I remember the first time I saw my father cry. I was 13-years-old. Daddy was sitting cross-legged on our front porch holding Moses, who was dying.
Moses, a husky German shepherd mix, had lived a long, loyal and much-loved life. It was his time to go, and he passed away peacefully in Daddy’s arms.
After we buried Moses in the backyard with a small memorial, we all missed him terribly. We had lost a treasured member of our family.
This Sunday, Sept. 10, I’ll be thinking of Moses and other pets who are no longer with us. National Pet Memorial Day on the second Sunday of September is a day to commemorate the pets we still hold in our hearts, even though we can no longer hold them in our arms.
We often hear from adopters about how lives have changed for the better after adoption — both animal and human. While most updates let us know how pets have settled into their new homes, we occasionally receive notice of a pet’s passing.
Recently, we heard from two different adopters who are grieving the loss of their pets.
Wilbur came into the shelter in 2010. A small and feisty 12-pound min pin Chihuahua mix, the then-unnamed stray had been running the streets of South Pasadena for weeks before he was captured by animal control. Sadly, no one came forward to claim him, but he soon found a wonderful home.
Thirteen years later in 2023, his adopter reached out to thank Pasadena Humane “for allowing me the privilege to know and care for the best dog that ever was.”
She shared, “During our many years together, Wilbur brought me so much love and joy with plenty of challenges sprinkled in along the way. He taught me patience, unconditional love and the responsibility of caring for another living being. Always one to seek out the sunniest spot in the room, Wilbur showed me how to find the bright spots in life.”
Twelve-year-old Koby was adopted in the summer of 2022, after being in and out of shelters and bouncing between homes. It takes an incredibly special soul to adopt a senior dog, and Koby made an indelible mark on his adopter’s life in the short time they had together.
After Koby’s recent death, his adopter sent us a sweet note and photos to remember him by…hoping we could share the memory of the “sweet Ange” that we cared for at Pasadena Humane before his adoption.
Moses, Wilbur, Koby, and countless other pets, are gone but not forgotten.
This Sunday, on National Pet Memorial Day, I encourage you to share the memory of a pet in your life. whether with friends and family who knew your pet well, by sharing your story with us on social media, or by donating to your favorite shelter in your pet’s memory.
You might also consider reaching out to someone who has recently lost a pet. It can be one of the hardest experiences people go through. Grieving a pet, like grieving the loss of human family members, can take months or even years.
National Pet Memorial Day is also a great day to spend a little extra time loving and appreciating the pets in our lives right now.
One thing is for sure, no matter how long you are graced with having a beloved pet dog, cat or critter in your life, the time is too short.
As Wilbur’s adopter shared, “I will forever be grateful for the time I had with Wilbur. It was not long enough, but I valued every second of it.”
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on September 8, 2023.