Saying Good-Bye to a Pet

Animal Whisperer

with Cara Gubbins, PhD

Cara Gubbins began conducting scientific research as a high school student in 1981 and received her doctorate in Biology in 2000. Cara and her research have been featured on CNN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, and National Geographic specials. She is an award-winning author; her upcoming book is Animal Essence: The Biology, Mythology and Spiritual Messages of Animals. Cara works with clients all over the world as an animal intuitive and pet medium from her home base in Chico, California.

Saying Good-Bye to a Pet

Creating a Peaceful Transition

Two things are inevitable in our lives: death and taxes. But for our pets, only one thing is inevitable—making their transition to the other side, what we generally refer to as “dying.” For reasons that I’ll explore in a future article, I prefer the term “transition” because my work as a pet medium has taught me that “dying” is more accurately described as the soul’s releasing itself from the physical body and moving to a place of pure energy where it doesn’t need a body.

Knowing that death is not final and that the soul of my pet will go on does not necessarily make saying good-bye any easier. I’ve spent most of the last two months in a state of worry and uncertainty about my aging Australian shepherd. When Iko celebrated her 12th birthday, she started noticeably slowing down. Old injuries turned into arthritis and she gradually started spending a lot more time sleeping. When she turned 13 this January, I assumed the same linear progression would continue for the next few years as she slowly aged. But that’s not what happened. One night, she lost control of her legs—they gave out on her as I was opening the door for her to go outside. Another day, she couldn’t stand up after lying down for a few hours and then when I helped her up, she wobbled and couldn’t walk straight.

As I saw all of these abrupt changes in her, I became a weeping mess. Not only did I not want to say good-bye to her so soon (I wasn’t ready yet!), but I also didn’t want her last days to be painful and uncomfortable.

I’m happy to report that Iko has not made her transition yet. Thankfully, I found a vet in Chico who is also an acupuncturist and Iko’s legs are actually getting stronger and more flexible. I have always done my own energy work with her and I now give her energy treatments more often. Iko also received NAET treatments to build her strength and immunity. Although we seem to be out of the dark for now, the whole experience has brought home to me how inevitable and how imminent her transition may be.

The difference now is that I have moved into acceptance of her transition. With acceptance came opportunities—opportunities to consciously spend more quality time with her, to support and care for her more deeply, to teach my children about the preciousness of each life and how to process the loss of a loved one.

As I worked my way from resistance to acceptance, I had the added benefit of having talked to many dogs and cats who had made or were about to make their transitions. I know firsthand the acceptance that they experience as they transition and how peaceful they feel afterward. Many animals actually come back in spirit form to visit their families and stay connected to the ones they love. I know the love goes on and that our pets know how much we love them.

One dog was particularly comforting for me during this challenging time. When 13-year-old Kochise was in his transition process, his family was in chaos for a variety of other reasons. Adding to their pain was the looming loss of their dear family member. They wanted to avoid their pain by ignoring Kochise and his process but this just added to their suffering.

The mother of the family sobbed during much of our reading. She told me, “My heart is breaking. Why does this hurt so much?” When I answered that her heart feels as if it is breaking apart but it is actually breaking open, Kochise quickly corrected me: “Your heart is not breaking open. It was already open. How much your heart hurts now is a sign of how much you have loved me all along. You are feeling your love in a new way.”

Kochise’s family moved into acceptance after our phone call, which created an opportunity for them to share their remaining time together peacefully. In the reading, Kochise told us he wanted to sleep on the floor in the living room with the oldest daughter and have the son read a book to him (Mom knew exactly which book). Each family member honored his wishes and spent quiet time with Kochise during his last days.

If, like me, you know you will be going through a transition with your beloved pet soon, you may want to consider the following questions as you make your own “Transition Plan”: How do you want to spend your remaining time together? How do you want to say good-bye? What will happen after your pet transitions? How will you remember your pet?

Remember, you can create a peaceful good-bye.

Cara gubbins

Cara’s upcoming classes include a one-day Beginning Reiki for Pet Lovers class on Saturday, April 28, 2012, and a six-week Energy Tools for Pet Lovers class this summer (dates TBD). These classes will give you the abilities, skills, and wisdom to use a variety of energy tools to help the animals in your life feel healthier and happier. To register for these classes or to schedule an intuitive session for yourself or your pet (in person or by phone), call Cara at 530-520-0436 or email her at