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Researchers Investigate Pet Loss


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Dear Ones,

This announcement comes to us from Christine Henry, a doctoral student at Purdue University. She is a fellow animal lover who is conducting a study to learn more about people's reactions to the death of their beloved animal companions.

The death of a pet can be a significant experience for some people. What can make the loss particularly hard is others not understanding the loss. In fact, there is little research conducted in this area. As a result, Researchers at Purdue University are conducting a study to learn more about what pet owners go through when a pet dies.

Have you experienced the death of a pet?

If so we want to hear from you.

Sharing YOUR experiences has the potential to benefit others. Completing this study will assist researchers and individuals in the helping professions (e.g., counselors) to better understand and serve people who have experienced the death of a pet.

To participate just click on the link below which brings you to an online survey, this will take 10 minutes to complete.


In addition to the survey there is also a list of links to resources providing information on pet loss on that website. If you prefer a paper and pencil copy you can email the researcher and she can mail one to you.

Responses will only be seen by the principal investigator and all data will be managed and shared as summations with no individual ever identified. All information will be kept completely confidential and not shared with anyone. Only summary data will be reported.

Let your voice be heard!

Thanks for your time,

Christine Henry, M.S., NCC

Purdue University

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Done! Good thing they included a section for comments at the end, though, as I felt this study was lacking in a few very important aspects. I noted a few errors in both some questions and check points. It also seemed to be leaning towards the popular misconception of using animal relationships as a 'substitute' for human relationships, which I always find so repugnant and ignorant a concept. To my mind, that's missing the bigger picture. But I assume my comments will be duly noted as well. But since this study didn't take too much time, I filled it in anyway. (the other one you've provided, Marty, may not work as well for me, as that would be Long Distance for me, just to contact them, but I might check into it anyway, if they'll foot the bill!)

Also, their link to the Center for the Human Animal Bond doesn't seem to work, so one must Google it instead, to get there. I didn't bother checking the other links they'd provided.

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Hi there, Maylissa and Marty,

I also filled out the survey. I am glad to see that research is being done on this topic, and would be interested to see their results. But I also found some problems with the some of the questions, and the way their were worded were confusing at times. I had a different interpretation than you, Maylissa, regarding pets as substitutes for human relationships. Both sets of questions were the same, for human and pet companions, weren't they? What I thought as I went through the survey is they were trying to see if we relate to our animals the same way that we relate to humans, and if we have the same issues (positive and negative) with them both. But I think that some of the questions were a stretch for animal relationships because although there are some similarities, there are also unique aspects to both kinds of relationships. Ah, as I am writing this, I now see your point, Maylissa. Duh?! I am also glad they had room for comments because I had stuff to say also. I didn't look at the other link that you provided yet, but since Maylissa said it is long-distance, I will not be able to participate in that one.

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Dear Ones,

I already knew our members would be wonderful subjects for any study on pet loss! I'm sure that your thoughtful feedback will help these and other researchers to refine their studies accordingly, and that is good news for all of us animal lovers. You are just the best :wub:

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Yes, that was really my point in my particular comments to them....for the further refining of such studies, because as we know, the bottom line is to get help for ourselves at the end of the day. I know this is your goal as well, so thanks for always alerting us to these studies! -_-


Actually, you make a good point, too, regarding just comparing major relationships to each other, so I think both of our points are good ones. :) On the other hand, I didn't find it a stretch at all, with the questions about my relationship with Nissa (the same could have also been said for the one with Sabin), and in fact, I mentioned in my comments that there weren't any questions about the spiritual nature of relationships with animals, if applicable, as that certainly applied in high measure with mine, and I know there are many more people who would say the same.

I also would have found it easier to answer the questions about a human relationship, had they given a certain age, or range, as a reference point, rather than the more vague when "younger", as these things can and do shift depending on one's age. (I mean, "younger" to someone in mid-life can mean a much larger range and a much different viewpoint than when one is only 18!)

In one way, I almost think it might be easier and more expedient to just come out and ASK us 'pet' grievers what, specifically it is we'd like to see by way of more help and understanding! :huh:^_^ ....&/or they could just start perusing some of the many grief boards for animal loss to see what people's attitudes, relationships and concerns are about.

But I'm very glad I wasn't the only one taking the time to fill this out, when it's so clear that this type of grief DOES need more sanctioning and understanding, and in the end, more assistance. It IS nice to see more people finally taking an interest and considering it worthy of study!

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Marty, the questions did get me thinking about certain things again, and I definitely think this is a real step in the right direction.

Maylissa, I think that most reseachers use questions so they can better compare answers and compile data, but you do make some very valid points. I don't mean that it is a stretch to compare human relationships to animal relationships. I have learned through my Tawny, Tanner, and Sweet Pea just how special and important these animal relationships are. Honestly, I have had animals before, but never felt the way I do/did about these 3 dogs. I guess it was just the way some of the questions were worded, which seemed more appropriate for human relationships, although I can't think of the wording right now. Another good point you made about too vague when asking for the important relationship earlier in your life. I just assumed she meant as a child, so I said my father without hesitation. Had I chosen an older age, my answers would have been quite different. Anyway I hope that they can use our answers and others' to really do some good stuff on this much needed, understudied area.

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Americans, as with many other western cultures, we love our animals as our children for the most part. There will be the sporting type owners who look to them as nothing but working animals but I'm sure at some point they do have a respectful relationship as a working pack.

There are however, many cultures who would not look at a dog, let alone pet one. In cultures where this is changing there are conflicts within those societies, be it as rejecting tribal or religious law, or cultural norms, pet owners are seen as strange and clashes occur when the governments back tradition rather than humane values. Those countries usually coincide with human rights violations as well, so animals are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to a right to live. There is also the other extreme. The people who feel that all slaughtered food animals should live. I'm finding it hard to find a compromise in my mind a sense of mediation about all the people's of the world regarding animals?

I don't consider myself strange to grieve about a companion animal, yet I can eat a steak with no conscious. A Hindu would be appalled. We are a product of our culture and many things have to be worked out. I wish my mind was smart enough to build bridges to understanding. :(

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Well, what you said is true and there are wide ranges around the world and even in one's own backyard. There are also people like me, for instance, who also feel it is wrong to use animals for research, as if they're no more than objects 'fit' to be used and abused for human gain, the ends which I don't believe justify the means.

Funny you should bring this kind of thing up, because I should have done my own research first, in the case of Purdue University, where I discovered that they have used animals (I believe it was beagles, a breed most commonly bred specifically for and used by researchers because they are such compliant dogs) for vaccination studies. Some were not vaccinated, some were, and some were over-vaccinated. Knowing what I know and believe about vaccinosis damage in animals, had I been aware of this beforehand, I would not have even taken part in this psychology study! Although it came from a different arm of the University, I feel like I've now 'supported' other parts of this University's practices, which seem to be hypocritical between one department and another...although I also know there have been absolutely barbaric experiments done on animals by psychiatric researchers as well! Now I am haunted by the fates of these poor dogs whose intrinsic lives mean very little to nothing, to these veterinary researchers. I don't believe it's right to induce illness or disease in otherwise healthy animals, or break their bones, remove organs or any number of horrid experiments or teaching devices, or make them live their short, unhappy lives in cages before they are killed, even if it might result in possible gains for others (and also believe it most usually doesn't anyway), and so am thoroughly disgusted and upset about this now....but I've learned another lesson for myself!

I also don't, as a rule, eat dead creatures, as my conscience doesn't like it. ;) Now, I can only hope that the answers I provided will end up, some day TRULY benefiting the lives of the animals I claim to love, across the board, whether I know them or not. If their perceived status is raised, even if only indirectly (ie. as a 'product' of their importance to humans and our spiritual evolution), perhaps such barbarism will eventually be seen as the betrayal I believe it is, and such practices (as well as others) will finally be laid aside.

I don't find it too, terribly hard to live w/o compromising my values about animals, to the best of my ability and means in the world today and in whatever departments I can (it's not always 100%, but I do what I can usually) and although others may not walk the walk as I choose to, at least I can sleep nights about my own choices, and that helps. I also try not to miss too many opportunities to speak for those who can't speak (in human languages) for themselves, and that helps, too. It is my way of maintaining my own integrity, as well as helping those I love.

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