Whether it’s a discussion thread on social media or the title of an article, lately these topics have been popping up on my news feed and my Google alerts:
• “Caring for our pets – can you afford the price?”
• “Is pet hospice worth the investment?”
• “Pet Funerals – seriously?”
The subjects of pet loss and pet death care services have been very popular for the past few years. Heck the entire topic of pets and their care has been trending heavily in the media for the past few years. From the advancement of medical care, new social networking opportunities for pets and their people such as doggie bakeries, kitty weddings, Cat Cafés, or end-of-life care, the topic is everywhere!
When it comes to pet death, the conversation oftentimes still centers on human death care professionals evaluating the addition of pet services to their funeral home or cemetery value proposition; often still debating the soundness of making such a move. The topic has certainly become the focus of associations, the press, and others.
What I find fascinating is not the debate itself, but rather, those who join in on the debate. Of course there are those that love pets like family, and stand on that side of the discussion fence. And, of course, there are those that don’t understand the human-animal bond, and yet still choose to exert their opinion on a topic that they can’t even relate to.
Let’s talk about death. For those of you considering adding pet loss services to your human death care business, you simply must be ready from a number of perspectives to defend and to reinforce the value of offering these services in the community you serve. To defend when families who hasten to call your firm angry or upset saying that you have “gone to the dogs.” Somehow now offended because you were their trusted death care provider who handled their beloved mother, their devoted father, and whomever else in the family and now you are handling… gulp…. animals. How dare you.
Let’s review some stats again for argument’s sake, and begin with the fact that 65% of the US population owns a pet. Further, consider an often quoted factoid that 83% of pet owners refer to themselves as “Mommy and Daddy” when speaking to their pet. That’s a pretty good sign of a human-animal bond I’d say. So, if you take 83% of the 65% who own pets, you get slightly over 50%, which is a good indication of the share of your local population that will find pet death care services appealing. Taking this another step further, in general, your employee base may be subject to the same math. Quite possibly, you may have slightly over 50% of your team that will “get” what you are doing; the other half may think you’ve lost your mind.
And, while those that think you’ve lost your mind will hop on board to “support” the concept, they might just be giving you lip service. You may not see it in their actions, from respectfully taking a deceased pet into their care, to understanding the grief associated with the loss, it’s really foreign to them to embrace this whole concept. This is perhaps one of the biggest areas of training and education that a funeral home or cemetery will need to do to make sure there is no brand damage incurred with the new program.
So, back to the subject at hand. Opinions and philosophies of pet care. I have a variety of emotions that shoot through my heart and head when I hear these opinions that challenge any pet parent’s need, or desire, in terms of the level of care that they engage for their pet. From disgust, anger, disappointment on my end to these same emotions when I hear of a pet parent who has succumbed to peer pressure in wanting to do more for their beloved animal and did what other’s thought was appropriate versus what they really wanted to do.
Today’s pet parents have the opportunities to do as much for their pets as they want to, in life and in death. Pet medical care is as extensive as it is for humans. But let’s focus on what’s in our scope, end-of-life care. End-of-life services are also mimicking those of humans, from pet hospice to pet loss operations that offer the same level of care in death, such as visitations, funeral services, and memorialization options. Pet parents have the opportunity to do what they want to do in this area just like they did in life. And, they have the OPPORTUNITY to spend as much as they want to do those things as well! (Oh, another rule I have when it comes to pet care and these decisions being mine, don’t balance my checkbook. I’ll spend as much as I want and we should all allow families to do the same thing!)
I digress. Back to the subject of opinions. Why is it that people who have never had a pet will exert their opinion on money spent, the emotions exerted with the care of a pet, and the process that a pet parent is undergoing on their beloved furry-family member? Let’s take the topic of pet hospice. A most recent article was titled “Pet Hospice. – Is it worth the Investment?” What? Investment? Investment of what?
Well, even though the article is supportive of pet hospice, it still gets people thinking. Is it really worth the investment? But, again, I ask, investment of what? Time? Money? Love? What is the actual question? Because for a loving, doting, and caring pet parent, it’s not an investment, it’s a responsibility to do what we can for our precious pets in life, and in death.
After all, do you think any family who’s contemplating hospice, or life support, for a loved family member would have the question flash through their mind of “is it worth the investment on Mom to do that?” And at what cost?
I am going to guess that does not even cross anyone’s mind. FBA
Coleen Ellis is the Founder of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center. If you’d like more information regarding identifying and leveraging both individual and team talents and strengths, please contact Coleen@TwoHeartsPetLossCenter.com. or you may call 317.966.0096. You may also visit her website at www.TwoHeartsPetLossCenter.com.