How Long Should I Wait After My Pet Dog Dies to Get Another One?
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Susan is a writer who lives on a small farm in Northern California with her husband whom she adores. She writes on a variety of subjects.
Experience the Grief First
In my three decades of breeding, showing, and training dogs, this question has frequently come up. The answers vary.
First, let yourself grieve. There are several stages to grief, no matter what the loss. And losing a pet can be every bit as devastating as the loss of a human friend. Do not put a time frame on your grief. It can vary widely depending upon your nature and what is going on in your life at present.
There are five recognized stages to this grieving process that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first introduced. Not all people experience all stages but they usually experience at least two. They also don’t experience them in any particular order or length of duration. The stages are denial, anger (guilt is part of this stage), bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
Second, ask yourself for what purpose do you want another pet now? If you want a new pet to ease your pain, wait. Often times we try to replace our beloved companion with one “just like Sparky.” We look for the same breed, same markings, and same personality. Not only is this unfair to the new pet, it dishonors the memory of the deceased pet. Animals are as individual as humans. You may find similarities between two, but they’ll never be exactly the same.
I have counseled people to wait who did not heed the advice. Invariably they were disappointed in some way with their new pet. The new one didn’t live up to their expectations. Differences between the new pet and the deceased one were interpreted as behavior problems. “Why is he doing that? My Sparky never did that!” Your new dog isn’t Sparky and never will be. “But I want….” You want your old dog back—or at least the new one to behave like and make you feel just like your old one. This is not realistic. You're still grieving and all amounts of denying it won’t change the fact. The new pet senses your disappointment in him and reacts accordingly. You’re both mismatched and unhappy. People will quite often get rid of the new dog at this point.
Some people get through the grief quickly and some never do. I have had people call me who lost a pet years ago and are still looking for another one just like the old one. They tell me of their search and how unsuccessful it has been. They talk to me about their previous pet, telling me about all the charming things Sparky used to do, and they cry. These poor souls are not ready for another pet and won’t be until they come to terms with their loss.
On the other hand, some people are ready to get another pet right away. They grieve their loss and fully understand and expect the new pet to be different. They welcome the difference. Some folks purposely look for a different color, sex, or breed (maybe even a different species) so as not to confuse the new one with the old one in their minds. They talk fondly of their deceased pet. They don't want another pet to replace those memories—they seek to add to their old memories with new and different ones.
To sum up, know yourself. Know whether you are done grieving or whether you are able to look at things rationally. Don’t rush into anything. Be certain that you are not reacting emotionally. It’s unfair to the potential new pet. Honor the memory of your deceased pet and all the things he used to do. And when you are ready, embrace the new adventure that a different individual will bring to your life.
Catrina Lind on January 14, 2020:
Help. I lost my Soul child Daisy, a 17 y/o little sheltie who was wise and so kind. It has bee. 13 months. My 5th sheltie (dearly love and miss them!) with who we communicated amazingly and were alike on a Spiritual level i guess. My friends have urged me to get a puppy. Daisy kept sending me signs to get a breed like my friend had who died the same night as Daisy. The grief is unbearable at times. I have never been this tough. She was my joy, my little girl. I adopt dogs. I couldn't find the breed and was drawn to finding a puppy but it seemed like my body was hesitant, confused. I AM NOT READY TO KET GO OF DAISY! This puppy is smart, cute and wild of course. I go thru the motions and am told it will get better. I will fall in love. I am so lonely for holding and comforting a dog. I am empty. I would feel terrible tossing this innocent puppy back to the breeder as with rescue pets. I am sick about this. I don't know which way to turn. Thank you for giving you to turn to without judgment.
Susan (author) from Northern California on December 02, 2019:
I'm very sorry for your loss. It is especially difficult when it's a younger pet as Strudel was who has not lived a full life yet. I understand the difficulty of your decision and your pain. Thank you for adding your story here. Wishing you well and may your fond memories comfort you at this time.
Rich and Olga on November 29, 2019:
Less than 48 hours ago we had to put our not quite 5 year old Doxie "Strudel" down. My Wife retired 5 years ago and wanted a dog...After some reluctance, I agreed. she found and excellent breeder, and was able to see both parents for the purpose of demeanor.
Strudel was a very cute miniature Doxie, and I would joke that she had my Wife's personality. she loved everyone, and was always happy. Her tail wagged every moment throughout her life.
She played, ran, chased the ball very hard, and as a result developed a back/spinal/vertebrae problem. We nursed her back to 85% health only to have her re-injure herself to the point that her back legs were paralyzed. She became incontinent, and after several methods of care (short of surgery), we made the most difficult and unforgiving decision to put her down.
My Wife and I are both very distraught, and terribly grief stricken.
I'm a 58 year old Man and have always been strong, and sure, but this has brought even me to my knees.
I can't remember when I felt this bad. It is comforting to hear (read) others stories and situations as It makes me feel like I'm not alone in this.The advice given here makes great sense. I'm not sure we'll get another dog, but we all need to know, as difficult as it is, we must go through this terrible grieving process before making a good honest intelligent decision. Thank you.
Beth Miller on April 20, 2019:
I am so grateful for this article. I lost my wonderful, sweet pit bull 2 weeks ago and just realized I’ve been looking for a dog that looks like her, but it’ll never be her. It wouldn’t be fair to the new dog or to me. I guess I better wait and grieve. I’m just so sad.
Marci on January 20, 2019:
We lost our 11 month old rescue puppy (we had her for 9 months). She was diagnosed with hemophilia when she was 6 months old after complications with her spay. Other puppies in her litter also were diagnosed with hemophilia.
She ended up passing away at 11 months old. No definite answer as to why but believed that she has a spontaneous bleed in her spine which ultimately paralyzed her and caused her death.
She was our world, the light of our life.
We just got a new puppy (2 months after death) from the same shelter we got our first. Thought she would fill a void in our lives. My husband is bonding with her and I am having a difficult time. I have always been a dog person and she is super smart and super cute. I am just having a hard time bonding with her and not sure if I can ever love her. I am so torn and feel like I am having panic attacks every day. Will this feeling subside?
Kathryn on November 09, 2018:
I also realized my post said some people may think this is silly and then I said is this silly? I think I was more asking about in general is it silly for me to feel this way so soon.
Katy on November 09, 2018:
I came across you article and saw the overwhelming amount of support you have offered your readers. I was wondering if I might be able to ask you a question. In early aug our dog was diagnosed with lymphoma. I have cried every day since. I feel like I have been grieving for so long. We just recently lost her. The first couple days were really hard and I am still sad that she is gone but I also feel like in a way I have been grieving her loss ever since she was sick. She hasn't been the same dog for a long time. When she was first diagnosed I cried and told my husband and dad that I never wanted to get a dog because I never wanted to feel this way ever again. Toward the end of her illness I started to change my feelings and my husband and I expressed that one day we wanted to adopt a dog (not a puppy). Now that she has passed away I feel very different. While I do feel sad that she is gone I am so grateful for all the wonderful memories I have of her (10 years worth). I have had a dog on and off almost my whole life (give or a take a maybe a year) and my life just doesn't feel complete without one. My son is almost 2 and he absolutely adored her. Before Coco got sick she would play with us on the floor. Last night we were rolling around and wrestling and it just felt like something was missing. While looking for a piece of furniture on craigslist I typed in boxer in the search bar. I don't know why I did it, I had no intention of getting a dog so soon after her passing. But there on the results was a male boxer whose owner was hoping to rehome in next month after he has been neutered. He is 10 months old, house trained and attended a training class. His owner recently got a divorce and has to work full time and no longer can give him what he needs. His ad was posted the morning after Coco's passing. I know some people may say this is silly and don't believe in this kind of stuff but I do. I feel like in same way it is fate and that Coco has sent me him. Is this silly?
Susan (author) from Northern California on August 27, 2018:
Wait. There is no hurry. Our loved ones have a hard time seeing our sadness and want to "fix" it for us. They mean well. Love them for it. But do try to convince them to give you the time and space you need to fully grieve your loss. It would not be fair to the new dog or you to get one before you are ready. Best of luck to you.
Jumana on August 23, 2018:
I lost my female English bulldog.
I miss her so much have difficult to replace her with a new dog.
My husband and sons are insisting to get me a new breed that can be with me all the time and even travel buy plane.
I’m still not ready
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 12, 2018:
I would wait until the older one passes. A new dog could be most stressful for the 15 year old. After the old one passes give the younger one some time to grieve before introducing another dog - yes, dogs grieve. You'll have to judge by the younger ones behavior if it's a good time or not. It may mope around and be depressed for a while. Ask a friend with a dog to come visit and see how it responds. Best wishes to you.
riczaj01 on July 12, 2018:
How should we introduce a new dog to our house. We have 2 dogs, a 15yr old (senile, who likely will need to be put down soon) and a 5yr old (who's been around the 15yr old for 4.5yrs). Should we get one before to be introduced or wait until after? The 2 are very close and when one is away the other becomes anxious and paces we want to avoid any undo stress on the younger dog.
Mary on July 05, 2018:
My chihuahua recently passed away. I want to get another dog because I feel lonely and miss my routine of walking her, feeding her, and sleeping with her but I’m not sure if I should get another one? I feel that it is wrong to get another dog and I worry that I might not be happy with the new dog as I have read many articles how it does not work out for some people. I’m tired of being sad and I don’t know what’s the best thing to do?
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 15, 2018:
I agree with you, Gabriella. It is early. I don't know the details of how the accident happened but I hope steps will be taken to enclose the pool or set up a safe area away from it before getting another dog. So very sorry for your loss.
Gabriella on June 14, 2018:
my brother just got a new german shepard, she was amazing and sweet and we loved her so much, but unfortunatly when we were away she drowned in our pool, my borther is in the depression/anger stage right now he already passed the denial stage, however my mom is saying that we should get him her sister. But I think its too early, what should we do?
I miss my dog on May 24, 2018:
Recently my dog passed away, specifically on May first. She passed when she was 10 months, Not even a year old and she left this world. She was the nicest dog you would ever meet. She passed away due to a disease called renal dysplasia, followed by a UTI. I miss her so much but I want to get another dog soon. She was my first pet and I do not want her to be my last. Now wasting my time being upset and crying over her wouldn't be fair.Its unfair that I am wasting my life crying and being sad. Where some animals and people don't even get the chance to live for more than 10 months. Im sure Kai would want me to move on and be happy. I just don't know what I should get another dog
JaninaFrancesca on August 23, 2017:
I lost my beloved dog about a week ago.I've been very blessed to have him for 17 years,that's why pain is just too much!I've been crying everyday/night since, I'm even crying right now while typing this. I didn't lose a dog, I lost a brother.He was closest to me in the family,I was only 15 when we got him and he was a big part of my everyday. Now, a big part of my life and happiness is gone and I've never felt this kind of pain before.I went to work and I had a lot of blank moments even when I was walking to get a cab.We got him cremated and bought a very beautiful urn he deserves. But every time I see it(in the living room),it's as if my heart is being stabbed repeatedly. I keep thinking of getting a new dog who looks just like him but my sister told me not to because I will just hurt more. I really don't know what to do, I'm just really so broken right now.
Austin on July 26, 2017:
I can relate to this all too well as I lost my dog and it really hurt me because we had our dog for a long time and I had recently lost my mom so my dog stepped up and was there for me before losing his life which made grief on me so much harder I felt I was ready for another dog to help with the pain and I paid a nice price and was happy until we got home. A few hours later everything irritated me about the new dog and I remember just crying because I then knew in reality that I just got the dog for comfort that ended up making me feel worst. I ended up handing the dog over to my brother and his family since it wasn't fair to the new dog. It'll probably be a few years before I get another dog. I literally felt sick to my stomach.
Sad without pogo on June 06, 2017:
I never really liked dogs. Until my brother brought a month old pug to our house last august. I slowly started liking him and soon after I was in love with my dog. My whole family and relatives enjoyed his company. He was very active and playful. He died due to parvo virus when he was 4 months old. I miss him very much. Although I have accepted his death but still there are times when I can't control myself and cry. I feel lonely and miss him all the time. I want him back but that's unfortunately not possible. Should I get a new pug or not? What should I do? What if the new puppy also dies? I will be left devastated.
Susan (author) from Northern California on March 29, 2017:
Dear Confused, I understand your desire to get another dog right away - especially being through what you have been through. That's rough to lose 2 in such a short time. However, I agree with your wife to give it some time. I once counseled a woman who lost her dog and got another one immediately. She said she "hated" the new dog. What I suspect she really hated was that her new dog was nothing like her old one who she was still mourning. She wanted to re-home the new dog and I advised her to wait and instead take it to some obedience classes, go on long walks with the dog and take it with her when she ran errands. Long story short, she bonded with the dog and they both lived happily ever after. It doesn't always turn out this way but more often than not it does. You recognize the error was yours and not the new dog so why not give it a good chance? At the very least you will have a well-trained dog that will be a nice pet for someone else should you decide to re-home it. I hope it all works out for you both!
Confused on March 21, 2017:
I've lost 2 dogs in 5 months. I've been completely devastated. I can't sleep, I'm not taking care of myself like I should.
I've been searching for a puppy. Same breed as previously... I searched with a frenetic energy. I searched feeling as though I'd lost myself and had to find it.
I found a puppy, on Craig's list. I'm his second home. He is 8 weeks old. He was taken from mom and syblings at 6 weeks. He is lovely, he is a tiny boy, black lab, snuggly and sweet.
I've made a terrible mistake... I know better. I know dogs. I train dogs, I have 3 other dogs and I brought home a puppy I had no business getting. I also broke ever "how to get a dog rule"
What do I do now? What's the ethical answer? My wife wants me to wait a bit... I'm so confused. I don't want to make two mistakes... but idk what to do.
L Kimmett on January 29, 2017:
I have had dogs all my life and always waited a respectable amount of time before getting another pet. My last dog had to be put to sleep in Sept and by Thanksgiving weekend I had my new puppy. Not to replace my sacred pet but if you are going to get another dog someday anyway ' why wait? Your heart is broken and a new puppy can heal it faster than anything else in the world.
David H on January 25, 2017:
First off we are sorry for your loss, we know exactly what your going through, we lost our Sadie of 13 years 2 years ago on Thanksgiving day, she passed peacefully in her sleep yet it made the loss no less painful, she was our child, a full blood great Dane who we brought home at 6 weeks, a couple weeks we thought we should look for another companion, WOW !! We found a 7 week old black great Dane that looked exactly like our Sadie, down to the white toes on her left front foot.
The next 6 months were a page out of a horror novel, Sadie 2 ate our furniture legs, peeing all over the house would not potty train ! Ripped my leather sofa in my office to the point it was not repairable, she would run thru the house like a wild beast jumping over tables and knocking everything everywhere, we exausted every effort to train her , after 7 months she had to go , we gave her to a family that has a large farm in the country where Sadie 2 could not be happier, instead of grieving for our Sadie we jumped into a nightmare, it has been 2 years now and we are not considering yet another 4 legged companion, please if you can don't rush replacing your fur babie.
sara on June 07, 2014:
Ive lost so many pets over yrs my last one was a 3 month old kitten named tinker bell by a silly mistake she was a turtie only 2 days ago. I feel so damme depreesedand lost angry . We took her to he vet but she dies in my arms i kisses her goodby and said sorry. But i cant live wih theguilt its the 3rd kitten in the last 18 monthes . The first onr was memes my cats kitten she got hit by a car and got hit then we got a kitten straight after she fot out side and never came home. 9 months latter
We got tinker bell and 8 weeks later she get squashed by a mistake i cant beleive iy still.forgive me tinkerbell please sorry angle im so so so sorry please forgive me i dissapointed u so much. But i hope one time u can forgive me .ur a angle in heaven and i know ur in heaven with lassie 1989 tara2003 cheyenne 2006 chino latta and milo 2010 keggie 2013 and last and not least tinkerbell 2014 rest in peace all my angles may obe dat i will see u in heaceb i live u all and i know jesus lives u and has taken u to keep forever i hate pets dieing its terriable but every one looses a pet pray for them and they will love u all .no matter what the situatuon was ok god bless every one
sara on June 07, 2014:
Ive lost so many pets a 18 yr old
victoria on February 11, 2014:
my fiance and I were super excited and ready to get a puppy... we did and in five days she was crate and potty trained. I took her to see my dad and with out warning my sister's dog attacked and killed her. We could not save her I was helpless and watched her die. I have sooo much guilt I feel totally responsible for what happened...I couldn't save her and I'll never forgive myself.. after it happened I was given the puppys sister from her litter my family thought it was a good idea because they looked so much alike. After two days of torture I realized the relationship between me and this newpuppy was an unhealthy one and I was not being fair to her..so I gave her back. I'm grieving the loss of two pups I failed them both. Since the attack I've cried four days straight I cannot stop picturing the last time I saw my little puppy during the attack...I blame myself. A part of me believes a new puppy will help me heal.. I was thinking of visiting the shelter just to see if I feel okay around dogs again. But I feel guilty like I'm betraying my sweet little puppy. Should I feel this way? I was thinking maybe a new dog will honor her memory
Susan (author) from Northern California on August 30, 2013:
Give yourself time. Your loss is fresh and painful. Losing one in such a gruesome manner makes your grief all the worse. Feel it and know that it will pass. My best to you...
Marisol Zaldivar on August 28, 2013:
My 7 year old Pom was killed by a Pitbull two days ago at my job, i work in a grooming salon, and to avoid this dog on jumping at a customers dog that was on the table i didn't realized that my little one was behind me so i pulled him where she was and he grabbed her by the neck, i scream for help and grab the dog by the neck, the owner that was there he ran and tried to open his mouth but was impossible, finally after what it seemed forever he left her go, i grab her little body from the floor and ran to the vet next door, and minutes later they called me in to tell me her signs, she had broken ribs, a punctured artery , a punctured lung, and they were trying to keep her alive but she just didn't respond, he asked what i wanted to do, and i decided to stop trying to resucitate her i just wanted her to stop suffering. I asked if i could come and say goodbye, and they let me. I saw her little eyes closing while staring at me while i lay next to her, This has been the worst experience of my life. I feel depressed, angry with myself, with the owner for not telling me his dog was aggressive, with all the choices i made that day, and the worst part is that i have to come to work everyday, and everything reminds me of her, i haven't touch her donut bed that she was used to made when going to sleep, i have to walk by the area where it happened and i close my eyes , and when i go home is the same story again. I have another dog, a pitbull too, he is been getting train by me since he was a puppy. I just can't bare to be around him and not because he is also a pitbull, but because i was so use to have them both going up and down. And to see him walking without that little shadow right next to him it seems so abnormal, i feel incomplete i can't stop crying i feel like i am going crazy, i even start looking poms for sale yesterday that looked like her and then i start crying because they didn't have "that" spot right there or they didn't have her tiny little white paws, and i realized i don't want another one i want her, and i am never getting her back. At this point i understand now that will be unfair to get another dog if im looking to replace her, but if i ever want another one, how will i know that means that is me getting over my grief, or is my depression talking. Please i need help.
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 13, 2013:
Yes. It sure does hurt when our beloved pets die and I understand not wanting to feel it. There is no way to avoid it - unless you never have a pet. But then you would not get to experience all the joy that having one in your life brings. All that joy is what makes it so painful to lose them. I choose to deal with the pain their loss brings by remembering all the joy they brought to my life and by letting them go, albeit it sadly, with my heart full of gratitude. Don't be afraid to feel it. It will hurt and you will get through it and you can love another pet at some point when you are ready and experience the joy of a new friend. But for now, enjoy every moment with Copper. Best to you...
TheBigAnimation on June 12, 2013:
What should I do when my dog Copper passes away? He's 15 and my parents got him when I was just a baby, he's been with me my whole life... I'm turning sixteen in a few weeks, and I honestly don't know how I'm gonna take it when he dies. I could hardly take it when my hamster died and no one - not a human - in my family has ever died. So death hasn't really been experienced often. This article and other's comments have made me cry and really rethought about things - I just don't know what I'll feel when he passes... I'm scared D : I don't want to feel that pain...
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 10, 2013:
You are most welcome, Amanda. Losing a pet is hard, especially those who have been with us so long and we are particularly close to. Condolences for your loss. Best...
Amanda on June 08, 2013:
Thank you for this I really needed it. my pet passed away about a week ago. I got her when I was five and I basically just grew up having her with me. we've never been separated. it has been so hard; my parents are already trying to get a new dog, my heart would just not be in having a dog and to be quite honest I do not think I want I different pet. I need more time to grieve and this really opened up my eyes. thank you.
Rohan Shah on November 22, 2012:
My dog has been dead for 2 years now but I still
margot on November 01, 2012:
I lost my 6 year old doxie 2 days ago very unexpectedly she was my best friend I thought I would have her for a lot longer I really miss her but I want to get a new dog soon I have a 2 year old boykin spaniel who also seems to be missing her but is it to soon
Susan (author) from Northern California on October 29, 2012:
Thanks for sharing Jess D and I'm sorry for your loss. Your feelings do not make you a bad person. What you are feeling is normal. Since you ask the question, I'd venture a guess you are feeling guilt - which is a normal emotion that goes along with grieving. Give it a bit more time.
The situation between you and your father is out of my realm of expertise so I will just say that it can be quite difficult for dog lovers and those who don't share that love to come to a mutual understanding about having them in the home they share. It has been my experience that when it comes to teens and taking care of pets, your best bet is to prove yourself and your willingness to take the responsibility of pet ownership and care to your father. That will work better than any amount of talking to convince him you have changed.
Possibly take on some pet sitting jobs, or if there is a dog rescue in your area, commit to walking and training the dogs that are up for adoption. It will help out the rescue animals, give you some insight to their plights, more training experience, and possibly prove your dedication to your father. Best of luck.
Jess D on October 28, 2012:
Also, my dad isn't a fan of dogs and it took him a while to finally agree to get Polar. I asked him if we would ever get another dog and he said no, because he didn't think I would help out. I can admit I was pretty lazy with Polar, but I think that was because I took her for granted. I now have the experience and I would most definitely train, walk, feed, and do everything I could for my new puppy. He used to say that Polar was a good girl, even if he didn't like dogs. Is there any way I can change his mind? I think he's scared of the dog having accidents in the house, but I would try my hardest to make sure that didn't happen. I feel so lonely and incomplete without a dog in my life. I grew up with a dog and I feel like we should have another.
Jess D on October 28, 2012:
I just recently had to put down my 10 year old Bichon Poo, Polar, on the 23rd. I'm sixteen and she has been with me for about fourteen years. She had many kidney stones that were getting too big for her stomach. It was either put her through a traumatic surgery (which we didn't even have the funds for) or put her down before her quality of life was too low. We chose the latter, and I cried for a few days afterwards. She always used to sleep on my bed with me at night, and it was very hard the first night without her beside me. Is it bad that I feel like I am already over her death, though? I guess I just don't grieve as long as others. I really want another dog, but is that bad of me? It makes me feel like I never loved her--but I did! I'm not trying to replace her, I'm looking at a totally different breed, colour, and a male instead. Is this bad of me? I love Polar so much, but I don't feel guilty anymore. I just miss having a dog in the house and I would love to be able to watch another dog grow up happy. It all feels so weird because it has only been five days since she passed. I feel like a bad person.
Susan (author) from Northern California on October 17, 2012:
@ csev: First things first. Secure your environment. Figure out (you may already know) exactly how they got out and take steps to prevent a recurrence. Some of these creatures can be ingenious escape artists and as you painfully discovered, they haven't a clue as to the dangers they face. So sorry this happened to Ace and to you, my heart goes out to you. All we can do is our best.
As to when to get another, time is on your side. The anger and guilt you feel is understandable. Learn from it and move forward. Give yourself time. Once the guilt and anguish are gone, or at least substantially diminished, and escape possibilities secured, you'll be ready. Best...
csev on October 16, 2012:
I adopted a husky almost a month ago as a companion for my GSD. He was truly an amazing dog. Just as we we had settled in, he was ripped from my life. They managed to get out of the yard a few days ago, and my boy Ace was killed by a car. I mean I know I didnt have him that long, but the grief and guilt I feel is just unimaginable. He was only 8 months old, just 8 months! He never got a chance to live, which is the truly crushing part. I know I am in the grieving and anger stage right now, but I believe my gsd could use another companion. She wasnt really accepting of my husky at first, but over a course of a week or so, they seemed to be getting along just fine (albeit with some very aggressive playing that went on) How long would you recommend waiting before I pursued the matter of whether to get another dog or not?
barbartk on September 20, 2012:
I see what you mean. All I can do is wait I guess. I thought I went through the grieving process but I guess I am still looking for something to help get back my normal. Being sad is not in my nature. I try to avoid it at all costs. So looking for pets and looking at pets probably just gives me a little hope that normal can come again. Time is the only thing that will probably help. I guess at my age I just don't want to wait. I am going to sit him down and tell him what has been going on with me cause I hide it well and maybe he can see how it is affecting me and we can at least come to a compromise. I have gone to a shelter to ask about volunteering. It is a place I really don't think my husband could bear. He hates seeing pets in a cage. But maybe he would go for fostering that isn't a committment.
Well, at least I am not crazy!!
Susan (author) from Northern California on September 19, 2012:
@ barbartk: You are not crazy. I suspect your “obsession" has more to do with you trying to end your pain and fill a void that you and your husband are still feeling rather than a readiness to move forward with a new dog. It has been my experience that if one in the home is not yet ready for another pet it is best to wait. A person's grief and time of mourning cannot be forced. It is different for individuals and we all need to be allowed the time needed to process it – be it a couple of weeks, months, or years. That is difficult when there is more than one person who was close to the pet and their grieving times do not coincide. I agree that at 61 you should be able to do what you want – and that includes making a compassionate choice to allow your husband more time to process his loss.
My advice to you is to stop searching for the time being. Allow yourself to feel everything you are feeling, the loneliness, the resentment and anger, and know that it will eventually lessen and pass. Don’t react to it, just observe it,then let it go. Once you are *both* through the grieving process and are certain you are ready to move forward, that is the time to start searching for a new companion.
The other thing I have suggested in the past that worked for some people who had differing grieving times in the same household was to volunteer to be a dog walker for the local rescue organization in the interim. You help the animals, the organization, and yourself all at once. Possibly make a donation of some sort to your local rescue organization in Maggie’s memory if that works better for you.
These creatures are truly gifts to us in this life, though we have them with us for such a short time. It can hurt terribly when they are gone.
And please, take what you need from this advice and discard the rest. Everyone is different. Only you know what works best for you and your family. My best to you…
Susan (author) from Northern California on September 19, 2012:
My apologies. I don't know what is going on with this hub but my comment did not show up as I intended and when I edited it, it still published the original, very long comment. Now it tells me my comment is hidden. I will check this again in a few hours and see if I can correct it then. Sorry if it causes any distress. :-/
barbartk on September 19, 2012:
My husband and I lost our beautiful golden Maggie in April 2012. She was 10 and it was unexpected as we did not know she had a brain tumor. She was so important to my husband and me and we were known as Grammy, Pop Pop and Maggie. We were 3 not 2 and we took her everywhere. My husband was so close to her and now that she is gone there is no "normal" with out her. I have talked with him about a new puppy but he says he could never go through that kind of pain again and that how could we just replace her. So I suffer in silence because it created a big argument. I now am so obsessed with looking at Goldens, websites for puppies, Spca, Rescues and such I really feel like I am loosing it. I am so lonely with out her and I want so desparately to have another pet. I will not say anything to him cause I don't want another argument. I am becoming resentful because I am 61 years old and should be able to get a dog but I can't. Is this a grieving process and not an obsession? I don't know but its really consuming my day and I can't think of anything else.
Just wondered am I going crazy?
Jennifer R. on September 13, 2012:
I just lost my Golden very unexpectedly, he was only 4 years old and we believe he had an underlying condition we did not know about. I feel so much grief that I can't stand it, he was really my rock. My relatives are urging me to get another dog to help with the pain, but I don't think I can. I just keep thinking "they're not him" and I know that's not the right way. I think I'll wait, as long as it takes. Thanks for this article.
mike on September 06, 2012:
Thanks for the advice...much appreciated
Susan (author) from Northern California on September 06, 2012:
@mike. No. Wait until your older pet is no longer with you. Bringing in a young boisterous pup can be very stressful on an aged pet - no matter how much energy she seems to still possess. She is set in her ways and used to the other pets you have there. She knows what to expect each day and finds comfort in that. If she were a couple years younger I would advise to get an older adult of at least 4 years if you were set on bringing in another dog, but for one this age, it is best to wait.
mike on September 05, 2012:
^…but i dont want my old friend to think im replacing her
mike on September 05, 2012:
I have three cats and a dog who is 13 and was wondering ig i should wait to get a new dog or get one while she is still here....she has a heart of a puppy and seems to get jealous when my one cat who she has grown with plays witn the younger cats ...mainly was wondering if she could use a companion to play with in her old age
jaymetal on August 18, 2012:
2 days ago, August 16th, 2012, i lost the best friend i think one could hope for. He was my everything and as a result, his death has left me nothing short of alone and devastated. He was a beautiful black and white domesticated handsome boy i called Chad. We lived together for a happy 11 years. Everything went down rather quick. I found some mass of lumps on his hind front leg and under the arm pit that turned out to be my worse nightmare. The big C word had come to claim my boy. I cried and cried and have not stopped. My heart is sore from the pain and grief. My stomach feels like i was run over by a bull dozer. I tried holding on to him as strongly as my love would allow. He got where he wanted to hide, because i think he knew he was dying. I would retrieve him and put him in bed with me. I put his water bowl in the bed and he would drink like there was no tomorrow. Well, for him it wasn't many tomorrow's left. He lost his zest for life. He looked at me so pitifully. I hugged him and cried. I told him of how deep my love was for him. I read him a poem i wrote for him. I took him to my grandmother's graveside and i talked while he listened silently in his carrier. I fed him his last taste of tuna juice the night before. He use to always run when he heard the can opener. He would run no more. I carried it into the bedroom and placed it on the bed in a paper plate. He licked up some, but ignored the rest. I continued to lie with him and cried and i tried not to move him much because of a more recent sound he was making that made me think he was starting to hurt. I wept out loud. I WAS and still feel his loss. I took him in to the vet on Thursday. Along the way i played for him a song from my ipod by Rob Thomas. It is called Now Comes The Night. A song to me which sings about life, love, hanging on to one another and being there for each other at the coming hour of our final goodbye. I applied it to my boy Chad. I cried again and petted his cheeks while i drove. We got to the vet and it was no time they took me into the back. She explained what she was going to do with the needle and i grabbed him and loudly said, I LOVE YOU CHAD! I LOVE YOU SWEETHEART! I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER ALWAYS ALWAYS! Then she did it and i lost it. I bet everyone in the building could hear my pain and grief as i released it. I could not care at that moment. To see my boy's head gently fall and his body went limp. I spent the next 50 minutes with him. Crying and holding on to his semi warmth. I wailed out in the worse pain i have ever felt in my life. He was my first ever cat. I grew to love him so deeply through the years. We had some pretty tight times. Lots of smiles. He was a good boy. I can't fault him for much but being a sweetheart of a boy. I'm grieving so and i haven't even gotten the ashes back yet. Round 3 i guess. I know i have a heart, because it is broken into sharp fragments of jagged confusion and pain. Chad, i will love you till i take my last breath. You are on my mind alot and i can't look at all the wonderful pictures i took of you through the years just yet. Will i ever? You were my everything. RIP my little man. I love you with all my being!
Susan (author) from Northern California on August 03, 2012:
@George - nor should you try to duplicate it. Keep his memory close to your heart. I hope that you will let yourself love again after mourning your loss. I too have Dobermans and lost a cherished friend a few months ago. She will never be replace but I do want to create more fond memories with another one at some point - not expecting them to be the same or even similar. I love having these magnificent creatures in my life. Best...
George on August 02, 2012:
Lost my incredibly goofy and handsome Doberman Rudy unexpectedly. I have not had a cry free day in 3 weeks. From 6 weeks to 9 1/2 years, he was my best friend. I have had a dog in my life for 36 years but after Rudy I won't even consider another dog. He was a special dog, so much personality and we shared a unique bond, that I don't think would or could ever be duplicated. Miss and love you bud...my Roo-Roo.
Susan (author) from Northern California on August 01, 2012:
It is unlikely he will let himself starve to death - unless there is an underlying medical cause why he is not eating. I still suggest what I did before, give him extra attention, play games with him, take walks. That should help bring him through his mourning and stimulate his appetite. Best...
jasmine on July 27, 2012:
Once again thnx ;) we're just worried about taz he's lost alot of weight. He now only weighs 73 pounds. Do you have any ideas on how to get him to eat more or maybe a tasty dog food brand you would suggest?? LEX 2002-2012 Forever Happy in Rainbow Bridge
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 27, 2012:
That is hard to say. Normally, I advise people with older dogs to NOT get a puppy. They just annoy the older pet who does not have the energy level & patience, that a young adult dog will have around a youngster. Nor do they enjoy the same activities and all the nonsense that goes along with a young pup. People often mistake the senior dog's *tolerance* of all the lip biting, body slamming, and pouncing that a young pup does as a sign the senior likes it. More likely it is the good nature and tolerant attitude of the older dog they are seeing - not that senior actually *enjoys* it. I like to see people get a young to middle aged adult dog if they are looking for a companion to their senior dog. They are usually more compatible in terms of activity level, games enjoyed together, and personality. There are plenty available who need a good home and a friend. :-)
jasmine on July 26, 2012:
Thanx :).do you think getting a new puppy would help???? Even though he is 9 years old taz is VERY active an full of joy. Well he was until we put lex down. :( do you think a new puppy would help?????? LEX 2002-2012 Forever Happy in Rainbow Bridge
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 26, 2012:
@jasmine: Some dogs mourn too when they lose a friend. Some more than others. Give Taz extra attention. Take him out for walks and try to engage him in some play - but don't overdo. Let him have his time to grieve too. He will get better. He's just processing and adjusting to his loss too. Dogs will also react to the energy in the household. If you and your family are depressed and grieving, Taz can pick up on that and feel bad right along with you. Again, take Taz for some nice leisurely walks, even day outings to someplace different so that his mind is engaged. Best of luck.
jasmine on July 25, 2012:
I did but it probably didnt show up.i got my husky lex wen i was 3 an his friend a rottweiler 2 months later. When lex was little he broke his leg. It grew back crooked an the vet said there was nothing to do. He ended up getting arthiritis. On july 5 2012 he could no longer walk. We decided the best thing 2 do would be to put him to sleep so we did ;(. I am now 13 an lost my best friend/ first dog after only 10 short years. I miss him so much. We wer considering getting a new dog an english mastiff in particular so it doesnt seem as if wer replacing him. Taz the rottie hasnt been acting the same after his death he has lost about 20 pounds an wont eat much nor play any suggestions on what 2 do for him???? LEX 2002-2012 Forever Happy in Rainbow Bridge
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 24, 2012:
@jasmine: Probably because you didn't ask me a question. :-) There are many comments on this piece that I wrote over two years ago so I now usually comment on specific questions or requests for advice. I keep the comments open however, so people like yourself who have lost a beloved pet can publicly voice their grief, as you did. I am sorry for your loss. Best wishes to you...
jasmine on July 23, 2012:
Why wont susie reply to my comment? Written by jasmine about lex 2 weeks ago.
Justin on July 22, 2012:
I apologize for the grammatical errors in my overly long and rambling post. My mind just is not on the ball as of late.
Justin on July 22, 2012:
On July 15th my pet bearded dragon, Marvin of seven years died. I do not know how old he was when I acquired him in November of 2005, but based on his size I'd say he was hatched in early to mid 2004. The original owners had no clue how to raise a dragon and he was terribly mistreated. He had a clear case of metabolic bone disease and had not eaten in three weeks when we got him which is why we named him Starvin Marvin. He had bone deformities on his jaw and tail as well as a mal formed front left arm or it had been broken and never healed right. We nursed him back to health and found him to be a inquisitive and funny little guy. His reptilian features made him look like he had a perpetual grin on his face. We let him roam free and he had a gentle and friendly personality. He was with me thru some very rough times in my life, switching jobs twice, losing my nice apartment and finding myself a few grand in debt. He was a constant with me. Starting in 2011 his apatite started to diminish. Slowly his health imperceptibly began to diminish. He seemed to bounced back a little in the summer but once the winter of 2012 got going he health began to decline visibly. He started to fall over and not be able to right himself, he lost his muscle tone. I learned that I had been supplementing his diet with the wrong kind of calcium and made correcting measures. I tried to vary his diet but he always was a picky eater. The spring and early summer he was starting to bounce back, he was hunting on his own again and could get meal bugs and crickets on his own. We found we could position his tank to get some early morning sunshine and he seemed to perk up a lot. Then on the morning of July 15th I found him dead. I can not shake the thought that had I been more on the ball and less absorbed in my own projects and troubles in 2011 I could have arrested his health's decline. I feel I killed my little scaly buddy threw neglect. I know he was old, at least 8 and maybe more and never was in good health. He had chronic issues steaming from his mis treatment in young. For example he never shed properly, doing so only splotchy, here and there. This resulted in a build up of dead skin that eventually resulted in the lost of the last 3 inches of his tail in 2009. I had to cut off the necrotic flesh myself. I though he was dying then and each year he made it thru was a year that surprised me. Now he is truly gone. I know they say reptiles can not feel emotions but I think he could to a limited extent. He knew I was his source of food and protector and I failed him. A bearded dragon can last 12 even 15 years, he should have had more life in him. I recently when out and put a deposit on a new dragon, only four days after Marvin's death. I purposefully sought out a young female that looks nothing like Marvin that is in a scene also a rescue. She got a cricket leg stuck in her mouth as a juvenile. The pet shop owners both experience dragon breeders had to surgically remove it. Now she is very shy of being handled tho does look the attention of people. I am wonder if I am making a mistake. I know she can't replace Marvin, nothing can. I just miss something terrible and feel I have to prove that I can properly care of a dragon.
Elyse on July 18, 2012:
I lost my 1 year old dog 8 weeks ago to parvo. After three days, the vet thought she was improving and that because she wasn't a puppy anymore she would recover. On the third night she was looking for my boyfriend and laid down next to the couch where she can see the whole house. Wanting to keep her company I laid down next to her, petting her and cuddling her and telling her she'll be better soon. She took a nap in my arms and after a little while I fell asleep too. When I woke up an hour later she had already passed away. I went through all stages of grief; denial until I held her urn after the cremation, anger at people who don't properly take care of their wonderful and healthy dogs, barganing and begging God to let her come walking up the driveway, major depression as she came into my life while I was going through tough transitions-graduation and saying goodbye to many close friends, and acceptance that death was more peaceful for her than the disease she was suffering though. I was able to talk about my memories of her and be grateful for the year I was able to have her in my life- even if it was too short. Two weeks ago my boyfriend said he wanted another puppy- he missed having a pet since during the week we have opposite schedules and are often home alone. He found a local family looking for homes for their pups and when we met them we instantly fell in love with our newest puppy Sunshine. Despite cleaning everything and boxing up our old dogs things, I was worried that the new puppy would catch parvo too- so far she hasn't! She is a complete joy in my life and I believed I was ready for her until she got an infection and colitis. The vet says its very treatable with antibiotics but to see her sick was like ripping open my old wounds. I'm not ready to watch another puppy suffer through bouts of diarrhea and tummy problems. I am hoping every day that she make a full and speedy recovery.
Mark on July 18, 2012:
They say everything happens st once. My wife has just been made redundant and returned home after attending 2 interviews on Monday morning to find our 5 year old basset dead. She called me at work and I rushed home to find her lying in her bed cold, we suspect either a heart attack or an aneurysm. It was completely out of the blue, she was fit and healthy, there no signs whatsoever, she had been walked that morning and eaten her breakfast. I could have accepted it if she had been older or ill. I miss her so much and I want my friend back so badly. I found myself looking for another dog online today -local breeders and rescue centres- but I know that it is far too soon, it's a natural reaction to want to find something to fill the void. I really liked the article and it's gret that people have taken time to share their thoughts.
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 11, 2012:
@Kiaa. You sound like a very level headed person. At 16, you have little choice but to honor your parent's wishes. Owning a dog can be very hard on a tight family budget. Your parents want to be able to provide proper care to a dog and if they know they cannot due to budget issues, they are being responsible parents and citizens by not getting one.
If you earn your own money and feel you are ready for a pet, do sit down and have a discussion with your parents and be prepared to show them what you can contribute towards the care of a new dog - and if they go for it, make sure you honor your part of the deal. If it doesn't work for them, you will need to wait. But that is okay too. Finding patience can be difficult but know that it won't be forever. Best of luck...
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 11, 2012:
@Lisa. Yes. You are doing the right thing. Dogs do sometimes mourn the loss of their buddy. Give her extra activities - as long as she is enjoying them. Also recognize that she may want extra "down" time too.
Lisa on July 11, 2012:
We lost our 7 yr old lab/shepard mix last friday. He died of a massive heatattack in my arms. We have come to terms with the fact that God had other plans for him but right now we are worried about our other dog. They were both adopted from the shelter together and were pretty close. Now she is sleeping alot and not eating a whole lot. I have been trying to give her something to look forward to like a walk just the two of us, and even just special car rides. As of right now I am trying to take it slow with her she is about 8 years old and let her come to realization of what's going on. Am I doing the right thing?
Kiaa on July 11, 2012:
Hi I’m 16 and my dog passed away 3 weeks ago she was a minture pincer and was about 13, it was the worst day of my life, because she was my best friend and all of a sudden she was gone. For the few days after all i did was blame my self for not looking after her as well as i should have. i think i came up with every reason in the world to blame my self until about a week ago i finally accepted that she was just old and that 13 is a really long time for a dog, and there was really nothing else i could have done. I still miss her badly and every night i just wish for one more cuddle to hold her in my arms and tell her i love her. Everyday i say something to my mum about her like remember when she did this or when we did that, and i guess its just me trying to remember all the good times we had together.
But over the past couple of day i keep talking about other dogs and i have even been looking online and in pet shops at other dogs, except every time a see a cute dog I think about buying and brining in to my family makes me a little sad because I feel a little bit as if I am not honoring my past dog yet I still want another dog, but my parents won't let me get another dog because we cant afford it which makes me even sadder because i just need a friend to cuddle and tell everything to and it makes me miss my dog even more. Im not sure if I should keep looking at other dogs and save up my money to buy one or just wait longer, any advice?
jasmine on July 07, 2012:
I was 3 when i got my husky. He was diagnosed with arthiritis. He got spooked on the 4th of july an busted down the fence. We had to put him down the next day because he couldn't walk. I feel like it is all my fault. I want a new dog an so does his bestfriend a rottie named taz. Lex will always be special to me he was my baby. I am now thirteen. His 10 bday was only in a few days. Im soo sorry lex ;(
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 07, 2012:
@Shae3 - You have beautifully illustrated what it is like when one comes out the other side of grief, feeling the acceptance and peace that comes when one is ready to move forward out of mourning and open their heart again to new love. For myself and all who stop by here, I offer thanks to you for sharing your experience. It will no doubt be of help to those who are not sure if they are ready yet or not. Best of luck and much happiness with your new companion.
Shae3 on July 07, 2012:
I'm 20 and lost my 14 year old poodle just over a year ago. Clyde was given to us after being poorly treated, he soon became my little brother ( being an only child) and, my life. Not a day goes by where I don't miss him, " the decision" was heart breaking, and the pain that I've continued to feel is indescribable.
BUT, now i can actually talk about him and smile, knowing how lucky I am to have spent my time with such a loving "little man." Mind you, I get very teary and some weeks are worse than others.
I had been dog hunting, missing the companionship, missing something to love and stumbled across the rainbow bridge poem plus this amazing column months ago, which I give a very big thank you for . All of the dogs i was researching, just weren't right. They weren't Clyde. I wasn't ready.
Time does heal, and sure enough, I'm picking up a little pup ( different breed ) tomorrow. Im not one to melt at every puppy I come across, but there is something about this little girl that I've fallen for.
I will never replace Clyde, or ever stop loving him. However, opening up my heart to new adventures will be the best thing. Understanding that loss is a part of this " roller coaster" life and coming to terms with that, is key for me. I'm certainly going to cherish whatever amount of time I am given with this little girl. :)
After reading through many of these posts over the year, I wish the same for all of you too. :)
Susan (author) from Northern California on July 01, 2012:
Oh dear! That is a freak accident. I have heard many times of dogs having odd accidents - just like we people have. Such a sudden loss can be quite devastating. With a new baby and dealing with a recent pet loss, you need some time. I'm sure your feelings run the gamut right now and likely conflict with each other between the joy of the recent birth and the loss of your dog. Guilt is likely sandwiched somewhere in between. It is normal and will pass. Be kind to yourself and take your time. You will be ready again and you will know when it is time. Best of luck...
Elizabeth on June 30, 2012:
Thank you so much for your hub and the time you take for everyone's comments. We lost our Australian Shepherd black lab mix 3 weeks ago this past Wed. He was chasing something through our woods and impaled himself on a stick. Such a sudden unexpected freak accident. The stick wasn't even attached to anything. I raised Jack from a puppy and he would have been 5 July 21. I delivered our new son the day after Jacks death. Do you think this may have hindered my keepmi picturing him meeting me in the driveway as I pull in. I REALLY miss him. I caught myself looking for a dog "just like him" so I'm glad I read your posts. Do you think I will ever be ready for another companion? My oldest daughter asked me not to get another dog....she said the loss was too painful. The other two haven't really said much.
Savanna on June 27, 2012:
We adopted a shelter puppy on 06/05/2012 and he died 06/21/2012. He was two months old, and I named him Jack. After several vet visits, we didn't find out that he had distemper until his very last visit. I held his little paw until he stopped breathing, and even though I know I did the right thing, I still feel guilty at the fact that if I had caught the distemper sooner, he could have made it. I really would like a new companion because being an only child, I get pretty lonely. My parents will support whatever I decide to do, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to get a new puppy yet or not.
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 25, 2012:
@Lola. I appreciate you reading and commenting on my article. I do need to point out to you and others who may read this, I did not in any way advise to "just find a totally different dog." Perhaps you read another article and mistakenly attributed this quote to me? I did write that "Some folks purposely look for a different color, sex, or breed (maybe even a different species) so as not to confuse the new one with the old one in their minds." People have different ways of dealing with pet loss and this was but one example and not my specific advice.
I understand your pain and anger. Loss of a beloved pet can be very hard to cope with. My best to you in your search.
LolaMontez on June 24, 2012:
Susie, the problem I have with your advice here, is that if a person has a purebred dog of some kind (or a cat for that matter), you can pretty well replace a Pomeranian with a Pomeranian, or a miniature red dachshund with another miniature red dachshund or a Siamese cat with another Siamese cat.
I once read an article by a man who had had 3 identical dachshunds, all named Max. He said "the dogs didn't care, but it gave HIM a feeling that his original dog was still there, 30 years on".
However, there is no similar comfort if you lost a unique dog or a "heinz 57 mutt" or one with unusual markings, or temperament.
Your advice to "just find a totally different dog" might work for some people, but cause others an increased sense of grief and loss -- and I fear, impatience and then rejection of the "new" dog who is so different. (This is a bit less so for cats, as cats don't vary as greatly in appearance.)
We lost our beautiful border collie last week; she was almost 12 but that is young for a BC. She had some health issues, but nothing that should have killed her so suddenly (she died in her sleep). We are utterly devastated. We got her at a local shelter, and we can't afford to buy a purebred border collie; even the "border collie rescues" are really more than we can pay.
The whole shelter industry has changed greatly in the past decade, and it seems more people are competing for fewer dogs -- good for the dogs, not so good for the adoptees. The kennels I have visited are full of nothing but angry-looking pit bull mixes and abused dogs -- I have pity for them, but they are not suitable for us. They don't even have puppies anymore, just older dogs.
The only thing that would comfort us would be to replace our darling BC with another very similar BC -- younger and healthier of course -- but the same kind of temperament and personality. And that seems increasingly impossible. We've been to every shelter in a 100 mile radius of our home; we can't afford to travel much further than that.
We have only seen one adoptable BC in all that time, and even the shelter warned us off of her aggressive and unsocialized behavior. We never even got to see this dog, BTW -- a border collie rescue got her before we could get there (5 hour round trip).
So this has only INCREASED our grief and suffering. I wish you'd address this. If only they could affordably clone dogs! I just don't think we will ever be happy again, or have our family again and we are just absolutely desolate.
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 23, 2012:
In the past when I placed pups/dogs it was my policy that if BOTH partners were not on the same page as to getting a new pet, I didn't let the dog go. If the two of you don't *yet* agree, I say wait - for the sake of the dog. People do not process the grief the same nor at the same rate. Your wife is ready again for the happiness a dog will bring to her life. You are not there yet. This is normal. Please don't let it come between you. Let your wife know in a kind way that you need more time to grieve and will keep her desires in mind while you come to terms with the loss. Possibly suggest to her that in the meantime she might volunteer to be a dog walker for the local rescue. That will give her a short "fix" of doggy love until you are ready and will help dogs in the shelter too.
Additionally, keep in mind that loss is a fact of life and there is no way to avoid it or the ensuing pain. With our dogs who naturally have a shorter lifespan than humans, it is the price we pay for the immeasurable amount of happiness they bring to our daily lives. Don't deny yourself such happiness for fear of the pain of loss. Personally, my life would not be as fulfilling if I didn't have a dog. Best to you both...
leo on June 22, 2012:
We put our dog down about a month ago. He was as all our dogs are to each of us, "the best." I feel like I have a hole in my heart and don't want to think about getting another dog but my wife keeps saying how much she wants another dog. She says she's not trying to replace our dog but it feels that way to me. I just know I'm not ready and feel like I don't want bear the pain of loss again
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 21, 2012:
That is a hard one to answer since I don't know the whole story and what lead up to the final fight. Dogs fight and kill for varying reasons. When something awful like this happens, we need to remember they are dogs and not humans. They do not have the same moral reasoning that we do. You will want to gain some understanding about this situation before taking action - unless of course this dog is a danger to you and any other pets you may have. Protect yourself and them first, if that is the case. Get a GOOD trainer/behaviorist to talk over the situation and hopefully gain some insight. That will help you with the direction you need to go in. Best...
Brandon Reid on June 21, 2012:
i reasently have delt with a loss of my dog he got into a fight with another one of my dogs who was much bigger than him and i just don't know what to do with the dog that killed him every time i look at him im reminded of the horrable event i just don't know what to do someone please help me.
Susan (author) from Northern California on June 05, 2012:
@Stephanie: 12 years is quite a good long life for most dogs of medium to larger build. I do understand your pain and anger in this situation. These are honest, valid emotions. It is so hard to judge when the right time is to let our pets go. If in your parents shoes, I would have made the same call they did.
Yes, Raider may have been able to live a while longer. But to what end? That is usually the question I ask myself before deciding to put a pet down. If doing it a little bit sooner will prevent a traumatic end full of suffering for the dog, I opt to let them go out on a good note. I have seen situations where a pet has been coaxed through some trying health issues to buy the people a few more months, days, moments, with their pet friend, only to have the pet's life end horrifically, searching out a vet in the middle of the night or weekend to end the poor creature's agony. I try to spare the pet what I can.
Please try to find it in your heart to understand and forgive your parents for what was ultimately a great kindness they did for Raider. Much better to remember his attributes rather than the indelible memory of his suffering.
And, I hate to say this but have seen it far too many times, some clinics will encourage people to go to any and all means to save a pet. Some will make the client feel guilty for not doing more. It's how they keep their doors open. Not saying this was the case here - nor at most clinics. I'm just saying I have seen this happen and have talked to numerous people who experienced it at the their chosen clinic. It's something to be aware of.
Your feelings are quite normal and though it seems it can never happen, yes, you will get over the pain. It's all part of the normal grieving process. Give yourself some time.
Stephanie on June 05, 2012:
I am 23 years old and have had Raider since I was 11. I was a military brat and we moved around a lot. He was my one consistent and best friend throughout all of this. Yesterday, we had to put him down. He had Cushing's disease and it had deteriorated rapidly. We put him on some medication for a week and the side affects were terrible, though it did stop the seizures. My parents decided to put him down instead of trying another medication or level of the medication. I wanted to try more, and the vet even thought we should. My parents decided to put him down because they didnt' want him to be a guinea pig and wanted him to die while he still had a good quality of life/before it got worse. I'm angry they wouldn't try more, and I can't believe he is really gone. I know I couldn't make the decision they did and I know he didn't understand what was going on. I don't think he was ready to go. Saying goodbye to him as we put him to sleep is the hardest thing I've done in my entire life. Waking up without him next to me has been devastating. I'm not sure if I really have a question in this, I just wish I could have him back and have more time with him. Is this normal? Will I ever get over this pain? Right now my husband is stationed elsewhere and I can't see him either so I feel like I have nobody to comfort me. It is so hard right now. I was hoping to go visit him in August and bring Raider with me. Losing him right now was so unexpected and sudden. My parents decided the morning of that it was time to let him go. I barely had time to spend with him after the decision before we had to say goodbye and I feel like I'll never be able to cope with this.
aria on June 01, 2012:
I lost my most precious baby girl at 4 about 15months ago, I loved her so much but my grieving process was double, because she was killed by my other dog, which had to be put down a few days later, i am to this day still very heartbroken and cry every time I think of her. I did resent my other dog and I could come to turn with things for a long time, I had two more dogs at the time, one of which didn't take the loss well at all he stood by her body and cried, the other one didn't want to look at us for days and stayed in his bed. My dogs were never dangerous they were sweet and good dogs. I have in the past gone to look for a puppy but I felt bad and left, I think I'm ready now, I know nothing will ever replace her, I've looked at the same breed and the same colour as well as a different color, I don't ever want to dishonor her memory, I want to start fresh, my dogs I have I love but I've always felt the presence a small dog is missing. What should I do? Should I go ahead with the purchase or not get one at all, I want her to know that I forever love her, is till have all her things and don't let anyone touch them, I feel I want to do over my mistake and care for a puppy and do the thing I missed out on doing with her, she was my rock through everything, I hate admitting it but I loved her more than any other of my dogs, she was such a happy beautiful girl everyone loved and she loved everyone
Susan (author) from Northern California on May 27, 2012:
anonymous, I am so sorry for your loss. The first time you lose a special friend is very hard. Give yourself some time to grieve. It is supposed to hurt, a new dog will not make you feel less sad. It might be a distraction for a bit but you still need time to mourn your loss of Journey. Please trust me on this - you will feel better in time and that is when you should think about getting another dog. Best of luck...
Anonymous on May 26, 2012:
I am 11 years old and my first pet ever, a Golden Retriever, Journey, died at 3 this morning. I keep hearing her walking, but then i realize its my imagination.Today i went to give her my bread crusts, and when i found out she wasn't there,i went into my room and sobbed. We had to put her down at age 13,and i feel like i really need a new dog. My mom doesn't want another, because we were lucky with Journey. She never left the yard, and wasn't any trouble. I feel like if i don't get a new dog soon, i'm not going to be happy. My dog was literally my bff,and put up with everything. What do i do??
Rebecca on May 21, 2012:
I am writing to see if anyone can give me any advice to help me overcome the pain and grief I am experiencing. I lost my beloved Bichon, Lilli last month. She was without a doubt my most treasured companion. She became a member of my family 6 months after the untimely death of my dog Robbie. I was quite ill when Robbie died and I was hospitalized as a result of my additional emotional loss. My family was quite supportive and after 6 months of recovery and healing I decided I was ready to take the leap and bring another companion into my life. I did my research and decided a Bichon was the breed for me. I had only one wish for my new friend, that she would be a companion for me.
I named my new puppy Lilliput, Leap of Faith,” Lilli “for short. She lived up to her name every day of her life. I experienced such happiness with her. She adored performing her tricks for everyone but was always at my side, sleeping with me, sitting on the sofa with me and wherever I was in the house, she was there. She developed a cataract at age 3 and even after surgery she lost the vision in her right eye. She had years of expensive treatments to retain the eye and protect the vision in her other eye but went on to live many healthy happy years. She began developing heart problems at around age 13. I did everything possible to help her with the help of our wonderful vets. She lived 6 to 9 months longer than expected because of the care I provided. I made her food from scratch, managed her medications and spent as much time as I could caring for her. In spite of her health, she was always with me. She became quite slow and because of her poor vision would sometimes get “stuck” next to a chair or between furniture and the wall. I will never forget the image of her slowly walking around the house trying to keep up with me as I cleaned or cooked for her. I often picked her up and carried her to the next room to save her the trouble of looking for me. I became quite sensitive to where she was and it was second nature to realize she wasn’t with me, so off I would go to find her in the house. I had to go outside with her because she became disoriented with the lack of visual clues in the grass.
I knew she wouldn’t be with me for much longer and had prepared a local home care vet to come and help her out when her quality of life declined too much. Unfortunately my vet was unavailable when her condition deteriorated suddenly. Even though I knew how much she hated to be in the crate or the car, I drove her to the vet for help out of her crisis. Even though the event had been scary and stressful for her, I held her and talked to her as she slipped away.
I miss her so much. Everything in the house reminds me of her: all the cooking tools I used to make her food, the special items I used to keep her from getting lost, the bedding I used to make it possible for her to be able to sleep in the bed with me. I feel a huge hole in my life. I know she had a wonderful long life and I feel privileged to have shared it with her. I have set up “Lilli’s Garden” in my yard and have her ashes in a special container to keep with me forever. I still find myself in tears, especially when I use the tools I used to help her and our life together.
I am not sure if I should try to find another special friend to share my life with and fill the void I feel or if I should wait. I am 62 years old and am afraid to wait too long to get another dog so I have the time to devote to this friend and be there for him/her.
Susan (author) from Northern California on May 16, 2012:
@Andrew: Well, it's hard to say whether your dog would be alpha or not since he is the only dog and I don't know him personally. But he is elderly. Often people think the right thing to do is to get their aging pet a young buddy but more often than not it isn't wise. The exuberance and energy of a pup or younger dog often proves to be too much for the aging dog who lacks the stamina and physical ability (not to mention patience!) to keep up with or fend off the youngster. My advice is that if you are certain another pet is what is best for your situation and family right now, adopt an older pet - middle age and up, one that is quieter and will not pester the older dog too much.
As for your son and the future without the Herc, loss is a part of life. There is no way around the fact that it hurts. And as much as we want to spare our children any pain at all, it is often a valuable life lesson and an opportunity to teach good coping skills. You must make your response age appropriate, of course. In my household we experienced the loss of a beloved pet more often than most folks since we have always numerous pets at a time. I gently explained it to my kids and they cried, sometimes got depressed for a bit in their mourning but I felt it the best thing for me to teach them about it as youngsters. All grown up now with pets of their own, they still weep when they lose a pet but appreciate the time they spent with them. When we recently lost our Doberman, my 30 something son and I hugged and cried together. He grew up with her. Now, after the tears of grief have dried, we talk and laugh about the things she used to do and how wonderful she was. We also talk about getting another one in the not to distant future. I hope this helps you in some small measure. Best of luck...
Andrew on May 15, 2012:
I really like this article. I was hoping you can give me some advice about our situation. My wife and I have been married for almost 14yrs now and on our 1yr anniversary I bought our Miniature Pinscher "Hercules" from a breeder when he was only 8 weeks old. We picked him because when we held him in the palm of our hand, he litterally winked at us. We knew from that point, we had the dog we wanted. What originally started as an anniversary gift for my wife, eventually over time, turned into man's best friend. More importantly, MY best friend... In 2009 my wife and I were blessed yet again with the birth of our son. We wanted to hold off on having children while I finished my undergrad and after that, we wanted to do some traveling so in 2008, we decided it was time to start a family. Now my son AJ is 3 and Hercules is going on 13. In the beginning it didn't seem like my son cared for Hercules all that much but lately, they act as if AJ and Hercules grew up together. They play with each other often and when my son sits on the couch, he always asks me to have Hercules sit next to him. After we put our son to bed at night, Hercules sneaks into his room to sleep on the futon rather than in his own dog bed. My son picked up on that and now wants Hercules in the room when we put AJ to bed. All this is causing my wife and I to be concerned about the future... Just typing this out causes me to get emotional. I don't know how I am going to handle the inevitable. My wife suggested maybe getting a new dog now in hopes that it would ease some of the pain when the day comes. She thought it would also be a nice thing for Hercules as it can get lonely by himself while everyone is at work/school and the new dog can learn from Hercules (i.e. HouseBreaking) but after speaking to a good friend of mine, he said he's not sure if that would be a good idea. He said Hercules could take offense because Hercules is an Alpha dog. At this point I'm not sure what to do but what I do know is that when the day comes, I'm going to be a total wreck and I only hope God gives me the strength I need to be able to help my son. Susie, please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!
Susan (author) from Northern California on May 09, 2012:
Some people need a long time to grieve and process their loss, others don't need as much. I fall into the latter group. Sadly, I've had a lot of experience with this type of loss so I know what to expect. I have been breeding, showing, and training dogs for over 30 years and can process it fairly quick. But if this is a new experience for you and those closest to you are advising you to wait, you would be smart to at least consider their wisdom. I don't know what to say about the shelter folks except that they see dogs returned to them far too often and will try to avoid that. There is never harm in giving yourself more time. There is the possibility of a gross mismatch by moving too soon.
kelly on May 07, 2012:
i just lost my 13 year old dog and im already looking for another but im afraid to let the shelter know because they'll think its way to soon please i need your advice
Susan (author) from Northern California on February 01, 2012:
@how-to-make: Though I completely disagree one should run out and buy another pet just a few days after losing a best friend and without giving proper time to the grieving process, I do thank you for reading and for your differing opinion.
Pets cannot be replaced per se. They are individuals - just as all our human friends are unique, so to are our pets. And while we can love them as deeply, it is not exactly the same. We love them differently and for different reasons. But we do love again once we have healed from our loss. Thanks again for your comment.
how-to-make from India on January 31, 2012:
Its very hard to feel the grief for longer duration of time. I know as it really feel bad to any pet who was so close to us. Just after few days, you should buy another one to feel you a little better and then you would start loving your new pet as before.
Alistair on December 01, 2011:
I lost my beautiful Jack Russell Molly 2 weeks ago and I've never struggled with anything as bad as this in my life. She was hit by a car after running after a cat and stood no chance. She wasn't a typical wee Jack Russell in many ways as she was scared of so much and loved nothing more than cuddling up with myself and my wife in a warm house rather than running around outside. She was our little baby and was taken far too early, she was only 5. Ive done the whole blaming, being angry, not accepting it things but just cannot get over the thought that she will be so lonely without out us, I still worry about her even though she's gone. She was an absolute gem and helped me get over my bouts of anxiety that I used to get and also taught my mum to like dogs (she never used to like them) as she was so tender and loving. I miss her so much and don't know if I'll ever be able to get another dog as I fear forgetting my wee Molly.
wayne clarke on November 30, 2011:
i had to put my cat down today, she was only 5, my ex wife and i had 3 of them, all from the same litter, but she was the runt, had a lot of health problems, last going off her kidneys went, it has been the hardest thing i had ever had to do, i sure do miss her
Josh on November 15, 2011:
I thought I wanted a new pet. It's been 5 months and I thought I was over him until now... Been searching for a dog with a different breed and color so as to not "overwrite" my memory of him. Alas, everytime I go looking, I keep holding back - like there's something amiss. Turns out, all I want right now is my old dog back. He was my bestfriend... I might never get another dog again. It's just too painful!
Cheryl on November 13, 2011:
Wonderful article. I just lost my 2 1/2 year old toy poodle today. I cannot stop crying and hate the thought that someone would hit your dog and keep going. I cannot face the thought of getting a replacement for the family's best friend. No dog can do the tricks that she did,, and so lovable. My 9 year old is devastated. We will miss Milan always.
topsyo1 on November 13, 2011:
My beloved Roxy passed away not even a month ago. She was diabetic for 3 years but was then quickly diagnosed with liver cancer and rapidly declined to the point where i had to put her down. She was only 11 which is not too old for a Silky Terrier. She was my first dog and i am devastated by her loss. I ran out and bought another Silky Terrier with hopes to fill the void and fix all of the mistakes that i have made raising Roxy. The dog is great, wonderful but its a puppy and this makes me mourn Roxy even more because she was so smart and in tuned with what i was thinking as i was with her. Was it a mistake that i rushed out and got another puppy? Definitely... It will take me a good year to get him to the point where he understands anything. Although i didn't buy him to replace Roxy and just bought him to fill the void, it is only natural to compare the two of them and that s not fair to the new puppy. Roxy was the same way when she was a puppy but it took a while for us to form that bond (we actually hated each other in the beginning) . I hope i can have the patience to form a bond similar with the new guy but i miss my little girl so much. I'm embarrassed by the way i cannot handle it and how much her loss has taken over me. People just get sick of hearing me and i cannot blame them however i lost my child and I'm not dealing with it good at all.
Jenny on November 05, 2011:
Last year l had to say goodbye to my dog Bubby l had for 18 years it was truly the worst pain l had ever felt (even worse than losing my dad).
2 months after my bubby passed l went to the local shelter and adopted a new dog benjie , l will be honest with you the first few weeks where tough he was nothing like Bubby and as hard as this is to admit l resented him for that ,of course l was never cruel l showed him lots of affection and spoiled Benjie but the feelings wernt the same, l knew this wasn't Benjie's fault and l had enormous guilt over not bonding with him instantly. What l did was write my bubby a letter explaining l had a new dog now and how l would always love her and be devoted to her but l was capable of providing love care and shelter to a needy dog and that l was going to do everything in my power to make sure benjie had a happy life as l had provided for Bubby, this helped enormously l love Benjie with all my heart we are very close and spend all our time together, the letter also helped me let go of the guilt allowing me to love Benjie, yet my love for Bubby has not gone and never will
Sophie on November 02, 2011:
I had to put my cat Molly down two weeks ago as she had vascular cancer. She was only 8. Two days ago I went to the vets to pick up her ashes. They told me about Poppy, a 6 year old cat that had come in that day to be put down, as she was stressed due to a new baby at her previous house. I couldn't let a perfectly healthy cat be put down due to stress, so agreed to bring her home. She's beautiful with a lovely temperament, but I'm really struggling. I know it's not fair on her so I'm trying my best to help her and care for her properly, but it's too soon. I need more time to get over my cat as I really miss her. I shouldn't have agreed to have the new one. She's innocent in this and can probably sense my frustration. I don't know how to deal with this to be honest but I suppose I just have to get on with it. My husband and I also want children so am concerned about the future with her. I feel rather put upon by the vets but not too sure what I can do about it now.
Broken hearted on October 26, 2011:
My wife and I had to put our 6 1/2 year old yellow lab down 8/8/11. he fell ill quickly. we did all we could to help. we went to the top Vet School in Indiana, Purdue.
The has some ideas of what was wrong but needed to do testing. MMM was the first possiable Diag. he would not eat or drink. they took some blood & had to send it out to Calf for testing this was a Sat(5 Daysfor results) so we picked him up sunday , he still woild not eat or drink. his face muscles were degenerating his eyes were sunk back in the sockets. we ended up taking him back tuesday as he still did not eat or drink. we had him to our local vet to give fliuds under the skin. Tue, Purdue wanted to get him on IV and try to get him to eat. they also suggested we do add test MRI.Cat -Scan, Muscle Biopsy of degenerating muscles, we agreed , anything to find & fix the problem. They took him down the hall & he was happy to go never looking back , which was very odd to us as he never liked leaving our side. we came back home & waited for updated info. still he has not ate and only has drank a little water, he lost 12 pounds.
The tests were done and again had to be sent out, 5 more days , by this time the orignal blood work came back neg for the MMM enzime. we oked a feeding tube to be put in to feed him until the test came back ,this was a Friday.
they suggestd we pick him up to keep him comfortable at home. we picked him up that Sunday , the taught us how to tube feed & supplyed us with the correct food.
I feed him , and he knew what I was dooing and would lay on the kitchen floor like a good boy . he was happy alert, would go for walks. afted that week of tube feeding he visably was declining. would just sit in the corner, his bark was gone. Finaly the Purdue vets called.
They have no idea what was wrong with Charger. he did not have the MMM. but the muscle biopsy showed his muscles aged to be that of a 12 year old dog. ???? we said. they said that there was nothig to treat as they did not know what was wrong. and there was no recovery of the muscles. he would have to tube feed to keep him alive. Like some other posts here, we also do not have children so this was our son, my son ,my best friend
we were never apart except when I went to work. This was no way for this dog to live. he was a champion.people marveled at his talents,speed agility.
we agreed that it was best to end his suffering & free Charger of his painfull body. as I type this I am crying.
its been over 2 months and I still look for him in the house.yard, I still visit the park we played in for years & look to see if he is in the seat next to me in the Big Red truck. M wife wants to get another dog to fill the void. I would like another dog to keep me company. we have started looking at lab rescues and applying. some days are better than others, the past few days I have been missing Charger bad & I hope its not too soon to get another dog.
Addicted2killn on October 24, 2011:
Adopted Butch (red nose pitbull) 14 years ago from a local animal shelter. I remember it like it was yesterday, freezing outside with snow on the ground. Butch was shivering with his head hung low. He pawed at the cage door when he saw me. On the ride home he rested his head on my shoulder, looked into my eyes and sighed as if to say thanks for saving me.
If I went some place he couldn't go I gave him a dog treat, he wouldn't eat it until I returned. That was his way of telling me he would rather have gone for the ride.
He liked putting his paw in the palm of my hand or resting his head on my shoulder.
About 2 months ago he was having trouble walking down the patio steps so whenever he had to go outside I carried him. If he walked more than a few minutes he would lose his breath.
Took him to 2 different animal hospitals where more than 4 doctors checked him out.
I suspected Cancer and asked about a biopsy. They said he was old and would probably die on the table. At that point I knew it was time to prepare to have him put down.
When his breathing troubles became more frequent I brought him back to the vet where they gave him o2 and said it was his time. They got ready to put the needle in. I called my mom and although they had given Butch meds to keep him calm he started to struggle when he heard my moms voice.
It was his time and keeping him alive beyond that point would be considered selfish on my part. What I then realized was that he wasn't ready to leave us, I can't explain it in words, but knowing Butch for so many years I knew he wanted me to wait.
So home we went and every day after that it was a struggle trying to decide when the right time would be. I knew as a responsible person I couldn't allow him to suffer, but I oouldnt end his life even a moment earlier than needed. So I waited and watched his actions and mostly his breathing, very carefully.
He swas eating and drinking like normal and when he was not using energy his breathing was not labored. He was playing with his toys and still wanting to go for
It bothered him to watch the 2 dogs running around playing in the next yard. He would just sit in the kitchen and look out at them through the patio doors. When I saw this I made sure to play with him with out having him use too much energy.
3 days before he died I took him for a ride in the car at night since the air was cooler and easier to breath. He loved every minute of that ride. The next day I got him a chew bone.
On the last day of his life I rested alongside him on his dog bed and listened to his breathing while petting and praising him.
Around 4am he wanted to go outside to do his biz. I carried him outside and then back in. Right away I could hear his breathing was labored. This wasn't a surprise because they told me this is how it would happen.
Not taking any chances I rushed him to the 24 hour animal hospital. I got there within minutes. They said I got him there just in time before he suffocates.
As they gave the injection that ended his life I felt relieved he wasn't suffering and at the same time felt a sense of loss that was overwhelming.
I understood it was his time and that i waited till the last possible moment. Still after it was done and the doctor checked for a pulse I couldn't believe he was dead. I pet his head and put his paw in the palm of my hand. I couldn't leave his side until I told the vet a little about him, I felt if someone else knew a little about him it wouldn't be like leaving him with a stanger.
Sent from my iPad
Amanda W on October 20, 2011:
I lost my precious little ragdoll boy yesterday he was only 7 months old and died suddenly from heart disease,suddenly his back legs stopped working and he was trying to crawl everywhere, we rushed him to the vet and the doctor said he will never walk again, he also had a blood clot in his lungs, so I had to let him go. The death is so horrible to me I keep thinking it was wrong to end his life and I wish there was something I could have done other than all the medication he was on. I live alone at college and i would come home to him everyday with him running to the door greeting me, and now I come home and there is no one there, everything is so empty, I feel empty. I found myself looking for one to ease my loneliness and seems like the ones I'm attracted too look exactly like him already, some reasons are because of the way he looked I love, I know that no other can have the same personality and I accept that, I would never want to replace him. I am afraid however that I will want so badly for the other cat to be as wonderful as he was. But I don't want to be alone,and depressed anymore. Ive tried to surround myself with friend but they cant always be there, so I'm alone again, What should I do? I know I'm not done grieving, but another kitty would make me happy so I have someone to come home too.
10 Ways to Heal After Losing a Pet
How do you recover from losing a pet? These 10 expert tips will help you work through your loss…
Who’s your best friend? If you’re like many people, the answer is your pet. Pets are our companions, walking pals, sounding boards, even bedmates. They love us in good times and bad. They cheer us up, make us laugh and stick by our sides. That’s why losing a pet can be even more traumatic than losing a family member, and the grieving process is similar, psychologists say. “Pets provide us with so much love that the loss is almost more than what we'd experience losing a human loved one,” says Kristine Kevorkian, Ph.D., a Los Angeles end-of-life and grief counselor. “Acknowledging that loss and receiving help is vitally important to our mental, physical and spiritual well-being,” she adds. It can be difficult to heal, but resources exist to help you cope – from hotlines to support groups. Here are 10 tips to help you through the grief…
1.Take time to grieve.
Your pet may have been part of your family for a long time, so mourning may take time. Accept it. “No one else can tell you when it's time to move on or get over it,” says Frank J. Sileo, Ph.D., a licensed New Jersey psychologist who has worked with clients who have lost pets. “The grief process can't be forced or hurried along,” he says. “There is no set timetable for grieving.” Your grief may come in waves. You may begin to feel better, but then the grief may be triggered again, for example, “by hearing of someone else losing a pet, a name or a special day, such as your pet's birthday,” Sileo says. 2.Don’t try to hide or ignore sadness.
“Face your grief,” Sileo says. “When we deny it or put it on a shelf, we only delay the grief process.” Express it. “Cry, scream, pound a pillow, talk it out with someone,” he advises.
3.Accept feelings of guilt.
Do you feel guilty about your pet’s death? That’s common, says Janet Zimmerman, a Long Island, N.Y., licensed clinical social worker who offers pet loss counseling. “Almost all pet owners feel guilty – no matter what the cause of death – even though they love their pets and would have done anything for them,” she says. That’s because people feel responsible for their pets and blame themselves for their death, she says. “Know that logically, there was no more you could have done to keep them alive,” she says. 4.Get the right support.
You’re hurting, so whom do you turn to for comfort? Your best friends and close family members are probably your first choice. But don’t be surprised if they say, “It was just a cat. Get over it.” Or “You can always get another puppy.” They don’t mean to be thoughtless, but most people don’t understand the bond you had with your pet.
“If you lose a human family member, you can expect understanding and sympathy,” Zimmerman says. “If you lose a pet, people are often less caring and become impatient or dismissive.” Without someone to lean on, your grieving may be much harder. “People who lose their pets should be given every opportunity to express their pain,” adds Zimmerman, who started a counseling support program through Long Island Pet Loss Support Services in New York. So if you can’t get sympathy even from loved ones, where can you turn? “Check with your local animal hospital, veterinarian or veterinary medicine school for a pet loss support group or hotline,” Sileo advises. Or try these resources:
- University of Pennsylvania hosts two pet grief support groups and offers individual and family counseling.
- The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers a state-by-state list of pet bereavement support groups, live Internet chat rooms and hotlines.
- Rainbow Bridge is a free online grief support community providing a forum, pet-loss sympathy e-cards, a list of pet-loss hotlines and other resources.
Need to talk to someone who understands what you’re feeling now? These pet loss hotlines may help:
- ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline, 877-474-3310
- Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline, 607-253-3932
- Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline, 508-839-7966
- University of California, Davis, Pet Loss Support Hotline, 800-565-1526
5.Put your feelings on paper.
Creating a journal or scrapbook can help you process your feelings, Sileo says. “Through journaling, you can reminisce and [express] unfiltered thoughts and feelings,” he says. “It can contain pictures of your pet, memories of special places you visited and other mementos.” It worked for Lisa Cohn and her 5-year-old son when the family lost its beloved dog, Lucy, from cancer. They used art and writing to deal with the loss. “We put together collages of Lucy,” says Cohn, a contributor for Dogster.com. “We wrote a book to keep Lucy alive in our hearts.” The idea was so successful that “whenever [my son] hears that someone lost a pet, he says, ‘Let's help them write a book,’” Cohn says.
Some people have created journals specifically for pet loss. The spiral-bound The Kingdom of Heart: A Pet Loss Journal by Patty L. Luckenbach (Spiritual Living Press) includes blank pages for photos, drawings and text. “The book will guide you as you struggle to find the right words and help you explore and express your feelings,” says Denver psychotherapist Anne Cattarello, who specializes in pet loss and bereavement counseling. “It also can [also help recovery] to write a letter to your beloved pet,” she says. “Express your feelings from the day the pet came into your life until she or he died.” Online services, such as ILovedMyPet.com, will let you post your feelings, photos and videos on a personalized website. Some services are free. 6.Hold a ceremony
Besides the journal, Cohn held a “Remembering Lucy” party. “Our friends came over and we all shared memories of her,” she says. Such rituals promote “feeling in control and can give a sense of mastery over tender emotions,” Zimmerman says.A ceremony can honor your bond with your pet.
“It is a way to express loss and disappointment, and to begin healing, and it will establish some closure for the bereaved,” says Donna Henes, a certified funeral celebrant with Tree of Life Funerals in New York. She has conducted ceremonies for pets, including a rabbit. If you have children, get them involved. “Encourage them to put messages of farewell or [mementos] into the burial box,” Henes advises. “Wrap the pet in a cherished blanket. Let the children decorate the box. Help them make a grave marker or plant a tree on the grave.” 7.Create a memorial.
When Sileo’s dog, Ozzie, died after a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, Sileo created a memorial from his cremated remains. Some parts of Ozzie’s hair were kept. “He now rests on top of the fireplace, with his picture close by,” Sileo says. Such a memorial — whether under a tree in your backyard, in a pet cemetery or on your mantel — is another way to honor and express your love for your pet. You can find garden stones, statues and jewelry to commemorate your pet at websites like Memories of You.
If you keep your pet’s ashes, you may want a pet urn, such as those made by Artisurn. Some are beautiful works of art suitable to display on a mantel others are biodegradable. Even if you didn’t keep your pet’s ashes, you may want to create a small place to memorialize your pet. Sileo suggests:
- Set aside a special place for your items, such as your pet’s tags, urn, photos or collars.
- Get a plaque made with a picture and name of your pet.
- Light a candle near a picture of your pet. Plant a tree or flowers, such as forget-me-nots.
Memorials comfort at first, but if you find it keeps your grief too raw, put it away, Cattarello advises. “Your beloved companion’s memory will stay alive in your heart,” she says. “Part of grieving is about saying goodbye and learning to let go.” Eventually you’ll adjust to life without your companion. “You are not being disloyal to your pet by healing,” Cattarello says.
9.Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Miss your pet? “When you give love to a lonely shelter animal, you get love back hundredfold,” Sileo says. But if you can’t bear to be around other animals, that’s normal too, Zimmerman says. You’re just not ready yet. “Only the grieving person can gauge how she or he feels and whether or not they’re ready to interact with animals again,” Zimmerman says. “Some people cannot bear even seeing another person walking a dog or playing with a cat it’s like pouring salt on an open wound.” 10.Don’t rush to replace your pet.
Take your time before adopting a new pet, Sileo advises. “Even though your home is quiet and feels empty, it’s often best to wait,” he says. “We need time to work through grief and loss before building a new relationship with a new pet.” That’s especially true if your emotions are still in turmoil.
What to Do if Your Dog Dies at Home
Thomas Strand / Getty Images
What should you do if your dog dies at home? Losing your beloved dog is difficult in any situation. If your pet dies or is put to sleep at the veterinarian's office, they will handle the remains for you. However, if your dog dies suddenly at home, you will need to take immediate steps and make some decisions right away. This can be hard to do when emotions are high.
How Soon Is Too Soon to Get a New Pet?
For Jamie Finch, the hardest part of losing her 14-year-old mutt, J.J., was seeing her four-year-old daughter, Jane, lie on the floor yelling, “You took away my best friend–I want to go to heaven to see J.J.!” She’d warned her kids before leaving for the vet’s office that J.J. was very sick. “Give her a long hug and kiss in case she passes away,” she’d said. Still, the kids were devastated.
Finch, a stay-at-home mom in Reston, had adopted J.J. from a shelter when the dog was six weeks old. She’d known J.J. longer than she’d known her husband. She’d moved across the country with the dog. “She was my 21st-birthday present to myself,” says Finch, 36. “Just the sweetest, easiest dog.”
When her daughter was afraid to go to sleep at night, Finch would put the 20-pound dog in the girl’s crib to comfort her. In the end, when J.J.’s kidneys were failing, Finch made her special meals and carried her around the house.
“I don’t care what it is or what it costs,” Finch’s husband told her the night J.J. died. “Let’s get on the Internet and find a new dog.”
Most people who have lost a pet hear the question within days: When are you getting another one? For many pet owners, it’s a sensitive subject. We can love our animals as much as we love people. “People will call and say, ‘I didn’t cry this hard when my father died,’ ” says Dr. Stephanie LaFarge, senior director of counseling services for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “They’re embarrassed.”
Some, like Finch, start looking right away. Others are so distraught they say they’ll never get another pet. Many fall in between.
Frederick resident Eddie Zaslav, whose golden retriever, Honey, died five years ago, got angry when friends quickly brought up the idea of a new dog. He’d been bringing Honey to work with him every day for years, and the dog slept in his bed. Are you serious? he’d think. You can’t just get another dog like it’s nothing. Zaslav would have dreams that Honey was on his floor and find himself getting out of bed to lie next to her.
“When you don’t have kids, a pet can start to feel like your child,” he says. “I didn’t think I’d ever be capable of loving a dog like that again. It felt disloyal.”
A few months after Honey died, Zaslav’s wife, Mandie, convinced him to start looking at puppies. He came home with a six-week-old golden retriever and named him Rudy. Once Rudy arrived, a neighbor’s English Labrador, Cutie, starting hanging around in Zaslav’s front yard. The Lab seemed neglected.
“We have to let her in,” Zaslav told his wife. He got so attached to Cutie that his neighbor let him keep her. Soon Rudy and Cutie had eight puppies, born in Zaslav’s living room.
Clients often ask Silver Spring counselor Robyn Zeiger, whose practice includes dealing with pet loss, how long they should wait before they get a new pet. She tells them there’s no magic number. “If we know a pet has a terminal illness, we go through the grieving even while the pet is alive,” says Zeiger. “Let’s say that person goes out the next day and adopts another dog. An outsider might say, ‘That was quick.’ They don’t realize that pet had been dying for a long time.”
But Zeiger encourages those who lose a pet suddenly to avoid immediately getting another: “If it’s coming out of deep neediness, I’m going to worry more.” Another tip she gives clients is to consider a different breed. If your chocolate Lab dies and you come home with another, you’re more likely to compare them. “It’s healthy to mix it up,” she says.
Jamie Finch’s family had a hard time finding their next pet. An online breeder scammed them, then their new Tibetan terrier attacked another dog and they had to give her up.
In January, they got a Maltese named Pearl. The puppy has fit right in with her new family. Says Finch: “I couldn’t imagine my house without a dog.”
This article appears in the April 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.
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Moving On After Losing an Older Dog
Letting go of our furry companions from the past and embracing those in need now is the only way to move on after a pet's death.
The occasion of getting a new puppy or dog should be just as joyous as bringing a much-wanted and long-anticipated baby into the world. In the best of possible worlds, the dog’s new family is welcoming, loving, and eager to learn as much as possible about and share as much as possible with the latest addition to the family. The transition almost always goes smoothly when the family is experienced with dogs, and already knows about providing healthful diets and gentle teaching for their canine companions.
Every so often, however, I meet very knowledgeable and caring dog people who experience undue conflict and tumult while they are getting used to their new dogs. When I know that the people involved know how to properly take care of a dog – that the problem is not simply a lack of knowledge about how to help the new dog succeed in the household – I suspect that the problem is not with the new dog. Often, I’ve found, the issue is actually one that was never resolved concerning the family’s last dog.
The Last Dog Was the “Best”
Usually, we expect to outlive our dogs. Though we don’t generally think about it when we bring home a new puppy, we know that he’ll eventually grow into an adult, and then a senior dog. By the time his muzzle and legs turn white and he moves a little slower, our feelings for him will be without compare. After a lifetime together, he will become “the best dog” we’ve ever known.
By the time our old dogs pass away, most of us have forgotten that there ever was a time when our “best dogs” weren’t perfect companions. We forget the trying days of puppyhood, when a few of our favorite possessions get chewed up, and when accidents happen on our rugs. We forget about how much time it took us to habituate the young dog to riding peacefully in our cars and playing non-destructively in our gardens.
What we tend to remember is how wonderfully behaved our old friend was, how easy it was to spend time with him, how he always knew how to make us happy. So when we get a new dog or puppy, it’s difficult not to make comparisons. But these comparisons will interfere with binding a relationship and honoring the gifts this new soul brings into our lives. Remember, it will take some time for the newcomer to walk in the idealized old dog’s footprints.
Avoiding Comparisons Between Pets
To avoid comparisons, some people choose a dog who is totally unlike the previous pet so they will not be constantly reminded of their loss. Others prefer to have one who resembles their previous dog because the look makes them feel warm inside.
Whatever you choose to do, be open and honest with your new dog. Tell him each and every day how special he is and how honored you are to be his person. Let him know about the dog who died tell him that your tears may flow sometimes with memories but that does not mean you will not be able to appreciate the gifts he has brought to share with you.
Another mistake people make is to obtain a dog before having completed the mourning process for their old dog. Sometimes people have difficulty with the mourning process. They cannot let go of the memories and are devastated by the loss. Bach Flower remedies can help the bereaved in these cases. Talking and being with people who understand can also help the process professional grief counselors and pet grief support groups can work miracles.
However, no one should ever be rushed through this process. Some well-meaning friends may say “It’s time to move on, you’ve got to get on with your life, get over it – he was just a dog, why not just get another dog,” etc. A person in this position should pay no attention to these types of comments. Some of us love our dogs very deeply, and we bond with them in special, unique ways. For us, dogs are not replaceable. We need time and understanding to heal from the loss before we will be ready to love another dog.
It’s very important that no one be allowed to force a new dog on someone else. A spouse, friend or well-meaning relative may try to buy a puppy to “help you forget.” They should be politely told that we will never forget and we do not want to forget. We will remember our lost dog all of our lives and eventually, we will remember him or her with great joy. Then, when the time is right, we would like the luxury of being chosen by our next dog!
Case in Point
Once a woman came to my puppy teaching class with an eight-week-old terrier-mix puppy. She said she wanted help with what she characterized as “all the usual puppy problems,” but from the very first puppy class, I could tell she was dealing with more than “all the usual puppy problems.” She seemed very detached from her puppy. She never made eye contact with him and almost seemed afraid of him. The puppy, too, seemed to be having trouble with the relationship. He made a few attempts to engage her, and then gave up and decided it was more fun to play with the other puppies. I just figured they were getting used to each other and after a week of working with her puppy things would improve.
Boy, was I wrong! When she came back the following week, it was evident to the whole class that something was not right. As she entered the teaching center, the puppy strained to get away from her and wanted nothing to do with her. She actually seemed relieved that the puppy had the other dogs to play with. She was content to totally ignore him during the entire class. As I worked with the class, I surreptitiously watched her and her puppy, and thought about how I could best help the emotionally distant duo.
As the session ended, I asked the woman if she could stay after class for a few minutes. I told her that I thought she had chosen a wonderful puppy. He was cute, funny, playful, and had the potential to be a great companion dog. He was very smart, very social, and really wanted to be friends with everyone. I then asked her how she felt about the pup. Her response was unemotional and non-committal. She said she liked the dog well enough but he was simply not the same as her dog who had died.
Immediately the picture was clear to me. She was comparing the puppy to a deceased dog who had lived with her a very long time. Plus, she had not chosen to get the puppy. Her dog had been dead less than a month when her husband brought home the pup “to help her get over the loss.” She wanted to like the puppy, but felt guilty, as if she were betraying the memory of her former dog. Every time she looked at the new puppy she remembered the other dog and could not shake her feelings of sadness and guilt.
We sat and talked for a while. I asked her to tell me a little about her old dog and she cried and reminisced about him. I could tell that they had loved each other deeply.
After our talk, she said she felt a little better. I then told her not to worry about the homework assignment I had given the rest of the class because I had a different and special assignment for her.
I told her to go home and light candles and incense in memory of her dog. Then I wanted her to curl up somewhere comfortable with her puppy and tell him all about her old dog. I wanted her to tell the puppy several of the memories that made her cry and several memories that made her laugh. She was to share as much of the joy and sorrow she had shared with her old dog with this brand new little dog. I told her she might feel foolish doing this but it was important.
It was immediately evident the next week when they returned to class that a miracle had happened. They came in and were bonded with each other. You could see it in their faces. The two of them actually looked physically different. Everyone in the class remarked about the change. They proceeded to become the best students in class, due to a powerful connection between them. Their love for each other was evident in every interaction they shared.
After class, the woman came up to me and hugged me and thanked me for the advice I had given her. She said she went home and did everything I had suggested. She said she didn’t feel silly, and that she had laughed and cried buckets of tears. Afterward, as she hugged and kissed her puppy, she realized for the first time how adorable his face was. Nothing has been the same since then!
You’ll Be Ready Only When You’re Ready
Some people get very stuck in the mourning process. They cannot get over the loss and vow they will never have another dog. They say the heartache of losing a dog is just too much to bear and they never want to go through that kind of pain again.
When I hear people talk that way, it hurts me to think of all the devotion, joy, and love their dog gave to them and all they can remember is the pain of the final moments. After all, in the grand scheme of things, death is just a brief moment. It shouldn’t erase the wonder of a lifetime of giving.
It seems to me, the greatest honor we can pay a deceased pet is to mourn the pet, heal during the process, and then be ready to love and learn from another dog. This says that having a dog is a worthwhile experience. The pain of losing this dog should not overshadow the joy of having a dog in our life.
When a dog leaves this life, allow yourself the time and luxury of a mourning period. There is no manual to tell you how to mourn or how long. You will mourn until you are finished with the process. When you find you are laughing or smiling at the memories of your deceased pet instead of crying at the mere thought of him, when you’re looking in pet shop windows and in the pet column in the classified ads, stopping to look at the free puppies in front of the supermarket, or just feeling that there is now room in your heart to love a new four-legged wonder, then you are healed. If you let your new dog share your truth, your love, and your heart, you’ll find that he’ll very quickly become your new “best dog.”
Linda Goodman operates PORGIE Teaching Center in Riverside, CA.