My Pet Garden
2245 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
Inside the Roosevelt Shopping Plaza
Monday - Friday: 10am - 7pm
Saturday: 10am - 6pm
Sunday: 12pm - 5pm
The Pet Shop with a Heart
We at My Pet Garden are dedicated to providing a magical pet shop where you will find the very best in pet nutrition and pet grooming. Created by Producer & Host of DIY Networks "Pet Care" series and former Zookeeper Joel Tatum to fulfill his life long dream of having- not just a pet shop- but a pet shop that is run by a very knowledgeable crew that is dedicated to actually serving the customer by providing full knowledge, understanding and care. This magical pet shop will take you away to a land of freshly unique items, healthful pet food, and quality grooming.
As I write this article my family is once again faced with the fact that we are all mortal. Our much loved Ginger Rogers, a mix breed dog of some sixteen years of age is sending the familiar signals that she is ready to leave this mortal coil behind. This is important for a couple of reasons that come to mind now.
As a Pet Store owner I work with customers almost every day who are faced with loosing a pet (a dear family member) some for the first time and others who have traveled this road before. As I witness these individuals or families coping with the loss I rediscover again and again that when it comes to our pets we humans are willing to lay ourselves wide open, allow ourselves to be intensely vulnerable in a manner and depth that most of us would never dream of doing with a fellow human.
The love and joy that we unquestionably experience with our furry and feathered companions is intense to an extraordinary degree. The depth of the grief that we can experience at their loss I believe has no comparison, especially when you have the honor of holding them when they are passing. I say “no comparison” because for so many of us the experience of loosing a fellow human can be layered with so many issues (walls) that the emotions are simply not there or they are buried so deep as to never be experienced.
Dealing with the loss of Ginger at close range is a powerful reminder for me of what is important to communicate to folks who are in the same situation. These are a few things I have learned over the years.
• Do not minimize the experience and avoid people who will try to minimize it for you. Many people with the best of intentions can communicate in subtle and not so subtle ways that “It was just a dog you know; it’s been three weeks already.” Such people can add credibility to a small nagging voice inside you that is sending the same message. Resist the temptation to follow such advice. Trust me on this one, it is far better to go through the grief then to repress it only to have it come back and haunt you in the future. Because it will. Just going ahead and letting yourself grieve can really set the stage for allowing your self to get back in and enjoy life more completely by allowing another four legged fur-ball dance into your life.
• The other piece of “advice” that also comes from years of experience may at first seem contradictory to the first bit of advice, but it is not. It’s just a fine dance. If the death is gradual, yes feel the pain of them going, but also keep the joy, the smiles, and the excitement you probably experienced when they first trotted around the house. As you have no doubt noted over the years your friend is very tuned into you. In their final days do you really want to communicate sadness to them every time they come into the room?
• If children are involved really think, talk and plan your way through this. Many times the death of a pet is the first brush with mortality that a child gets. As you plan for this remember that kids have a very universal subconscious, primal way of dealing with it. They will most often want to spend time with the body. Often a lot of time. They will want to burry it with treats, toys and photographs, have solemn ceremonies and really, real cry. Hard. It may not be practical to do all of this in some instances, but where it is let them do it. You may not be into it, it may make you very uncomfortable, you may not even agree with it, but trying to short circuit this primal instinct usually does not turn out so well. Where it is not practical to do this, maybe spend time writing letters to, or draw pictures of the pet with your child. Put them up on the wall and help them create a memorial. You know your child best, but when our Daughter wanted to bury our beloved bird with some treats it was special for the whole family.
• Talking about the death of a pet with a child can be daunting to say the least so maybe grab some books on the matter. “Remember Rafferty: A Book about the Death of a Pet for Children of All Ages” by Joy Johnson is a really great book as is “Missing Maggie: The Death of a Pet” by Connie S. Owens. For adults I strongly recommend a wonderful chapter titled “Going Gently” in a marvelous book “Animals as Teachers & Healers” by Susan Chernak McElroy.
In my personal life I have buried three dogs, two cats and our beloved feathery friend Feisty. As a Zoo Keeper I was a part of the passing of one of the dearest and most fantastic animals placed on this earth; my beloved Sweet Pea a Black Rhino who was three thousand five hundred pounds of pure sugar. None of them was easy, they all hit hard, but I know after Ginger Rogers I’ll do it again. The joy of having a dog, or any pet for that matters is so wonderful that we will simply do it again and again and again.
Joel Tatum is the owner of My Pet Garden, a pet shop in Pasadena California. For more information on My Pet Garden go to www.mypetgarden.com.