MARQUETTE, Mich. – While Dr. Tracy Nyberg was finishing her schooling last year at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, she had an epiphany.
That epiphany has led her to start a special group here in the Upper Peninsula, where she’s a practicing vet at the Bayshore Veterinary Hospital in Marquette County’s Chocolay Township.
“In my last year of school, I was helping a lady whose dog was in kidney failure,” she said. “It really opened my eyes to the whole grief process, helping her as she went through losing a beloved pet.”
That was the impetus for Nyberg to launch the Upper Peninsula Pet Loss Support Group. The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday at Peter White Public Library in Marquette.
“Hearing stories, sharing memories, I think that would help other people out,” she said. “People call us all the time here when they want to talk about their lost pets.”
The group will include a social worker and others with counseling training, Nyberg said.
“It will be a caring group,” she said. “It’s important people work through their feelings of grief when a loved one passes on. People go through grief, too, when they lose a pet.”
Also welcome to the group are people who have had to surrender a pet due to changing life circumstances, she said.
“I hadn’t thought of that before, but someone from UPAWS suggested it to me when I was there recently,” she said, referring to the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter.
“And people who are dealing with a terminal illness for their pet are welcome to attend as well.”
The pets don’t necessarily have to be dogs and cats, Nyberg said.
“People who have gerbils and hamsters or other animals can grieve just as deeply when they die,” she said.
The group has “Upper Peninsula” in its name purposefully.
“People may travel quite a distance to get here, not just from the Marquette area,” Nyberg said. “We want this group to be open to all.”