Saying goodbye to a beloved friend is never easy. Still, the staff at Smiths Station Animal Hospital go above and beyond to ensure their patients and clients have every creature-comfort in these heartbreaking moments.
Recently, the Lee County, Alabama vet clinic posted a photo to Facebook, and its bittersweet meaning is hitting viewers right in the feels. The image shows a clear jar filled to the brim with Hershey’s Kisses. Written on the side, with hearts for O’s, are the words “Goodbye Kisses.”
The photo is tagged with the following message from Smiths Station veterinarian, Dr. Nicole Namie:
“This jar is reserved for our euthanasia appointments…because no dog should go to Heaven without tasting chocolate.“
A Sweet Gesture
Such a simple sentiment, but one that has touched the hearts of dog lovers around the world. Pet parents know that eating chocolate can have negative health implications for their pups. However, when the end is near, Dr. Namie feels this is one rule that can—and should—be broken.
“We try to provide as much comfort as possible during a terribly difficult and emotional time. My staff has always kept little snacks and candy bars tucked away specifically for those appointments. Typically, these are treats that I wouldn’t recommend giving to my patients, but in their final moments I think it’s important to offer them something special. It isn’t a service that clients expect or anticipate, but they really seem to appreciate. They seem to find comfort in knowing their pets are going to Heaven with a full belly and love in their hearts,” Dr. Namie told WRBL News 3.
Above & Beyond
On nice days, Dr. Namie and her staff will invite families to sit outside with their pets for a picnic. It is yet another way to soften these devastating moments and reframe their final memories.
“Our clients and patients are like family,” Dr. Namie said. “So when we lose a patient, we really take it to heart as if we’re losing one of our own. We recognize that they’re saying “goodbye” to a member of their family; in some cases, a family member that has been around longer than a decade. It’s a pet that their kids have grown up with and they’ve made a decade of memories with. Electing to euthanize a pet is an incredibly vulnerable time. In many cases, it’s the first time kids have had to say goodbye to someone they’ve loved.”
Kisses Go Viral
In the span of just over a week, the clinic’s Facebook post received more than 13,000 comments and was shared over 126,000 times.
Impassioned readers have been inspired to share their own stories of loss, often including photos of cherished pets that have passed on. Others have vowed to spread the concept into their own communities.
Nicole Watson wrote: “I need to share this idea with my vet. I wish I had given a “Kiss” to my girl before she passed in March. ”
Lyndzi Stockton shared, “Your goodbye kisses jar made me really think about my dog’s final days. She’s still young now, but I am determined to remember to give her a goodbye kiss when her time comes. “
One post viewer even sent an anonymous bag of Hershey’s Kisses to the clinic to help them continue their good work.
Love, Pass It On
Smiths Station Animal Hospital received so many photos of pets that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, they decided to compile them into three short videos you can view on their Facebook page. They are overwhelmed by the response to their simple post and overjoyed that it has touched so many hearts.
“From all of us at SSAH, we want to thank everyone for the likes, comments, and shares of our Goodbye Kisses post. We did not expect the blessings in return. We have read all your stories, we have cried, and we have been overwhelmed by the sweet responses from people all around the world.”
Dr. Namie hopes more vet clinics will start offering “Goodbye Kisses” to help put a positive spin on families’ final moments with their pets and renew a sense of compassion and community.