The death of a pet can be a great psychological blow. Most people
gradually get over their loss, but some are so grief-stricken they can't
seem to recover, even losing their appetites and becoming extremely
Six years ago, housewife Reiko Koguchi, 50, returned to her home in
Hitachi-Omiya, Ibaraki Prefecture, to find her female toy poodle had
killed all four of its puppies. They were only 5 days old.
Earlier that day, the puppies had their tails docked by a veterinarian.
"The mother dog may have reacted adversely to its puppies having
their tails docked," a veterinarian said. "But we don't know for certain
why this happened."
Koguchi had been looking forward to the puppies' birth and their
sudden deaths were traumatic, she said. It was painful to see the mother
dog searching for its babies in the house, not realizing it had killed
Koguchi blamed herself for the tragedy, saying: "I shouldn't have docked their tails" and "I shouldn't have left them alone."
The Japan Pet Loss Society, a private organization based in
Kawasaki, provides a telephone counseling service for people like
Koguchi who have lost a pet.
According to counselor Chifumi Yoshida, an owner can lose a pet in a
number of ways. It can die from natural causes after living with its
owner for a long time. It can also be killed in a traffic accident, go
missing or be stolen.
"Generally speaking, the more attached owners become to their pets,
the more distraught they will be when their pets die. But even if an
owner and pet only spend a short time together, losing that pet can be
extremely distressing if the owner deeply loved the animal," Yoshida
Koguchi's animal-loving friends rallied around her after the
puppies' death, assuring her she wasn't to blame. Eventually, she
regained her equilibrium.
Yoshida said: "It's important to have friends who keep the same kind
of animal, so you can share your grief and comfort each other. This
helps owners who have lost their pets recover quickly."
She said owners should realize their pets are unlikely to outlive
them and not dote on them excessively. Having hobbies helps, she added.
Hanryo Dobutsu to no Wakare o Iyasu Kai, a Kanagawa Prefecture-based
association that tries to help ease pet owners' grief over the death of
their pets, also offers counseling services for bereaved owners. It has
close ties with the Japan Pet Loss Society.
In May, association head Fusako Catharina lost a golden retriever
she had lived with for 13 years. The dog died of old age and illness two
days after being taken to an animal hospital.
Catharina said she told the dog she would care for it until the day
it died, and she was deeply worried that she had broken her promise
because the dog died in an animal hospital.
However, Catharina later came to think the dog died suddenly to
avoid causing her any trouble, as it had a gentle disposition. This
helped her get over the loss of her pet.
"The grief and agony of being separated by death is the same for a
human or an animal," she said. "You can let your emotions out. Cry to
your heart's content. You'll feel better if you can accept the
separation [through death] in a positive manner and appreciate the time
you had with your pet."
Koguchi became a pet loss counselor in 2008 after studying under Yoshida. She offers telephone counseling from her home.
"If someone around you has lost a pet, don't think, 'It was just a
pet,' but listen sympathetically to their words," Koguchi said. "This is
a great support for people who've lost pets."
Koguchi's toy poodle recently gave birth to three more puppies.
Despite news of suicide and depressing stuffs, glad to know that there are available helps in Japan.