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Jon Katz penned a book on grieving for pets

Jon Katz, a New York Times bestselling author, wrote 22 book focused on animals. He lives on a farm in Washington County with various farm animals and four dogs.

Jon Katz, a New York Times bestselling author, wrote 22 book focused on animals. He lives on a farm in Washington County with various farm animals and four dogs. Submitted photo

— “I think pets are becoming more and more important. People see their pets as being almost like children … grief is grief,” said Katz. “When people lose an animal, they almost grieve the way they’d grieve for a human.”

People might not request a week off from work after losing the family dog, said Katz, but at the same time they’re not going to get over their grief any faster just because it’s a furry creature that doesn’t walk or talk like us.

“The grief people feel is very painful. I’m trying to be helpful and offer concrete and specific ideas,” said Katz.

He said in addition to trying “rituals” for dealing with the grief, pet owners should prepare for the inevitable when getting a new pet.

“Animals don’t live that long … recognize they’re not going to live that long. Talk to your vet about what to do if they get sick. Prepare your family for the fact they’re not going to live forever,” said Katz.

Guilt is also a common partner to grief, said Katz, because pet owners can feel like they didn’t do enough to help their companion.

“I urge people to deal with guilt; guilt is very painful to people yet animals don’t feel guilt, regret or remorse,” said Katz. “People are very upset but animals are not thinking those things or blaming them. Remember you did the best you can.”

Living on a farm, Katz has dealt with his fair of share of loss and weaves his own experiences into the book for a personal touch.

“I’ve lost dogs, sheep, donkey … here on a farm you go through a lot of loss,” said Katz.

Revisiting those experiences made writing portions of the book difficult.

“It was a little painful because I had to go back over the losses I had. I think it was very healthy,” said Katz.

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