Author of Pet Grief Memoir Invited to Speak at International Veterinary Conference

Share Article

Unique Pet-Hospice “Presence Plan” to Be Unveiled in Workshop for Veterinarians

“Fabulous, heartfelt and enjoyable…” --Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot

The new self-help memoir, The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers, will serve as a “textbook” for veterinarians attending Doug Koktavy’s workshop at the Fifth International Conference in Communication in Veterinary Medicine, Napa Valley, CA, October 31-November 2, 2010. The topic of the workshop is “The Need for a Presence Plan: Communication Challenges Associated with a Pet’s Terminal Diagnosis.”

Pointing out that he has no training as a veterinarian or social worker, author Koktavy says he wrote the book to pass along the coping strategies he learned on his own when his dogs were dying. One of the strategies is a personalized version of a hospice plan for pets he developed, which he calls the Presence Plan™. Using the Presence Plan, a pet owner is better able to deal with this final period in a pet’s life, remaining present and even peaceful while providing loving care to the animal during its final months and days. The Presence Plan can be introduced by veterinarians to their clients whose pets are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. The plan, which is the focal point of the conference workshop, is designed to be an adjunct to the traditional treatment plan a vet provides.

Hospice, traditionally regarded as being for humans nearing death, has recently expanded to the pet population. Nearly 80 percent of companion animal owners consider their pets as family members and can be affected on some level by anticipatory grief—the emotional upheaval that occurs before an impending loss, that is, between the time an animal is diagnosed with a fatal illness until it passes. The Presence Plan, which incorporates pet hospice, helps both the animal and the pet parent struggling with anticipatory grief.

The symptoms of anticipatory grief, according to Argus Institute of Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, can range from fear, guilt, anger and denial to hopelessness and despair. These symptoms have been documented in The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer. Doug describes in his book how he suffered with debilitating fear and guilt during his two dogs’ terminal illnesses. Finding no help available at the time for his own pain, he managed on his own—with the help and wisdom of his beloved black Labs—to eventually find acceptance and peace with their dying.

The book has received significant praise from both pet owners and veterinarians. “This unique book provides a welcome new tool in pet care, offering a subjective perspective on the reciprocal and health-promoting nature of our relationships with animals,” writes Alice Villalobos, DVM. “Koktavy, breaking new ground here, is the expert in this field. The book will help thousands of people.” Villalobos is the author of Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond.

Jane Shaw, DVM, PhD, director of Argus Institute, says, “A heartfelt, transformative book. The deepest lesson learned was to listen to the dogs as they had great wisdom to share. In slowing down and spending time together, the path became clear. This book validates that the schooling is really transferred from animal to human, not vice versa.”

Author Koktavy notes that the Presence Plan™ will be the focus of his second book, Beezer and Boomer Legacy Workbook, a step-by-step guide and journal for companion animal owners, due to be published this fall. He is a Denver attorney and a Certified Counselor, Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. He also is a moderator of the K9 Kidney Diet Yahoo Group and the Pet Grief Yahoo Group, and he is a member of the Bone Cancer Dogs Yahoo Group. He is on the Board of Directors of Bone Cancer Dogs, Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit corporation, and a volunteer with Safe Harbor Labrador Retriever Rescue.

The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers, published by B Brothers Press, 2010, is a 328-page hardcover book with 47 black and white photos and 17 illustrations by artist Chris Smith. Copies are available at and through bookstores nationwide.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Barbara Munson
Visit website