In this invaluable guide and touchstone, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz addresses the difficult but necessary topic of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. Drawing on personal experiences, stories from fellow pet owners, and philosophical reflections, Katz provides support for those in mourning. By allowing ourselves to grieve honestly and openly, he posits, we can in time celebrate the dogs, cats, and other creatures that have so enriched us. Katz compels us to consider if we gave our pets good lives, if we were their advocates in times of need, and if we used our best judgments in the end. In dealing with these issues, we can alleviate guilt, let go, and help others who are undergoing similar passages. By honoring the animals that have graced our lives, we reveal their truly timeless gifts: unwavering companionship and undying love.
Jon Katz is an author, photographer, and children's book writer. He lives on Bedlam Farm with his wife, the artist Maria Wulf, his four dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore and Frieda, two donkeys, Lulu and Fanny, and two barn cats. His next book, "Rose In A Storm" will be published by Random House on October 5. He is working on a collection of short stories and a book on animal grieving.
Unfortunately I needed this book. We lost our 11 year old dog 4 weeks ago today. It was unexpected and very, very hard. She was my constant companion for a long time, and I was very devoted to her. My life revolved around her, as your life does when you share it with a dog. I was reading this book, and grieving her, when our 4 year old dog had a sudden, serious injury. We lost him almost one week ago. We had adopted him two years ago. He had always had some physical difficulties due to crooked front legs that were knuckled over, but I never expected that he would die at 4 years old- and 3 weeks after Nora. This book helped me get through this difficult time. Katz loves animals but he's a realist. He writes with common sense and compassion about making the right decision for your animal, not putting them through undue stress and pain just because you don't want to say goodbye, but it's a good balance between the extreme love we feel for our pets and a realistic view of the way things are when you share your life with animals. I would recommend this to anyone from day one of getting a pet, because acknowledging that the end will one day come may make it easier to face.
First, I would have liked this book better if it wasn't so canine-centric. Honestly, I probably would not have read it if that had been made clear in the description. After all, the book is subtitled "Finding Peace When Pets Die." He does talk about his farm animals, but that's about the extent of the variation from purely dog oriented stories.
I did want to like this book, but I just couldn't get past the contradictions. The author stresses that animals are not like us, that they don't fear death, and indeed do not conceptualize death. Then he tells us his dreams wherein his departed dogs talk to him like human beings. He goes so far as to hire a psychic who claims to communicate with the "other side," and talks to one of his dogs.
I'm in the minority here, but I was disappointed in this book, and don't plan to keep my copy.
Headline: To Life & Death Furbaby = your loving animal (cat, dog, horse etc)
Normally when I write a review I go through the details of the book, then why you should read it. This review I am going to work opposite of my norm because I want to tell potential readers why this book moved me so much. I lost my furbaby Christmas Eve 2010, and this was the first time I have ever had a lost this close to me human or animal. I’m still dealing with my Jazzy’s (my loving Shih Tzu) death and the emotions I still feel continue to surprise me. But as Katz says when dealing with his baby’s death he didn’t verbalize it because some people just don’t know what to say. For him it took a support group online to assist him in the healing process, well this book is my resource. I feel like now I can breathe. I can also understand something I read that Dr. Phil said “don’t focus on the last day of your pet’s life; remember the good times. From this day forward that is exactly what I plan to do. This book was so much more than what I expected but exactly what I was hoping for and needed. If you have ever loved and lost an animal this book is for you. Whether that lost came about due to sickness, natural or disappearance the end results are dealing with the LOST of a loved one. This book is also a perfect gift for animal lovers and can be used for lost period to some degree. Going Home helps you manage those feeling and realize it is ok that you have this enlarged hole where your heart use to be. As I read the many stories of lost it was tough for me because my own wound is still open. But the stories are where you find the healing and throughout the book are tidbits from Katz to get you over the hurdles. Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die was absolutely one of the most heartfelt books I’ve read this year. I cried off and on while reading the stories and reflecting on my own experiences. Katz says he decided to write this book for the “sad reader” and I would like to take this review and say THANK YOU! I still have another animal Brandigirl (also a Shih Tzu) she’s fifteen and I am prepared for when SHE is ready to go home. I know the signs now and how to speak to my vet about our options. The author shares a poem with us on page 36 that he believes our furbabies would say to us, when that time comes, and I can see Jazzi saying that to me on December 24, 2010.
A complimentary ARC of this book was provided by Amazon Prime for the purpose of this review.
I really wanted to like this book, and of course I found swaths of it quite likable. Learning how to live in the country, for one, requires some pragmatism and compromise with animals that city folk ought to accept. This part of the book is very human, engaging, self-depracatingly funny, too. I have no objection either to all the woo-woo life-after-death parts, because these are part of the normal grieving process, and also, being a Possibilian (if we can't disprove its possibility, and it doesn't negate the things we have proven i.e., Science!, then by all means it could exist), why should spiritual experiences not be real?
What I did not like was the author's clear humans-first bigotry. He expounds further upon what justifies that humans come first and animals come second. This is all after-the-fact excuse-making that dismisses thinking about ethics, as if anything beyond stating "be kind in whatever you do" is narcissistic navel-gazing.
Thus he explains away his betrayal of an aging pet bull as pricey and inconvenient, and as if to assuage any lingering feeling of guilt - which he does not admit to, that he would have had if he didn't have such great confidence that humans come first - he sends it off to the butcher unaccompanied, just like it should have been done in the first place, with the meat going to a homeless shelter. How laudable. I may be a former farm girl but I found his treatment of topic to be totally at ease in the mind of a farmer, a group of people who can be a unified, undifferentiated, closed and authoritarian lot. This chapter put me on guard, like I was being conned by a businessman selling a book for pet lovers that serves the interests of those for whom animals are resources.
I was also very displeased on how he intervened in the adoption of a shelter pet by procuring one puppy bred by his good friend, the breeder. Again, rationalized away. I wondered if the next dog condemned at the shelter would get to have a spiritual visitation with anyone at all.
I have lost my three cats within one to two years of each other. I got through my first cat's passing but my second cat, I took it hard. My third cat was a bit easier to deal with. I don't think I ever got over my second cat. Reading the book bought me back memories. The author is also right that even with close family, they basically will tell you to "Get over it." They don't understand the bond of a pet being your best friend and family.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has lost a pet recently or about to lose a pet. It will help you make a decision that you can live with between the decision of spending more money or to let your pet go so he/she won't suffer anymore. Remember they are with you spiritually. You are just missing their physical forms.
Quick simple read. Had mixed feelings though throughout the entire book. Some things I disagreed with or thought was poor advice, though this is just my opinion. I don't think I would personally recommend this book to someone I knew grieving over a pet. I guess my feelings are different because my pets are children to me or family, while the author tells you your pets aren't. Just found myself disagreeing with a lot. Though parts of the book yes, I did like.
I really tried to finish this book. I'm having a hard time with the sudden death of my baby girl who passed from Cancer last month. I started this and the first chapter or two was great. I was very turned off when the author basically said to consider if your pet is worth the money, not if you can afford it but if it's worth it. There is nothing it wouldn't have done to save my girl. He literally sold his "beloved" cow to a butcher. Then he describes how he loaded a .22 and shot a lamb between the eyes. Why is that in this book? He also talks about how other pet owners knew when their pets didn't return home that they had passed peacefully. Ummmm....you don't know they passed peacefully! Carrie was the best thing that I ever did and I needed a book to help me deal with her death. This wasn't it. It was very detached and for those who love our pet as I do need something not so clinical and cold.
I sat down yesterday to this book...the only book on pet loss at my very small library. It starts out nicely. If you recently suffered the loss of a pet,his dream of his dog will speak softly to you...hoping that this might be what your dog or cat might say to you in its afterlife. The stories in the beginning make you cry as you remember the love and comfort of your beloved animal, family member, best friend. However, towards the end, Katz writes a chapter on perspective...and incredibly cold chapter. The whole theme of the book to this point is how much our animals bring to our lives, how they are so enriching. Then, this chapter made me feel almost disconnected from my cat. Though he states that our relationships with home animals are not the same as the relationship with farm animals, he does a VERY poor job making that message clear. I was ANGRY that he made the insinuation that my animal is merely an animal. HIS perspective did not help...it only made me upset. And, this set the tone for the last few chapters...almost stupid.
Also, if you have lost an animal due to a tragic accident, this book is not for you. In Katz world, animals pass for one of two reasons: your human decision to put your animal down or the natural course of life. Our pets death was neither, leaving us grasping for any comfort because of it.
This is possibly a good choice for a "facts and figures" reader, not for a person emotionally led.
I think this book was ok for me. I think it was a bit "author centric" focused on his own situation versus looking at the areas of animal grieving in general. I do agree with the reviewer who felt it "jumped" around too much with the different type of animals and whether they were "grieving" worthy. I also felt there was a bit of judmenting in there for some animal owners who had lost pets...I don't know if this is a book I would go out there and recommend for someone who had lost a pet...
I won this ARC book through Goodreads First Reads. Thank you Bdreads, Jon Katz, and Goodreads.
I decided to enter to win this one because I have a 14 year old pitbull who has been an important part of my life for a long time. She has always been a special-needs girl with lots of skin and food allergy problems but as of the last few months, her age is really starting to catch up to her. I was delighted that I was chosen as one of the winners. I plan on rereading this book when it comes time to say goodbye to her.
Pet owners never get sick of sharing pictures of their furbabies. And I am not an exception, this review is a perfect excuse to share. Here is an older & more current one:
[she is waiting for trick-or-treaters] ---------- [eating sticks in the yard]
I think that Katz did an amiable job of addressing the hard issues in this book. It is never an easy topic to breech, as he pointed out many people take losing a pet harder than losing a family member. One of the subtopics in this book that stood out to me was The Perfect Day. I loved this! I am going to put this under a spoiler tag:
Katz goes on to address the importance of using your own judgment when it comes time to decide whether to euthanize or to try and postpone life with costly surgeries, medications, and procedures. There are a lot of people out there that are only too willing to give you their two cents when it comes to your pet, but in the end you are the one who has to live with the decision, so make sure it is 100% your own. He talks about the necessity of preparing yourself for the loss you know that is coming. How to express grief to others and helpful coping methods, keeping perspective, healing, and saying goodbye. Last but not least, considering getting another pet. I especially loved this chapter because I think a lot of people think that if you get a new pet to soon after the death of your loved one you are dishonoring their memory. Katz explains that this is a backwards way of thinking, there is no better way to honor the memory of your loved one than welcoming another furry friend into your life and family. Giving the new pet a great life like the one you are grieving will not only help the animal but will help with grief. There are a lot of heartwarming stories and anecdotes from the author about his own pets that have graced his life. I loved the story of Elvis. This book is definitely a tear-jerker.
I enjoyed this, it is fairly short, it only took me a few hours to read. But, I think there is some valuable wisdom here that can help console someone who is grieving for the loss of a pet. I would recommend this to anyone who has lost or is about to lose a beloved pet, particularly dog or cat. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
It's hard to write a review with tears running down my face.
I bought 3 copies of this book a few years ago. I gave one to my friend Donna when she lost her beloved Pomeranian "Thumper" and another for my friend Kat who was at the time planning to start an animal sanctuary. The 3rd copy I kept for myself. I didn't read it but always knew it was on my shelf.
4 days ago my husband Brian and I had to make the decision to euthanize our crazy, sweet, lovable, not so pretty, Pug girl Miss Fergie (also know as Fergala). I knew I now had to follow my own advice and read the book.
Jon Katz has wonderful insight on the subject of living with and letting go of the animals we love. I am not one to mark a book or use a highlighter on it, but this book may be one that I will. There are so many things that made me stop and think YES, EXACTLY! One particular paragraph that helped me so much is as follows:
"Animals can not talk to us, but I imagine that if they could, they would say something like this: Speak for me. Help me to make the decisions that I can not make. Do not ask me to tell you when it's time for me to go, for that is beyond my simple province. I love you and trust you, and I have depended on you all of my life to make decisions for me. Now, when I need you the most, do not fail me. Whatever you decide, I know it will be your best decision, and I wish you nothing but peace with it."
I thought it was a pretty bland book. I agreed with some of what he wrote about (it seemed common sense to me--to prepare, to consider the pet's quality of life before any personal needs, to talk to children about the situation); other stuff, I felt he was completely off the mark (for me, at least). I do not agree that I should only grieve for my pet through the vehicle and number of human lives he/she has touched. Thought that was nonsense. I wouldn't grieve my grandmother based on her history with pets, why would I do that for a beloved animal? They are each beautiful, singular beings who both deserve my celebration and my sadness over their passing, and in direct proportion to their place in my life. Also thought the last chapter written by Debra Katz MD was out of place, dryly written, and a poor ending to the book. Overall, I felt this book was a pretty weak attempt (did he have an editor that cared about content?) and felt my time reading it could have been better spent.
The title is so misleading. I just put my cat down due to sudden illness, and parts of this book made me feel much worse. I agree with others that the part about his pet bull was absolutely heart-breaking and did NOT belong in a book for others dealing with loss and grief for their beloved pets.
This was part sympathy (what I needed), part hard-to-listen to stories about Katz's previous animals deaths, and part lecture about how to treat animals. What I was hoping it would be was what the title hinted at: solace in parting with my best friend Archie, who was my best buddy for almost 13 years and who I recently put down. However, most of the chapters were either stories about his animals or readers' stories he had received through e-mail or in person.
Some of these accounts were moving and sweet, but most were morbid and just made me feel worse. Describing how all these sweet animals died or were killed, either by owner neglect, because they ran out of money or because they let them wander into a blizzard to freeze to death, was not really what I needed to hear. Katz describes at length a cow he saves only to realize he doesn't have the money to keep him. By this point he has emotionally invested himself as well as us, and a year has gone by. He ends up sending him to the slaughterhouse and grieving, but honestly, this story was disturbing and I don't know...surely that story doesn't belong in a book like this? A similar story is told about a sweet orphan lamb, and on and on. Apparenty to show that life is hard on a farm, and animals are tough, etc.
A substantial part of the book is spent on ethical and practical questions, things like not leaving your animal in pain, talking to your children about the death of a pet, and when and if you should get a new pet. Also more spiritual aspects are broached. I gave this book 2 stars mainly because it didn't do what it claims to but instead spends time on more filler material. Some people may enjoy it regardless.
I think this is my first review of anything, and the only reason I feel compelled to do it this time is because I don’t want anyone mourning their pet to hurt more than they already do. Reading this while vulnerable is a most isolating experience.
It would be difficult to imagine a book more unhelpful. It is selfish and small-minded. It rationalizes every egocentric, questionable decision, within two pages advocates adopting from a shelter but then discusses taking a friend to a breeder, states that adopting a steer was “irresponsible” and that sending it to slaughter is how one takes adult, mature responsibility in the face of that previous decision...I could go on and on. Just yikes. AVOID. I can’t imagine any context in which this would be helpful, unless you’re trying to desensitize yourself to your own feelings or put the life of an animal in this book’s cold “perspective”. The message *is*, in fact, “it’s just a _______”, and you can just purchase another one (from a breeder, of course), and humans are better anyway and that’s where you should be putting your attention. Others have pulled out quotes that speak more about these.
Animal lovers are very opinionated. That said, they don't necessarily agree among themselves as to how they should treat their pets. So whereas I agree with a lot that Mr. Katz has written in this book, there are some of his opinions and attitudes that I don't agree with. That is not to say that this is a book to be dismissed out of hand, on the contrary, this is a book that I would recommend to any pet owner in preparation for dealing with the inevitable. I would just take some of what the author says with a grain of salt and suggest the reader stick to their own opinions on some subjects-whatever they feel comfortable with. As long as the animals' comfort comes first.
I won this book through the Goodreads Giveaways program... All in all, it was an okay book. I see the ways it can help aid the letting-go process of a loved pet, but I don't feel as though reading this book would ever change someone's grief. Some good tips/advice (nuggets of wisdom, if you will) were written, but almost forgotten as you sludge through the book. Okay book? Yes. Recommended? No.
Needed this one. Just laid my dog of fourteen years to rest, and am missing him terribly. The pain fades, and I know he is whole and hearty again, racing through the yards of the afterlife in joy. I remember him as he was, and as he always will be in my heart.
"By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadow of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passages. We come and we go. We come when we are needed. We leave when it is time. Death is necessary. It defines life."
While definitely centered on dogs, this book was really comforting during a difficult week, as I made the decision to say goodbye to my fuzzy partner-in-crime. Katz tells stories of loss (both his own and from others) and gives advice and perspective to those facing their own partings.
I wish I wouldn't wait so long to review my books sometimes. With some books it doesn't matter because they're just that good, luckily this is one of those. I've read a few other books by Katz so when I spied this at the library, even though I had a decent sized stack of books I really needed to get to, I brought it home. Honesty, I don't think I noticed the sub-title because it wasn't until I started reading that I realized this is technically a self-help book. I don't "do" self-help usually. I have read a small handful but there's been two others that I remember liking and one of those was a FirstReads win about parenting. I only kept going because of my past experience with Katz. I wouldn't say this should only be read by those who have an aging/dying pet though. My Lab is getting older but I don't *think* he's going to go in the immediate future. I hope to God that's the case. But I still got a lot from this book. I wouldn't say he delivers any earth shattering news. Most of what is included is common sense stuff but hey, we don't all have common sense. It's all very straight forward and easy to understand and implement. Some of it is just stuff we don't think about for a variety of reasons. Katz packages it up nice and neat here for his readers. The first book I read by Katz I knew he understood dogs in a way not every pet owner does. I think this is what allowed him to write this book, even more importantly, allowed him to write it well. The black and white photos are gorgeous. I do wish he'd have used 'pets' more instead of 'dogs'. He does mention, more than one I believe, that not only dogs are hard to lose. Yet at times it felt like dog owners were being singled out in a way and a person with a hamster maybe "can't" feel the same.... I don't know if they can or can't. My gut instinct tells me they surely can. If I can fall in love with a dog or cat why can't someone fall in love with a snake or mouse? I do need to say that I don't think Katz meant to convey it this way at all - and in a way he didn't - it's just a feeling that I got. One of the very short stories included bothered me. It's in the beginning and it's about a logger who would take his rotty/shep mix with him. He let her out to roam free when he got to work and she apparently came back on her own when it was time to go. I guess I can see that. It's certainly not something I'd do but okay. So, the dog often came back "limping, bleeding, covered in scratch and claw marks." Uh, Mr. Logger? You think it might have been a good idea to curtail this activity of hers? No. He didn't. Apparently Mr. Logger was "happy for her" because "she died the way she wanted to die." Now how, pray-tell, could he know this? How can he know she wasn't having to fight off other animals because she thought he was in danger? How could he know she wasn't having to fight off other animals fora number of reasons? How could know these things? I wonder what it feels like to let responsibility run off your back like so much water. Oh, one morning after jumping out of his truck she turned, "paused and stared into his eyes for the longest time" before limping off.... and never coming back. But, she died the way she wanted to die. Personally I've always felt it was the humans job to protect the animals but God knows not everyone agrees. Oh yes, I can't forget this pleasant story. (Keep in mind these are stories told to Katz, while I probably would not have included them myself they in no way reflect on the book and how good it is IMO.) One of Katz's female neighbors decided to "adopt" a baby lamb. She fed it with a bottle, let it sleep in her bedroom, etc. Eventually this animal that was never a pet to begin with starting "causing" problems. (If you ask me, the neighbor caused said problems.) She kept him in a spare room, presumably alone, because the other sheep on the farm would no longer accept him. Later, when Katz ran into her and asked after the lamb she told him what she'd ended up doing. Oh, you want to know where the lamb ended up? In her stomach. She ate him for Christmas dinner. And that, my friends, takes a special sort of person. That's pretty close to cannibalism IMO. You don't eat something you bottle-fed. You don't eat something that lived in your home and had a name. Ugh... I don't know what else to say but I'd love to know why Katz even gave her the lamb. He had to have known it wouldn't work out. Katz also includes, near the end of the book, a beautiful letter, from a pet to his family and it's hard to read but pleasing at the same time. I'm not sure 'pleasing' is the correct word I want to use but I'm not able to come up with what I want to say. I honestly think it, or something like it, would quite possibly help someone. Hopefully many someones. I'd certainly recommend this - and Katz's others - to any dog lover. This even can cross lines into other animals. It's a quick read and it does make you think.
Found this short book while browsing at a New Age bookstore in Woodstock and thought I'd give it a try. The only good things about buying this $16 paperback: 1) I supported a local business. 2) No matter how much grief I feel over the loss of my dog, at least I'm not this guy!
It's just hard to relate to a corporate media hand-turned-amateur farmer who BUYS dogs from breeders. He discusses putting one of his border collies, Orson, to sleep for behaviorial issues. He also described sending his cuddly cow (which he compared to an affable dog) to a slaughterhouse after YEARS of companionship, for reasons including the financial strain of his divorce. (Seriously: The anthropocentrism in this book reeks! Dogs' only purpose here is to serve humans faithfully, he says, then leave when their time is up.) Side note: My husband just compared Katz to Dwight Schrute.
Are lines like this comforting? "The glory of animals is in their connection to people, and when I lose that connection, I lose perspective. When I grieve for a dog without thinking of people, I am off balance, and the beautiful human-animal symbiosis is askew."
There is perhaps some watered-down wisdom amid the pages, but it's hard to take seriously when it comes off as Katz rationalizing his decisions, which came at the expense of animals' lives. Katz also makes it known that he considers humans more important than pets. And that he would never spend tens of thousands on surgeries for his dogs. He'd rather donate that money to a homeless shelter.
Oh, to top it off, Katz suggests that people consult an experienced BREEDER, as well as a vet or rescue group, if they want insight on end-of-life decisions. Perhaps Katz, a purported former journalist, doesn't realize dog breeders only contribute to the problems of overcrowded shelters and that homeless animals are put down simply because they're unwanted and have no adopters.
Katz even fancies himself an animal "matchmaker" and encouraged a friend grieving the loss of her rescue greyhound to buy a Lab from a breeder. Insanity...
So... reader be warned. This paperback falls short if you feel your pets are your children. And if you think breeders are part of the problem when it comes to healthy pets being killed for lack of homes.
One small, tiny little positive of the book is Katz's section on allowing kids to be part of the choices surrounding a family pet, or giving them a voice when it comes time for end-of-life decisions and grieving. If a pet is ill, let the kids know as soon as possible; show them the pet's medications. Allow them to process their grief with poems, pictures, maybe a memorial service.
I would donate this book to my local library, but honestly do not want to burden the world with this man's ideas and rationalizations.
Jon Katz has written a sympathy letter to all of us who have lost a beloved pet. He acknowledges his grief in losing his own animals and yet accepts that it is a natural part of their lives that must be incorporated into our loving them. "Grief follows love" ~ truer words were never spoken. If you are coming up on a tough decision, or if you have already gone through the sadness of an empty dog bed by your chair, read this book and be comforted.
A lot about deciding when to let a beloved pet get further medical treatment or let them go. An okay read mainly one persons opinion. Beloved farm animals who give joy seem to be just sent off to a slaughter house when they become big and no longer a pet in a sense, and at times they became a dinner for the owner. Kind of a turn off.
I (unfortunately) needed this book right now, more than ever. I’m grateful to have picked this up when I stumbled across it even though those few 145 pages made me cry several times. This is not something I could’ve read in one sitting. I needed breaks to let my grief come out in full, loud sobs. Because that’s what this book is about ; letting yourself mourn openly, allowing yourself to celebrate your pet’s life. And I will.
I’ve lost my heart-dog to a lymphoma four months ago and I haven’t stopped crying ever since. I have a really hard time with grieving and letting go, so I decided it was time for me to read about it to understand my emotions and my reactions better. My boy was only six years old when the cancer took him away, and I had a strong bond with him even though I did not see him regularly. I have felt miserable and losing him has thrown me into a good old depressive episode and I had to seek professional help again to help me deal with the loss ; which many people do not understand/relate to. I felt selfish to know that I wouldn’t have cried that much if it had been a relative or a close friend. But then I opened this book and I have felt seen and understood the way I needed to be.
Thanks to Katz, I will now grieve my dog for as long as it takes me, because I know that my feelings are valid and true, that my love for Nash was strong and unconditional, and that I am allowed to NOT move on. Not yet anyway. Maybe it will take years for me to get over his death, but I will never forget him and his spirit. <3