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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): For Pet Owners Only

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

For Pet Owners Only

It is with an absolutely heavy heart I write this today.  I can't even post a photo.....I've been putting this off for two weeks but feel I need to get the information out there to other pet owners, in case you are as oblivious and unaware as I was....Why?  Because my German Shephard has always been healthy and never had any issues.  After five hours....he was dead....just like that....my best friend....and here I am in a foreign country and not speaking the language.  Here's how to be better prepared than I was, and if I can just save one pet, it'll give me a modicum of "feel good" on this depressing day.

My dog's problems started the day we moved into our new home.  He had been getting the food from the kennel rather than his regular food....our first mistake.  Do NOT change your dog's food, especially older dogs, as it messes with their digestive system!  The combination of the stress of moving and changing his diet so quickly contributed greatly to my beloved animal succumbing to bloat.  It killed him quickly and before I could figure out what was even happening to him.  Of course, things like this always happen at night, where you feel all alone in the first place.

Living here in the SHAPE community, you are out in the country with not a lot of 24 hour veterinarian care.  Please stop by the Army vets on Daumerie Kaserne (across from Chievres) to get a listing of local vets who also speak English.  There are a few. 

Second, know what to do after hours.

Third, and hopefully, you won't get to this point, but if your pet dies, know that there is an absolutely wonderful pet crematorium out towards Charleroi, about 30 minutes away.  It is called Cremanima Respect SA in Sombreffe.  All the local vets should be familiar with them.  Cremanima can make arrangements to pick up your pet as well, and they do cremations from the size of a hamster to a horse and charge according to weight.  We drove our dog there, dropped him off, where they kept him refrigerated until the day of his scheduled cremation.  Large dogs and horses need to be done later in the day because of their size, and we did have to wait a few days to fit him into the schedule.

After arrival, we were led to the area with the ovens, where they set up a nice spot with candles, country white washed furniture and your dog on a gurney.....with rose petals scattered around, bunches of roses and your pet wrapped lovingly in a nice paper blanket.  I was touched at how they took the time to make our dog look like he was only sleeping.  We had time to say good-bye and pet him...which was gut wrenching to say the least.  I had no idea an animal could have such an effect on us, but I realized he was truly a member of our family.

After some time, the staff, who speak English, ask if you want to stay while they move him into the oven.  We chose to stay.  They wheel the gurney over to the open door.  The oven is already on, and carefully, they move the body inside.  They immediately shut the door and then fire up the controls.  You hear a whoosh and a bit of smoke escapes the door and the process begins.

They then led us to a small waiting room with couches and loving memorials all over the walls with photos, collars, poems and plaques from pets who have passed on.  You are welcome to bring your mementos.  We chose to bring our dog's toy and put it beside him as we said our good-byes.  They also have memorial books you can write in and did see a few entries from other Americans....some of the memorials had photos pasted inside or pressed rose petals....all were lovingly handwritten, sometimes by more than one family member.

Again, since our dog was larger, it took one and a half hours for his cycle to be completed.  They asked if we wanted to take part in the shoveling...we chose not to, although I can see where it may be therapeutic.  We then waited while they transferred some of his ashes to a small urn, which we will take with us until we move to our forever retirement home.  The rest of his ashes, they placed in a cookie tin, which we plan to scatter in a memorable place here in Europe.

I just can't bring myself to write his name....so I will end here...my poor baby...I never would've thought that I would lose him so soon...he was only eight years old.  I unfortunately beat myself up about the possibility that I might have been able to save him, had I gotten him emergency medical care right when his symptoms first started.  If you have a big dog, please be familiar with this second largest killer of dogs.

I'll be taking a few days off...but will be back soon.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Redneckmama said...

I'm terribly sorry. It's amazing to me how these furry little guys can so easily just become part of the fabric of our every day lives.

Christy B.
AF wife in D.C. hoping to go to Europe soon

August 17, 2010 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger tootie said...

I'm sorry to hear about your dog :(

August 17, 2010 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Susanna said...

Oh Raquel,
I am so sorry - I know this has been heartbreaking for you. Yet, you are sharing your experience here on your blog. We all tear up with you!

August 17, 2010 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger THE ZOO said...

We are so sorruy for your loss.

August 17, 2010 at 7:33 PM  
OpenID Amanda Ponders said...

I am so very sorry to hear this sad news, but thank you for passing on information to others.

Take comfort in the fact that he knew that you loved him, they always know, and he will never grow old but be forever young.

August 17, 2010 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Charity said...

I am so sorry...

August 17, 2010 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger kristina ivey said...

crying with you my friend. my heart just breaks for ur loss...we have 2 doggies about to make the trip to Germany...so afraid of this myself. please dont feel like it was ur fault...it wasnt. it was his time to go...now he is ur angel..watching over u...protecting his family forever. glad u are able to bring him home with u...God Keep you during this difficult time.

August 18, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Thank you for all the positive and heartfelt comments!

August 19, 2010 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear your sad news. My heart is just breaking for you. Hang in there.

August 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Molly Danger said...

I just found your blog and I'm so sorry for your loss. My heart is heavy and my tears are huge for you. I can't imagine the loss and am terrified of facing the same situation. Thank you for sharing your story. I can only hope that it gets better for you.

August 30, 2010 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Mitchell and Kadi Heath said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I can confidently say that sharing your story has most likely saved my dogs' lives. I have a lab mix and a german shepherd. Thank you so much.

October 20, 2010 at 8:14 PM  

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