Pet owners who lost a beloved companion came together on a warm autumn evening on the Hearth of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Oct. 4 to share remembrances of their friends and find comfort among other pet owners.
The sixth annual Kindred Companions Memorial Gathering, coinciding with World Animal Day, featured music, poetry and speakers, along with some laughter and some tears. There was also a candle lighting to remember those departed and to honor the importance of the human-animal bond and the place of animal companions in our lives.
George and Sue Jefferson of Rocky Mount, who arrived early at 3 p.m, were there to remember their 9-year-old male toy poodle, Tater, who Sue said, “was our baby.” They brought a photo of a freshly groomed Tater, George’s constant companion on long rides from Rocky Mount to Durham for the 22-year U.S. Army veteran’s appointments at a Veterans Affairs hospital. The Jeffersons have memorialized Tater with a brick in the Walk of Honor on the CVM campus.
Larry and Laurie Collier drove all the way from flood-ravaged New Bern to honor Sammie, their 10 ½ -year-old chow that they lost in July. Sammie had been treated by clinical professor Kathryn Murphy for a dermatological condition, and the Collier family developed a close relationship with Murphy. When Sammie died, Murphy let them know about the Kindred Companions event. Laurie Collier said that Murphy’s treatment had “made all the difference” in Sammie’s condition.
T.J. Thompson of Fuquay-Varina came to remember her 10-year-old German shepherd, Gibson, who was named after the guitar of the same name; her husband, Brad, is a guitarist. Gibson was a rescue who had been abandoned beside a road. A former veterinary technician, Thompson learned about Kindred Companions from a friend. Gibson passed away two years ago, but this was the first time she could bring herself to attend. “It helps to connect with other people and hear their stories,” she says. “It gets easier.”
The program also included a rotating slideshow and table top display of photos of some of the dogs, cats and various exotic pets that were the faithful friends of those in attendance. The Kindred Companions Memorial Gathering is sponsored by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Below are photos from this year’s event.