I started this company for my own beloved dog Brady, to help him through the aging process. HIs golden years were getting creaky and I was getting bothered by the way it was more difficult to connect with him. From my experimental CBD biscuits, he became more accessible to me, and we were able to enjoy, once again, the things we always did together: adventurous (albeit slower) hikes, affectionate belly rubs. and sometimes a game of fetch. It wasn't that his life was extended, but I knew the quality had been drastically improved.
So, when faced with difficult end-of-life decisions for a dog, cat, horse or any other furry family member, as a very first step I'd recommend keeping them as comfortable and content as possible in this last stretch (and by the way, our biscuits and oils do an exceptionally good job of championing this cause). Secondly, know you're not alone! We were lucky enough to speak to Joslin Roth and Darci Bressler of Resting Waters, a pet-only funeral home in Seattle that specializes in aquamation. In speaking with them we learned volumes about giving our pets an end with only their very best interests at heart and with the grace and dignity they deserve.
We also gained some wisdom in how to manage our own conflicted feelings when we finally have to say goodbye. I thought I'd share with you all, too.
A&K: Though it's an extremely difficult thing to do, it's a good idea to plan for a pet's passing. Being prepared will ease the transition. What are some things to consider when you find yourself at the end of your pet's life?
We typically start the conversation by asking a family what they want their loved ones end-of-life care to look like. Do you want to take them in clinic for euthanasia or would prefer a provider to come to your home? Do you even plan on utilizing euthanasia services to help your loved one die or do you plan to keep them comfortable at home to let them pass naturally? Would you like to use a hospice DVM to help you with palliative care? Do you want to keep the body at home for hours or even days to say goodbye or do you want us to come immediately to take them into our care? Would you like the remains returned to you? Is burial an option where you live, if so would you prefer that over aquamation or cremation? Do you want to do a final ritual (take them to get ice cream one last time or take them for a final swim at their favorite spot) with them prior to them dying? We also inform our families about final days photoshoots and post-mortem photography.
A&K: What are the possible final arrangement options offered these days?
The answer to this depends on where you live but here in Washington State our animal guardians have the option of aquamation, burial, cremation, and recomposition (composting). We chose aquamation for Resting Waters because we found the science behind the water process to be so innovative and we wanted to bring this option to Seattle as no one else was doing it here or anywhere else in our state. We also enjoy how energy efficient aquamation is with greater than 90% energy savings compared to cremation and that there are no direct greenhouse gas emissions created during our process. Pet aquamations are even more eco-friendly than the human process because our system is partitioned meaning there are multiple bodies present in the cycle. Keeping each body separate from the others using 6-sided stainless steel baskets within the system, we end up using the same amount of water per animal that you would in order to give them a bath. We also have the capability to run a full or half cycle based on the bodies we have in our care which adds even more to the low water usage factor.
A&K: When your pet passes, you recommend a memoriam of sorts - be it big or small. What are some things you've seen work well?
We have found that doing any type of ritual or funeral rite is so important in grief. This could be as simple as nuzzling your nose to theirs or doing any other act with them that you would do in life as a way to tell say, I love you. Or taking a post-mortem photo of your loved one, with or without you included in the picture. Putting together some words to say or reciting a poem after they pass and reading it aloud at home or even in the veterinary clinic or pet funeral home/death care center. Adorning the body with found objects and essential oils prior to the death care provider taking them into their care. For those wanting to celebrate the unique relationship they have with their companion or to have a more organized mourning setting we suggest having a funeral or a wake (body present) or a memorial service (remains present) with family, friends, and animal siblings either at your home or at a funeral home/death care center
A&K: Finally, tell us why you love doing what you do.
Pet death care is extremely fulfilling work for us, we absolutely love what we do! We get to guide families into what feels right for them, with no judgment passed. We empower them to spend time with their deceased loved one and to care for their body. Families let us into their lives, their homes, and their hearts in such an intimate way that isn’t an everyday occurrence with strangers in the normal world. We get to hear some of the most touching, and sometimes most heartbreaking, stories of how their relationship came to be with their companion. Hearing from families that we helped ease a terrible moment in their life is what makes all of the energy we put into Resting Waters worth it. Lastly, each body that comes into our care is treated with dignity and love each step of the way and that is the greatest responsibility and privilege.