Tuesday December 12th 2017

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Coronation Street’s ‘Schmeichel’ Bow-Wows Out

As Coronation Street viewers are left reeling from the death of popular TV pooch Schmeichel, leading animal charity The Blue Cross revealed thousands of owners struggle to cope with losing a pet every year.

Animal exits from TV soaps often prove just as moving as when much-loved human characters bow out and few fans could fail to well up at the desperate sight of Schmeichel’s owner Chesney saying a final goodbye to his canine pal, after losing his battle with cancer.

But The Blue Cross said the reality of losing an animal who has become part of the family often proves hard to cope with, revealing more than 6,000 people called its Pet Bereavement Support Service looking for help last year.

Funded by public donations, the unique help line, which is run jointly by The Blue Cross and the Society for Companion Animal Studies, is available 365 days a year to offer support to pet owners who are finding the loss of their animal too much to bear.

Margot Clarke, manager of The Blue Cross animal charity’s Pet Bereavement Support Service, said, “Corrie viewers across the country will have had a lump in their throats when they saw Chesney say his final goodbye to Schmeichel, especially those who are going through a similar experience or have memories of losing their own pet.

“People who have never owned or loved a pet may find it hard to understand how deeply upsetting it can be when this bond is broken, but it is often described as feeling like losing a member of your family. Some pet owners feel ‘silly’ for feeling so devastated and feel they have to hide their emotions from family and friends, so our service offers them a lifeline.

“We receive thousands of calls every year from all kinds of people – old and young – all of whom are struggling to cope with losing a cherished pet, or making the heartbreaking decision to have one put to sleep. A house can feel so empty when they are gone and it is important to allow yourself to mourn and to treasure the memories you have of your animal.

“For those who find they have no-one to talk to or no-one who understands, the free and confidential Pet Bereavement Support Service is here to help. All our trained volunteers have experienced pet loss themselves and are at the end of the line, ready to listen, every day of the year.”

Roz Kadir joined the Pet Bereavement Support Service as a volunteer four years ago, and recently used it for support after losing her own dog, Topsy, last year. She said, “Since training as a pet bereavement volunteer, I’ve spoken to people in all different walks of life and seen first hand how it helps them to talk to someone who understands. Many people who phone the helpline live alone and feel incredibly isolated without their pet.

“When you have felt the pain of losing a pet, anything you read about the subject or see on TV can bring it all back so quickly. The decision about when to end an animal’s life is one of the hardest things for any pet owner to cope with, so this story line in particular will resonate with many people.

“If you’re feeling low it can really help to talk to someone who understands, rather than try to hide it away. We all experience loss at some point and it affects people in different ways, but we may be able to help you come to terms with your feelings about losing your pet.”

Roz recommends the following coping techniques to help people who are grieving for a pet:

  • Make a memory box to hold treasured pictures and belongings such as a collar
  • Create an online memorial with some words or a poem to remember your pet
  • Have a portrait painted of your pet, or have a go yourself
  • Make a donation to an animal charity in your pet’s memory, or sponsor an animal
  • Plant a tree or shrub in your garden, in your pet’s favourite spot

The Blue Cross website provides an online space where people can create their own pet memorial and so far more than 7,000 have been posted. To find out more or make a donation to support the service, visit www.bluecross.org.uk/pbss

The Pet Bereavement Support Service is available every day of the year between 8.30am and 8.30pm – call 0800 096 6606 or email pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk.

 

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