As you well know, losing a pet is never easy.
And I know because in 2007, I lost my dog, Stoli. It destroyed me.
She was my “soul-pet” even though she technically wasn’t my dog to begin with. I had taken over her care when my sister was no longer able to. Over time, I became closely bonded to her because she had been with me through a dark period in my life. She was my constant and frankly, the reason I got into veterinary medicine in the first place. No matter what happened in my life, she was always an ever-present, loving, forgiving force. That’s why it stung so bad—I had lost my source of comfort and best friend. A piece of my heart had been taken. I couldn’t get another dog – it was so painful to replace her that I ended up with cats! And now, here I am with two cats that I am equally obsessed over.
In moments of grief, I find that there is nothing more meaningful than:
- The written word
- An image remembering that soul-pet
- A small token of thoughtfulness
With Stoli’s passing, I found solace in friends’ e-mails, calls, and the cards that people wrote me. (Can I just say there is something so heartwarming about a handwritten note!) Even a little plant like a succulent or an orchid can go a long way in showing someone that you care.
The idea that a picture is worth a thousand words is so true. I’ve been blessed over the years to have amassed a collection of photos from owners of cats and dogs that I’ve been fortunate enough to have cared for. To receive something like that as a veterinarian really makes me appreciate my job and makes those long and stressful days so much more meaningful. Photos carry so much memory, right? They seem to be one of the best ways that we can honor and remember our pets.
At CatCon this year, I discovered an artist named Mandi who has used her own story of finding comfort after loss to help others remember their soul-pet through her art. Her story sounded so much like mine! Mandi’s kitty, Greyboy, was such a profound part of her life that when she started her pet portrait company, Greyboy Pet Prints, she named it after him!
She photographs pets (FYI: her sessions are booked for November!) and also uses etching techniques to turn a photo you already have into an artisanal custom pet portrait! She uses sunshine, metal, ink, paper and an old-fashioned printing press. They are stunning! I’ve found her etchings to be such a great gift for someone who has either lost a pet or even just a special treat to celebrate a furry little friend. Not to mention, she was even featured on HGTV.com a few months ago for her etchings! How cool is she?!
I know losing any pet can be difficult. We just have to remember the time we spent with them and the joy they gave us in return. Please let me know what you think of Mandi’s art in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Theresa Loo