One of the biggest reasons people withdraw as fans of our Facebook page and even tell us they hate our page, is that Lost Dogs of Wisconsin deals with both sides of the lost dog issue, meaning we tell you when a dog is found alive and well…And, we tell you when death has taken a lost dog from its owners forever by posting a “Forever in Our Hearts” banner over the picture we have of the dog on our Facebook page.
We choose to post these banners when we learn a dog will never make it home for several reasons. First, we do it out of respect for the pet and the dog’s family, similar to the way people notify us all of a person’s passing by putting a notice in a newspaper. Second, we do it to acknowledge all of the hard work that was put into finding the dog. To thank the pet’s family, the volunteers here at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin including the dog’s caseworker, and everyone else who tried to reunite the dog with its now grieving family, in other words. Even though a deceased animal didn’t make it home, the dog’s passing doesn’t mean that hours and hours weren’t spent trying to recover the pet.
Finally, we do it because the final stage of grief is acceptance. And, by posting these banners, we are accepting that a dog we’ve all come to know and love in our search for him or her is one we will not have the opportunity to know personally. We accept that we will not be able to return the lost pet to the family that is waiting to hear from us…or anyone who has news about their beloved dog.
As volunteers for Lost Dogs of Wisconsin…as people and pet lovers, we grieve when we post a banner even though we know it is sometimes a necessary task. Often, we feel as if we’ve been working hard on a patient who was brought into an emergency room who, despite our best efforts, still passed before our eyes. While the patient will remain in our hearts forever, we still have to go into the waiting room and inform the deceased’s family members that the patient did not survive.
To help everyone who has ever lost a pet, everyone who visits our Facebook page and/or website, and everyone who volunteers here handle grief better, we are going to be meeting with some experts to learn more about the grieving process. Death, even the passing of a dog we…you, didn’t know personally, hurts us all. We look forward to sharing more information on this subject in the future so we can all work through our grief together…so death can be a topic that unifies us even more strongly in our efforts to find lost dogs BEFORE death occurs…so death will no longer drive people away from our Facebook page, the page that has prevented countless more banners from having to be posted.