grocery shopping with me (well he rode in the car every time I went to town.) It was so difficult for me to try and adjust to the loneliness of not having him with me around the ranch, that I had to get another dog, and Elsie crossed my path one day while I was looking at rescued dogs and everything about adopting her just made sense. She helped me get over losing Isaac, and probably the best way to get over that gaping hole in your life after the loss of a companion animals is to get another one after you are done with the grieving process. Don't rush into this however, take the time you need to grieve and heal, because if you don't, you will never learn how to grieve properly, you will just keep replacing the uncomfortable pain with another animal until the day you finally have to deal with the loss of the last one: and it will be very difficult for you indeed.

Elsie rolling in grassTake the time to mourn your companion and friend. The time it may take for you to decide your heart is ready to do it again varies with everybody, but make sure you think it through thoroughly and can say that you are not just getting another pet to replace the last one, because that cannot be done. Every pet has their own personality, and like people, no two are the same, so don't get another pet expecting them to be like the one you lost, because they won't be. They will be uniquely different, act different, have different needs, habits etc., so make sure your decision to get another pet is not being influenced by your grief but by a good, sound reason to get another companion knowing full well it will be a completely different being.

Loneliness Can Set In.

Most of us get dogs for companionship, and when they are gone the most difficult part of the grieving process to adjust to is the feeling of loneliness if they were our only housemate or companion. This feeling can often only get worse in time instead of better. The only advice I have for getting over this phase of loss is to keep yourself busy, find something to replace that empty void with, be it a hobby, work, or another animal project because if you don't find a suitable way to fill that empty niche that has suddenly popped up in your life, it can drag on with some people for far longer than is healthy or comfortable. I used to always take a break from working every day at noon to give Elsie her lunch. Now I find myself getting up from my desk at noon and wandering around aimlessly not knowing what to do with that space in my day. I have decided to go for long power-walks instead. They are good exercise, help burn off anxiety and stress that can build up while grieving, and a good way to spend my lunch break time by getting me out of that lonely house a little bit every day. If you had a routine with your pet that is now gone, the best thing to do is get a new routine as quickly as possible or you will find that depression can quickly set in and will replace that void instead.

I initially got Elsie thinking she would just be a dog to help me get over the quiet loneliness of the ranch when Isaac was gone, but she turned out to be such a goofball, I quickly fell in love with her and her very unique personality. I miss her goofy face and antics so much. It will be equally as difficult to get over Elsie as it was Isaac, so who will I get to help me get over Elsie?

I have decided to take some time in between animals this time around, and I may not get another pet, I haven't decided yet. As with Elsie, if I do decide to get another pet, it won't be just any pet, but it has to be the right one at the right time.

In honor and loving memory of Elsie Mae.


Valentine Day Pet AdoptionValentine's Day Pet Campaign.

Every year around Valentine's Day, we circulate and promote our puppy mill awareness campaign for which Elsie was our poster dog for. Please read and share her story and our Valentines Pet Adoption Special Edition in honor of Elsie who knew better than anybody why pet mills and pet stores should not be used or allowed to exist. There is a better way for everybody. Read how.

Give Your Love for Valentine's Day to a Pet in Need. Search in Your Area Now.

Valentine Pet adoption event Cincinatti

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Allen M. Shoen, a veterinarian and author of "Kindred Spirit" wrote, "Although science has no definite answers, why not assume that sharing a home with a dog, cat or bird - or sharing our lives with a horse or other large animal - has therapeutic benefits that are deeper than simple stimulation of the opiate receptors in the skin through touch? Perhaps, through our connection with animals, we are stimulating some deeply buried aspect of nature within us, rekindling a lost connection that allows us to be more than solitary creatures, but part of something greater - and therefor, more healthy, more whole."

Much scientific and psychological research has proven just that. And also that the human animal bond is mutually beneficial under humane circumstances. Many great philosophers, such as Albert Einstein, recognized that we have a great deal of useful information to learn from animals.
In fact, animals are the great teachers, not us, for they have roamed the earth far longer than we and express genuine thought and expression true to their nature, which humans typically do not. We have a great deal to learn from them. Pet Circkles helps us stay more in touch with their health, diet and social needs so we can give back to those who give us so much unconditionally.


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dalmatian dog breedFeatured DOG BREED:

Its roots trace back to Croatia and its historical region of Dalmatia. Dalmatian puppies are born with plain white coats and their first spots usually appear within three weeks after birth. After about a month, they have most of their spots, although they continue to develop throughout life at a much slower rate. Spots usually range in size from 30 to 60 mm, and are most commonly black or brown (liver) on a white background.

The Dalmatian coat is usually short, fine, and dense, although smooth-coated Dalmatians occasionally produce long-coated offspring, which shed less often. They shed considerably year-round. Due to the minimal amount of oil in their coats, Dalmatians lack a "dog" smell and stay fairly clean.

Health Concerns: Dalmatians are a relatively healthy and easy to keep breed. Like other breeds, Dalmatians display a propensity towards certain health problems specific to their breed, such as deafness, allergies and urinary stones. Reputable breeders have their puppies BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to ensure the status of the hearing on their pups. Hip dysplasia (which affects only 4.6% of purebred Dalmatians[11]) is not a major issue in this breed. The Dalmatian Club of America lists the average lifespan of a Dalmatian at between 11 and 13 years, although some can live as long as 15 to 16 years.[12] Breed health surveys in the US and UK shows an average lifespan of 9.9 and 11.55 years, respectively. In their late teens, both males and females may suffer bone spurs and arthritic conditions. Autoimmune thyroiditis may be a relatively common condition for the breed, affecting 11.6% of dogs

Dalmatians, like humans, can suffer from hyperuricemia. Dalmatians' livers have trouble breaking down uric acid, which can build up in the blood serum (hyperuricemia) causing gout. Uric acid can also be excreted in high concentration into the urine, causing kidney stones and bladder stones. These conditions are most likely to occur in middle-aged males. Males over 10 are prone to kidney stones and should have their calcium intake reduced or be given preventive medication. To reduce the risk of gout and stones, owners should carefully limit the intake of purines by avoiding giving their dogs food containing organ meats, animal by products, or other high-purine ingredients. Hyperuricemia in Dalmatians responds to treatment with orgotein, the veterinary formulation of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.

Size: When full grown, according to the American Kennel Club breed standard, it stands from 19–23 inches (48–58 cm) tall, with males usually slightly larger than females.
Lifespan: 10-13 years.

Looking for a Dalmatian? Use our Pet finder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, go to our Pet Circkles Club Page.



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