How To Deal With The Death Of Your Dog

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Dog grave (caption: How To Deal With Dog Death)Your pet is a part of your family and losing them can be emotionally devastating. If you or someone you know recently lost a canine companion, we offer you our most sincere condolences. We’ve been there and understand the pain you are feeling right now.

Here are some additional strategies and insights to help you work through this difficult time.

The Grief Process

Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Strong initial emotions my preclude the inevitable sadness that comes when the shock is gone. These reactions are often taken out on those closest to the one experiencing the loss, and act almost as a means of protection for that person until they are able to face the truth.

The process, as a whole, may look like the following:

  1. Denial and/or anger
  2. Guilt
  3. Sadness and/or grief
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Dealing With Your Grief

While grieving is a very individual and personal thing, there comes a time for us all when it’s best to stop feeling the loss and to actively choose to move past it. The right time for you, will not necessarily be the same as someone else. Depending on how long it takes you to move through denial and get to acceptance, it could take weeks or it could take years for you to become ready to deal with your grief. When you are ready, however, you don’t have to face it alone.

Facing Death Together

Aside from willing family and/or friends, there are entire communities of people who feel just like you and want to connect. Types of support include:

  • Pet-bereavement counseling
  • Pet-loss support hotlines
  • Online and/or local pet-loss support groups and forums

If sitting down for a one-on-one with an actual counselor, or even getting up the nerve to attend a local support group proves too much at this point in your process, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary medicine offers a toll-free, Pet Loss Support Hotline for grieving parties. You can also add your thoughts below to receive Pet Loss Support from our community here.

Personally Facing Death

While outside support is an important tool for coping with your grief, there are some things that a support group can’t do for you… you have to do them for yourself.

Here are a few things that you can do on your own to help on your path to recovery:

  • Acknowledge your sadness, embrace it, and give yourself permission to feel and express this pain! It’s a vital part of the healing process.
  • Write out your feelings. Whether it’s in a personal journal or an essay on Fido that you submit for publication, writing is extremely cathartic.
  • Volunteer with a local animal shelter. While this may be best left for the later stages of grief, just like helping other people helps you forget your own problems, helping other animals will help you move past your loss.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet. The act of having a service, saying a few words, and laying your pup to rest will definitely help give you the closure you need.

Dealing With Reality

Beyond your grief lies reality: Whether you’re having to make the tough decision to euthanize your sick or aging pet, or if your pet is already gone and you’re having to deal with the memorial, and burial or cremation arrangements, the reality of these situations can come crashing down on you like a ton of bricks.

This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn. We’ll walk you through these separate scenarios so you can confidently cope with whatever comes your way throughout the process.

Dog Euthanasia

As your pet ages, or in the event that your otherwise healthy pup should become unexplainably ill or injured beyond recovery, it may be necessary to become emotionally prepared to euthanize your pet. From knowing when it’s time, how to say goodbye and what to expect next, our article on Dog Euthanasia will walk you through this difficult process so you don’t have to do it alone.

Dog Cremation

Whether your dog’s death was of natural causes, or you were forced to make that tough decision yourself to end his or her pain and suffering, once your dog has passed comes the matter of cremation or burial. Our article on dog cremation and burial offers information on the process of dealing with the remains, and options for memorializing your pet after death.

Remembering Your Pet

Don’t forget: The best way to honor your pet, your four-legged family member, is to remember the good times you had together and to be grateful that you were given the valuable time you had. Gratefulness goes a long way in the healing process, and helps us remember that, despite the heartache when our sweet ones pass on, that it was worth it… and that one day, it will be worth it again.

Rainbow Bridge Can Comfort One Dealing With The Loss Of A Pet

Whether you are dealing with the loss of a pet yourself or helping a loved one manage their pain, the Rainbow Bridge is always a nice story to share your sympathy in a very empathetic and caring way.

Rainbow Bridge Poem


To share this infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code below:

Video: Rainbow Bridge Song

Discussing and sharing stories of your pet after losing them one way to begin the healing process. We welcome you to leave memories of your dog in our comments below.

Another sweet idea is to create a dog gift or photo book with your loved one’s photo to remember them. Looking back through old photos allows you to relive the memories you cherished together.

How will you remember your pet?

About The Author:

Sara is a writer for Canine Journal. She adores dogs and recently adopted a rescue pup named Beamer. Whole she may be adjusting to life with another being to care for, she needed no time to adjust to all the extra love.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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My dog has been gone since December 5 and I almost feel like I’m getting worse. Everybody is now sick of hearing about it and how bad I feel and think that I should be better by now which I think is what is making things worse for me. Is anybody out there experiencing the same thing?
my dog was unfortunately put down 6 days ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about her since. She was a 13 year old yellow lab who has been in my life since I was 6 years old (we grew up together). She was such a hyper girl and acted like a puppy her whole life; I consider us to be lucky that we were able to have a 13 year old puppy up up until she got sick. She unfortunately got sick and there was nothing we could really do about it. She brought so much love and joy to our family for 13 years and will continue to live on in our hearts. As I don’t currently live at home, I am having a hard time thinking about the next time I go home and she’s not at the door to greet me. My friends have been supportive although I don’t think they really understand that losing a dog is like losing a family member and it’s not easy to grieve a pet. I have cried everyday since losing her and when I told me parents I was going to come home next weekend, they tearfully told me that it’s not the same anymore. I’m lucky that my pup got to live a long and healthy life, but this is the most heartbreaking thing to ever happen to me.
It is so sad, Lindsey, and 6 days is very early in your grieving journey. As Lois said in a post below, read all the posts here and they will offer you some comfort, knowing that you are not alone in your grief. I agree that many people don’t understand the depth of grief that we feel when we lose our pets, although many do. I have also cried every day since losing my girl (4 months now) – sometimes lots, sometimes just a tear, but she is always with me, just in a different way. I am learning to live with a heavy heart. It really does take time to adjust. You have some good things to remember, and gratitude that you were able to give each other such love for 13 years. Take care.
My little teacup Pomeranian Ewok past yesterday afternoon. I am so lost. We got him 10 years ago and everyone thought he was a toy or a puppy. At only 4lbs, he was the cutest sweetest baby ever. We then discovered that he was most likely 7 years at the time, considering his joint issues, teeth, and alopecia. That didn’t stop him from being the bubbly baby he was. With a strong personality, he loved to sleep in our bed, find the comfiest place on the couch and made we all knew he was special. He gave us so much love and had tons of energy and excitement even at 17 yrs of age. He was struggling to breathe so we took him to the emergency. They gave us some meds, but said that he may not respond due to his age. He gave us so much love and had tons of energy and excitement at 17 yrs of age. He died within an hour of getting home while he lay in my lap. I am devastated. He let out his heavy breath and I knew he was gone. I screamed and caressed his paws, begging him to respond. I won’t ever forget that moment. I took him to be cremated today. I want my baby back. I can’t function. Someone ignorantly reminded me that I have two other poms left. But as much as I love them all, they are all uniquely different and neither one would fill the void of the other. Woky I miss you so so much! I still can’t believe it. I’m still looking for you in your favorite spots. I know that we wouldn’t have you forever, but I didn’t expect it to be so sudden. I feel so guilty for anytime I was impatient or neglectful. Anytime I was too busy to spend some time when all you ever wanted was to be near me. Wish I could get one more day to spoil and comfort you. Love you Wok Wok forever!
We all feel like you. It’s awful and people want you to move on quicker than we can and that really makes it worse. We/I care and understand your grief! I’m so sorry for you and encourage you to read all the comments below. I take comfort in all of it. Mine has been almost 2 months and still feel sick to my stomach.
I’m so sorry for this loss. It is so hard to have them in our arms and life to no longer be in them. I hope, in time, you can remember the good times rather than that. It sounds like you took such good care of him. We all wish we could have spent more time with our babies. But don’t focus on that or feel guilty. I’m sure Ewok had a great life because you were his person. The beginning days of this grief are just horrible. Let yourself be sad. It’s okay. But then just try to be grateful for the years you did have. Hope you’re healing a little every day
Colleen Roberts
My sweet soulmate Chewy would have been 10 yrs old in March . He was a Pomeranian and he was my life . I walked him to a dog park January 1st and a huge chow chow came out of nowhere and attacked him . I was screaming , trying to get this dog off and his owner is nowhere around . Chewy is pinned underneath and I finally start hitting the dog on the nose and the owner comes up and gently pulls him off by the collar with Chewy in his mouth and says ‘ will you please get your dog out of my dogs mouth.’ I tried to save Chewy but he died at 3am 2 days later . I still can’t believe Chewy is gone and oh god I keep crying telling myself if you had never been there in the 1st place Chewy would still be here . All I do is cry and cry . I can’t work , can’t eat . Can somebody please help me because I feel like I killed him . It was 8 at nite and dark there and I should have just kept him home . The guilt and grief is killing me . Chewy depended on me to keep him safe and I feel like I murdered him .
I do feel the same way just a little bit different circumstances. I still am so panicky over my dog being gone and it’s been 6 weeks. I feel so bad for you because yours is so beyond Trumatic and was not your fault. I don’t even have words that can help you but you didn’t do anything wrong but love your dog and just try to give it a nice little walk in a park. That’s all there is to that and what happened was an absolute nightmare to you. I am so sorry I wish I could help you. My dog was hit by a car taking himself to the park in the night when I wasn’t looking and we just cannot get over it either.
Colleen, this is a terrible situation, but you didn’t kill Chewy, the chow chow did. You had every right to take your dog to the park in safety. It is the other owner who is really at fault. I understand why you might feel guilty, especially in the immediate aftermath, but please don’t blame yourself. Do you have someone to talk to and to reassure you that you did nothing wrong? I think feelings of guilt are worse than feelings of loss. Please take care of yourself. Sending you a big hug.
I am so sorry Colleen. This is such a terrible situation. I understand that feeling that we are supposed to keep them safe. It feels so bad that we can’t. But what you did was a normal, good dog owner thing to do. You wanted to let him have some fun and take him to the park. It was a tragic event, but it was not your fault. It is not fair. Sometimes really bad and unfair things happen. And it’s horrible. But it is not your fault. Please try to be comforted by the happy memories you had when the extreme grief lifts a little bit. It’s just going to be difficult. But we are here for you, too.
i write with my heart completely broken. juan was my little rescued baby of 8 years. he was always healthy and happy, and one day, out of nowhere he got sick with epilepsy. this happened 6 months ago and the vets told us, he could live a normal life but would never be cured. for the first two months, he had two attacks of to 8 repetitions in one night. then, he had two attacks exactly every month, and last weekend he had a 5 attacks episode. i made all the exams i could afford and had him all the medicine i really couldnt afford, but did. by this last episode, we decided to put him to sleep. i feel deep guilt because i know he could have lived longer, when he wasnt having an attack, he had a normal life, it was just in that time of the month that he had a bad time. and i dont know how to deal with that. he hated going to the vet and the attacks were very strong, it really hurt me seeing him like that. he was my friend, i work from home so we were always together, all day, every day, we danced, i read my books to him every afternoon and i talked to him, i wasnt alone for one day for 8 years. i feel pain in my heart and in my bones. i miss him so bad. he gave me a purpose, he gave me a reason. he was the structure to every day. he was never just a dog. he trusted me and i feel like i failed him. i dont know how to live without him either. im just so broken and regretful. it wasnt a decision made in the moment, cause it was something that had to be done sooner or later and thought about it every time it happened, but nevertheless i dont know if it was the right choice and i dont know if he, if he could speak say its time or not yet and i just can’t deal with it. i loved him, and i will forever. im really, deeply sad.
I’m soooo sorry. I also work from home and know exactly what you’re talking about.
Zoe, as much as we love them, the decision has to be for their sake, not ours. They can’t make it themselves, so we have to do it for them. It is a sign of deep love, not mistreatment. I understand your deep pain. I had to make the decision for my girl, and looking back, it was the right one for her. She was in distress, and only going to get worse. It will just take you time to come to terms with it, but these awful feelings will pass in time (hard to believe, I know). Take care.
I’m deeply sorry for your huge loss. I am sure your place seems so empty now. It takes time to heal. You did not fail him. You tried to help him. It isn’t your fault he was sick. It isn’t fair. But it is certainly not your fault. You will probably miss him forever, as will all of us with ours, but the pain on your heart will get lighter in time. Maybe, as a little time passes, try to get out of the home and do positive things, so you can have a few moments of peace. Take care
Joseph Boyles
I miss my little boy so much. He was a black pug named Morimotto. He was killed by a pit bull I owned. They grew up together but the pit bull turned on him. She viciously attacked my little guy. I jumped in the fray and got bit up. But mostly, I experienced a heart attack and collapsed. I could not help my little guy as the pit bull grabbed him by the neck and killed him. After four weeks, I still grieve for my little pug. The pit bull was put down.
Omg, I am so sorry for your tragic loss. You lost two animals that you cared about in such an awful way. I do hope that you are recovering from your own health issues. Please take it easy and know that you did the best you could in taking care of both. Morimotto knew how much you loved him, and tried to help. He’s a sweet angel now, also wanting for you to recover. Talk to him, it will help you. My thoughts are with you and I wish for a full recovery for you.
Joseph, What a traumatic experience. I’m so sorry this has happened.You did as much as you could, but I know it hurts you couldn’t do more. I hope you can be happy for the good times you had, and it gives you some comfort. My thoughts are with you.
Rana Alkhodari
My little angel’s name is Whiskers. He has been with me for 6 beautiful years, unfortunately he passed away 6 days ago. I hope that you will read this and reply, because god knows Im in desperate need of help. I had to travel for work for 2 months, and I left Whiskers with a colleague/friend who also has a dog (trigger). In those 2 months i always asked him to send me photos and videos, and he did. I was missing him so much, and looking forward to be back home with Whiskers again. 2 days before i was meant to to back to Dubai and back to my normal life, I got a call at 4am that whiskers had passed. I took the first flight back to Dubai to take him to the vet and find out what happened. My colleague/friend had taken the dogs to the desert with him on new years eve. The vet told me Whiskers ate something rotten and toxic in the desert. His intestines were bleeding out and He died of cardiac arrest.

Im not only dealing with the grief and loss of my faithful companion and bestfriend, but also thoughts that are driving me insane.

So many thoughts are running through my mind and I cant find peace with this. I blame my friend for not being careful, or for taking him with him in the first place. And I fear that since I was gone for 2 months whiskers may have thought I abandoned him and where he was is his new home. But I was coming back and I was missing him the whole time.

When I saw whiskers body at the vet i held him in my arms for as long as I could. My poor baby was awake during his death, his eyes were still open when i held him. My heart is breaking and i cant help but think that it wasn’t suppose to happen like this. We should have had more time, and if it really was his time.. not like this. Whiskers died in pain and alone on the couch while my colleague was asleep in his room.

A few days before I got that call, i remember my friend asked me “whats the first thing you’re gonna do when you go back to Dubai?” All i said was “Im going to pick up Whiskers and go home.” Thats all i said. I remember.

My apartment is not my home without him. Everything is different, i donno how to spend my days without him. I dont know how i will go to work and face my colleague that I can no longer call friend. My tears have not stopped since that 4am call, my chest feels heavy, i cant eat, and i havent had a good night sleep in days. Ive been reading and looking for stories that resemble mine, to learn how to move past it, but i haven’t found any. Im sure there are plenty of people that have gone through this, but im not able to find them. So here i am reaching out.

Rana, this is truly awful. Grief affects us physically as well as emotionally, and you have the terrible circumstances to deal with too. It is good that you are reaching out to this group – I’m sure everyone understands your pain. Do you have someone nearby that you can go to as well? Someone to give you a hug and to just listen and acknowledge your pain? 6 days is not very long – it is very understandable that you are feeling this way. Please look after yourself, you did nothing wrong.
I know your pain. I let my Bernie out at night to potty and he chose to go over to the park for the first time in his seven years of life instead of just staying in the backyard to potty and got hit by a car. The guilt the grief and the pain is more than I can stand in this happened on December 5. I almost feel like I’m getting worse. I have to drive right over the spot he was killed every day. He was the love of my life and even my own husband knows it and that’s tough also 🙁 we almost got another dog last night and it made me sick to even hold it so we left the store. I’ve been sobbing ever since knowing my dog never be replaced. I am being reassured by many people that this will get better but it is going to take a lot of time. They love us unconditionally where is people kind of really don’t.
Hi Lois, Sorry you’re having a bad time again. It seems to come in waves, doesn’t it? Sometimes I can get my head on straight and think, ‘Yeah, this was so terrible and so sad, but I can be happy that I had him for as long as I did.’But then the next moment my heart hurts so badly, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person again.
I know what you mean about driving over the spot. Then you just think about it. It’s so awful. I feel like I’m getting a little OCD when I start to think about it. I’m really trying not to focus on how it ended or anything about that day. In some ways I feel bad to try to forget it. For some reason, it feels like I should remember it, but I know it’s better to try to forget. There’s nothing that can be done about it. I’m really going to try to work on that..
I’m sorry about how you felt when you looked at getting a new dog. I think we really have to wait until it can be a happy occasion. I think I want to be out of my “dog routine” long enough that I know I’m not trying to replace what I missing. It needs to be a “start over.” New friend. Just like if a human friend passed. We don’t try to replace them, but we did continue to meet new people. That article I had tried to share was removed or something. But it’s so sweet. Look up “moving on after loosing an older dog – healing ceremony ”
I’m anxious about whether or not I want a new dog. I think about it all time and feel like a really unbalanced person about it. I feel like I need prepare and install a new fence, but I also don’t feel ready to commit. I also worry I will be so paranoid about something bad happening to my dog again. But it’s also one of the only thoughts that comforts me – thinking I could have another friend someday to share my life with, as we do lots of fun dog activities.
Today I just woke up really sad. I hope I wake up better tomorrow. Nice to hear from your journey again, Lois. Just keep on persevering.
Thank you friend. I feel like we have each other on this site as well as everyone else. It’s a tough journey no doubt.
Couldn’t agree more, Meghan. I am also waiting until I get out of my dog routine, and feel that I can live without my Snowbell. I don’t want to get another dog until it is that dog I want, rather than Snowbell. At the moment, it is still SB! She was who I came home to – I think that just about sums everything up. You don’t get over that loss in a hurry, even when you start to feel a bit better. It used to be one step forward, two steps back, but now its the other way around. A long journey indeed.
Rana, I am so sorry. This is a very tragic situation. I know you’re probably thinking things could/should have been different. It’s hard to accept. It just shouldn’t be true. It takes time to deal with this. There is no easy solution or quick fix for any one us, and it’s even harder when it’s so unexpected.
I’m so sorry about the complication of your Whiskers being with your colleague when this happened. I am thinking your colleague just wanted Whiskers to enjoy an adventure, and did not intend for anything like this. But I know that doesn’t really help. It’s painful. It’s awful. You’re still in the early stages. Just try to eat right and get sleep as you’re in the darkest days. It will lighten a bit.
I’m sure Whiskers didn’t think you abandoned you. They think differently than we do. They are in the moment. He probably thought, this other guy’s a good friend. My person will be home any minute, and we’ll have fun too! I don’t think they understand the passing of time like we do.
I know you must have been a good owner because of your post here. Be proud of all the good times you had. Take care of yourself
I lost my sweet boy Sammy two days ago. I have been absolutely miserable seeing the images of his dead body in my head over and over. Even when I am trying to sleep I have terrible dreams about it. On Saturday, I took sammy to the groomer. He was perfectly healthy. I went home across the street to do my laundry and I get a call three hours later that he was unresponsive. It was the last thing I ever expected. I was expecting her to tell me that he was ready to pickup. The excitement of seeing your dog groomed and happy to see you was not there. I was panicking and I got to the shop in less than one minute. The groomer took me back and his body was curled up in a wet towel. I couldn’t believe it and I still don’t. They said that when they started to groom him he started to freak out and he just stood strait up and fell over. They tried what they could but nothing worked. I was petting him and saying his name wanting him to turn around and greet me. When I turned his head to look at his face he was already stiffening and I knew it was real and irreversible. This is what I keep dreaming about. They offered to cremate his body but honestly I was in such shock I couldn’t deal with it. They called animal control to take care of his body and they paid the fee for that. So I then waited for animal control to come and pick him up. When he got there, he asked me what happened. He went back to get sammy and I left. I couldn’t bear to see my sweet boy come out in a plastic bag when he went in so young and healthy. The guilt I felt the next day was unbelievable. I wished that I took him and buried him. The feeling of not knowing where he was killed me. I also left his collar and leash at the shop. So I called the shop owner and she met me there to give me his belongings. She said that after I left the animal control man examined Sammy’s body for signs. He thought that sammy had a stroke or heart attack due to stress. I took his belongings and I left. Two nights and I have barely slept. I know that it is not the groomers fault, and I know it’s not my fault for taking him to get groomed. I was just taking care of his needs. But i can’t help to think that if I didn’t take him, he would still be here with me and my family. I miss him so much. He was my best friend who would follow me, cuddle with me, and greet me whenever I walked in the door. He was so full of life and energy. He would rest his head on my lap whenever I would eat and he would sit by the piano at my feet whenever I would play. I don’t even want to eat or play piano anymore without him here. I miss the sound of his tags jingling whenever he would go around the house. He was so full of his own little weird quirks. I know time will heal but the here and now is miserable. I am emotionally breaking down constantly throughout the day and at work. I loved him so much and I’m still in shock to the point I feel sick. I keep looking at his pictures and I just lose it. I hope that God is taking care of his spirit and soul and he is at peace. Prayers for everyone going through this.
Emily, this is a terrible situation. Such a normal thing to do, and to have it end so badly is truly devastating. Don’t blame yourself – most of us have taken our dogs to be groomed, it is part of what we do to care for them. 2 days is not long, so naturally you feel very upset. Your grief is so strong, and a sign of your love for little Sammy. Please take care of yourself.
I am sick for you. This scenario happened to one of my friends. It was heartbreaking for her also. But like you said, you were just doing the right thing by your dog and had no control or idea that this would happen.
Oh Emily, this is just so sad.I feel for you. I’m so sorry. You could not have helped this. Please don’t feel guilt about not taking him. It was such a crazy situation. You couldn’t have processed it enough to know what to do. You were in shock. To be honest, we did take our boy home to bury him, and that is hard too. We marked the spot with a big log for now, and when I look back it makes me sick. I think about him down there.
I’m so sorry you have that picture in your head. That has been really hard for me, too. But it is getting better. I’m having to fight to chase those visions out of my head, but I am trying. It’s still fresh for you. Don’t feel about about being emotional. It is a big loss. This is real grief, and you’re sorting it all out. I hope that you can some day soon take comfort in your good memories.
As time continues, try to do things enjoyable or good for yourself. It’s hard, but it can feel good. I have been finding that the time I’m giving to others in volunteer work is when I feel best. But I also have been feeling the need to be home now when I can be. I’m trying to listen to myself but also push myself a little. I don’t know if that helps you or not. But I hope so
His name was Orbitz. We were best friends. But one day, after I came home from camp, my parents told me that Orbitz had to be put down. I was heartbroken. We put him down due to cancer, tumors in his ears, an over sized heart, and a tumor in his abdomen. It happened right before school started. Seeing the needle that would stop his heartbeat going into him, was a horrible experience. I blame myself for not spending more time with him. I really did give him the best life he could have had. We walked him more than 3 times a day, and he got 3 meals everyday. I really enjoyed the 4 years I spent with him.But I wish I could have spent more time with him. We went through a lot together. Ever since then, it’s been a continuous path of unstoppable crying. I was 10 years old when I lost him. It only happened a few months ago. I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever get over it. I feel like I can’t live without him. I miss him getting up in my bed every night and waking my family up really early to be walked. But now I know that he’s out of pain and suffering. I give my condolences to every single one of you.
I’m so sorry for you. I get the part about the dog getting up in bed with you 🙁 my dog always bust me around to go to bed at night and then snuggle in. This is a tough one I’ll give you that 🙁
Thank you Lois.
I’m so sorry. I feel for you. You can be proud you gave him the best life possible. I’m sorry for all you’re going through. I know it’s so painful. Just keep thinking of all the good times and how fortunate you were to have each other.
Try to do good and happy things. You deserve to enjoy life still.
I understand the bed thing. My guy used to sleep at our feet. He would usually end up laying across my feet, which sometimes woke me up, causing me to not sleep so well. But for the first couple of weeks, I kept waking up, missing it, feeling like something was wrong with that weight missing off my feet. 🙁 It has gotten easier though in that way. Keep trying to heal
It’s been six weeks today since I lost my precious bull greyhound Preston. He was such a beautiful, smart and loving dog. A constant companion for 9 years. He was a two year old when I rescued him from the shelter. There was an instant bond between us. I saved him once or twice. He saved me many times. I am 54 and have experienced grief and trauma more than a few times in my life-Family members, close friends, lovers and pets.
After all that experience of dealing with the grief and loss you might assume that the next time that it might be a little easier to cope with? No not at all. You know what’s coming but you cant stop it. Life is a rollercoaster and so is grief. A hell ride that you cant get off until it stops. It does stop eventually though, I promise you. you will recover and the pain will ease with time. There is no quick fix to make it go away. You can search the net for answers but you wont find instant relief.You can though learn so much from the love of a pet. They live each day as it comes. they dont worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, only the present is of any concern to them. Thats the way to deal with what we are facing. One day at a time. Cry rivers if you need to, it will bring some relief. I have cried just about every day since, some days only a few tears, other days, like today I’ve cried a river. I’m crying for my loss. for myself.My dog isn’t in pain. he had the best life I could give him, two walks a day, plenty to eat, love and attention but as caring dog owners we become a parent and they become our children as they are so very similar to children and I think that is the reason it hits us so hard. The loss of a dog or pet is very personal to the owner. No one else really understands. The more you love, the more it hurts when it ends. I’ve vowed in the past when I’ve experienced loss that I would never love or get attatched again. It’s never happened. A life without love is a living death. I hope this helps someone out there going through the same. I hope the New year is kind to you. All the best.
Thank you, I needed to read this . I lost my poodle yesterday & am grieving & so broken hearted.
I’m grateful for all your stories. I’ve read many and will continue to read more. It’s teaching me some things that I’d like to share.
It’s been two months to the day. I’m not a crier.. Really, I’m not. Yet I’ve cried everyday for the last 61 days.
He, Kihei, was 10 ½. We had him his whole life. He was such a joy in our life and an adventurer. Got us out and enjoying nature. Now I can’t even go for a walk around the block because I’m too sad to do it without him. He’s why we bought the house with the big yard.
You know it’s going to happen some day. I feel like I can accept and understand that, sad as it is , as a basic fact in theory. I don’t know if it’s so hard because he was hit by a car, and if things were just a little different that day, he’d still be with us. He had never ran in the road in all his days. I turned my back for a moment.
The guilt… The guilt… and then the guilt that I’m focusing on myself and my guilt and not enough on the loss for him.
From what I’m reading, I’m seeing that no matter how we lose them, it’s terrible. All of us are second guessing something or having guilt. Someone told me they think part of owning a pet is understanding there is going to be a tragedy. Due to their nature, we can’t protect them from everything or they would have no fun. And their life span is short. No matter how much we love them, we cannot change this.
I was also reminded to try to focus on the good and the joy they brought to life by them because if we are overwhelmingly sad for the rest of our lives, we’d have to conclude we would have been better off not knowing them.. and we don’t want that to be so. But, on the flip side, because it’s this difficult for all of us, it does speak to how much we valued them. No matter how they passed, all of us have such deep grief because they meant so much to us, and no doubt we all did our best to provide them with the best life we could.
I should have known no dog can ever fully know not to go in the road.
He had so much life left in him.
I always tried to hard to make sure his health was good and he was so well taken care of… Then this happens.
Sometimes I see or hear stories of people who have many years with their dogs. I feel a bit envious. He was a Cockapoo, and they have a long life span. But I’m sure there are plenty of people who get even less time with their precious baby. Or see their beloved friend suffer and struggle with what to do. I think we just have to try to think like dogs do. They live in the moment and enjoy it. They don’t regret the past or worry about the future or what could have been, and they would not want that for us.
One thing my husband and I did right away was start jotting down memories. We didn’t want to forget those quirky things that made him his unique self. It was a lot of random, disjointed thoughts. But I know when we’re in a healthier place, we can go back and read the words and be happy we have them.
For those of you just beginning this terrible journey, please don’t be impatient with yourself. It’s a process. Healing isn’t a linear thing. In the beginning days off all this, I remember feeling panicky when I’d have a really bad day again, having thought I was progressing past that. I would think that life would be at that level of just so terrible from then on. But then I’d have an okay day after that. Just try to deal with the day at hand.
One thing I’ve been struggling with is the memories of the day… The sights, the sounds. . You likely all know what I mean. Any advice on not letting those thoughts plague you?
Another thing I wonder about is when or if to ever get another little fur friend. I don’t know. How can I go through this pain again? Also, what if I’m disappointed in the new dog or don’t feel that connection I had with my Kihei? I feel like he was a once in a lifetime kind of connection for me. It also feels wrong to get another dog during these years we should still have our boy, if we hadn’t made that terrible mistake . He should still be here. But then again, I feel like our home could really benefit from the love a dog brings. And we do many activities that a dog would enjoy. Any thoughts from your experience?
Thank you so much for this safe space to discuss and grieve. It’s a little tricky because I do understand a larger world view… there’s a lot of horrible things going on all around the world, so in the big picture my tragedy is small. But in my life, it’s the worst pain I’ve felt personally
Hi Meghan and everyone else who has posted recently. My heart aches for you all. I last posted here about 1 month ago, and I wasn’t going to look anymore, but thought, just one more time. We are certainly not alone in our grief. Meghan, I have cried every single day since September 13th – every day. Sometimes it is full on, other days just shedding a tear or two when I imagine my Snowbell here, but realise she is not. Everything you have said is true – we give them as much as we possibly can, but know in reality that they aren’t going to be with us forever. That’s a given, but the pain is still so hard to bear. I also wrote a tribute to my girl – what would have been her obituary if we had funerals for dogs. It helped me make sense of how a little dog could have such a big impact on my life. We all have a story, and they are part of ours. I too am reluctant to even contemplate another dog, as there was only one for me, a special connection that I don’t think will ever be replicated. I minded a friend’s dog recently, which I did many times with Snowbell, and putting Snowbell’s mat and water bowl out, having a lead at the door etc. was very upsetting. I almost felt ‘normal’ again, and then I realised that, no, this is the new normal now. One that doesn’t include Snowbell, at least in the same way as before. It is hard to know how to stop those awful thoughts from consuming you every day. I joined an on-line pet loss support group, and have found that very comforting. And as they say, time if a healer, despite how you feel at the moment. You are right that lots of terrible things are happening in the world, and it is important to remember that and get things in perspective. But, in other ways, it’s irrelevant to how we feel about our own personal loss – our version of sorrow. It isn’t a competition, grief is grief, and ours needs to be acknowledged. At the 3 1/2 month mark, I am doing better than I was, but I think about Snowbell every day, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night. She is still part of my life, and I don’t want to let her go. Perhaps the tears are my way of holding on to her. I have to build a new life without her (even though nothing else has changed), and she inspires me to be a better person from having known and cared for her. That is her legacy.
Judy, Thanks for coming back to post. I appreciate all your words so much. I had been reading your posts previously. You and some of the others are like a peer support. It’s very kind. I never have been one to comment or look for support, but this is helpful. I’ve been reading that one of the reasons it’s so hard is because there’s no social norms for acknowledging and dealing with this. People usually understand the grief of a human loss, but the the loss of a pet is not usually openly dealt with and discussed. To be honest, I’ve felt ashamed and embarrassed to be in such deep grief so many days. I work in an office alone, and I wonder if people can see me tearing up when they are walking by and say hi. But, like you said, grief is grief. It is not a competition. I think a lot people feel this terrible when their dog passes away, but they just don’t want to admit it.
Thank you so much for your support and basically mentoring for this group.
Thanks Meghan, For some reason, like you, I really feel the need to reach out to others who are feeling the same pain as I have felt for nearly 4 months. It has been an awful journey, and like Sean who posted above, I have cried every day, sometimes lots, sometimes just a tear. I would love Snowbell back in my life again, but that’s not going to happen. I am just trying to channel my grief into doing good, in Snowbell’s memory. My focus at the moment is donating as much as I can to help the many animals who have been affected by the current bushfires in Australia – truly devastating.
Oh Meghan, please do not feel any shame or embarrassment. Like Judy (hi Judy!), we have posted many times, and it’s been awhile since I’ve been on, but again felt the need. Maybe because today is 4 months since I lost my sweet 14 year old Tink. I can’t really say I’m better, (maybe better at not talking about it openly), but still completely lost without her. I still talk to her every single day. When I look up at the stars I say hi to her every morning and every night. In my car when I’m alone, I talk to her and tell her how much I still love her and that she is a part of my soul and my very being. I will never let go of loving her. It’s still hard to comprehend that I can’t hold her again, but I do still feel that she is part of my life. I do have joy in my life and I can laugh at normal every day things, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and talk to her. I’ve done many things like Judy in trying to help myself to somewhat heal. I have a ring with her name on it, I ordered a little book that you can get on so many online picture apps of her. I dog sat a friends dog over the holidays and wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about that (my friend was very aware of my situation as she’s also been in the same situation and understood),but ohhhhh it felt good to snuggle another warm furry little being and to have him be happy to see me every day. Of course it made me think of Tink, but it felt so good to give another loving baby some attention. Meghan, I even spoke to my doctor about all these sad feelings. I also did an online support group, it helps so much to know others know exactly how you’re feeling. I also, like you wrote down all the cute little quirks she had, because there were so many things that made me laugh, and I also didn’t want to forget any of them. Don’t feel embarrassed by any of your feelings because they are soooooo real. People understand on here. Just come here for support and you’ll find it. I’m so sorry for your loss and I pray and wish for peace and healing for your heart. Hang in there.
Hi Tam, lovely to hear you again. We are certainly like-minds. We are both at the 4 month mark, and feeling very similar. My recent dog-minding experience was mixed – I felt that sick feeling, knowing that it didn’t include Snowbell anymore, but like you, it was wonderful to cuddle Ruby and to be welcomed at the door when I arrived home. It hits me every now and then that Snowbell really is gone and that I can’t hold her again, but these awful feelings are beginning to subside. While this is a good thing, and is perhaps the beginning of real acceptance, it still scares me that she is becoming just a memory, and after 9 years together, she is a dog I used to have. I hate that! However, she is still in my heart, and I am sure one day she will shuffle over a bit to make room for another rescue dog, who need my love and care just as much as she did. Keep posting, Meghan, as you need continued support, and you will find it here.
Hi Judy, yep we’re both at the 4 month mark, and I can hardly believe that. It truly feels like yesterday, oh how I miss my sweet girl, as I know you miss Snowbell. Lets make a pact right here. They will never be just a memory to us. They are with us, in our hearts and every picture and loving thought we have of them. I’ve loved and lost dogs before, but for some reason Tink is different, dang how I loved that girl beyond words. We were truly attached at the hip. Now we’re attached at the heart. I looked up at the stars the other night and told her that she IS truly a part of me, my very soul and I will never be without her. I didn’t think that I will ever be able to love another one, but every now and then I have a glimmer of a breakthrough that shows me loving and nurturing another. I don’t know, maybe in time, just not right now. I agree with you about Meghan, to keep looking here for support because there is truly no judgement here, only people who are on the same journey. I wish everyone peace and healing with this. Good to hear from you again Judy. 🙂
Tam, Thank you so much for your words and your support. It’s good to hear how others are getting along in this journey. I myself am so scared to dog sit for anyone right now. I hope that changes. I just today scheduled my yearly check up appointment and contemplated mentioning how hard this is to deal and see if the Dr. can offer any thoughts. It’s just so weird for me because nothing normally knocks me down like this has.
I’m glad you’re having joy in your life and can laugh. I’m sure Tink would want that for you. Thanks for all the support you’ve shown to everyone here.
I feel like I wrote this myself! I have expressed all of the same feelings. I want to get another dog so bad but feel the same way. I personally think everyone that has written on this page if they want another dog they should get one because we have all given such love to our pets.
Thank you Lois. It is so hard. We are all obviously dog people. I am struggling with thinking it would dishonor my boy or I would lose my memories of him slowly. But I want to share a link to this article. When my heart is ready, if it ever is, I want to do this. Share your memories of your dog you lost with the new dog. Include him in on it, kind of like you would maybe tell a child about their grandparent that passed away before they were born. Cuddle up with the new puppy and cry and laugh and share about the one that is gone. Take Care Lois.
Rebecca Greenwood
I’m sat here in the dark trying to get some sleep, but just can’t, I thought maybe if I googled How to cope with the sudden death of my dog, it would help me deal with this searing pain in some way.. I lost my baby boy Snowy whist on a walk on Christmas night. It was totally unexpected, he was fit and healthy and happy, only about 9 years old……next thing I know, he’s taking a long time to catch up after going to the toilet, my other dog and I, were literally 1 house away, I called him. I tuned the corner to look down my road, wondering if he’d been spooked n taken himself home, which he never does, I turn around in a panic back to where I was, and there he is laying in the middle of the road, looking at me, I scream his name, he just about manages to move his head but can’t lift it, there’s no bleeding anywhere,nothing broken, no yelps, no cars, just Nothing . I had about 10 seconds with my baby to tell him how very much I loved him and that he was such a good good beautiful boy, then he was gone, the rest is just as horrific, me lying in the road holding him in denial, refusing to register what had just happened in those few short life changing moments. carrying him back home, cradling my boy, having to gather myself enough….which I couldn’t manage….to tell my 10 and 23 year old Sons on Christmas night that our Boy Snowy had died, and I didn’t know how or why, and I never will now. I can’t analyse it anymore. my head went and goes from guilt to blame to remorse…to every human emotion, a million times a day, and I just wonder when it will ease up. I bet he’d still be alive laying here snuggled under my arm, making it impossible for me to type [but I wouldn’t move him],if I just hadn’t gone on that walk, I bet it was the big xmas dinner I gave him, must have given him a heart attack, or a stroke, Maybe because he was not on a lead {never was],maybe he got run over and I didn’t hear or see a car, but there was no bleeding or anything like that at all, maybe if I had just stayed sitting on the sofa with him, in my pj’s all snuggled up and hadn’t gone out just cos my friend who was visiting had taken his dog out had made me feel like I should take mine out, maybe he’d still be here, I feel like I know he’d still be here. I feel so guilty and like ive let him down somehow, and I want that feeling to stop.
I lost my Mother in my arms 15 years ago, and I was there stroking my Fathers head as he passed only 15 months ago, and now my boy.
I am 48 years old and have suffered so much loss of such beloved family and loved ones, that I just can’t take anymore. this hurts, I mean really HURTS. I can’t keep fighting back, or being strong and trying to recover from all this pain. I feel its so unfair and keep wondering over n over….WHY?
it has been 4 days I think now, and it has been non stop agony that I am feeling.
This is different. I’ve lost dogs that I’ve adored before, I’ve lost both of my parents, But this is different.
He was well, he was fit as a fiddle, bouncy, full of life, he was constantly beside me, or on me or one of us. I used to call him mountain goat because he’d stand on me like I was his mobile mountain, he’d sleep in my arms and share my pillow, he’d stand on our chest and lick our faces dry if we were crying, he was the most amazing creature I have ever met and now I have lost him and all that incredible love and fun, and my house feels dead and empty and numb. I have no ashes, I drove to the vets within 12 hours of it happening as he was in my car and I felt so guilty for that, couldn’t sleep wink knowing he was out there in my car whilst the wind was blowing. I couldn’t go out there as I was broken and had to stay close to my young Son, and I couldn’t bring him in as my other dog would have been in pieces. I got him communally cremated, but took a tuft of his beautiful silky fur with me, that still felt so alive when I had to leave him and kissed him goodbye so many times.
I just don’t understand why one has to suffer such terrible loss.
I am sorry if my post is rather harrowing and I am so so sorry to anyone who is also feeling this wretched pain at the loss of such a pure unconditional love :'(
Rebecca, I am so sorry for all you have been going through. I know the unexplained and sudden loss makes it more difficult. It’s hard not to have guilt, thinking we could have changed what happened. But if you didn’t take your boy out for a walk and let him enjoy life, that would be sad too. You didn’t do anything wrong. It sounds like you loved him very much and no doubt he enjoyed his life with you.
As far as the wild range of emotions, I think it’s very normal. How can it not be? They mean so much to us. Just hang in there. You’ll start to process it all soon, and even though the pain is still there, I think the you’ll feel more evened out soon. Mine died 2 months ago. Still working on it myself, but the panicky feelings are less.
I feel just like you! My post is 3 below this one. I sometimes feel like I’m not going to make it without Bernie. I have no idea how to move on. I want to get another dog but scared it could never live up to my perfect Bernie. I can’t have any fun:( maybe time will heal. I’m so sorry for you but know someone else feels just like you and if you read everyone else below we are all like you:(
Julio Villa
I lost my 3 year old chihuahua 4 days ago myself.She was ran over by a car while running after another dog.Im really hurt and don’t know how to deal with her loss she was my baby!My first dog ever that i had since she was 1 month old.She grew up with my two kids and we all loved her dearly! I cant eat,think,function right its like losing a child because she was my child.Your story really touched me and i feel sorry for your loss there is no way on how to make anyone feel better after a tragedy.
I am so sorry Rebecca, it really is a wretched pain. It is at least has hard as losing a human – this is no disrespect to them, but the connection with a dog is something unique and special, their loss is truly heartbreaking. Take care and let time help to heal you.
I’m so sorry Rebecca. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother and father. I give my condolences to you and your family. I’m so, so sorry that you lost your best friend. I pray that your pain and suffering will be no longer.
Randy Calloway
I lost my sweet little baby girl at 11:15 pm on Christmas evening! Molly was a beagle/boxer mixed. We where together for 12 years! She was like a child to me, she was a very spoiled girl. When I left the house, she would always grab one of my shoes, or a piece of my clothing and lay with it til I came home. We had a strong bond together and grew old together. I feel so much guilt, pain and heartache. I cry everyday, yell at God to bring her back, but I know in my heart Molly is on rainbow bridge and enjoying herself. It still don’t take the pain away or the guilt. She protected me like I did her. I came here to see if I can get advice on how to move on, and take away the guilt!! I’ve been reading a lot of things on the internet about the grieving and the guilt process, but I would like to hear from actual people that lost a pet and see how they are coping on a daily basis. I made her a wall of memories, pictures, etc… I look at it more than I watch TV. I sit and feel so guilty, knowing she was getting at that point in her life where she will go any day. But I feel like I could have done more just to spend one more day with her. Will it get easier? Will the guilt go away? How do I cope with the loss of my princess? I’m open to hear anything to help me go day by day without my princess!!!!!
Rebecca Greenwood
Hi there, I’m so sorry, I don’t have those answers, as I came here looking for those answers too. I lost my Snowboy at 10.15 xmas night, and I too am completely consumed by guilt and the feeling I could have and should have done something . I looked at photos Boxing Day, but I just can’t bear it, I am constantly either in pieces crying my eyes out, or feeling like im being choked and almost throwing up. Its just devastating isn’t it. Maybe we can help each other somehow I done know?
Randy, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s just not an easy thing. We want to find an answer that will make us feel better or take away the sadness and guilt, but I guess there’s just not a quick fix. Just try to remember how precious it was that you got to be her person and share the joys you guys did. Maybe there were things we all could have done differently, but honestly,it could have gone the other way too. We could have had something happen to our babies years ago and lost them then. We loved and protected them for as long as we could the best we could. I think we’d all do anything just to get another day with them. But I think we’re all here because we loved them so much and gave them so much joy while they were with us. We can be proud for that. Try to remember the fun things about her. I can’t give you a lot of advice, because I’m still hurting a lot, but I do think it’s good to grieve when we need to, but we should also try our best to keep up on daily activities, including things that could bring a measure of happiness or purpose. You might not be there yet, since it’s still so fresh, but the horrible, panicky feeling will lessen. Then try to fill in some positive things. Get enough sleep, etc. Right now, I’m struggling because I have lots of pictures like you and want to look and remember him, but then every time I start over with the deep sadness. I am 2 months out,and I will tell you, when I am busy, I am not thinking so much about it. But it’s still a sadness in the background every moment. Hope you find your way to heal. I do think everyone is different. Know there’s a community of others behind you
Randy, I think that guilt is the hardest thing to deal with. From what you have said, little Molly was at the end of her life and you did all you possibly could to see her through to the end. Whatever decision we make, it has to be what’s best for them, not us, as hard as that may be. I lost my precious girl in September, and still miss her and shed a tear every day. But time does help, you will begin to feel better, when your heart is ready. We are all different, but please don’t feel that you are to blame for anything. What a wonderful mum Molly had! The depth of our grief reflects the depth of our love – as awful as it is, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Take care.
Donna cain
I lost my precious dog 5 days ago. I’m so heart broken
Donna, I’m so sorry. It’s a deep pain that is hard to explain.
I lost my dog Bernie who was a Yorkypoo. He was almost 7 years old when he was run over by a car. He was completely human to me and with me 24 hours a day. I actually took a stay at home job so I could be with him all of these years. I’ve never felt love like this before and when he didn’t come in the back door on December 5 I knew something was terribly wrong. When we found him on the road dad it was more than I can absolutely cope with. The guilt, the loss, The love…it’s a nightmare without him. He was so cute and so intelligent. He knew everything I was saying and even thinking. It’s such a tremendous loss and more than I can take.
Rebecca Greenwood
I am so sorry for your loss Lois. I completely understand where you are coming from, I feel the same, The pain is just unbearable 🙁
Lois, I’m so sorry about Bernie. You sound like an amazing dog owner. Please do feel proud of yourself for dedicating so much time to giving him a good life. Not all dogs have owners who could spend so much time with them. Mine was hit, too. I know what you mean. I can’t get the guilt out of my head, besides the sadness of missing him so much. And it’s all the things he is not going to get to do now that he should still be around for. I’m sure you know what I mean. Some one told me this and I hope it helps you: Even though our dogs’ lives were shorter than they should have been, no doubt they would have not chosen to have it any other way, because they loved being with us and all the fun and adventures we gave them. I do have to remind myself this. Mine was quirky and I think we were just the right home for him. Please take care
On December 18,2019 Bella took a turn for the worse… Bella was diagnosed with breast cancer
I am not handling this well at all, the amount of tears I cry is amazing
Bella was and will always be my BEST FRIEND!!
I’m lost I’m hurt I’m angeey because I couldn’t save her or stop her Illness.
I have a lot of videos and pictures she look back on but it’s not the same!! Does it ever get easyer? I’m heart broken!!!
Donna, I’m sincerely sorry. You’ll never forget her. It is a worthwhile pain to bear to give them such a wonderful life. It has gotten a little easier for..Not much…but it is progress. I wish there was an easy solution, but there is not when you loose someone you love so dearly
On Monday December 16th, In the early hours of the morning, my perfect little Lilo took his last breath. He was an adorable little Yorkie who I received as a Christmas gift from my Mom. Typically it’s a bad idea to give an animal as a gift, but he is still and will always be the best gift I’ve ever received. He was 15 years old when he passed away peacefully and without a sound as I was rushing him to the emergency Vet. Unfortunately, Lilo had an enlarged heart that took up nearly all of the space in his chest cavity. So much so that our Vet warned me that eventually it would continue to grow and start to collapse his airway, so she had me pay attention to his respiratory rate. Well, the moment I had been dreading finally came. He woke me up Sunday morning at 4am because his breathing had increased so quickly. I immediately took him to the emergency vet, and they sent me home with him because he was in a stable condition and should be ok until I could see my Vet on Monday morning. Around 2am Monday morning his breathing became more labored so I rushed him immediately to the emergency Vet. On the car ride I would pet him every chance I could, letting him know that everything was going to be okay. He would try to lay day in his car seat but would stand back up, so I told him “it’s ok honey, go ahead and lay down”. Once I finally saw that he had laid down I said to him “good job perfect dog” and reached over to pet him.. and that’s when I noticed he was no longer breathing. I ran him into the vets office and they performed CPR on him, but it was too late. My heart broke that day. Lilo was my little best friend. He was with me nearly everyday for the last 15 years. He was extremely smart and clever and bossy and hilarious. He was my therapist when I was feeling down, always there