Life Lessons I Learned From My Cat

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Hi everyone —

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. Unfortunately it has been a hectic — and frankly extremely sad — few weeks here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. As many of you already know, our mascot, Eli “The Cat” Bogdanovic, passed away a week ago at age 13.

He was fine when I got back from London — or at least he seemed fine. But during the first week of June we noticed he no longer wanted any kibble, which was highly unusual. Gradually he lost interest in his food altogether, but was still drinking. After a harrowing weekend, I took him to the veterinarian on Monday, June 10.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat. 1/1/06 – 6/17/19

To make a long story short, his initial assessment showed evidence of significant dental issues and alarmingly elevated kidney values. He was hospitalized for four days and I visited him twice during that time. We brought him home on Friday, June 14 and he seemed to be doing well. But the next morning, he made it clear that he no longer wanted any medical intervention, even here at home.

So we made the incredibly difficult decision to let him leave us on his terms here at home, with us, where he knew he was loved. And that’s exactly what he did.

Life won’t be the same without him.

He was more than a mascot for my business. He was my best friend. He never let met down. He was a great listener. In fact, he was my officially unofficial “therapy cat.” He was a great teacher. I learned so much from him. I learned:

  1. Don’t give up on people, no matter how many times you’ve been betrayed or how badly they let you down.
  2. Once you do find someone you can trust completely, you’ll realize everything else was worth it.
  3. A true friend will always stand up for you no matter what.
  4. Live life on your own terms.
  5. When all else fails, turn on the charm.
  6. Sometimes, silence speaks volumes.
  7. Loyalty is one of the most precious commodities on earth.
  8. Those that you love most fiercely are the ones who need it most.
  9. If you get a second chance at anything, make the most of it.
  10. Life is wonderful, but it is incredibly unpredictable and incredibly short, so make the most of every day.

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Michigan Animal Shelter Offers Pets For Veterans

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On a day dedicated to remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom, it is also important to thank those who served in our armed forces and survived. Those who were fortunate emerged physically and emotionally unscathed. But many were not so fortunate. And while most of us will never fully understand, or even begin to imagine, what they’ve been through, we can still find meaningful ways to demonstrate our compassion, support and gratitude for their service.

Second and Main. Warrenton, Va. Memorial Day, 2012.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

According to recent media reports, a local group in Jackson, Michigan, has done just that. An event, called “Pets for Jackson County Veterans,” is sponsored by Jackson’s Friends of the Animals. It began last Monday and continues through June 15. So for the next three weeks (give or take a few days), veterans can visit the Jackson County Animal Shelter and choose an animal to take home as a pet.

“There’s so many organizations across the country that are realizing the value of matching veterans with pets and helping with PTSD,” Jackson County Animal Shelter Director Lydia Sattler told the media. “And knowing that we have a lot of animals in the shelter right now that really would be a great match for someone that’s needing that companionship and that comfort, the fact that we can help both the veterans and animals out is just a win-win situation.”

The Friends of the Animals for the Jackson area also told the media it sponsored the event in an effort to help “enrich the lives of veterans.”

And there is certainly reason to believe it will.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are proven benefits of pet ownership including increased opportunities to exercise, spend time outside and interact with other people. The CDC also notes that having a pet can “help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship.” Finally, the CDC notes that, “studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.”

As I write this, plenty of pets are waiting for a chance to form that bond. In fact, the ASPCA estimates that millions of unwanted dogs and cats end up in U.S. shelters in any given year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. The good news, according to the organization, is that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

As Fox network’s Lansing and Jackson affiliate reports, pet adoptions fees at “Pets for Jackson County Veterans,” will be covered.

All animals available for adoption will be current on their vaccines and will be spayed or neutered.

To adopt a pet veterans will need to bring proof of residence in Jackson County along with  a copy of their DD214 paperwork or their Jackson County Veterans ID card.

The Jackson County Animal Shelter is located at 3370 Spring Arbor Road and is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Who Needs A Therapist When You’ve Got A Pet?

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It must have been  a really slow news day.

Last Tuesday, USA Today reported that pets help combat loneliness and talking to them isn’t really crazy. In fact, the news outlet reported, it’s actually kind of good for you. Really? Really? Tell me something I didn’t already know.

As most of you know, I’ve had cats since I was 10. And I’ll always have one. It’s as simple as that.

Having said that, the one I’ve got now is pretty damn cool. Among other things, he’s a great listener. I kid you not. He’s bee known to curl up on my lap or by my feet and stay their quietly while I vented about work or cried about… work. He doesn’t judge. In fact, he doesn’t say a word.

Yes, he is my best friend. My confidant. My  official unofficial therapy cat. Or something like that. And he is so damned cute. The other day, I came in from cutting the grass only to find him waiting patiently for me at the top of the stairs. There he was, in full-on “breadbox” mode — with all four paws and his tail tucked in — looking at me as if to say: “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you.”

He’s super-smart. He comes when he’s called (most of the time). He sits when he’s told (most of the time). He lets us know when he wants to go out, when he wants to come in, when he’s hungry, when he needs a clean litter box and when he wants attention. Yes, he communicates all of these things — in no uncertain terms. But for the most part, he just listens. And that’s why I love him.

Oh, by the way. Since the USA Today article quotes an expert as saying that it’s also healthy to share photos of your pet, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.
Truth about cats.
Truth. As seen at the cat adoption tent. Puttin’ on the Dog festival, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Walmart Now ‘Targeting’ Pet Parents

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In my day job, I spend plenty of time writingabout corporate giants. Usually it’s when they’re up to no good. (Allegedly. Apparently. Supposedly. Purportedly. Police said.) But today, I’ve got good news. Or maybe it’s not such good news, depending on how you look at it.

Walmart is reportedly expanding its offerings for pet parents. Specifically, customers will now be able to get more pet prescriptions for their dogs cats, horses and livestock filled and delivered through  WalmartPetRx.com.

Great Dane wins Best Lap Dog contest at Puttin' on the Dog.
Best Lap Dog winner. Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Walmart is also adding in-store vet clinics, which are currently offered  through a partnership with Essentials PetCare. According to published reports, Walmart plans to have them in 100 stores throughout the United States  by the end of the year. Now in 21 Walmart locations, these clinics will provide routine veterinary services including check-ups, shots, and treatment of minor illnesses.

In a statement provided to the media, Director for Walmart Corporate Affairs Marilee McInnis said the retail giant is “thrilled to be working with Essentials to expand veterinary care” at its stores.

“Pets play an important role in many people’s lives, and making sure families have easy access to high-quality, affordable veterinary care is in-line with helping our customers save money and live better, including their four-legged family members,” she added.

Call me a skeptic, but…

Call me a cynic, a skeptic or a pessimist. But even as a pro-capitalist and staunch supporter of a free market economy, I can’t help but wonder if Walmart’s motives are as altruistic as McInnis would like you to believe. After all, in Walmart’s world turning a profit is the bottom line. And by making more products and services available to American pet owners, Walmart stands to make a lot of money.

You don’t believe me? That’s fine. You don’t have to take my word for it. Widely cited data from an American Pet Products Association study indicates that Americans are spending tens of billions on our pets. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon — at least not if millennials have anything to say about it.

A 2018 TD Ameritrade study reportedly found that more millennials (70 percent)  own pets than any other group. The same study found that millennials are also “more likely to drop money on higher-end products and discretionary items such as pet clothes.” In fact, the study found, the average amount a millennial dog owner spends on their pet per year tops out at almost $1,300.

The cost of pet care

In 2018 alone, American pet owners reportedly spent:

  • More than $30 billion on food
  • More than $18 billion on veterinary care
  • More than $16 billion on supplies/accessories (beds, collars, leashes, toys, travel items, clothing, food and water bowls, pet tech products, and so forth)

“People across generations are keeping their pets longer, thus reducing the acquisition of new pets,” said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association. “However, with spending on our pets higher than ever before, it’s clear that giving pets the best lives possible is still a top priority for pet owners, and they’re willing to spend more on the quality products and services they consume if it means more quality time with their beloved companions.”

Clearly, Walmart has no qualms about cashing in.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Staggering Allegations Made Against CT Veterinarian

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In the United States of America, all new veterinarians take the following oath:

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

But apparently some of them don’t take it seriously.

According to a recent news report, Dr. Amr Wasfi, a Bridgeport, Connecticut, veterinarian, was supposed to appear in court on Wednesday. He is facing animal cruelty and third-degree larceny charges based on his “treatment” of a dog named Monster.

The accusations are detailed in an arrest warrant and shared on an NBC affiliate’s website. As set forth in the warrant, Monster’s owner took him to the vet when he noticed Monster limping. That was on February 14, and the initial diagnosis was a sprained knee. Apparently, Wasfi prescribed some pain medicine and sent the dog home.

But when Monster hadn’t improved a week later, his owner brought him back to Black Rock Animal Hospital, where Wasfi again assessed the dog’s condition. This time, the diagnosis was a fractured pelvis. Monster’s owner learned that surgical intervention would be required, and Monster would have to stay at the hospital for five days (until March 7).

A stunning revelation

As NBC’s Connecticut affiliate reports, Monster’s owner told the authorities he contacted the vet that day, only to be told his dog couldn’t come home — yet. Instead, he was allegedly told, Monster had to “stay a few more days for monitoring.” Apparently, Monster’s repeated requests to see his dog after that were denied.  According to the warrant, he finally contacted Animal Control and retrieved Monster on March 25.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

According to the warrant, Monster’s owner then discovered that his dog, who 63 pounds prior to his stay at Black Rock Animal Hospital, had lost 17 pounds.

Monster’s owner then took him to the Emergency Room at Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine. That’s when he learned that Monster never had a fracture and he never needed operation, which included putting a screw in Monster’s pelvis. One of the veterinarians that treated Monster at Central Hospital For Veterinary Medicine also told police that Monster was being treated for “refeeding syndrome” and dehydration. Police then learned that the treatment is warranted when “an animal is without proper food or water for at least 10 days.”

To make matters even worse, Monster’s owner also told police Wasfi charged him more than $3,000 for Monster’s operation.

An emerging pattern?

As NBC Connecticut also reports, that wasn’t the only complaint lodged against Wasfi. A former Black Rock employee apparently reported that she “witnessed Wasfi hit a kitten that was under anesthesia so hard that the kittens intestines popped out of an incision.” As documented in the warrant, the same complainant  also said that Wasfi was “agitated” and threw surgical tools around the room.”

The warrant also indicates she confided in a co-worker and said she planned to file a complaint. She also told police she planned to resign the next day, but when she showed up for work the employee with whom she shared her concerns greeted her at the door, in gave her a box of her belongings, and informed her she had been fired.

At this point, Wasfi also faces an uncertain fate. In addition to the criminal charges he is currently facing, he will likely face disciplinary action by the Connecticut State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Sec. 20-202(2) of Chapter 384 of the Connecticut General Statutes specifically states that the board can discipline a licensed veterinarian when there is proof that: “the holder of such license or certificate has become unfit or incompetent or has been guilty of cruelty, unskillfulness or negligence towards animals and birds.”

Sec. 20-202(3) of CGS Chapter 384 also authorizes the board to take disciplinary action based upon: “conviction of the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter by any court of criminal jurisdiction.”

However, the board cannot take any disciplinary action as long as the appeal of such a conviction is pending, or if the conviction is overturned on appeal.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Connecticut Puppy Scam Alert Issued

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How much is that little doggy in the window?

In the past couple of years, I’ve done numerous posts on new initiatives and laws mandating that pet stores sell only dogs and cats sourced from shelters. In general, they address two concerns. The first is to alleviate the burden on crowded animal shelters across the country. The second is to crack down on so-called puppy mills. The latter is accomplished by preventing pet shops from sourcing animals from unscrupulous breeders.

Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with dog for adoption.
As seen at Puttin’ On The Dog, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Although these measures benefit from widespread public approval, they are not universally accepted. Critics have argued that preventing the sale of pure-bred animals at reputable pet shops will make the public more susceptible to scams.

“We’ve been sending home between 60 to 80 puppies a month, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years. Most of the people who come to us are looking for pure-bred dogs, which many local rescues don’t offer,” Sean Silverman, the owner of Puppy Love in Danbury, Connecticut, told the media earlier this year.

“If stores like ours are unable to provide the type of puppies that people want, then some 15 to 20 thousand people here in Connecticut will go on the internet, get a dog with zero regulations, and have it shipped, but will not get any guarantees, it’s just putting these people in a bad situations.”

(Internet) buyer beware…

Apparently that’s sort of what happened to a Connecticut couple who recently shared their experience with the press.

A few months after the death of their 13-year-old pug Penelope in October, 2018, the couple “spotted some adorable little pugs for sale online.” Then, after visiting the website and initiating a conversation with the purported breeders by text message, the couple agreed to purchase one female and one male puppy for $650 each.

The cost raised some concerns, according to published reports.

“I questioned as to why they were so inexpensive. He said it was because it was Texas and no one’s willing to pay that much money for pugs in the South as compared to the Northeast,” Amy Beaulieu told the media.

Her concern grew when the alleged breeders directed them to send a $400 deposit through their United bank cash app.

“Eventually, he called one time and I said I have some concerns about the texting and this sounds a little bit too good to be true. And he assured me, it’s fine we’re a family business. Everything’s safe,” said Beaulieu.

According to Beaulieu, that was the last contact she had with the alleged breeder.

“We were pretty angry about it and felt a little bit naïve too,” she said.

With no other recourse, Beaulieu made a police report, filed a claim with her bank and reported the matter to the Better Business Bureau.

Now here’s some good advice

According to the BBB,  the vast majority of sponsored pet ads may be generated by people with less than honest motives. Consequently, the consumer watchdog says the Internet “may not always be the best way to purchase a pet.”

Citing reports made through its “Scam Tracker,” the agency also says that since the beginning of 2019, Connecticut consumers claim to have lost nearly $6,000 in online puppy scams.

The BBB serving Connecticut has this advice to help protect consumers when it comes to choosing their next pet:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an online search of the picture of the pet you are looking to purchase. If the same photograph is featured on multiple websites,  it may be a scam.
  • Do not honor any request for payment by money order/wire service. Using a credit card allows you to dispute the charges. Be wary of any seller who demands payment through other methods; and if you don’t feel comfortable, trust your instincts.
  • Be an educated consumer. Lookup the costs of puppies for the breed you are interested in adopting or purchasing. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deep discount, it is probably too good to be true.
  • Don’t take the seller’s claims on face value. Visit bbb.org to verify an online breeder/seller’s reputation. Don’t be afraid to  ask the breeder for references and contact past customers.
  • Consider adopting or buying locally. Visit your local shelter and see if rescuing a dog (or cat) may be a viable option. This way, you can meet the dog or cat in need of a forever home.

At least this story has happy ending

Today, Beaulieu has two new pups — 4-month-old Milo and 12-week-old Apple. She bought them through the American Kennel Club.

And while there are lots of lessons to be learned from her story, she is not alone. You can learn more about how to avoid pet scams here.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

This Never Gets Old: Connecticut Company Provides Animal Therapy For Seniors

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To bring an animal into someone’s home and to see the smile on their face really does bring a joy to us. — Nick D’Aquila

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of starting the week on a positive note. So why not write a post about a Connecticut company that’s relaunching an animal therapy program for senior citizens? I mean, let’s be honest — it sure beats writing about politics. So here goes.

Introducing Marlow

According to published reports, a Meriden, Connecticut-based senior care company recently welcomed a new staff member. Her name is Marlow. She’s a blonde and she’s got a great smile. She’s also got floppy ears, a wet nose, four paws and a tail.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

Yes, Marlow is a dog. To be accurate, she is a 10-month-old Golden Retriever. And she’s got a very important job to do.

“To bring an animal into someone’s home and to see the smile on their face really does bring a joy to us,” Nick D’Aquila, whose family owns and operates Assisted Living Services, told the media.

A big job for a little pup

Apparently, Marlow is following in some pretty big paw prints. D’Aquila’s mother Sharron, introduced the company’s first therapy dog, Sunny, to clients several years ago. And they loved her.

“She would do it free of charge and bring the dog there…and he would pretty much bring a smile to the client’s face,” said Nick D’Aquila. “Continuing my mother’s legacy in visiting clients as well as having her join is a great feeling.”

Sadly, lymphoma claimed Sunny’s life five years ago.

The good news is that Marlow is well on her way to bringing the same joy to people as her predecessor. She has already in training to become a Registered Pet Partners Therapy Animal and should soon be available to visit clients upon request.

The importance of pet therapy for an aging population

As reflected in U.S. Census Bureau data,  more than half a million people age 65 and older called Connecticut home in 2016 and accounted for approximately roughly 16 percent state’s population. That’s slightly more than reflected in the U.S. census data from 2000, when approximately 13 percent of Connecticut resident were in that age bracket.

As I recently blogged about, a senior citizen survey conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that owning a pet or interacting with an animal lessens stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Among the 2,000 participants dogs were the most common pet.

Additional research has shown that just petting animals provided mental health benefits to seniors.

“It’s increasing interactions with the seniors and making them more sociable,” D’Aquila noted. “I think the interactions with the therapy dog brings out the inner emotions that people are holding inside that they don’t really know how to express.”

Personally, I know exactly what I’d say. Good dog, Marlow. Very good dog!


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Burial Or Cremation? Planning For A Pet’s Death

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Last week, I did a post about a woman who had a memorial service for her dog. The question I asked at the time — which none of you felt compelled to answer — is whether it is appropriate, or whether it is over the top?

Today I’m posing a different, but very difficult question. What have you done when a pet has died in the past, or what do you plan to do after the death of the dog or cat you now have? Will you bury him (or her) under a shade tree in the backyard? Will you have him (or her) laid to rest in a pet cemetery? Will you request his or her ashes and keep them in an urn?

Speaking from personal experience

As many of you know, I had two cats before I adopted Eli (or more accurately, he adopted me). Tiger was the first. She was a small American shorthair/Siamese mix (as far as anyone could tell). She came into my life by chance when I was 10 — and we were only supposed to keep her until she got rid of the mice in our house. She died peacefully in my lap 17 years later, at the ripe old age of 20 — give or take.

In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

We wrapped her in her favorite blanket and tucked her into a shoe box (yes, she really was that small when she passed) with some of her favorite toys. Then we dug a hole in her favorite spot in the backyard, and that’s where we laid her to rest in a quiet, but dignified manner.

That was more than 20 years ago. Today our old house and the backyard are gone — replaced by ugly, expensive townhouses that are way too big for the tiny little corner lot perched atop a hill. I hope Tiger’s ghost comes back to haunt anyone dumb enough to live there, but I guess only time will tell.

Anyhow, Heals — a big, fearless orange and white tabby with a penchant for finding trouble — came into my life several months after Tiger died. I hadn’t really been thinking about getting another cat at the time, but a friend found and couldn’t keep her. Thinking about her being sent to the local pound — and an unknown fate — broke my heart. So I agreed to take her.

Heals, named after my favorite NHL goalie, quickly became my best friend and constant companion through marriage, divorce, and multiple moves. In September 2007, approximately three months after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, I took Heals to the vet and did the hardest, but best thing for her. Her suffering ended on a cold, steel table in a Virginia veterinarian’s office. She was approximately 14 years old, and I’d had for 11 years.

Today her ashes remain in a small but beautifully crafted wood box. I keep it on the bookshelves in my office, along with the copy of her paw print taken by the vet. I take comfort in knowing that — in a way she is still with me — and she is at peace.

A search for the perfect urn

Apparently I was lucky. Another woman, who detailed her experience after her dog’s death in a recent article was decidedly less satisfied with the plain, poorly crafted wooden urn that initially contained her dog’s remains.

“My dog was exquisite, a cantankerous bundle of love and light. She was not a default font. She also wasn’t a teardrop urn with paw prints running along the side. She wasn’t a box with a ceramic dog on top that looked nothing like her,” Jen A. Miller wrote on self.com. She wasn’t a cheap bracelet that held her ashes either. She was my dog, and she was dead. She deserved a better final resting place than that ugly box.”

Miller’s quest to find the perfect urn for her beloved pup finally ended when she found a couple that handcrafts wooden pet urns. The urns are sold on the online marketplace, etsy.com.

“When I opened the urn, it smelled like my grandfather’s woodshop. He loved Emily, who was a rambunctious terrier but would sit quietly and calmly on his lap when he asked during the last years of his life,” Miller wrote.

Pet cemeteries and other options…

In her article, Miller also delves into the inception and expansions of pet cemeteries in the United States. She also mentions taxidermy as another way to memorialize pets — although she doesn’t seem very fond of the idea. Truthfully, neither am I. In fact, I would never consider it.

Come to think of it, I would never consider tossing my dead pet in the dump, either. Or donating its body to science.

Frankly, both options make me cringe.

It’s Time To Start Thinking About Traveling With Your Pets This Summer

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As I write this, the view from my office is pretty depressing. It is a cold, damp, dreary spring day and the little taste of nice weather we got last week is nothing but a fading memory. But somewhere in the United States, the sun is shining and it is actually warm. And that can only mean one thing. Summer is almost here, and it is time to start thinking about traveling with your pet. So here are a few things to keep in mind.

Getting there

Flying in the lap of luxury

Not too long ago, I came across this really cool story about the new service for pets and their owners offered by the private jet charter company, VistaJet. It’s called VistaPet, and it sounds awesome — if you can afford it.

Because a lot of its members fly with their pets, the company says it created the program to facilitate the experience. Benefits include an inflight care package called a pochette. Basically this is a travel bag containing pet care items, such as bio-organic good, treats, toys, shampoos and wipes  for use during and after the flight.

On certain flights, pets can feast on gourmet meals featuring “prime cuts of fresh meat and fish.” For instance, the company says a “typical meal” could include  “an entrée of roast tenderloin, baked salmon or roast chicken served with steamed, roasted or raw vegetables and whole grain brown rice.”

The company also says its Cabin Hostesses will offer  “natural flower essences” that can be  mixed with your pet’s drinking water to help them relax during the flight.

But that’s not all. Through its partnership with The Dog House, VistaJet  also offers help for dogs that are afraid of flying. The month-long course, which is only available for pets belonging to members,  helps canine participants cope with common experiences while traveling such as the smell of jet fuel, the noise generated by jet engines, cabin air pressure and turbulence.

Speaking of turbulence, VistaJet cites regulations stipulating that pets — who can otherwise hangout on handmade “sleep mats” must be on their leashes or in carriers “during take-off, landing and any turbulence.” However, the rule does not apply to Guide Dogs.

If you recently hit a mega-lottery and you want to learn more about VistaJet and the VistaPet program, you can learn more here.  If you’re already a VistaJet member but you’ve never flown with your pet before, the company recommends calling customer service. Here’s the information you should have on hand:

  • Type of pet
  • Breed
  • Weight
  • Microchip info
  • (Your) passport details
  • Information about your pet’s most recent rabies vaccine
  • Information about your pet’s treatment (if any) for tapeworm and other parasites
  • Flight history

Pet friendly accommodations (for the rest of us)

VistaJet says it can also arrange pet-friendly accommodations and excursions. But even if — like me — you’re still in the, “I wish I could afford to charter a private jet” stage, you can still take your pet on vacation. All it takes is a little planning and a willingness to go someplace fairly close (so you don’t have to subject your pet to a cross-country drive or a near-death experience on a commercial flight). Amtrak train photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

You can find plenty of information about pet-friendly hotels online. But here are a few things to keep in mind about this important aspect of your trip.

  1. Be sure to book a room on the first floor or near an exit if at all possible.
  2. Don’t leave your pet in the hotel room by itself unless absolutely necessary.
  3. If you do have to leave your pet in the room, take proper precautions
  4. If you are traveling with your dog, make sure it’s on a leash in common areas of the hotel
  5. Remember, courtesy goes a long way; make sure you cleanup any “accidents” in the room thoroughly and promptly.
  6. Be sure to take your pet to the vet and/or groomers before the trip to ensure they’re in good health and aren’t likely to shed all over the room.
  7. Follow applicable hotel rules about outdoor areas where your pets are allowed to relieve themselves.
  8. If you’re traveling with a cat, the bathroom (in your hotel room) is usually the best place to put the litter box.
  9. Don’t forget to let your pets get some exercise.
  10. Have fun!

And on that note, happy travels, everyone!

Is A Memorial Service For A Pet Appropriate?

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One of the biggest challenges when it comes to blogging three days per week is that there is a never-ending quest for interesting material. Fortunately I signed up for google alerts a long time, which makes things a little bit easier.

And thanks to google alerts, I recently came across a detailed article about a woman who arranged a full-blown memorial service — for her dog. Personally, I think it is completely over the top, if not a little bit crazy. But I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Rest in peace, Angus

As reported by the Associated Press, Suzanne Shaw organized the service for her rat terrier, Angus, when it became apparent that his time here was coming to an end. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, she couldn’t find a funeral home to accommodate her request until she contacted Michael Farrow at Mercadante Funeral Home & Chapel in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Farrow initially suggested an outdoor ceremony at a setting such as a park or Shaw’s backyard. But she made it clear that she had something else in mind — and Farrow decided to help.

“We talked and after a little while he started to work with me,” Shaw told the media.

In the end, Shaw, family, friends and even complete strangers honored Angus at a memorial service that included live bagpipe renditions of “Danny Boy,” and “Amazing Grace.” Rev. Bruce Plumley, who works at the funeral home, presided at the service.

“A pet is different for each and every one of us and holds a special place in our lives,” Plumley reportedly said during the service. “We often don’t realize until they are ill or gone just how much they had been loved and have given love to us. For many of us our pets are a treasure, and when we lose them, they have left a place that cannot be filled.”

Even so, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says mourning the loss of the pet is a unique and personal experience that isn’t always understood.

“Some people still don’t understand how central animals can be in people’s lives, and a few may not get why you’re grieving over ‘just a pet,'” the HSUS says.

But Dr. Shaw (yes, she holds a Ph.D.) has a message for any “haters.”

“I didn’t have a Go Fund Me for this,” she told the media. “I’m paying for it and it’s what I want to do. They have their opinions, thank you, but they need to stay in their own lane. I do know that people might have a reaction to that but this is private … I’m burying my child, that’s what I’m doing.”

Tips for coping with the death of a pet

According to the HSUS, pet owners struggling to cope with the loss of a beloved companion animal may feel isolated and alone. However, the organization notes that there are “many forms of support.” These include counseling services, hotlines, local or online groups, books, videos, and magazine articles specifically devoted to helping people grieving the loss of a pet.

The HSUS also provides the following tips:

  • Acknowledge your grief and don’t be afraid to express it.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can help.
  • Put your feelings in writing.
  • Ask your veterinarian or local humane society for information about local support groups or referrals to such groups.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet.

You can learn more here.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.