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Special pets can offer condolences during tough times

It might be that I am nearing that age where I have to deal with it more, but 2011 has had a lot of deaths for me.

I deal with death more than most. It is part of the circle of life and beliefs help, but it is also the end of a relationship in this life as I know it.

Winter 2011, Rest In Peace: Mimi Hoflich

I didn’t know her well, but I was there for the dying process. I talked and joked with her on the Wednesday before she died. I listened and talked with hospice.

I was amazed at the support that hospice gave the family. I got and gave hugs and watched tears. Later that night, outside in the cold with Ranger at my feet tears flowed openly. In this case, I mourned the loss of my friend who had just lost her last tie to the area and would be moving. Ranger was plastered to me that night.

Spring 2011, Rest In Peace: Jack Shaw

Jack and Teresa lived next to us for a decade. They decided that Matt and I were not home enough to cook and had us over almost nightly.

When they retired to Florida, we visited. When M’Kinzy was to be, they were the first to know. Jack was a brilliant man and had tremendous people skills. He could make someone feel good that he had fired them.

Those skills, I often called to tap into so I could do better. Indeed, a couple of months ago, it was one of those calls that I got Teresa instead of Jack. No advice then or forever, Jack had died the previous Monday.

Watching fireflies from the deck in the porch swing, I was unable to form words to tell Teresa that I had heard. Ranger sat up and leaned against my leg. I mustered enough words to tell Teresa I would be in touch.

July 2011, Rest In Peace: Julie Johnson.

Julie was many things to many people. She was active at Holy Family church and played the organ. She was a keystone volunteer at girl scouts. She was one month and two days older than I. I beat her (slightly) in the girl scout 5K run (three of us walked at the back).

Above all Julie was positive, she had a painful disease and yet, I never heard her complain. She would only state that she could not do something and move on. She always asked about my family and gave words of support.

I had thought about her a lot the week before she died, but I was out of town and, well, then never got the chance. Unable to talk to her at visitation, I headed back to home.

Ranger always seems to know something was wrong. I am not good at talking through things, but yet I need to process them.

The best comfort I could offer my friend as her mother was dying was a “there, there” that we both knew meant nothing. But I felt it was better than saying I understood when I didn’t or that it would be okay when it wouldn’t.

Family support is great, (especially since the funeral home would not let Ranger come with me to visitation), but sometimes it is nice to have a best friend that doesn’t judge, offer condolences or even talk.

I wish everyone could have a pet that is there for them when they need it.

MJ Wixsom practices veterinarian medicine at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. For questions, call 606-928-6566.