But let’s, for the moment, extend this situation to one where the pet actually loses his owner. Imagine yourself losing your spouse or parent. That’s what your faithful dog or cat will face. If they’re lucky they got to experience a gradual decline and can probably absorb the change over time. Probably—and here I’m assuming your pet is as aware as my two are. I think they are, but that’s a subject for another blog.
I imagine my poor pups devastated when I’m not around to throw a ball to them. Or take them to the dog park. Or rub their bellies. Sure, they’ll eventually get over it, just as we eventually get over the loss of our loved ones. But oh, the horror. Isn’t there something we can do? Isn’t there something we should do?
The short answer is “yes!”
First, and always first, love them now. Treat them the way you think you should treat anyone you love as dearly. And how you think you should treat anyone who loves you as much as they do.
Second, imagine you are your pet and all of a sudden are faced with the loss of your loved one. Close your eyes, take yourself out of the scene, reach out your paw, and find there’s no one there. And you have no idea of how or why this happened. Terrifying. Depressing, in fact.
Third, do something. That something is “create a plan.” If you have a will, write an additional paragraph telling your surviviors what they should do with your pet. Find someone who will agree to take in that sweet, wonderful pup (or that ornery old curmudgeon of a cat). The alternative is not so great for unless you make plans for him, he may wind up in a shelter.
Fourth, after you find someone who will take your pet in after you’re gone, be sure you specify that in your will. Or if not in writing in a will, at least make it known to your other heirs. Tell your daughter or son that you’ve made arrangements.
And fifth, in addition to putting all of this in writing in a will, make sure you also include some money to take care of your pet. It doesn’t have to be much. But certainly enough for a year’s care (preferably enough for your pet’s life expectancy). That’s the least you can do.
Hopefully I’ll outlive my two dogs. That’s the natural order. But if I don’t, I sure don’t want them to suffer. It doesn’t take much. It just means thinking of their needs and what you can do to ensure that the loss they experience isn’t made much, much worse simply because you didn’t take the time to plan for them.