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8 Signs Pets Are Becoming A Big Consumer Class

At just what point cats and dogs became full-fledged members of the family is difficult to determine.

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At just what point cats and dogs became full-fledged members of the family is difficult to determine. But today, pets’ elevated status is apparent—in psychiatric counseling, organ transplants and even the introduction of a communications device called Pet Chatz, which allows a love-struck owner to call the pet at home from the office and even electronically release a treat from a dispenser while chatting.

Some 82.5 million American households, or 68 percent, include domestic animals. Americans spent an all-time-high $55.7 billion on their pets last year, and spending will inch close to $60 billion this year, according to recently released APPA data. That’s a huge jump from 1996, when total pet spending was just $21 billion.

It starts with the $2.2 billion spent on live animal purchases last year, but it doesn’t end there. …

Obamacare For Pets

Forget about Obamacare adoption; pet insurance is quickly growing.

More and more companies are offering pet insurance as a perk to employees, with one in three Fortune 500 companies providing coverage. 

Wal-Mart introduced store-branded pet insurance plans at select Canadian stores last year, marking their entry into an industry with an average growth rate of 13 percent a year, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Wal-Mart is following in the footsteps of outdoor-gear retailer Cabela’s, which introduced pet insurance in 2011.

There’s still plenty of room to grow: Less than 1 percent of America’s 160 million cats and dogs are insured. Of the $55 billion that Americans spent last year on pets, $14.4 billion went to veterinary care.

Pet Ab Crunches

Pet training may currently be associated with the negative underworld of pit bulls and greyhounds, but that’s quickly changing. Many dog-training facilities already offer exercise-oriented classes for pets, and “human” fitness clubs are also starting to offer pet-friendly classes as well. The fitness industry is even giving new meaning to the yoga pose “downward facing dog”—there are now yoga classes for owners and their pets.

In addition, the wearable fitness-tracker market is also extending its reach to pets. Whistle, a device that attaches to an animal’s collar and is otherwise known as Fitbit for dogs, measures information such as steps taken and calories burned. “The idea is to offer pet owners and vets data that they “have never seen before,” said Ben Jacobs, Whistle’s CEO.

Health-Conscious Pets

The new slew of health-conscious pet foods entering the market today are revolutionizing their diet. Companies, such as FreshPet, are leading the way, with freshly made pet foods that require refrigeration. The APPA estimates the biggest chunk of spending in 2013—$21.6 billion—went toward this more expensive, healthier grub.

Pet Einstein

Remember Baby Einstein, the children’s products company that introduced the arts and humanities to infants to stimulate their curious side and hopefully turn them into “geniuses” (at least before the iPhone)? 

Pet toymakers are starting to spare no expense in making increasingly complicated toys, as more pet owners make the bet that graduating kitty from cat nip to interactive toys will increase the number of neurons firing in the feline. 

Two new toys for cats make the point. The Nina Ottosson MixMax Puzzle is a sort of three-dimensional board game with sliding panels. The owner hides a treat within the network of pieces, and the cat has to move them to find it. Another, the SmartyKat Hot Pursuit, consists of a round plastic mat with an electronic mouse hidden underneath. The mouse scurries around out of sight, and Tabby jumps on the bulge and bats it, never catching a mouse but willing to endlessly try. Sounds more like torture than toy, actually. But it does get the lazy cat up off the couch.

Pets On Pills

From arthritis to cardiovascular disease, the ills that bedevil humans imperil animals as well. But “Drugs that work on humans don’t necessarily work as well on animals,” said Jay Lichter, a venture capitalist and chairman of the board of Aratana Therapeutics, which makes, among other drugs, a treatment for chronic pain in animals. “As an arthritis treatment, for example, acetaminophens tend to cause liver and kidney problems in dogs,” Lichter said. “Over the coming years, I expect an explosion in innovative products from all kinds of companies.” 

According to APPA, $13.1 billion was spent in 2013 on pet supplies and over-the-counter medicines.

Newly IPO’ed businesses such as Zoetis, an animal medicine and vaccine company that was spun off from Pfizer, show the market’s appetite for this trend. From the perspective of a pharmaceutical company searching for blockbuster drugs, animals have an additional attraction: the clinical trials are much shorter than for humans. 

Diva Pets (Boston Made Pets)

It’s easier than ever for the rich to make sure their pets are dressed to kill. Most articles of pet clothing are no more than miniaturized fleece pieces or tiny ironic Christmas sweaters, but more and more haute couture fashion houses are dipping their paws into canine and feline apparel. 

Designers ranging from Gucci to Vivienne Westwood are making fur coats and diamond armor pieces that are easily more expensive than an average person’s entire outfit. New York, fittingly, has become a mecca for pet fashion. The New York Pet Fashion Show just celebrated its tenth anniversary just last February.

Pet Penthouses

Some lucky pets receive a level of service that most Americans can only dream of. In 2010, Disney World Resorts in Buena Vista, Fla., established a luxury hotel (you can call it a kennel if you prefer) for pets accompanying the family on vacation. However, Disney World isn’t the first to offer pets luxury service, and it undoubtedly won’t be the last. The D Pet Hotel looks like any normal hotel, with full-size beds and flat-screen TVs, but its only guests are dogs. The hotel is popular enough to have two trendy locations: one in Hollywood and another in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. 

The trend continues to pick up momentum. Statistics tell the story. Pet services, including grooming, boarding, training and pet-sitting, grew by the largest percentage among pet economy sectors from 2012 to 2013—6.1 percent, to $4 billion, according to APPA data.

Big Market Bets On Pets

It may be a long time before Fido can invest in Purina stock, but we humans can pick up the slack in the meantime. The industry is sturdy—it kept growing year by year for well over a decade, shaking off the Great Recession like a spaniel shaking off the water from a dip in a pond. In fact, it’s been expanding at a steady 4 percent to 6 percent rate a year since the APPA started record-keeping in 1996.This leaves investors with plenty of ways to place long-term bets on pets.

Investment opportunities range from big public companies like  PetSmart to Zoetis. In addition, many smaller companies are looking for private-equity investment. 

“At some point this industry might slow down, but it’s not going to be in 2014,” said Carol Frank, managing director and pet-industry specialist for SDR Ventures Investment Bank of Denver. “There are hundreds of new products coming out.”

Will Pet Inc. Last?

Is the pet industry as inexhaustible as a mouse-pouncing cat or a stick-fetching dog? 

The head of APPA, Bob Vetere, said in a recent interview in USA Today, “What is feeding a large part of the growth now are the baby boomers who have become empty-nesters and are looking for some other ways to find the love and affection they used to get from their kids.” 

Yet Frank sees a limit to this trend and thinks the pet market may start to slow down in five years or so as Baby Boomers, the cohort that has been driving the growth, ages and settles into a different sort of life. Frank said many people in their 70s will elect not to replace dogs and cats that have passed away. Some of the big pet-product niches are showing signs of slowing already: Health and wellness products (including supplies and over-the-counter medications), which grew by 7.4 percent in 2012, grew by only 3.9 percent in 2013, the APPA said.

Economic history is littered with examples of once-thriving pet markets that have all but disappeared. The gerbil and guppy sectors are sluggish, apparently because children—who have traditionally been the principal enthusiasts—have substituted video games.

There are also some human concepts being refigured for pets that are bold, which may consequently result in failure. In the easier-said-than-done (for pets) category, some imaginative producers have experimented with creating cable television programming for dogs and cats—no luck so far. The pilots have left the animals scratching their heads. 

But innovators will keep trying. The hope of humanizing our pets is endless. Perhaps their next focus will be on texting.

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10 Best Places To Shop In Boston

Shopping in Boston allows you the chance to create your own perfect excursion.

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Photo: Shutterstock

Protecting your dog from the elements has never been easier with our fashionable dog coats, available here at Boston Made. We have a huge selection of styles and materials capable of a variety of uses, from keeping your dog warm and dry to simply adding some chic to your pup’s wardrobe.

Shopping in Boston allows you the chance to create your own perfect excursion. Enjoy the landscape that Boston has to offer and explore the small shops that add personality to the shopping scene. Fills your bags with staple items at the popular big box stores that you’ll find in most area malls, or pick out quirky, unique pieces at boutiques and specialty shops. Shop the couture lines like Chanel, and Burberry or just as easily locate a steal at a second hand store or outlet mall.

Enjoy the outdoor options alongside the rich and famous by popping into the small shops along Beacon Hill, where you’ll find something new, different and interesting or stroll Newbury Street where high end fashion and hip, trendy shops can be found nestled in the brownstones that line the sidewalks.

Head indoors and take advantage of the temperature controlled environment at one of the many malls that surround the Boston area and are jam packed with the most popular brands available. Boston proper is home to the Prudential Center and Copley Place while the well stocked malls in the ‘burbs are ideal for those with a car since parking is free so you can spend more on what you’re shopping for.

Head less than hour outside the city and be treated to bargains in all forms at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets where popular brands come together to offer deep discounts on designer merchandise.

You can shop across the seasons with our comprehensive range of dog coats, both in gender orientated and unisex styles. We make sure that your fashion conscious dog has the best picks to keep their wardrobe updated regularly ensuring that they are suited for a sudden downpour, playing in the snow or just in need of a little extra warmth in the chilly evenings.

Harvard Square is a delight for the senses. Hear the music playing from street performers as you pass, see history come to life as you step through the gates of Harvard University, smell the food cooking when you walk by the restaurants that are all around, taste what those restaurants have to offer, and touch the goods sold in the many specialty stores within the four square miles that is Harvard Square. Shopping here is an eclectic mix of mainstream and funky finds that will delight even those who have it all. Smaller shop owners are often inside to offer you the personal touch as you peruse their shelves.

At Boston Made, Inc. we balance style with practicality, ensuring that all of our clothes are easy to put on, take off and stay on during all of your dogs’ activities. All of the dog coats that we stock are made from the highest quality materials and are available at some of the most competitive prices on the market.

Beacon Hill is a cozy community that offers residents a prime downtown location as well as great shopping and sightseeing for the masses. Approximately one-half mile square, Beacon Hill is one small section of the city that packs a big punch. Home to many retailers this is not the shopping destination for those seeking to save a buck. Small boutiques, specialty stores and antique shops line the length of Charles Street, the main street through Beacon Hill and home to most of the stores. Here you’ll encounter shop proprietors who care, and who want to make you happy, and who have things that can’t be found everywhere. You’ll be sure enjoy the keepsake you’ll find in Beacon Hill.

Some of our coats, such as our argyll tweed coat are made of traditional British fabric oozing elegance, heritage and class. Most of our coats are complete with a leash hole to allow a harness to be worn underneath so your pup can not only look good, but you can also be sure that they are safe. If you have any questions regarding any of our products, don’t hesitate to get in contact with a member of our team today.

Shop the South Shore Plaza for a climate controlled experience less than 20 minutes south of Boston’s center. This multi-level mall has it all: excellent places to eat and drink, department stores and smaller more specialized shops as well as common retailers you don’t want to miss. You’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for within these walls be it fashion, food, or home goods. With plenty of free parking, your car will be in easy reach when your arms get full and you need to unload your haul. You’ll be so comfortable shopping at the South Shore Plaza that you may find the entire day has passed and you are still shopping.

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets was built with bargain hunters in mind. Wrentham Village Premium Outlet Center is home to one hundred and seventy high end retail outlets, all offering reduced pricing on their premium goods. Less than an hour away from Boston, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is worth the drive to buy the Tory Burch clutch you’ve been eyeing or the Brooks Brothers suit you’ve been dying to buy. Shopping at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets you can outfit the entire family from head to toe and most of your home. Like any shopping in Massachusetts, all clothing purchases are made tax free.

Copley Place located in the Back Bay, offers high-end stores with a variety of quality merchandise. This indoor shopping “mall” is a sight to see. The two story design with extra wide walkways allows guests to enjoy the space while shopping at their favorite retail stores. Here are retailers and stores that make Copley Place unique in Boston and additional spots to buy gifts: Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Barney’s New York, and Tory Burch. Built with luxury in mind, the marble columns, gorgeous floors and rotunda are worth a look. Restaurants, and two hotels offer perfect places for a mid-shopping escape. Connected to the Prudential center by a glass encased bridge, the Copley Place Mall is ideal for mall hopping. It is also a great spot to enjoy some time shopping for yourself or a gift for someone special.

Faneuil Hall, originally established as a market for merchants, fishermen and vendors in 174 is now a tourist attraction known for shopping, eating and drinking. One of America’s premiere urban marketplaces, Faneuil Hall boasts more than 100 shops, 14 restaurants, and 40 food vendors. On a beautiful day a stroll outside along the pedestrian walkways lining each side and window shopping everyplace before entering anyplace is loads of fun. Street performers are out year round and their skilled performances always draw a large crowd. Also known as Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall is the perfect shopping destination to do it all.

One on New England’s top shopping destinations, the Prudential Center has it all. An enclosed space that protects you from the elements, you can peruse all day without a worry about the weather. Offering outstanding stores to shop, a bright and airy setting, several excellent restaurant selections, a decent food court, and a room with a view, the Prudential Center is a shopping experience like no other. After you’ve shopped yourself senseless, enjoy the views from the Prudential Tower’s Skywalk Observatory. With an unparalleled perspective of the city, your Skywalk ticket may the best “shopping” score of the day. And if you’d like a little food with your view Top of the Hub is located in the Prudential Tower to provide you with both scenery and sustenance.

The Natick Mall is the largest mall around. Home to two hundred retail stores, the Natick Mall is anchored by lavish retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom as well as affordable stores such as JC Penney, sears and Macy’s. You’ll also find the hottest chains around as well as a few smaller merchants providing quality goods. The Natick Mall’s indoor architecture has been updated from the run of the mill to a spectacularly serene setting. With more than 7,000 parking spaces, including valet and premium parking, Natick Mall offers more parking options than any surrounding retail destination to ensure your bags find their way home with ease.

Newbury Street shopping has everything from fun and funky finds at stores like the hip chain Urban Outfitters to the classic couture that is offered at Chanel. Plus everything in between. Newbury Street is known as a high end shopping spot like New York’s Fifth Avenue, or California’s Rodeo Drive. Shopping starts at Massachusetts Avenue and continues to Arlington Street, spanning a mere eight city blocks. The historic storefronts offer charming glimpses of Boston during the mid-to-late 19th century. Open air cafes and restaurants can be found lining the sidewalks and offer the perfect place for people watching when you tire of shopping.

Hip, contemporary CambridgeSide is an indoor mall that draws locals for easy indoor shopping at all the shops you love: Ann Taylor, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and J Crew. Easily accessible by MBTA, Boston area locals enjoy the mix of stores that call the CambridgeSide close to home. Home to a decent food court and several sit-down restaurants you can enjoy a side of food with your shopping. Paid parking is available in their indoor garage. Located a block from the Museum of Science you can add a “quick” mall stop to a museum day. Best of all, CambridgeSide hosts many events throughout the year to make your shopping experience extra special.

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How To Keep Dogs Out of Gardens

Our dogs and our gardens need to be protected from one another.

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We’re not the only ones who notice when gardens start to grow—dogs are also well aware of blooming flowers, vegetables and herbs. Like enthusiastic but inept gardeners, they’ll sniff the new growth, walk all over it, paw at it or even dig it up. Not only is it frustrating to deal with the damage, it can also be dangerous for the dog. Here are a few ways to make it easier to protect both your garden and your four-legged helper.

Dogs rarely treat gardens with the tender care they require, and—more significantly—some flowers and other plants are toxic to them. Keeping your dog (or dogs) from getting into your garden each spring and summer can be a challenge, but fortunately, it’s one that can be met by approaching it from several angles. Following are some strategies that will discourage your resident canine “gardener.”

Use barriers. Perhaps it sounds too obvious, but a physical barrier can prevent dogs from having access to areas where they’re likely to cause damage. Many people object to putting up chicken wire, a fence or otherwise blocking off the garden, and that’s a shame. There’s no easier or more effective way to solve the problem, at least temporarily, while you work on training your dog to stay out of the area. Managing the situation and preventing a problem is a great idea, but all too often, people feel like it’s a cop-out. It’s not! Barriers keep everyone safe and protect what’s valuable—our dogs, first and foremost, but also, our gardens.

Supervise the dog. Left on their own to amuse themselves, dogs will often find gardens very tempting; they’re far more likely to dig or pull out plants than dogs whose people are outside with them. If you’re out there, you can engage your dog in activities such as fetch, tug or chase, all of which are likely to be more appealing than the garden. Additionally, if you’re outside with your dog and she does head for the garden, you can interrupt that behavior and redirect her to another activity—ideally, before damage is done. What kind of activities? I’m glad you asked.

Offer other activities. Many dogs find gardens to be great fun, but if they’re given something even more fun to do, the garden will be safer. As mentioned, playing with your dog is one way to keep her engaged in something other than digging and removing plants, and there are other options as well. Offering a vet-approved chew or a puzzle toy such as a stuffed Kong are great options because dogs tend to love them. Having all kinds of toys available increases the odds that your dog will focus on one of them rather than on your vegetables, herbs or flowers.

Create a dedicated digging area. It’s natural for dogs to dig, which makes it challenging to teach them not to do it. However, a far more manageable task is to teach them where to dig. So, instead of a flat out “no” to digging, the message is “dig here, notthere.” To make it most tempting to your dog, choose an area with good soil, then make it the best spot in the yard by burying treasures for her to uncover. Stuffed Kongs, bones, chew toys and treats will make it even more appealing to her.

Garden in containers or raised beds. It’s easier for dogs to understand what’s off-limits if the distinction between areas where she’s allowed and areas she should avoid are clearly delineated. If your garden plants are in pots or in raised beds with borders and there are paths around them, it’s easier to redirect your dog to other areas of the yard, and easier for her to understand that those plants and that area are not for her.

Garden when your dog isn’t around. Many dogs copy our behavior, so if they see us dig, pull weeds or thin new seedlings, they may join in. Even if they don’t imitate us precisely, they are likely to investigate any area they see us in. This “social facilitation” means that their interest is sparked by our presence. Once they’re in the garden, they almost can’t help themselves. The next thing you know, they’re destroying all our hard work. No, I’m not saying you need to sneak around to work in your garden—just choose a time when your dog is otherwise occupied, preferably inside the house.

Teach your dog cues to communicate what she should do. Your dog isn’t digging in the garden or pulling up plants to make you crazy, to rebel or to cause problems. She’s doing it because it’s interesting and she doesn’t know that the behavior is unwelcome. To let her know her help isn’t needed, it’s useful to teach the cue “Leave it,” which means she may not approach an object or take it in her mouth. Another important cue is “Drop it,” which communicates that she should release the item in her mouth. That way, if she does pull up a plant, you may still be able to save and replant it (depending on its condition at that point!).

More importantly, if the plant’s toxic but the dog drops it, she’s exposed to less of the toxin. Preventing her from swallowing a dangerous plants is essential, and “Drop it” is a great way to do that. Be sure to reinforce your dog with great treats, toys, play or something to chew as a reward for responding correctly to these cues.

With a variety of tactics, we can keep our dogs and our gardens safe from each other!

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How To Cope With The Loss of a Beloved Pet

The bonds we forge with our pets are powerful. Their love for us is unfaltering, and they have a way of making us feel better even on our worst days — which makes the loss of a pet that much more difficult.

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Intro

The bonds we forge with our pets are powerful. Their love for us is unfaltering, and they have a way of making us feel better even on our worst days — which makes the loss of a pet that much more difficult.

Read on to learn more about the power of pet relationships as well as for steps on how you can cope with such a devastating loss, if and when it happens.

The Power of Pet Relationships

Our pet relationships are among the most powerful in our entire lives. They offer:

  • significant emotional support
  • mental health benefits
  • unwavering companionship
  • love for our children and other family members

Grieving The Loss of A Pet

The grief from losing a beloved pet can be overwhelming. It’s also an extremely delicate situation for any children you might have in your family. Consider the following steps after your pet makes their transition:

  • Explain your pet’s loss to young children in a way they’ll understand. Death is unfortunately a natural part of life, so it’s important to be honest with your child. It may be tempting to protect your child’s feelings by telling them their pet simply went away, but this will create more heartache, guilt, and confusion in the long run. Be honest but gentle with your child’s feelings and let them know how much your pet’s loss is hurting you right now, too.
  • Allow you and your family to grieve. The loss of a pet can be a traumatic time. There’s no reason why you and your family should be expected to “move on.” Give your family as much time as they need to grieve and reach out for additional help if needed.
  • Make room for expressing your emotions.There’s no doubt that losing a pet will make you sad. Despair, guilt, and other emotions may also arise as your new reality of life without your pet starts to sink in. Rather than trying to be strong and dismiss your emotions, allow yourself to express them. Keeping a journal during this critical time can also help.
  • Create a service or other ceremony to honor your pet. Whether it’s a funeral or other ceremony, honoring your pet’s memory can offer you and your family a sense of closure. Involve your children if possible, allowing them to say a few words or creating a memorial.
  • Maintain your other pets’ schedules. If you have any other pets, they might grieve over the loss of their companion, too. You might notice sluggishness, decreased appetite, or a loss of interest in their normal activities. It’s important to maintain your pets’ feeding schedules and offer them extra love.
  • Reach out for support. Connecting with friends and relatives can make a significant impact on your emotional well-being following the loss of your pet. Don’t be afraid to reach out — simply having them listen can make you feel better as you work through your feelings.
  • Consider finding a pet support group. Ask your veterinarian or local shelter about pet support groups in your area. Such get-togethers offer an opportunity to be in the company of others who can truly empathize with your loss.
  • Talk to a therapist. A talk therapist or psychotherapist can help you work through your feelings and find ways to cope with the loss of your pet. Having this type of support is especially helpful in cases of depression. Some psychotherapists also specialize in working with teens, while play therapists may help younger children work through their emotions.

Moving Forward After Loss

Recovering from the loss of your pet is also dependent on additional steps that go beyond the initial grief process. Consider the following steps that can help you cope as more time goes by:

  • Create a memory book of your pet. You’re likely to have numerous photos of your pet on your phone, social media pages, or computer. But having a tangible memory book or photo album can be more comforting than digitized items. Plus, the very act of putting the book together can help you embrace the memories with your beloved pet and become an act of healthy closure. 
  • Help other pets. Volunteering at a local shelter or giving back to an animal charity can make you feel good and provide a sense of purpose, especially if you do so in the name of your pet. Animal organizations are always looking for help, including dog walking, cat cuddling, crate cleanings, administrative work, and more. Even if you can’t dedicate your time, you can collect items instead. 
  • Practice ongoing self-care. It’s important to continue the self-care methods you practiced after the initial loss of your pet over the long-term. In turn, you’ll be happier and healthier. Make sure to exercise and eat a healthy diet. Put aside a little bit of time each day for quiet de-stressing activities, such as meditating or reading a book.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.Grief counselors are trained to help you cope with major losses in your life and pets are no exception. Look for a psychotherapist who’s experienced in pet losses — they can help you create an action plan for coping in the long-term.

How To Know When It’s Time To Get A New Pet

At first, it may seem like a good idea to erase grief and other negative emotions by getting a new pet to replace the one you lost. However, it’s generally not recommended that you get a new pet immediately after a devastating loss because you haven’t given yourself, your family, and any other pets you still have the proper time and space to fully grieve.

For some, this can take months. Others might need a few years to grieve. Remember that there’s no set timeline for getting over your pet’s death — you may never fully get over it and that’s normal. You’ll eventually know when the time is right to bring a new pet into your home. It’s a big decision that shouldn’t be rushed.

Takeaway

Losing a pet can be just as heartbreaking as losing a human friend or family member. The companionship and loyalty of your pet is special and unmatched, so it’s understandable to experience difficulty coping with your loss. As with other losses though, living without your pet will get easier over time. The important thing is to take care of yourself and let the grieving process run its course while also honoring your pet’s special love.

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