When a family faces the death of a beloved pet, a different kind of care is required of the veterinary team: bond-centered care. The medical model is no longer able to serve the needs that arise at this emotionally charged and delicate time. The veterinary professional, often teaming with the human mental health professional, must adopt a new approach which honors the human-animal bond as the transition from life to death approaches. This lecture illustrates the nature of the bond-centered approach to navigating the end of a pet’s life from all points of view, including that of the pet itself.
The first hour focuses on the practice of veterinary euthanasia, from decision to experience to aftercare. A wide range of questions will be raised with the purpose of understanding what the human and animal are going through at each stage. Listeners will learn about several principles and practices now considered standard in veterinary end-of-life care.
The second and third hours focus on the cognitive and affective experience of death, loss, grief, and mourning, from both the human and animal’s point of view. Listeners will discover the range and depth of the human-animal bond as expressed in an end-of life situation. Finally, the rarely discussed subject of the animal’s own perspective of its own life and death, as well as its capacity for grief and mourning, will be explored, with the goal of appreciating the complexity of animal cognition and its role in making the human-animal bond possible.