By Wallace Sife
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Extra resources for The Loss of a Pet, 3rd edition
Their real problems are not self-understood or perceived by others, and they are in great need of professional psychological counseling. Ultimately, all life is change and growth. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth living. It’s a very hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one that our beloved pets can teach us. Yet it is nearly impossible to be philosophical or too rational when in deep grief. Our personal growth and evolution is another area covered by the messages they provide for us (if we are receptive to them).
For various personal reasons these people tolerate having pets around, but they do not really love them. Unfortunately, this is a commitment that is often breached. We see sad evidence of this all the time. These pet owners are weakly bonded—at best. To others, a pet is a loving, pleasing thing to have around the house. It is a source of amusement and pleasure—but in too many cases the animal remains an “it” in the owner’s mind. However, in this second category of owners there are still many who do love their pets.
As self-appointed stewards, we are totally and singly responsible for our pet’s life and well-being. In a sense, we assume godlike roles. Our pets look to us with love and complete trust and confidence that we will provide and take care of everything. But despite our desire to arrange their lives in the best possible way, we cannot control the universe. We are unable to protect them from all possible dangers. Accidents and illnesses will befall them. When bad things happen, we may feel we have failed in our responsibility—with all its accompanying guilt.