Hi guys, short post for you today, and it’s a post I was hoping I’d never have to write. I need your advice…
Dagny and I befriended a retired gentleman and his Shih Tzu who live in the neighborhood about a year ago after moving into our house. We’d see them a couple of times a week and stop to chitchat or walk together if we were headed the same way. He rang my doorbell just now (tried a few neighbors’ doors first since he didn’t know my exact house and I almost didn’t answer it due to weirdos who ring my bell) and informed me that his 6-year-old dog, Billy, died unexpectedly Friday after having kidney failure with no viable treatment options. He told me the details of how he wasn’t eating and lost weight and I was trying to keep it together. He was crying and I just kept saying, “I’m so, so sorry.” I didn’t know what else to say.
We aren’t close friends or anything, but we are acquaintances that see each other a few times a week in the neighborhood and Billy and Dagny would often play together as we walked. The fact that he deliberately tried to find me says that he wanted me to know and knew I would care. My heart was breaking as he stood there crying at my doorstep.
I know social norms aren’t always the same in France, but I feel like I should do something for him. He lives with his wife (haven’t met her though). Is making them a cake or something a stupid gesture? I always try to reverse the situation and think about what I’d want someone to do for me and I think I’d like a cake, or even just someone to listen. You all know I’m a dog person and my heart just breaks for him.
I know I don’t need to do anything, but if anything I can do brightens his day, even for a moment, I want to do it.
Maybe this is a stupid idea but would you have a picture of both the dogs playing together, maybe? It could be a nice gesture to print it. Also, baking a cake isn’t what I’d say a common thing to do in France but as you’re acquaintances I think it could be a really nice thing to do. You can never go wrong with cake 🙂
That’s not a stupid idea at all, Isa, but I don’t have a picture of the dogs together. I think baking something would be the thing I’m most comfortable with (it’s not too personal but is still a nice gesture I think) and since he knows I’m not French, even if it seems strange, he’d know it was coming from a good place. Thanks again for your advice.
I have a local gravestone company that will engrave smaller, natural stones with pet names, for one’s garden. Even if they don’t bury the pet or its ashes in their garden, it is a nice thing to tuck into a beloved spot where the pet liked to be. Some friends have even kept the stones in their house. The name could be painted, too… One friend said she saw her husband go and give the stone a pat, like he used to do with their dog.
That’s a really nice idea, Jennifer. Do you have the name of the company? Are you in France? They live in an apartment so it would be something for their house. I just wouldn’t want that to make him more sad, but I will definitely look into it. Thanks again!
I am so sorry to read this story, it always breaks my heart when a pet dies 🙁 But I think you could definitely bring them a cake, could never be wrong and it is a very sweet, yet not too personal gesture!
Same here. ;-( I think you’re right that a cake would be appropriate and not too personal. I don’t want to make him more upset and like I said, we weren’t close friends but I did know him and his dog from the neighborhood. Thank you for your advice!
Teddee Grace says
I’d not make food. You’re creative. Make a card and express your condolences and understanding in writing and make it something they can hold on to as a keepsake.
Thanks for your advice, Teddee. Would you not make food because of possibly dietary restrictions or an allergy? Just wondering why you’d stay away from that… probably what I’m most comfortable doing. Thanks again!
For those of us who love animals pets are a true family member. I think that it’s safe to respond as though it were the death of a person. I know that he would very much appreciate the cake. It’s a great idea, at a time like this I wouldn’t worry about protocol.
Yup, it truly is like losing a family member and I really feel for him. I know Billy was like a human family member to him and I think any direction I go in will be appreciated. 😉
Melissa Bauernfeind says
When our dog TeePee died, my friend took a picture of him that we had and used it to have a wooden picture sculpted of him and framed – it was just a thin sculpture but something that my dad, who was super attached to him, could keep on the fireplace mantel and look at every day. If you know what kind of dog he is, maybe something like that would be nice too. Although, honestly, you can’t go wrong with cake either.
That is so sweet, Melissa. What a nice idea. 😉 Thank you!
I usually give a card, here in the USA you can find cards especially for the loss of a pet. I write a note and a memory of the dog I have, like the way the dog greeted me at the door. If I have a picture of their dog I also include it in the card. I have a poem I wrote when my dog died and I will put a copy in the card too. I think a gift of a cake is very thoughtful too. Losing a pet is a very sad event and just expressing your condolences and listening is caring too.
I LOVE the card selection in the US. You can find a card for anything, like a congrats for your step-brother’s cousin’s high school graduation, ahhaa. Wish France would get up to speed with cards! Thank you for weighing in. Everyone has given me a lot of great ideas here.
annie vanderven says
a cake would be a nice idea, I am french and I am sure they would welcome it. I also lost my dog 2 months ago and the lost is deeply felt.
I’m so sorry, Annie, for the loss of your dog. It’s not easy at all and even months after the loss I know it still hurts. I think time is the only thing that can truly lessen the pain, or at least for me anyway. And a cake can’t hurt 😉
I think the cake is a very nice idea. It would comfort me. 🙂 It’s a very thoughtful gesture, even if it’s not customary.
Thank you, Mary. I just want him to know I care. So often in life people just go through the motions and ignore those around them and I really do care and want him to know that.
In France, bringing cake or food is not what we do as someone dies but I’m sure it would be appreciated. You can give them a condolences card with it. He knows your not French but as he is an old man maybe you should explain him that it’s what you do back home!
I’ve learned it’s also not what you do to meet new neighbors. I made beautiful cupcakes shortly after moving in and brought them to a family next door with kids and their reaction was as if I showed up with a dead cat. They looked horrified, barely said thank you, didn’t tell me their names and haven’t spoken to them beyond a bonjour since. Yes, I’m still mad.
But like you said, in this case, I’m sure some baked goods would be appreciated even if it’s not customary. Thank you!
When my friend’s dog died last year, I made a donation to a local animal shelter in her dog’s name.
That’s a really nice idea, thanks Denise!
This is so sad… but if he came to your house, I think it means that he knows that his dog meant something for you too… and he cried in front of you, so it’s only natural that you would like to comfort him and his wife… so I don’t think it would be weird for you to offer them something that comes from the heart!
I think you could be really honest and say “I hope you don’t feel it weird for me to offer you a cake in these circumstances, but I was really sad to see you grieve your beloved dog and I wanted to do something for you”, I don’t see why they would refuse it, it’s from the heart! 🙂
If I may say, maybe you could add a simple ribbon or something for making it “more” than a standard cake but not an over-decorated one?
Yes, he knew that I enjoyed our little walks and chats and that’s exactly it — I want to do something from the heart. I’ll explain like you said just in case he finds it odd that I’m doing something for him (whether it’s a card or baked goods or whatever). The ribbon is a nice idea… hoping it won’t turn out like a DIY Pinterest Fail. haahha. Thank you!
I’m glad I was of help! Please tell us afterwards how it went! 🙂
I have always sent a condolence card specifically for a pet. I know they have them here in the states. I think it is touching that he came to see you and tell you about his baby. I think the cake idea is good, too. I am so sorry for you and your gentleman friend to have the loss.
Thanks, Vicki. I love the beautiful cards you can find in the US but I’ve never seen anything that specific here. I can get a blank card though and write my own message. Thank you again
When my father died, an acquaintance gave me a sincere hug. After ten years it’s the gesture I really remember. I know the French don’t hug, but maybe you could think of something similar. Best wishes.
Thanks so much, Paul. I can see how that would mean so much. I definitely plan on something so thank you and everyone for weighing in. You’ve given me such good ideas!
Natalie Ray says
Oh bless, how terribly sad, such a young dog. I think a cake is a lovely idea, and also just letting both him and his wife know that you’re there if they need anything, like going with them to a local rescue shelter if ever they feel ready for another companion.x