DURING THE PAST FEW MONTHS I have been noticing some new trends in the journey of grief.  In fact, these changes may very well alter the “Manifestations of Grief”.  I am hearing more and more vitriol towards veterinarians for many reasons:

The empathy and understanding which used to be a principal of the profession is waning;

The costs are becoming a deterrent for many people who want the very best for the animals but simply cannot afford it;

Office hours are often reduced and more referrals are being made to emergency services that display fees which are even more excessive;

The personal touch of the last generation of vets has been replaced by more patience, less individual time, and faster decisions;

The politics of the trade are leading to increased competition but not necessarily  for better service.

What we now criticize in our own medical “assistance” is arising among vets almost more excessively.  Of course, I am speaking generally and it should be agreed and applauded that many still practice for practice sake and for the love of animals.

                BUT, the question that arises is “what does all of this have to do with Pet Loss Canada and other excellent organizations?”  Regrettably, much.  Many people that call me are substituting our NON-PROFIT and free services for all or some of the above reasons.  I am NOT a veterinarian, lack the medical and educational skills to be one, but when dealing with grief the tables are turned.  No one can take A COURSE or A SEMINAR and become an expert in the handling and support of those who grieve.  The sad part about this, however, is that when people ask for advice outside my scope and training they often become agitated and, in some cases, abusive.  A recent caller comes to mind:  he questioned the experience and competence of the vet who euthanized his dog.  Beyond this he wanted to talk about his personal relationships, financial situation and even multiple deaths, one of which occurred over 10 years ago.  The man was offended when I wanted to help but, after 45 minutes, did not share his views further.   Also,  in my personal life my wife and I were awaiting word about a dear friend dying in a hospice and, also,  wanting to sleep after a long night- it was 6:30am.  The most amazing part of this story was that he had been referred by a vet assistant.

                This leads to a question which is coming to me more and more:  “what’s it (PLC) all about” and do we want to make such a shift in our efforts.  PLC usually charges NOTHING, especially for telephone calls, yet the abuse and tirades are ever increasing and becoming more discouraging to what is, for me, a true labour of love.  Perhaps it is time to be proud of what has been accomplished, but to admit that we are being forced to change and criticized if we don’t.

                So, again I ask:  WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?”                              BRIEN



                Yesterday (Monday), at about noon, I received a telephone call from a family member.  One of our close relatives, who is already in a hospice, had made the decision, with his family, for ASSISTED DEATH.  He feels that there is no chance for quality of life and now he, with his terminal state, is, in his words: “a burden on my family”.

            As I thought about this I can relate it to euthanizing a pet.  In general, their quality of life is virtually ended and they remain in need of continuous care and treatment, if any is available.  Many of the people I talk to believe that they are “doing something  wrong” if they make the decision to euthanize. But the reality is that one of the responsibilities of pet owners is to be a loving voice for their animal, which includes making both good and not so good decisions.  To end an animal’s pain and suffering, its inability to walk or urinate properly;  to make a loving decision that, for all the wonderful life and experiences your pet has afforded, brings deserves peace and freedom.      brien