New Book Helps Pet Owners Cope During Their Pets' Terminal Illness

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Fear, guilt and anxiety are common when a beloved pet is dying

The most powerful message I got from the book was “Don’t be afraid.” I knew in my heart that although I would be sad to see Maxine go, it was okay for her to leave. No regrets, no guilt, no fear. Everyone facing the loss of a loved one should read this.

A new memoir is shedding light on a problem many pet lovers struggle with and few find help for. It’s the very real pain they go through from the time they learn their pet has a terminal illness until the last goodbye. Many books have been written on dealing with the grief and loss an owner feels after a pet dies, but until now there has been no help for the intense feelings of anxiety, powerless and even depression that can arise during the illness. This is known as anticipatory grief.

"A book with lessons on dealing with the dying of a pet is sorely needed these days,” explains author Doug Koktavy. He wrote The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers because he couldn’t find help for his own out-of-control emotions and wanted to share with others the coping strategies he learned. “More than half of Americans consider their pets as family; some say the number is closer to eighty percent,” he says. “That is a huge number of people who will be outliving their ‘children.’ My story describes my three-year journey when both my beloved Labrador retrievers got diagnoses of fatal illnesses. I was a wreck until I realized the help I needed was right under my nose.”

Conquering fear and guilt and learning to live in the present are just two of the lessons from the dogs. It all started with a pronouncement from his veterinarian that Beezer had ninety days to live. Shocked and unable to come to grips with the knowledge that he suddenly was losing his best friend, Doug grew frantic with fear. His work and his own health began to suffer as he chastised himself over what he might have neglected to do for his dog. What followed were some of the lowest lows and some of the highest highs of his life as Doug said goodbye first to Beezer and then to his brother Boomer.

Anticipatory grief is a term that typically has been applied to situations in which a person is facing the impending death of another person and is experiencing loss, sadness, fear and even physical illness. This groundbreaking memoir describes how these debilitating emotions can occur when pets are departing.

The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers, published by B Brothers Press, 2010, is a hardcover book with 328 pages, numerous photos and illustrations by artist Chris Smith.

Doug Koktavy is a creditor’s attorney in Denver. An avid sportsman, he has played ice hockey for years and competed in triathlons. Today he enjoys sharing his free time volunteering for local nonprofit animal organizations. He also has developed a fundraiser for nonprofits called the B Brothers Project. Information about becoming a member of this unique fundraising project can be found at

To order copies of The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer, visit or call 1-888-906-BEEZ.

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