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Jon Katz new book explores life after pets die

Sep 25, 2011, 10:56 a.m.
Author Jon Katz poses for a picture with a dog in this publicity photo released to Reuters September 23, 2011. REUTERS/Maria Will/Handout

Q: Is there any way to prepare for a pet's death?

A: "If you're going to love animals and have a life with them, the odds are you're going to lose them. It's helpful when you get a dog to accept the fact that this dog is not going to be with you your whole life."

Q: Is getting another dog acceptable in getting over the previous one? It's not a betrayal to the one you lost?

A: "I'm always happy when people choose to get another dog because it's a healthy and healing thing to do, and there are millions of them needing homes. But there is no single time frame to do it in because grieving is an intensely personal experience. In my case, I get another dog as soon as I feel ready. As a dog lover, it is right for me to have them.

"With children, I don't think it's good if you go out and immediately get another dog or cat. Animals are not disposable any more than people. Children need to see that the loss is important, and the family should take time to honor that."

Q: Is grief more difficult if you rescue an animal?

A: "When you rescue something, it's very different than if you adopt or buy. Rescuing implies saving. When you rescue something and then lose it, it can be a huge factor in the intensity of the grief. I have two rescues, Izzy and Frieda. I'm working on a book about Frieda now, 'Frieda and Me: Second Chances.' She opened my eyes to that world of dogs that nobody wants who are often the dogs you love most."

Q: The pet industry is bigger than ever, and it seems like people grieve over the death of animals more so today than ever before. Do you agree?

A: "Today people are developing very powerful relationships with animals. The whole idea of community is breaking down. American culture is being increasingly disconnected and fragmented. Families are breaking up and Americans spend so much time in front of screens that they're not spending time with each other."

Q: And that means...

A: "We need connection. We need support, love, affection. We need to bond and animals are filling this hole. And they're doing great work at it -- unconditional love, nonjudgment

and companionship you can absolutely rely on. It's a little troubling to think they are doing this instead of people."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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