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This South Wales Echo article promotes the Pet Bereavement Support Service, "which is made up of volunteer counsellors who are trained to provide support to people from all over Britain who have lost a beloved pet". The article is accompanied by a photograph with the caption: "PAINFUL LOSS Sylvia Lewis and her beloved dog Ben, who had to be put down last month following a massive heart attack".


Couple mourn passing of their beloved Ben - Author/Byline: Aimee Lewis

TWO weeks ago, Irving and Sylvia Lewis suffered the death of their pet dog.

Having treated their beloved pet, Ben, a collie cross, as a fully-fledged member of the family, it came as a devastating blow to the Grangetown couple.

Now vets and pet support services are urging people who have experienced heartbreak as a result of their pet to get in touch and share their pain.

Mr and Mrs Lewis have been grieving ever since Ben had to be put down on April 14, having suffered a massive heart attack. The 16-year-old dog had been with the couple since he was a four-week-old puppy, having arrived in the Lewis' home with his mother after being in a dogs' home, and they doted on him for years.

Mrs Lewis, 69, said: "We are not over it yet, we're still crying. It's actually worse than losing a member of the family. We've also got another dog and he is suffering as well.

"We all miss him."

Ben's ashes will be scattered around the park where he used to go for walks and in the back garden.

And it is the daily walks which Mr Lewis, 72, misses the most.

"I used to take him for walks every day," he said. "He went for his last walk on the Saturday afternoon before he died on the Sunday morning.

"He had a special character. He used to take over the club chair in the living room - it was a matter of whoever got there first got the chair.

"When I used to walk in the room and he was sitting on the chair he would look at me as if to say, "You're not going to move me, are you?""

Suzanne Baxter, a partner at the Park Veterinary group in Canton, Cardiff, has daily contact with people who lose a pet. "It's the same as losing a child, particularly for people who don't have any children," she said. "For old people, it is often their last link to the outside world.

"A pet gives them a reason to get up in the morning, and sometimes after the death of a pet they can lose the will to live.

"Pets are very important. Some people are a lot more upset than others. You feel the guilt, you get angry and you grieve."

Research has found that the death of a pet has the same effect as that of a family member and there is a counselling helpline available for those unable to cope.

The Pet Bereavement Support Service is made up of volunteer counsellors who are trained to provide support to people from all over Britain who have lost a beloved pet.

The Pet Bereavement Support Service helpline is open from 8.30am to 8.30pm on 0800 0966606.

Share memories of a loved pet

AS IRVING and Sylvia Lewis can testify, the death of a pet can affect people just as deeply as the death of a family member.

When a pet has been part of a person's life for many years, then suddenly it is not around any more, it can be difficult to bear.

Today, the Echo is inviting readers who have recently lost their beloved pet to share their experiences and memories of that pet.

Write to: Newsdesk, South Wales Echo, Thomson House, Havelock Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR with your stories. Please enclose a picture of your pet.

From Microform, Local Studies, Cardiff Library.
Image created by The British Library Board.
Copyright: Media Wales.

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