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Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die

( 28 )

Overview

In this invaluable guide and touchstone, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz addresses the difficult but necessary topic of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. Drawing on personal experiences, stories from fellow pet owners, and philosophical reflections, Katz provides support for those in mourning. By allowing ourselves to grieve honestly and openly, he posits, we can in time celebrate the dogs, cats, and other creatures that have so enriched us. Katz compels us to consider if we gave our pets good lives, if...

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Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die

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Overview

In this invaluable guide and touchstone, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz addresses the difficult but necessary topic of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. Drawing on personal experiences, stories from fellow pet owners, and philosophical reflections, Katz provides support for those in mourning. By allowing ourselves to grieve honestly and openly, he posits, we can in time celebrate the dogs, cats, and other creatures that have so enriched us. Katz compels us to consider if we gave our pets good lives, if we were their advocates in times of need, and if we used our best judgments in the end. In dealing with these issues, we can alleviate guilt, let go, and help others who are undergoing similar passages. By honoring the animals that have graced our lives, we reveal their truly timeless gifts: unwavering companionship and undying love.

With a brand-new Foreword by the author 

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The life expectancy of cats has nearly doubled since 1930 and, depending on breed, the average dog lives from eight to 16 years, but there is no avoiding the fact that you will probably outlive your beloved pet. In works like The Soul of a Dog, Izzy & Lenore, and A Good Dog, Jon Katz wrote with powerful authenticity about the bonds between humans and the animals who share their lives. In Going Home, he relives the full cycle of his friendship with Orson, the irrepressible border collie soul mate, who first inspired him to buy Bedlam Farm. In life, Orson was sometimes a pest with his affections; after his death, Katz missed even his most outrageous intrusions. This book about mourning and recovery belongs on the shelf of every pet owner.

From the Publisher
“Wonderful [and] enormously comforting.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“A must-read . . . Numerous books have been published on the subject, but Going Home ranks right up there with the best.”—Seattle Kennel Club
 
“[A] heartrending book . . . Katz addresses a need, and he does it beautifully.”—Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Refreshing in its honest depiction of grief over pet loss.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Katz offers wisdom on finding peace.”Baltimore Sun
Library Journal
Leave it to prolific author Katz (Soul of a Dog) to write this beautiful, heartrending book about saying good-bye to a loved pet. Katz draws from personal experience to discuss the difficulties of deciding to put a pet down, dealing with the guilt, and honoring that pet's legacy. He offers special prayers and rituals for helping children grieve the loss of a pet. Best, he speaks of the one-of-a-kind relationship people have with their pets and sees animals as free of the conflict, drama, and disappointment that seem to taint human relationships. Katz addresses a need, and he does it beautifully. Bring tissues. [See Prepub Alert, 4/4/11.]
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345502704
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/21/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 124,972
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Katz

Jon Katz has written twenty books—eight novels and twelve works of nonfiction—including Soul of a Dog, Izzy & Lenore, Dog Days, A Good Dog, and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Rolling Stone, Wired, and the AKC Gazette. He has worked for CBS News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Katz is also a photographer and the author of a children’s book, Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He lives on Bedlam Farm in upstate New York with his wife, the artist Maria Wulf; his dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore, and Frieda; his donkeys, Lulu and Fanny; and his barn cats, Mother and Minnie.

Biography

"I really don't know anyone in media who's been given the freedom I've had to spout off on a wide range of subjects," Jon Katz wrote in his 1998 farewell column for HotWired. As a writer for web venues such as HotWired and Slashdot, Katz has waxed enthusiastic about Internet culture and championed "geek life." As a contributor to Wired and Rolling Stone, he's written articles on technology, politics and culture. And as a book author, he's penned mystery novels, memoirs and more, at the rate of nearly one per year since 1990.

Katz began his career in traditional media, as a reporter and editor for the Boston Globe and Washington Post and as a producer for the CBS Morning News. His experiences in television became fodder for fiction in his first novel, Sign Off, which Publishers Weekly called "an absorbing, well-paced debut" about the corporate takeover of a television network.

Disenchanted with the world of old media, Katz signed on to the cyber-revolution as a contributor to Wired magazine and its then-online counterpart, HotWired. As pundit and media critic, Katz became a prominent voice of the libertarian, countercultural, freewheeling spirit that prevailed on the Web in its early years. After HotWired underwent a corporate transformation, Katz moved to Slashdot, a free-for-all e-zine that allowed him to continue spouting off on a wide range of subjects (for Katz, "open source" is not just a method of software development, it's a metaphor for free expression).

Meanwhile, Katz began a series of "suburban detective" books featuring private investigator and family man Kit DeLeeuw, who operates out of a New Jersey mall. The intricately plotted mysteries serve as "a framework for the author's musings on suburban fatherhood, a subject on which he is wise and witty and honestly touching," wrote Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times.

In 1997, Katz's digital-age pontifications took book form in Virtuous Reality, which tackled censorship, online privacy and the shortcomings of the media. Katz struck a more personal chord with Geeks (2000), a work of gonzo ethnography that follows two computer-obsessed teenagers and their struggle to escape the Idaho boonies. "Katz's obvious empathy and love for his 'lost boys,' his ability to see shades of his own troubled youth in their tough lives, gives his narrative a rich taste that makes it unlike other Net books," said Salon writer Andrew Leonard.

Katz turned to himself as the subject for a meditation on middle age, Running to the Mountain (2000) which chronicles the three months he spent alone in a dilapidated cabin in upstate New York. The result is "a funny, moving and triumphant voyage of the soul," according to The Boston Globe.

Then there's Katz's other pet subject: dogs. In A Dog Year , Katz writes about a high-strung border collie -- a canine "lost boy" he adopted and gradually bonded with. "Dogs make me a better human," said Katz in an interview. Given his recent contributions to The Bark magazine, dogs may make Katz an even more versatile and prolific writer, if that's possible.

Good To Know

Katz is so persuaded of the power of interactivity that he's refused to have his work printed by publishers unless they'll run his e-mail address with it. His published e-mail addresses include jonkatz@slashdot.org, jonkatz@bellatlantic.net and jonkatz3@comcast.net.

After a Slate writer made a disparaging comment about Katz's basement, Katz wrote a column describing the basement office where he works. Its accoutrements include a wooden cherub, portraits of Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln, and a collection of gargoyles. A Haitian voodoo "frame thingy" (in Katz's words) graces his computer.

In our interview, Katz told us more fun facts: "I see every movie that comes out, usually alone in a megaplex. I love the New York Yankees because they win a lot. My one brilliant move in life was marrying my wife Paula."

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    1. Hometown:
      Montclair, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 8, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Providence, Rhode Island
    1. Education:
      Attended George Washington University and The New School for Social Research

Read an Excerpt

Animal Dreams

Orson

In my dreams, dogs don’t die.

 In my dreams, my dogs talk to me.

 They speak to me of life and loss, of love and joy, of the gates through which they entered and left my life. This is comforting. And nourishing. And very real to me. My dogs touch me in ways that stick. And that does not die.

Orson

Orson emerges from a sea of bright blue lights, ranging

up a verdant hillside under misty skies.

Will you talk with me? I ask.

Of course, he says.

Will you forgive me? I plead.

For what? he asks.

For not being better.

For not fixing you.

For letting you die.

The lights all flicker in the gentlest of breezes.

His bright eyes meet mine.

You didn’t kill me, he says.

It was my time to go. It was my way of leaving,

of saying goodbye, of going home.

Where did you go?

I came here, to rest, and to wait.

And I came back to see you. I put my head on your foot while you worked, and watched over you. You seemed sad, alone.

Then you saw why I brought you to the farm,

why I came into your life, and led you to a different place.

So you could find work you loved.

And find yourself.

And find someone to love.

You did that?

He is silent, staring beyond me.

We come and we go, entering the lives of people

at different points, in different ways. When we are called, we leave. It doesn’t really matter how we go; there are many ways for us to leave. I wish I could have told you that you didn’t have that much power over us, to decide our fates.

I was ready to move on, and so were you. Ready to find another kind of love. To change your work. To find out who you are. I could only do so much. You had to do the rest.

Did you love me?

Yes, always. But not in your way. Not only you. We serve human beings, and we love them all. In our own way, we protect and guide, and fill some of the holes in your lives.

And then he touched his nose to my hand, and he moved off, disappearing into the lights.

I will always be close by, he says.

The

Good Life

There is something elemental, even beautiful, about the natural death of an animal. When a pet dies naturally, it frees us from the agonizing second-guessing and guilt that can accompany the decision to euthanize it in order to spare it suffering. Still, the experience of having a pet die naturally has its own pain, as well as its own opportunities for gratitude and love.

Julia, a nurse in Kansas City, wrote me about her dog Spike, a fourteen-year-old mixed breed adopted from a shelter when he was a puppy. Spike suffered from arthritis and had some colon and kidney problems. He was on a special diet. Julia knew he was getting old, but he was still eating, still able to walk outside and follow her around the house. During his last exam, the vet had said that his heart was weakening. She warned Julia that Spike could go at any time.

Julia talked to the vet about how Spike might die, and the vet said that since the dog’s health problems weren’t particularly severe or painful, he might well die naturally. This was difficult to hear, but Julia was relieved that the vet wasn’t recommending toxic drugs or scary procedures. She didn’t want to put Spike through that.

One night, as she sat reading a novel, Spike climbed up onto the sofa and put his head in her lap. Julia remembered enjoying the pleasure of a good book and the fire crackling in front of them when something made her look up. She sensed, rather than saw or heard, a change. “Suddenly, Spike wasn’t breathing. He was gone. I knew it.”

She was surprised by how calm she felt. Instead of being upset, she felt full of love for her dear friend. She sat with him for a while, then picked him up and laid him on his bed. In the morning she took him to the vet’s office for cremation. The ashes are now in a small urn on the fireplace mantel.

“How lucky I was to have him go that peacefully, and with me. I felt tremendous grief, but I didn’t have to make the decision about his life that I had always dreaded making. And he didn’t die with stitches all over or tubes in his nose, or drugged. He had always had a good life. And he died a good way. Recognizing that made me feel a whole lot better.”

I love the idea of the Good Life. I believe this notion can be an enormous help to people who have lost their pets. The fact that Spike had had a good life was a great comfort to Julia. It gave her perspective; something to take pride in. When you clear away all of the emotional confusion, there is this: all we can give our pets is a Good Life. We can’t do more than that. We miss them because that life was good, loving, and joyful. Too often this truth is lost in our grieving.

When I was a teenager I joined a Quaker meeting. I loved many things about the Quakers but was especially drawn to their notion of death. When someone or something dies, rather than mourn, the Quakers celebrate the life. They laugh and sing and tell funny stories about the person who is gone, and they remember the very best things about that person’s life. What a lesson for those of us who have lost a dog or a cat who has meant a lot to us. And that is just what Julia did for Spike. She didn’t just mourn the dog she lost, she celebrated the life they had together. The Good Life.

Over the years I’ve heard many wonderful stories about dogs who die a natural death, who say goodbye in their own way and time. Donna told me about her Welsh corgi, Cora, who went off into the garden for her final sleep one summer afternoon and was found lying in a bed of hostas, at peace. Raiki, an elderly golden retriever who lived in northeastern Vermont, was struggling to walk, eat, and see. One winter’s night she walked off into a blizzard and was never found. Jen and Peter, who loved her, believe that she became a spirit of the wind, and that she blows back to them with each storm.

Dan, an Upstate New York logger, would let Sadie, his ferocious rottweiler/shepherd out of his truck at 5 a.m. every day, and she would return faithfully about twelve hours later when his work was done. He never knew where she went or what she did, but she often came back limping, bleeding, covered in scratch and claw marks. Sadie was aging and was now stiff with joint pain. One morning, after she scrambled out of the truck, she paused and stared into his eyes for the longest time. He had ridden with this wild and beautiful creature for ten years, but he had never seen her look at him in this way. When she finally limped off, he knew that he would never see her again. And he didn’t.

“I was happy for her,” he said. “She died the way she wanted to die.”

She had, he said, a Good Life.

To give a creature a Good Life is a precious thing.

As your pet ages and you sense the end may be near, focus your mind on the best parts of the life you shared. On love. Loyalty. Comfort. Laughter. Remember that you still have time. Record your memories. You might want to take some photos or make a video. Consider gathering friends to say goodbye. And lift your heart in celebration of the amazing gift of loving an animal’s spirit—and being loved in return.

Finally, it might help ease your sadness to ask yourself the following questions:

Did I give my pet the best life I could?

Did I feed him every single day of his life?

Did I care for him when he was sick?

Did I take him with me whenever I could?

Did I appreciate and return his affection?

Did I recognize and honor his true nature?

Did I love him?

Do I miss him?

Did he have a Good Life?

If the answer to these questions is yes, know and remember that you gave a special animal a Good Life.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2011

    A Must Read

    After reading this book I have shed some tears and felt how it was to lose a dog. I highly recoomend it to pet owners.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2012

    Not a book for animal lovers!!! Worst book i ever bought.

    I read the first 40 pages of the book looking for support after losing a beloved pet. This book read more like a horror story of cold and careless people. Here is a sample... A person adopted a cow as a pet. He later couldn't afford it so he had it slaughtered. He split the profits with the friend that took the animal to the slaughter house. This isn't what any true animal lover would ever do. This book didn't bring me any comfort but rather it has given me even more grief and depression.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2011

    Found it at the right time!

    I had to have my cat of 17 years put to sleep back on Sept 30 of this year. Heart wrenching but the right choice. After a weekend of tears and sadness I started to feel less grief at her absence. I happened upon this book just after Jon Katz had appeared locally at the WI Humane Society - I wish I could have heard him speak. The book itself is well done. It was comforting for me to read and brought up the tears again - but that's ok. It's normal to grieve a pet. It's comforting to know you aren't alone when you experience a high level of grief over a pet. It really is a beautiful book - quick to read, and resonates deeply.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    Very good and very helpful

    I'm still mourning the loss of my beloved dog and reading this book helped me sort through my thoughts and feelings. I think the various anecdotes and author's insight can be helpful to all sorts of people. If you've lost a pet, have a terminally ill pet or have an elderly pet I would recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    A person.

    You can teah ctas how to do tricks. Just get somw good cat treats. Hold the treat above their nose until they sit down, and then immediately give them the treat and say 'sit'. This should work, but it may take a few days. It also works with 'speak', but it takes a while longer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Silver

    Informitive.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Stormy: mypet

    If we can post anout our pets...for theboet of the day, this is my post. Jasmine! Shes my black labrador retreiver(lab for short) and shes FAT! LIKE A WALRUS! She wears a purple flower collar around her neck, she has a son that she like to nplay with, and she has a long tounge that she likes to give kisses w ith! She has floppy ears, and bounces around. She loves to play with the horses at the barn she lives at!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Misty

    I wanna subscribe! Go to 'md' res three!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Yo

    Make the pet of the day my kitty Coco! She is a female tortoishell. Half her face is kinda a tan color. The other half is black. She's kinda lazy and likes to lay on a specific chair. She's so adorable!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Pet stuff!

    Okay. So here is some real life stuff about pets. It might be cool if you teach a skill in every news paper. For instance<br>
    <br>
    Day 1) Sit<br>
    Day 2) Lay Down<br>
    Etc.<br>
    <br>
    Pet crafts;<br>
    <br>
    Doggy mask!<br>
    You need: paper, markers, scissors, popcicle stick, and tape or glue.<br>
    Directions:<br>
    Cut the paper into a circle. <br>
    Cut out eyes. <br>
    Cut out floppy ears, glue/tape them to the sides.<br>
    Color with spots, solids, mixes whatever!<br>
    Glue bottom onto popcicle stick. <br>
    Ta da!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Jon and Co.

    Jon: Human male with 6 pets <p> Ace: German Shepard. Retired police dog, icey blue eyes and black fur, with brown paws, brown muzzle and brown spots, male <p> Bane: Dalmation. Retired firefighter dog, green eyes, black with white spots, female <p> Kale: Pug. Light brown fur, brown eyes, pink nose, white spots <p> Cole: Great Dane. Blue gray fur, icey blue eyes, black tipped tail <p> Hayden: Tibetan Mastif. Snow white fur, green eyes, black specks <p> Bane: Pit bull. Cream colored fur, brown specks, icey blue eyes, pink and black spotted nose

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    The Daily Pawprint (volume 2)

    **PET OF THE DAY** <br>
    Today's pet is Biscuit, a cute male Boston terrier. He is black and white like the average Boston terrier, but also has a unique white ring that goes all the way around his neck. He was found at a garage sale. What a way to save a pet! Thanks for submitting!!
    <p>
    **Iggy's Diary**
    <p>
    Iggy here. I am the author's guinea pig, a cute orangish-tan and white spotched male guinea pig to be exact. My owner owns a rabbit, another guinea pig who is my buddy, a dog, a cat, two dwarf hamsters, a hedgehog, and the little and older brother owns a snake, red-bellied toad, hermit crabs, and hissing cockroachs! The room they both share is like an exotic pet store!! I like my girl owner's room better. Everyone there is furry except for the hedgehog!! He's spiky.
    <p>
    I will post my diary here from time to time, but maybe next time another pet will say something. Anyways, today my owner got a new cage addition in the mail in this big box that my bunny friend liked in her pen. The cage addition was a new platform piece and some fleece. I don't use bedding, I use fleece because it's better for me and my pig friend, Raven. (She's a girl, but my owner had me taken to the vet for an "operation so we wouldn't have babies.") I love my new platform and like to sit on it. It's fun!! <br>
    LOVE....Iggy
    <p>
    **HEALTH TIP**
    <p>
    Does your dog have fleas? Most flea shampoos are expensive and can irritate your dog's skin. Just rub an orange slice onto your dog's coat and the fles will jump off. Here's another little tip - don't ever use flea collars!! If you look on the back of aa package of a flea collar it says, 'This is hazardous to domestic animals and children.' A dog is a domestic animal!!! This goes for cats too.
    <p>
    **Announcement** <br>
    Hey, pet lovers!! Do you love this newspaper? Then why not subscribe? When you comment on here, just add the location of your Clan or chatroom or whatever (you don't have to be leader) and we will send announcements about the latest issue there. Simple!
    <p>
    **Ask TDP**
    <p>
    "Should I give my dog bones from chicken or other meat?"
    <p>
    TDP: No!! Dogs can choke and many have, on these bones. They are expensive and life-threatening to have removed, and many have died. Rawhide is more acceptable for dogs, but the should be a year old, since puppies may not be able to digest rawhide. Also, monitor him and when the rawhide can fit into his mouth, take it away. That's way too small. Hope this helped!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    Not a big fan

    Parts of this book was good. But i was hoping for more. I like his other books better.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    Kncok kncok knpxk

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Baby wolf to kat

    *smiles at you then looks into your eyes*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    Cali

    Hello wanna b pen pals. My mailbox is at grace result three i think...its on the first page lol ...love cali!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    KITCHEN

    KAT a granite island thingie with a bowl of lemons and limes on it plus an oven microwave and coubtee abd cupboards with kitchen supplies

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Thank you

    I am less then a few days away from having my beloved dog euthanised because of severe behavioral issues. I have been struggling with the decision for almost a year and have been doing alot of crying and second guessing the decision. After reading this book I feel more confident about the decision and better equipt to cope with the grief that will follow. Thank you.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Hawkclaw

    "B-because I thought maybe one day... After I met you... Th-that we might have kits," she replied bashfuly. "Oh, it's at "can you stand" first result."

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Wonderful!

    This book completely helped me grieve my dog. I cried and laughed.....but mostly just felt relief.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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