Although I specialize in companion animals such as dogs and cats, I am sensitive to the loss of any loved animal. For those of us who honor the quote Dog/Cat is Man's Best Friend and have had the priviledge of befriending a dog or cat, there comes with this special attachment immense responsibility. And out of this responsibility comes pure joy but also wrenching heartache.
The human-animal bond is incomparable to anything else. Rich in love, empathy and compassion. Pets rely on us for their care; we rely on them for their loyalty, unconditional love, companionship and amazing ability to understand our emotions. It's a win-win relationship until it isn't. When one or both can no longer hold up their end, intense sorrow, guilt and loss is experienced like none other. We become vulnerable and often misunderstood by others who do not honor the dog/cat as Man's Best Friend.
Pet owners, veterinarians and their staff and service dog handlers are among this group of vulnerable companion pet lovers. Humans outlive their pets and as part of their responsibility often have to make and act upon hard decisions. Decisions such as when do I end my pet's life? Veterinarians and their staff perform frequent euthanasias that eventually takes a toll. Service dog handlers have to endure retiring their faithfully trained service dogs at least several times in the handler's lifetime.
When you are experiencing the intense pain that comes from the responsibility of being a service dog handler, pet guardian or animal professional, I will give you the tools to help and support you through the hard times. Good people should not have to suffer from being Dog's/Cat's Best Friend.
Janice Shapiro, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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