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Recycled Love: Caring for pets after owners pass

Lars the German shepherd, with his new friend Valentino. After Lars’ owner died, family member Kara Wilson added him to her family, keeping him from going to a rescue.
Lars the German shepherd, with his new friend Valentino. After Lars’ owner died, family member Kara Wilson added him to her family, keeping him from going to a rescue. - Contributed

By: Tracy Jessiman

TRURO, N.S. —

When a family suffers an unexpected loss, often a beloved pet can also be left struggling and confused.

Many of these pets arrive in rescue when families or close friends are unable to take the grieving pet into their home. I know a loving, tight-knit local family who endured a tremendous loss last year. Sadly, at the time the soft-spoken 51-year-old gentleman passed, he owned a 13-year-old majestic German shepherd named Lars. Lars did not land in a rescue because a kind-hearted family member welcomed him into her home and her heart.

This column is devoted to the extraordinary young woman named Kara Wilson who quietly embraced Lars and made him part of her four-legged family.

I do not know if Wilson understands how her simple act of kindness alleviated a great deal of the stress and strain Lars may have been struggling with after the loss of his best friend. I credit Wilson for this unselfish, generous, brave move. Her actions need to be acknowledged as she may inspire others to do the same.

I work with Wilson’s father (Ralph), uncle (Tim Ramey) and grandparents (Keith and Marilyn Ramey). They have each spoken with great fondness and pride how grateful they were of Wilson for wanting to keep Lars in the family.

At the time Wilson brought Lars home, she already owned a few pets: Valentino, a five-year-old beagle; Guinness, the guinea pig; Chloe the cat; and Kolumb, her 18-hand-high horse. She also has a full-time, demanding career that does not come with your average 9-to-5 work schedule.

Wilson is a veterinarian. She graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in 2017 with her doctorate in veterinary medicine. Immediately after graduation, she undertook a one-year internship in Vermont, USA where her focus was equine medicine. When the placement finished, she moved home to Nova Scotia. Wilson currently practices at South Shore Veterinarian Hospital outside of Bridgewater.

Wilson is not new to rescue. She adopted her beagle from the UPEI adoptable program, which finds forever homes for retired clinic dogs. These dogs are first made available for adoption to faculty and students upon graduation.

Wilson brought both of her dogs to my office to discuss this column. Lars is a sweet, gentle German shepherd and Valentino is your typical cute, doe-eyed beagle. The dogs make an adorable couple and neither took their eyes off Wilson during our time together.

Decisive moments in rescue should be embraced and celebrated as there is so much heartbreak in our rescue community. Individuals such as Wilson should be well acknowledged and honoured for her kind, humanitarian undertaking she bestowed on Lars. I am confident Lars is dearly thankful that he remains a loving member of Wilson's family.

Please be kind to animals.

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Tracy Jessiman’s column, Recycled Love, appears weekly. Reach her at recycledlove@me.com

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