Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson Allen

February 28, 2012

Summary: In this book, Moira Anderson Allen, former editor of Dog Fancy, offers guidance on how to cope with the loss of a pet. With a background in counseling, she interweaves advice and coping strategies with tips and comments from real pet owners who have been through the situation before. She touches not only on the loss of a pet due to illness, old age, and accident, but also due to running away and giving the pet up because of unforeseen circumstances (allergies, new baby, moving to a “no pets allowed” residence).

Having recently lost my family dog, I found myself in need of a book about grieving for pets. Out of the handful of available titles on Amazon, I went with this one.

Liked:

  • Allen is clearly a pet-lover and knows exactly how much your animal might have meant to your life. She doesn’t ridicule or diminish the feelings of grief and loss you’re sure to have, but instead encourages you to mourn as long and as deeply as needed.
  • I found the words from other pet owners to be particularly encouraging. It’s one thing to have an “expert” talk about what you’re going through; it’s quite another when the anecdotes are coming from regular people. There should have been far more of that throughout the book, though.
  • This book helped me understand that I’m not alone. Of course, I already knew that on a rational level, but reading about specific cases really brought the idea home.
  • The book wasn’t overly filled with jargon or new-age mumbo-jumbo. It was down-to-earth, practical, and realistic, which I appreciated very much.

Disliked:

  • The book was a bit too general for my tastes. Since it talks about the loss of your “pet”, there were anecdotes about cats, birds, and horses as well as about dogs. I was mostly interested in the dog stories because that was the kind of pet I had, and didn’t feel a connection to the other stories. Honestly, if I had to choose again, I’d go for a book that focused only on dogs. This is not the author’s fault, of course; I’m just putting this out there in case you feel the same way I do.
  • Similarly, I failed to connect to the chapters about runaways or pets that had to be given up due to external circumstances. I realize those owners might need help and comfort as well, but I can’t see them buying a book like this for just one chapter. As such, it doesn’t make much sense to include this information when a majority of the book is geared towards those whose pets have died.
  • There was a very lengthy chapter about wills, codicils, and how to ensure your pets are taken care of in the event of your sudden death. Again, while this is no doubt important information, it felt way out of place in a book about pet loss — particularly for those of us who don’t have any other pets left.

Rating:

Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson Allen does contain some useful information that can help you deal with your grief during the unimaginably difficult time. But the second half of the book seemed to be more filler than anything else because of the tangential topics discussed. I would have preferred that the entire book cover pet loss from illness, old age, accident, or euthanasia instead of including the topics I addressed in the “Disliked” section. Because of this, I give the book 3 stars out of 5, and recommend that you look at a different title if you want something more comprehensive and in-depth.

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