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following stories were written by animal carers who have contacted Solace, to share their experiences of loss and pay tribute to the memory of a much-loved pet.
I'd like to share my
my dog Mindy
and my experience of
having to put her to sleep in the hope that it will help somebody who
is facing this difficult decision. I had Mindy since she was a 9 week
old, little ball of fluff, right up until she was
years old, and she was a huge part of our family for all those years.
She was very intelligent and tuned into
everything that was going
on at home. She even kept our four cats in check. If there was a little
squabble brewing, she was onto it, and would round them up like sheep!
It was really funny to watch. I was home a lot, and Mindy was my little
pal, she followed me everywhere, especially when she became deaf.
the last year of her life she was diagnosed with a cancerous growth on
her leg and there was nothing the vet could do other that keep her
comfortable and pain free, so that was what we
did. I knew the time was
coming for her to go and I wished she'd just pass away in her sleep,
the vet said that this would be unlikely to happen. So I would think
“how do I do this!!!”, “how do I know when it’s the right time?” Then a
friend gave me the Solace website address and I spoke to Annie. She
listened as I poured out my story about how I was struggling with it
all. She gave me great support and told me to trust my feelings and to
watch Mindy as she'd let me know when she'd had enough, and the vet
supported that too. Mindy did let me know. She started refusing to take
her medication. It was her way of telling me it was
time. So I made an appointment with the vet and we talked over how I would
like it to be for her. Mindy trusted me and I wanted to get it right. I
brought her little duvet with me on 'the day' and I stroked
her face, telling her she was all right. Then the vet gave her the
injection and said she was gone. We wrapped her in her little
blanket and I sat with her for a while, it was very peaceful.
Liz (Co. Dublin)
I wish to thank Solace
for the help and support
I received after my dog Bess was killed by a train.
Bess was a black and white Wicklow collie. She arrived at our house at
the age of 4 weeks and we fell in love with her. I had lost my
5-year-old daughter Sarah a few years before and so Bess brought life
back into our home and family. She was someone to come home to.
in life, Bess had five puppies. She was a very good mother but having
puppies so late in life was hard on her, and she needed help with the
night time feeding. Every night, Bess would wake to the cries of the
puppies, give each one of them a lick and then toddle back to bed,
leaving me to do the rounds with the saucers of warm milk and ready
When the time came, we found good homes for all of them and kept one for ourselves, we called him Ringo.
One Saturday, Bess, Ringo (and his brother Jake) were going for a walk
with my husband and Jake’s owner – along the beach by the Wicklow train
track. Bess and the pups were walking on ahead when suddenly they ran
onto the track, just as the train was coming around the corner. My
husband and Jake's owner saw what was happening and ran after them
but could not get there in time. Then Bess, realising the danger,
ran the puppies off the track. But did not make it off herself. She was hit
by the train, knocked over onto the rocks and killed instantly. When
my husband arrived back and told me what had happened, I could not
believe it. My Bess was never coming home again. My heart
was broken. It was like losing my daughter all over again.
Then one day I came across Solace and contacted Annie. It's amazing
how much relief you can get just from being able to tell someone about
your feelings. Even though this accident happened many years ago, I never felt I got
it out of my system. Annie suggested that I speak with a counsellor as she felt that the
loss of my daughter Sarah and Bess were very closely connected.
Bernie (Co. Wicklow)
Oscar was my little
friend for nearly 5 years,
the most happy, inquisitive, playful, sensitive and loving little
rabbit anyone could ever meet.
I was living in an apartment at the time but
luckily there was a big wild garden at the back and some green in the
front too. Oscar was never put out by the neighbourhood cats and loved
acting the party clown at next doors BBQ's. He was never left out of
anything and when friends called they always got the full nosey welcome
of going through their bags and sniffing round in circles. Everyone had
to give him the obligatory rubs before conversation could begin.
Oscar was about 6 months old when I got him and as he had only been
given cheap non-nutritious food at the pet shop, he refused to eat hay
and vegetables. He eventually got to like one vegetable
(broccoli) but the damage had been done and there was gum disease deep
in the roots of his teeth.
When Oscar was about three and a half he stopped eating so I took him
to my local vet but he did not offer a good prognosis. He said that rabbits
generally don’t respond well to antibiotics, anaesthetics or medication
so I decided to try a homeopathic vet. Oscar was given a
remedy and he began to thrive. For over a year he was the
healthiest bunny alive. Then one morning I noticed not a morsel of food
had been touched and my vet discovered an abscess under Oscar’s
mouth. He did all he could to make Oscar pain free but the
painkillers were having a damaging effect on his liver. As the week went by the abscess
got bigger and bigger (despite my
draining it every day) so Oscar was given a pain killing injection
and I headed down to the homeopathic vet - hoping for another
miracle! The homeopathic vet who had first treated Oscar wasn’t available but a trainee was there and she
said he would have to stay overnight. I felt awful as Oscar had
never spent the night anywhere strange before and I had a gut feeling
that I'd never see him again!
The next morning I spoke to the vet and he told me the news
was bad and I broke down. The drive down to collect Oscar was awful
and when he was handed to me (wrapped in his blue blanket) I kept
expecting to see his little nose peep out, to let me know all was
well. I cried for days and the guilt I had over leaving him to die
alone was overwhelming. In the end I
looked up pet loss on the Internet and came across Solace. I rang the
number and was so relieved when I spoke to Annie. She completely
understood the loss - no matter whether it was dog, cat, parrot, rabbit
I will always have rabbits as I love their energy but Oscar was 'my
special one' and will never be forgotten.
Natasha (Co. Cork)
I lost my horse Milly
some time back and found
it very difficult to talk openly about it. I had her from when she was
6 months old. She was a wonderful animal, full of life and stroppy at
times! I spent every day with her, grooming, feeding, and mucking out.
When she took ill, it was painful to watch her deteriorate, and when I
was told by the vet that she would have to be put down, I was
devastated. Milly was only 5 years old. When you love an animal for so
long, losing them can be very hard and people who aren’t animal lovers
don’t always view it as bereavement, so you can be left feeling very
alone. Most people at some time will loose a cherished friend of the
four-legged kind and it is great to have the support of Solace. It is a
very valuable resource and I would definitely
Ann Marie (Co. Carlow)
Leno, my little dog was
killed on the road in
front of me. He was half JRT and half Cairn terrier and he used to
chase anything that moved: cats, moths, and especially squirrels! He
used to race after them in the park and almost run up the tree trunk to
try to get them but of course they were way too fast. Leno’s name came
from the song "Poor Leno" by a band that I love called Ryksopp.
On the day of the accident, it all happened so quickly. I parked
outside my house and was getting out of the car, Leno was sitting on
the passenger seat. These guys called over to me and asked how to open
the bonnet of their car (which was the same as mine)
and I gestured to
the floor in front of the passenger seat. Leno must have thought that I
was beckoning him to get out and he jumped over the driver’s seat and
out of the car. I turned and tried to grab his collar but it slipped
off and he went under the rear wheel of a passing van. I was absolutely
distraught. To see Leno die, in pain, in front of me and for there to
nothing I could do, was devastating. He was only 3 years old.
People have been very kind but I can tell that in the back of some
people’s minds they’re thinking, for goodness sake, he was only a dog.
It’s not as though he was a real person.
When I contacted Annie I didn’t have to explain or justify the extent
of my grief; I knew she understood. I am grateful to Solace for their
help in supporting me through the loss.”
My Dog in A Million
When my beloved Labrador died suddenly after a very short illness, I
was devastated. She died unexpectedly after an operation and I did not
even have the chance to say ‘good bye’ to her. The last thing I did,
was to push her into the cage at the surgery and that is something any
dog lover would find hard to bear. She was only 7 years old and was
my dog in a million. Losing her like that was unbearable and whilst
friends commiserated for my loss, my grief knew no end. I tried to put
on a brave face, but I felt a part of me had been torn away.
Quite by chance I had seen an article in a newspaper regarding Solace
shortly before my beloved died, and I eventually made contact and when
I heard Annie’s comforting and compassionate voice, my
tears were allowed to flow,
and I could work
through the grief I had
been bottling up.
Stefanie (Co. Waterford)
Full Set of Kennedys
I contacted Solace as a bit of a long shot, not
thinking that, in the circumstances, they could help. I recently took
in a stray, hoping I could find a place in a re-homing shelter for him.
Sadly, they are full of unwanted animals and none of
those I phoned
could take him and I felt at the time my only option was the pound.
However, as I couldn't bear to bring him to the pound myself, a family
friend kindly offered. I was absolutely devastated, feeling I had let
him down. I was doing some subsequent research on the net (in the hope
that I could still help him) when I came across Solace. I phoned
straight away, feeling that perhaps the people there would understand
my upset. I spoke to Annie and she completely understood how I felt and
did not make me feel a half-wit for getting incredibly upset.
However, when I contacted my friend it transpired that when they
arrived at the pound, and the Jeep door was opened, the dog bolted and
could not be caught. Hearing this renewed my spirit. Although the pound
in question was in a semi-rural area, I knew the dog was smart enough
to head for the nearest town. So, with a full tank of petrol, I headed
off and after an hour or so of searching, I spotted him! Needless to
say, he is at home with me now, snoozing on the sofa.
As to his name, well, I have two other rescue dogs, a Jack and a Teddy
so it could only be one name really... Bobby!”
Bernadette (Co. Wicklow)
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