4 Amazing End-of-Life Celebrations for Beloved Pets

John Grogan, the author of “Marley and Me,” perfectly sums up the unique love that humans have for their animal companions:

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.
It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.

And he’s far from the only person to lament the short time we have with a beloved pet. After all, we’re together in sickness and health.

So what do you do when your animal friend inevitably faces the end of their life? Here are a few anecdotes that demonstrate just how important pets can be to their human families.

1. Mayor takes cross-country road trip with 10-year-old dog

As the mayor of a town in Massachusetts, Paul Heroux hadn’t taken a vacation in over three years. But that changed when his beloved Mura was diagnosed with an aggressive blood cancer and given only a few months to live.

Heroux dropped everything and embarked on a cross-country road trip that was all about making his dog happy. Mura has even been picking their destinations, apparently pulling him south toward California once they hit the Pacific Coast.

I definitely agree that when going out for a walk or a ride, your dog should be at least as involved in making decisions as you are.

2. Photographer spends 100 days remembering her beloved cat

Preston Gannaway, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, processed her grief for her recently departed best friend, Isis, the only way she knew how: by poring through 17 years worth of photographs to share on Instagram for 100 days.

Sometimes pets are lost suddenly, and we don’t have much time to give a proper goodbye. In Gannaway’s case, she needed months after Isis’s death to finish saying her final farewell. The result is a testament not to a cat’s final days but to her entire life with her human companion.

3. Foster Family Has Goodbye Party for Dying Dog

It doesn’t happen as often, but sometimes it is the animal that loses their human first — and this was the case with Peanut. Fortunately, after her owner died, a rescue shelter and a foster family worked together to ensure that her final days were good ones. They even gave her a big goodbye party – an incredibly kind gesture to celebrate a dog that they had known only a short time but had fallen in love with nevertheless.

I’m sure the owner that predeceased her would have appreciated this loving gesture.

4. Veteran and His Dog Have a Perfect Day

In an excerpt from the book, “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die,” author Jon Katz tells the story of Harry, a former soldier, and his canine best friend Duke. Suffering from a weakening heart, the dog was expected to pass away soon. To celebrate his life, Harry spent an entire day with Duke, visiting all of their favorite places — and even prepared a special dinner of sirloin steak for the animal.

Many little moments in this story make it special, but there are two important takeaways for me. First, Harry didn’t plan this perfect day just before an appointment for euthanasia. He didn’t let the day be soured by the thought that it would be his last day with his dog, because it wasn’t.

Second, this day was not about a huge grand gesture like a big party or a trip, but it was still special. It was all about revisiting and enjoying familiar sights, with a focus on making Duke happy — which, in turn, made Harry happy.

Photo credit: Getty Images


Vincent T
Vincent T27 days ago


Jacqueline GLYDE
Jacqueline GLYDE3 months ago

I can relate to the fact of the soul not wanting to leave as my beloved cat,Sunshine,who had to be euthanized at home,did not want to leave either. Even the vet mentioned that he fought which made it harder for me.

Freya H
Freya H3 months ago

I wish that I could have done something special for my dear alley cat Ragamuffin just before she slipped away. Ironically, while on my way home from work that day I stopped at a pet shop to pick up some supplies. Fortunately, they weren't wasted - a couple months later I adopted two rescue kittens, Aida and Helena.

Shae Lee
Shae Lee3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for posting!

Donna T
Donna T3 months ago

thank you

Elisabeth T
Elisabeth T3 months ago

Hardest part of being a pet parent. All they know is love.

JinnySITEISSUES L3 months ago

What I did was love them as I always did. Held them in my arms even during their last moments. Thanks for sharing.

Janis K
Janis K3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Gene J
Gene J3 months ago

I did something like what Harry did. My last canine companion had come to a point where life was not livable for him. I hung on longer than I should have because his first year he was my youngest son's dog, when my son died at 21, Cisco was just a year old and became mine. We spent the next 12 plus years together. He was a lab/shepherd cross who looked all lab but had the size of a shepherd, 115 pounds, stood as tall as my waist. Loved every person he ever met, every animal he ever met. And me.

When I finally knew I was harming him more than loving him, I made the arrangements and a day before that last visit to his vet, we revisited all the places we used to go when he was young. I had to lift him in and out of the car and I have no idea if he knew, but they never forget a scent, so I think so. He better be waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge, I hope with my son, because I don't want to go any place they are not.