As much as we love our pets, the fact is their lives are shorter than ours and at some point we all have to cope with losing them. It’s an extremely difficult thing to go through when we are so bonded with them and they are such a part of our daily lives. There are, however, some positive ways to work through the grief and loss of that beloved family member.
Foster a Dog or Cat
You may find the empty spot left in your home by the loss of a pet is too difficult, yet you’re not ready to jump into immediately adopting again. Consider fostering a pet in need until a home can be found for them. Just having another pet around to care for and interact with, without complete emotional attachment, can provide you with the companionship you miss, and you will be helping another living creature in a difficult situation.
Make a Memory Album or Journal
Try focusing on the good memories of your pet in a constructive way. You will still feel some connection, and it can help you remember what was wonderful about having that dog or cat in your life instead of dwelling on the sorrow of losing them.
Make a memory album with both photos and writing, or start a journal about your pet. You can also write stories about your pet and share them with family and friends, or start a blog. Creating a memory in physical form can keep the pet with you and let you get all of your feelings on paper to release some of the sense of loss. Don’t limit it to a photo album or scrapbook; be creative in whatever form you like or have skill at, such as painting, sculpting or carving.
Over two years ago my son and I were driving home from work. In the middle of a busy 4 way stop intersection was a little silver patch of hair limping across the street nearly being struck by careless drivers. I immediately pulled into the intersection and yelled at my son to grab that dog before she gets hit. My son opened the passenger door and a frail little Shitzu came to the door and lifted up her little paw. My son grabbed her and she immediately fell asleep on his lap for the 5 minute ride home.
We arrived home to be greeted by my wife who took one look at the dog and said, “Oh my gosh, what are we going to do with her?” The little dog was flea ridden, lost most of her hair, could barely walk and had a toe nail so long it curled all the way around and was imbedded into her tiny paw. I should also mention the smell was so tremendous we could hardly hold her. We bathed her in the bath tub to wash off some of the grime and started the long road of recovery including vet visits, medication, and the introduction of dog food which she apparently had never received before.
We put up signs and an ad in the paper trying to find the owners, but after several days re-thought that idea as anybody who neglected a dog this badly doesn’t deserve one, so I went and took the signs down. I called my parents, who hadn’t owned a dog in years, and told them I had the perfect little companion for them. They were excited over the idea however I wanted to get her healthy before I turned her over to them. My parents didn’t need the emotional burden of dealing with a sick dog as they hadn’t owned for years due to the pain of losing our family Dachshund Duke to cancer many years ago.
We named the little dog Lady because she reminded us of a little bag lady wandering the streets. She later received the nick name Lady Bird. The road to recovery was a little longer than expected and those big black eyes took a toll on me. I fell in love with a little tiny homeless dog like no other love I have had for any other pet. She went everywhere with me including going to work every day. Needless to say my parents never got the dog. I later made up for it by giving them a tiny puppy to raise and love on their own.
I write this story as tears roll down my face as my little Lady Bird clings on to life in an emergency vet hospital. Just over a week ago she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and valve that is no longer working properly. She has been in and out of the vet 4 times trying to control her heart with medication. Last night she started having troubles breathing so my wife and I once again rushed her to emergency. She has fluid around her enlarged heart and I am terrified awaiting the results.
I understand the pain and emotion of dealing with a sick pet we fall so deeply in love with. I also understand the desire to find fault or blame to help with the pain. However I am also a realist. The facts are Lady is approximately 14 years old and has an enlarged heart. There’s no one to blame. I have done everything I can for that little dog and I only pray she pulls through this.
Looking for help on how to deal with my emotions I started surfing the web. To my surprise “blame” is a normal human emotion in a situation like this. Here are a few sites I found that might help you out as well.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.