Creating a Releasing Blanket for Your Pet

By Kateyanne Unullisi

You’re doing everything you possibly can to help your elderly pet.  Still, your own feelings may be conveyed to your dog or cat, who have a way of sensing your feelings. You’re there for them, but…how are you helping yourself? How can you head into these last months or years fully present, with less pain and more peace in your heart?

I have a solution that can help.

When my dog Aiko, a collie/border collie mix, started to get a white muzzle, I started to think about how she wouldn’t be with me forever. I couldn’t imagine my life without her – she meant everything to me.

Sometimes the worry and anticipatory grief would overwhelm me. I had never faced anything like it before, and I didn’t know what to do.

So I did what I always do in times of stress. I knit. It calms me, and I also fill the knitting with my love and prayers. At first, I wasn’t knitting a shroud for her – after all, she was 75 pounds and had years of life in her. I used up my stash, creating a large blanket with the thought that she could lie on it like a bed.

A Releasing Blanket is created in advance of a pet’s death, as a way to actively begin to reflect on and work through your feelings. Truth is, there is no specific pattern for this, because it is in the inspiration, planning and making that the work is done.

It will help to hold your love and grief, and it will softly cover your pet to the end and beyond.

You can make it slowly over the months or years, when you first start seeing the white nose or fading eyes. When you begin to feel sad and anxious about not having them by your side, then it’s time to begin to imagine what you can make to help enfold them, and you.

This Releasing Blanket will be used when the vet comes, or you go to the vet. Put it on the cold table, and if need be, put towels between your petand the blanket. After death, wrap your pet in it, and keep them there, all the way into the crematorium or grave.

When you remember the last day, you will remember all the love and care you put into the Releasing Blanket, and that it went with your pet as your final loving act.

Note: making this releasing blanket will not hasten your pet’s death. When I started fretting at my old dog’s declining health, I began knitting (and knitting…she was a big dog), and then put it on a shelf for three years!

Quilters can quilt. Crocheters can crochet. Weavers can weave. Non-crafters can take a blanket, cut it to shape, and draw on it with fabric markers.

It can be any shape. Use your creativity, love and care to design it. I find a diamond shape works well, so let’s use that as a base to get you thinking.


Measure your pet when they are asleep. You’ll make the blanket so that the corners fold over and are tied, creating an envelope.

You can sew pockets on to hold messages, kibble, collars, a toy, to go with them.

Decorate or leave as simple as you like.

POUR your love into it as you work. Cry into it. As you do, the sharpness of the grief will soften; it will still be there, but it won’t cut. It will just squeeze.


here needy he stands,

and I am he.

- Omaha tribal prayer


I’m collecting images of pet shrouds, ‘Releasing Blankets’, and their stories to publish there, too, so please send them to

Amy Cunningham