How to cope with loss of a pet

If anyone ever doubted how important pets can be, we now have proof.

If anyone ever doubted how important pets can be, we now have proof.

U.S. companies are beginning to offer employees paid time off to grieve the loss of their pets.

Shoppers Drug Mart is one such company.

In some cases, an employee can take as many as three bereavement days for one pet.

How much total time off might be granted if a pet owner lost two or more pets at one time, say in an automobile accident or house fire?

And how would a company evaluate time off for a Chihuahua as compared to a Great Dane?

Or a pet owned for only a year or two as compared to a lifetime pet of 12 or 15 years’ duration?

Might evaluation come down to an aggregate point system – so many points if the animal slept with its owner; more points if, as I’ve seen on a few TV reality shows, the owner’s spouse was relegated to sleeping on the couch in the den to make way for the dog; major points for impeccable manners while eating from a plate at the dining table; bonus points if the pet, like Sheldon, claims its own undisputed spot on the living room sofa; and a standard ten points for riding in the car.

I see plenty of opportunity here for scamming an employer for time off. Unless, like claiming sick time, the bereaved pet owner would be required to present written proof of the pet’s demise, a printed legal form dated and signed by the attending veterinarian, possibly even witnessed by the vet’s office manager.

What’s to prevent a Klinger-type employee from claiming attachment to a recently rescued mutt only to apply for time off?

In the TV sitcom, MASH, Corporal Klinger requested time to travel home to Cleveland to attend a funeral whenever life on the Korean army base got to him.

Over the years he claimed various close relatives had died, some of them more than once.

Finally his commanding officer called him on it and refused to consider any more pleas.

At a time when both American and Canadian politicians fret over low productivity, instituting days off to cope with pet bereavement is a backward step, certainly.

I don’t mean to pooh pooh a pet owner’s sadness over the loss of a longtime companion.

I’ve known more than one instance where the loss was deeply felt for a long time. But we need to buck up and get on with life.

If we’re going to fall apart emotionally at the death of a pet until we can’t focus at work, what kind of psychological and physical support will we need if a close relative passes on?

The Smiling Blue Skies” website offers a free pet-loss hotline.

To date, I’ve enjoyed the companionship of seven dogs before my present two.

They ranged from a chihuahua/terrier cross to a 90 pound golden Lab. The terrier thought he was a fierce Great Dane; the Lab couldn’t have been gentler.

By the time I had to put the seven down, all had reached the age of 12 years. One was 13, and another was 14. Three had cancer.

During a decade together a pet molds to your lifestyle, adjusts to your habits, fits comfortably in all that you do throughout your day.

Disrupting that wrenches anyone’s life. But I can’t see equating that relationship on the same footing as human relatives.

My cure for healing the emotional wound left by a departed pet is to adopt another animal in need of care and companionship.

Before long, that pet, too, will bond.

Claudette Sandecki enjoys the companionship of her dogs from her Thornhill, B.C. home.