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Who are you Remembering on World Pet Memorial Day

As we recognize World Pet Memorial Day on June 11th, I find myself reflecting on the profound impact that our beloved companions have on our lives. They're not just pets; they're family, friends, and confidants who leave an indelible mark on our hearts. Today, I want to share with you the story of Bello, the inspiration behind The Bello Project, a program that extends care to the pets of terminally ill owners.

Photo by Tracey Robertson.

Bello died on June 2, 2014, after a very short illness. So short in fact, that he died before we received a diagnosis or prognosis from the vet. Bello and I spent most of “our life” as just the two of us, and I always worried about what would happen to him if something were to happen to me. I could not bear the thought of him witnessing my death, and then in fear and confusion being put into a cage and taken away in a windowless van. Bello was my friend and protector, and I knew even in the case of my potential death I had to be his. 


Before Bello died, I was really trying to decide if I had the time and “energy” for this big, conceivably immoveable, mountain that we know today as Home Hospice Association. I always used to say that I had a six-hour bungee cord attached to my waist, never leaving Bello alone for any longer than that length of time. This new potential project would take me away from home for days at a time, never mind hours at a time. 


Bello got sick when we were on a road trip to Vancouver, and we had to literally turn around two days after we arrived under the direction of the Vet who treated him out west.  I will never forget driving on the Terry Fox Highway with him asleep in my lap. I said a prayer and my commitment was that if Bello was spared, from what in my heart I knew was his impending death, I would spend more time with him and put the idea of HHA on hold. On the other hand, if he died, that would be “my sign” that I was meant to bring HHA to life. 


We arrived home on the Friday evening. Along the trip home I did a lot of research about what the vet suspected Bello was “dying of”.  Surgery, which was the only option, was not a risk I was willing to take, given his age. I had read about cellular regeneration and decided I was going to “feed his liver” back to health. After all, how hard could it be to keep him alive until his new liver formed?! 


My kitchen became a laboratory, and I was making every food combination under the sun to keep his sugar levels up to try and keep him alive. At noon on Sunday he refused to eat - he looked up and me and I could hear him say…”it’s okay “mom”, I’ll take it from here”. At 6:20 on Monday morning, in his favourite room in the house, I felt him take his last breath. 


Since that day I have not taken for granted the gift he gave me; to allow his journey to become a legacy in the care of others. People often ask me if I will get another Boxer. My answer is always the same. Until Home Hospice Association no longer needs me, I will continue to be the crazy dog lady in my condo building!  


On this World Pet Memorial Day, I thank you for taking the time to read this blog and I send you my sincere condolences if you are also thinking of, loving on, and missing a creature that means as much to you as Bello means to me. I also want you to know that for this year’s Moonlit Memory Walk, we have created an “Across the Rainbow Bridge” team to raise money for The Bello Project. We have some great projects on the go that need extra financial support, including the rehoming of street involved or marginalized pets whose owners are dying. As a matter of fact, we will be supporting a first person through one of our most recent agency partnerships.


About the Moonlit Memory Walk:  

The Moonlit Memory Walk is Home Hospice Association's annual fundraiser that brings people and communities together to commemorate their loved ones who have died. All proceeds raised from this walk directly benefit Home Hospice Association, the only Canadian Registered Charity dedicated to ensuring access to compassionate end-of-life care and support for anyone, at any time, of any age, under any roof.

Join us on October 17, 2024, to remember your loved ones, to share how they lived, to say their name, and to grow their legacy. We recognize that grief and commemoration look different for everyone, and we look forward to walking alongside side you through your individual journey.

Participants joining our Moonlit Memory Walk fundraising event are either walking in memory of someone they love, as a team walking for a person or cause that's close to their hearts, or to help someone else build the legacy of a loved one.


Together we will remember our loved ones, share how they lived, say their name, and grow their legacy.


About the Across The Rainbow Bridge team 

If you have ever owned a pet, you know that from the second they enter your home they steal your heart. Whether it is a dog, cat, bird, bunny, fish, lizard, snake, turtle, hamster, or any other pet, they instantly become a part of the family. In honour of these loved family members when they pass, we have the “Across the Rainbow Bridge” team where pet owners can come together and honour their pet. You can share fond memories, support one another, listen to other stories, relate, and grieve together in a safe and nonjudgmental space. We walk together, share a candlelight ceremony and have space for conversation over refreshments. Any memorial donations generously donated from an individual walking for the Across the Rainbow Bridge team will be supporting The Bello Project, keeping pets with their dying owners until death separates them.


For those of you who are not familiar with “The Rainbow Bridge”, here it is:


“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. 


All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. 


They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. 

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. 

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...” 


We thank Edna Edna Clyne-Rekhy for this measure of comfort



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