Turning Guilt to Gold: Blue’s Story

“I was always fraught with guilt, and it’s such a waste of an emotion. It keeps you out of the moment of being where you are.” 

— actress Kyra Sedgwick, Good Housekeeping, Jan. 2011

A friend of mine had a dog who was a toilet drinker.

She had tried to break him of the nasty, messy habit but, as you know, the toilet was just too convenient!

So, she gave in and let him slurp.

But, during one spring vacation to a remote mountain cabin near Breckenridge, Colorado, the slurping caught up with him.

You see, unbeknownst to my friend, the cabin owner had poured anti-freeze in the toilets to keep the sewer pipes from freezing up during cold, winter months.

The tainted water poisoned my friend’s dog and the guilt she felt was overwhelming—until she found a meaningful way to deal with it.

My friend began a widespread campaign to educate cabin and resort owners, as well as inform and alert pet parents, about this deadly practice.

When her efforts caused people to change the way they winterized their cabins, and probably saved many pets’ lives, she felt her dog had not died in vain. Now, the experience had some redeeming meaning for her.

Pet parents who feel guilty, and those who may actually bear some responsibility for their pets’ deaths, often turn a corner with their grief when they find a way to help others.

A great example of this arrived in my email a few weeks ago and I wanted to pass it along to you.

Bonnie Harlan’s dog, Blue, was accidentally suffocated when he got his head stuck in a mylar-like chip bag. According to Bonnie, food packaging designed to keep chips, cereals, etc., fresh pose a hazard to our pets who drag them out of the trash when we’re not watching. Once the dog puts his head into these bags, the bag creates a vacuum-like seal and the dog can’t easily shake it off.

To deal with her guilt and grief, Bonnie has found a way to make Blue’s death meaningful. She’s warning others of this danger with an educational website at www.preventpetsuffocation.com, a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PreventPetSuffocation and an online petition that would require snack food manufacturers to include a warning about suffocation danger on their packages.

If you’d like to support Bonnie’s efforts by signing the petition, go to https://www.change.org/petitions/frito-lay-add-pet-suffocation-warning-labels-to-your-chip-bags

And, if you have clients who can’t seem to get past the guilt they feel about their pet’s death, take a few moments to ask them what the experience has taught them. Whatever lessons they have learned may hold the key for turning their guilt into a golden opportunity, allowing them to help others in the same situation.

Laurel directs the Resource Center at www.veterinarywisdomprofessionals.com She co-founded and developed the Argus Institute at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

9 thoughts on “Turning Guilt to Gold: Blue’s Story

  1. Laurel, I can’t thank you enough for your excellent article and your interest in helping prevent pet suffocation! With your help and the help of others, we are making great strides in alerting the public to this issue! Thank you, again! Bonnie Harlan

    • You are so welcome, Bonnie! I admire what you are doing very much and will hold a warm heart space for you as you complete your mission. Best to you! Laurel

  2. Thank you for posting this… I too lost a pet due to suffocation on a chip bag, my wonderful corgi Chibi. I had NO idea this could happen and was devastated to find him that morning.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about Chibi, Lisa. I can only imagine how awful your experience was…my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing and for lending your support to Bonnie’s efforts! Take care…Laurel

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