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The Inaugural Companion Animal Remembrance Ceremony was held on June 20, 2009. Invitations were sent to owners of Veterinary Hospital patients that had died during the past year. The ceremony began at noon with a greeting from Joelle Nielsen, program coordinator for Honoring the Bond. Nearly 100 attendees listened to three speakers: Greyhound owner, Rhonda Morey, spoke about companion animal loss and the family perspective; Dr. Kelly Carlston thanked owners for the learning opportunities and offered insight into the viewpoint of the student and doctor. Dr. Shane Bateman discussed the importance of memorialization and emphasized what our pets mean to us.
Following the speakers, a slide show featuring photos submitted by owners played while owners wrote a message or prayer for their lost pets on a paper heart. The hearts are biodegradable and have wild flower seeds implanted in them. Owners respectfully hung their hearts on a Remembrance tree outside the Coffey Road entrance, while Marian Beck played bagpipes in the distance. Owners shared refreshments and reminisced about never forgotten friends with staff and each other.
"This Remembrance Ceremony was a way for owners to come together and realize that the grief that they experience is normal and that they are not alone," said Joelle "I had so many positive comments from attendees that said that they were happy to see that they are "not the only one."The following comments were received from attendees of the ceremony:
"I found the Remembrance Ceremony very moving, especially hanging the hearts on the tree."
"Congratulations on a really wonderful event. The "order of events" seemed to have just the right tone and it really was lovely."
"Saturday's program was very nice. Enjoyed the speakers. Putting the paper hearts on the tree was a nice remembrance."
"Thank you for hosting the Companion Animal Remembrance Ceremony. It was very fitting, proper and professionally done. I particularly enjoyed the words and thoughts of Dr. Shane Bateman."