Procedure/Scheduling an Appointment

Thank you for wanting to help your pet pass peacefully, with dignity, in the comfort of home when the time comes. I know this is a difficult time, but I also know how grateful your pet is for your help in ending his/her suffering. There is no place like home to share the last moments with our pet, and allow every family member (2 or 4 legged) to say goodbye as well.

The procedure can be done inside or outside your home, in your pet's favorite area. Feel free to personalize the ceremony as much as you want. If needed, a sedative will first be given to your pet (quick injection like giving a vaccine) to allow him to relax, fall asleep and be at peace, fear free and pain free. This injection takes less than 10 minutes to take effect. Favorite treats can be fed during that time. Once asleep, the euthanasia solution will be given simply into the vein, which is painless, and will allow your pet to pass within less than a minute. You can expect me to be at your home for a total of about 25-45 minutes. Everyone should feel comfortable assisting to the procedure, only part of it, or not at all. Everyone should do what makes them feel the most comfortable. If you have children, it is very helpful to discuss what is going to happen and make a decision with each of them. Each child has different needs. What is the last mental image they want to keep? How would they like to be involved? Children as young as 2-3 years old don't usually understand much of what is happening. I have experience with children of all ages. The procedure is usually very peaceful to watch, although it is never easy to say goodbye to a friend.

The cost for the euthanasia procedure is based on travel distance and size of your pet. Please contact me so we can discuss further how I can meet your individual needs. All forms of payment are accepted (cash, check & credit card). Payment plan can be arranged.

After your pet's passing, I can help you with cremation services by removing your pet's body, keeping him safe and arranging for cremation. For large pets over 50 lbs, let us know if you would like an assistant to come to your home to help. The cremation charge is based on your pet's weight and type of cremation chosen. Options are group cremation and private cremation. A private cremation ensures that your pet's body gets cremated separately and that the cremains are returned to you. View the selection of urns that you can pick from. If no special urn is selected, the cremains are returned in a nice simple metal urn, which can easily be opened and is perfect for scattering. In the event that your pet passes on his own, I can still provide transport of the body, cremation services and grief counseling. A clay paw print of your pet's foot can be made upon request, as well as a personalized Memorial Charm.

I understand that making an appointment with much time notice can be difficult and emergencies arise. That is why I try to remain as flexible as possible to be available when your pet needs me, which includes early mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays. I try my best to be available as soon as possible and the same day if need be.

Please let me know how I can further help you and your pet. View our quality of life assessment on the home page to better know when it is the right time to help your beloved friend.

Thinking about you,
                  Dr. Joanne


Grieving The Loss Of A Pet

The death of a pet means the loss of a companionship, a non-judgmental love source that we used to care for and nurture. One needs to be patient with themselves or others experiencing loss. Studies have found that people often go through similar stages of grief, although responses to loss can be as diverse as the people experiencing it. The depth and intensity of the mourning process depends on many factors. Given yourself time, healing will occur. Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it. Only YOU know what your pet meant to you. Get lots of rest, good nutrition and exercise. Surround yourself with people who understand your loss. Don't be afraid to get help: take advantage of support groups and grief counselors. Accept the feelings that come with grief. Talk, write, sing, or draw. Indulge yourself in small pleasures. Be patient with yourself. Don't be surprised if holidays, smells, sounds or words trigger a relapse. Be sure to consult your own "Higher Power", either religious or spiritual.

The STAGES OF GRIEF are as follows:

1.SHOCK AND DENIAL: Often the first step in our grief, denial provides us a temporary way to cope with our loss. Our initial reaction is shock and disbelief, as if everything is "unreal." This stage brings a feeling of numbness that can last hours to weeks. We may demand proof that this is really happening. We don't want to believe what we know is true.

2. ANGER: Once the reality of the death hits us, we may react in anger. It's common to look to blame others or hold resentment toward others for the loss. We may be mad at the world and question its "unfairness". We may even blame ourselves, feeling guilty about what we could have done differently to prevent the death.

3. BARGAINING: This stage of grief is where we try to take back control of the situation, making bargains with God, the veterinarian, our pet or else to have our beloved companion back in our lives. Comments like "I'll go to Church every day, if only my pet will come back to me."

4. DEPRESSION: Depression occurs as a reaction to the changed way of life created by the loss. During this phase, individuals are beginning to live their lives without their loyal companion and learning new skills. We often feel intense sadness, feeling hopeless, drained and helpless, withdrawal from friends and loves ones, tears and sorrow. The pet is missed and thought about constantly. For some, it may be tough to get through the day. This stage of grief is often the most difficult to work through and the longest lasting.

5. ACCEPTANCE: This stage is marked by the acceptance of our "new normal". Our loss has changed our lives, and we have found peace with accepting the reality of our loss. As we come to accept the death, our outward expressions of grief lessen and we can find joy in remembering the good times we shared with our loved one.

Pet loss and children

Although children tend to grieve for shorter periods of time, their grief is no less intense than that experienced by adults. Children also tend to come back to the subject repeatedly; so extreme patience is required when dealing with the grieving child. Give the child permission to work through their grief by telling their teacher about the pet's death, encouraging the child to talk freely about the pet, giving the child plenty of hugs and reassurance and discussing death, dying and grief honestly. NEVER say things like "God took your pet," or the pet was "put to sleep." The child will learn to fear that God will take them, their parents or their siblings and the child will become afraid of going to sleep. Include the child in everything that is going on. Explain the permanency of death.

Do pets grieve?

Yes, grieving pets can show many symptoms identical to those experienced by the bereaved pet owner. The surviving pet(s) may become restless, anxious and depressed. There may also be much sighing, along with sleep and eating disturbances. Often, grieving pets will search for their dead companions and crave more attention from their owners. Also, you should keep the surviving pets' routines as normal as possible. Try not to unintentionally reinforce the behavior changes. Their grief will subside with time, just like ours. Allow the surviving animals to work out the new dominance hierarchy themselves. Don't get a new pet to help the grieving pet(s) unless you are ready.

To greatly help prevent/reduce grieving for the remaining pets, they should be allowed to assist in the passing of their friend, or at the very least be allowed to sniff their body once passed. This has been very successful in bringing them closure.

Meaningful ways to honor a pet's memory

1. Write a poem or story about your pet, or a letter to your pet expressing your feelings.
2. Hold a memorial service at home, in a pet cemetery or in a place that was special to your pet. Or you can hold a candle ceremony with pictures of your beloved pet.
3. Put your pet's ashes in a potted plant, urn or under a favorite tree. Plant a tree or a bush in your pet's honor.
4. Have a portrait of your pet drawn from a favorite photo.
5. Place your pet's identification tags on a key ring.
6. Volunteer at a local humane organization. Or make a donation in your pet's name to a local veterinary hospital or humane organization. Offer a memorial scholarship at a veterinary school.
7. Arrange a designated shelf with framed photographs of your pet along with your pet's favorite toys or belongings.
8. Make an album of stories and poems written by family members that tell about cherished memories of your pet. Or make a collage of your favorite pet photographs displayed with special messages of remembrance.
9. Place a hand-painted rock or brick, or a bench with a nameplate or inscription beside your pet's grave or memorial site.

Resources

1. Dr. Joanne: is available for over-the-phone and at-home grief counseling.
2. Animal Communication: Judy in Tucson www.openpathways-energyandcommunication.com
3. Animal Communication: Linda in Tucson www.journeytohealing.com
4. Companion Animal Association of Arizona, Inc. Phoenix. Pet grief support service 24 hour helpline: (602) 995-5885 Email: tousleym@aol.com, website: www.caaainc.org
5. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona Pet Loss Support Group. Tucson. Call Renee to register for free group sessions at 520-603-8319. 24 hour helpline: (520) 349-8094
6. University of California, Davis Helpline 1-800-565-1526 Weekdays 6:30 PM-9:30 PM PST
7. The Iams Company Hotline 1-888-332-7738 Weekdays 8:00 AM-5:00 PM EST
8. ASPCA Hotline 1-(877) 474-3310; counselor@aspca.org
9. If you feel you are in trouble, have suicidal thoughts or plans, substance abuse problems, or are suffering from long-term depression, please seek professional help by calling your local crisis center. In Tucson, phone 520-622-6000.

Books for children:

Morehead D: A special place for Charlee: A child's companion through pet loss. Partners in publishing, CO 1996.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia, PhD.
Rylant C: Cat Heaven, New York, Scholastic, 1997.
Rylant C: Dog Heaven, New York, Scholastic, 1995.
Viorst J: The tenth good thing about Barney. New York, Antheneum, 1997.
Whilhelm H: I'll always love you. New York, Crown Publishing Group, 1985.

Books for adults:

Dr. Joanne Lefebvre: Animal Teachings, from Hayley's Angels Methods. WingSpan Press, CA, 2011.
Kim Sheridan: Animals and the afterlife. Hay House, CA, 2003.
Montgomery: A final act of caring: Ending the life of an animal friend. Montgomery Press, MN, 1993.
Montgomery: Goodbye my friend: Grieving the loss of a pet. Montgomery Press, MN, 1993.
Quackenbush, J: When your pet dies: How to cope with your feelings. New York, Pocket Books, 1985.
Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children by Nieburg, Ph.D. & Fischer; Harper Perennial; 1996.
Animals: God's Faithful Servants by Joe King
Crossing the Rainbow Bridge by Colleen Nicholson

Websites:

www.petloss.com; www.pet-loss.net; www.aplb.org; www.vet.cornell.edu/org/petloss/resources

Audiocassette:

Journey Through Pet Loss by Deborah Antinori

Video:

Losing Your Best Friend: Recovering from the Death of a Pet, Gravity Video Productions, VA

What Is National Pet Memorial Day?

Recognizing the importance of remembering our cherished pets, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries (IAPC) has designated the second Sunday in September as National Pet Memorial Day. You can reach the IAPC at 1-800-952-5541.