Dozens assembled quietly under blustery skies in the early evening of October 6 on the campus of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) for the fourth annual Kindred Companions Memorial Gathering. As people found their way to their seats beneath a temporary shelter set up for the event, many placed photographs of pets they were there to remember on a row of display tables as a rotating slide show displayed pictures of animal companions who have passed away.
Included in the exhibit of more than 70 dogs and cats were a parakeet named Sammie and sugar glider named Destiny.
The event, organized under the auspices of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation (NCVMF), has grown in size and scope each year since its inception in 2013. Its purpose is to help bring comfort and closure to owners who have lost beloved pets, and to celebrate the profound bond between humans and animals.
Many in attendance received veterinary care from the North Carolina Veterinary Hospital, the teaching hospital on the CVM campus, and spoke fondly of the quality compassionate care they and their pets received. Attendees Jim and Brenda Griffin, who just recently lost their 14-year-old toy poodle, Jack, spoke of how Jack was their constant companion, even at work, and how his life had been preserved for so long despite heart and lung ailments. Eileen Stone, whose golden retriever Savannah had suffered from cancer, spoke of how Savannah had been joyful and calm, even during her illness, and about the compassionate and life-prolonging care she received from her medical team. “This is an amazing place,” she said. One couple, the DeJeans, came all the way from Richmond, Virginia to remember their various pets, including a pair of cats who had lived to be 21 and 23 years old!
In addition to a program featuring original live music and poetry from members of the CVM staff, speakers Dr. Steve Marks, Associate Dean and Director of Medical Services at the CVM, and private veterinarian Dr. Randall Thompson spoke respectively about the love of animals that brings veterinarians and pet owners together, and about the amazing things that can result from the human-animal bond. Jeannine Moga, a clinical and veterinary social worker at the CVM, spoke of how grief can be transformed to a comforting memory for bereaved pet owners.
Finally, before dispersing into the gusty darkness, people lingered in small groups of twos and threes for a few final moments of fellowship and remembrance, prolonging what had been an evening of consolation.
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine