When the beloved family dog dies it is such a sad event for all involved. Owners all grieve in different ways, and time is really the only healer to ease the heartache. I have experienced this myself with the loss of two of my family dogs over the years.
I get to know families well over their dog’s lifetime through regular dog walking or the occasional board. When dogs have died, I have started donating money to various charities over the last couple of years, as a way to celebrate their dog’s life or the joy that they gave us during their lifetime. I usually wait a month and then have the charity send along a notice in the mail to the family involved.
One family I know lost their sweet, gentle yellow lab named Maggie. I have previously written about their other dog Zoey in February, https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/zoeys-story. Shelley and I have become friends, having been connected by our dogs; we met initially in a neighbourhood off leash-park. She and her husband have a daughter who I enjoy seeing now that our daughters are grown. I am reminded of the ages and stages we have already gone through, for example learning to read, starting at a new school, birthday party plans with school friends and the joy a family dog brings times two in their home.
When Maggie died I wanted to find a fitting charity for this family. A personal favorite of mine is the Lions Club Foundation of Canada Guide Dogs http://www.dogguides.com/FAQ.html. With Maggie being a yellow lab this was the perfect choice! Many of the guide dogs are Labradors. This charity is close to my heart, and I did a post on a friend fostering a yellow lab puppy from the Lion’s Club in February https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/a-gift-named-rupert.
I made a donation in Maggie’s name to assist with their many running costs. At the Lion’s Club, 160 Guide Dogs a year graduate into one of five specialized programs: Canine Vision, Hearing Ear, Special Skills, Seizure Response and Autism Assistance. Dogs are given at no cost to eligible Canadians who are in need.
Shelley’s family were touched by the donation and decided to have a tree planted at the Oakville site in Maggie’s memory after reading more about this amazing place, http://www.dogguides.com/memorial.html#forest. Yesterday I looked after Zoey and their new addition, Daisey, a mini Dachshund while they went to the Oakville location to see the facility, attend a brief service to hear names read out and to see the tree planted in Maggie’s memory.
Upon return Shelley said that it was a very moving experience and having a tree planted was a wonderful way to both help the environment and mark Maggie’s memory. In the years to come the tree will provide shade for the dogs in training and their human counterparts. The dogs are allowed time to run and play in areas too amongst the trees that have been planted over the years. I am sure many have lifted a leg on them, too, of course – very fitting in my opinion!
A memorial wall is another option to celebrate your dog’s life, http://www.dogguides.com/memorial.html#wall. Funds raised from the wall assist the Lion’s Club many running costs.
The Toronto Humane Society also has a memorial wall. I had a senior friend of mine place her dog’s ashes there. This brought her much comfort, and a feeling of goodwill, assisting the animals in this shelter awaiting adoption.
Shelley had some of Maggie’s ashes put into small heart lockets and then sealed. She and her daughter can wear Maggie close to their hearts when the spirit moves. Yesterday they had them on to go and see Maggie’s tree. I had goose bumps as they each described their excursion to see the young pups in training, the Memorial Forest and finally Maggie’s tree.
My friend Patti posted a memorial video of her dog Socrates on You Tube for friends and family to see, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4luTSCJWKo. This certainly shows how far we have come technologically over the years; his video brought tears to my eyes from having known this big, gentle, goofy giant. The video shows snippets of his life and the real essence of their love for him, and his for them; he truly provided years of joy for Patti and Len.
Socs was quite a “Romeo” at the park and so it felt fitting to donate to a wildlife breeding program at the Mountainview Conservation Society, located on our west coast in Canada. Patti believes in their work/and has volunteered for them over the years. Many endangered species are protected and children come from schools to learn as it is an educational facility, too.
So if you feel at a loss for a canine friend no longer on this earth why not contribute to a deserving charity or foundation? Doing so can be a celebration of a dog’s life while helping out others in our world. A win -win for all involved.
I would be very interested in hearing other ways people have paid tribute to their dogs. Please share your thoughts as they may be the inspiration to other readers.
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