I had a couple of friends recently lose their beloved pets. It’s a tough thing to watch, and an even tougher thing to go through, but it’s guaranteed to happen eventually1. I learned some things from my wife, who’s lost more pets than I’ve owned, and I think there’s good advice here for everyone.
First, be there for the bereaved. You don’t have to talk to them about the painful subject. Take them out for coffee, invite them over to watch a movie, anything to give them a break from walking around their house where everything reminds them of Fido. I’m sure the same can be said for human grieving, but I’ve been fortunate not to have any close friends with major losses in that area for a while.
Unlike losing a human friend, though, the end-of-life costs for a pet are more reasonable. They are, however, still a kick in the gut when you’ve just lost a creature you’ve known its entire life. So here’s the big tip: pick up the cost of cremation for your friend.
Call the vet as early on as possible and make sure the final costs get charged to your account. You can even be anonymous about it, if you need to. It’s a little thing that makes a big difference. In my area, this will set you back $90-125, but it’s a donation that will be greatly appreciated.
One last thing: As suggested by Dr. Pamela Peeke (a Systematic alum), request a cast of a paw before cremation. It would make a very meaningful gift.
Except in the case of some very loud parrots, which will apparently outlive me.↩