5 Proven Tips For Coping When Your Dog Dies

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Grieving the loss of your beloved hound brings enormous sadness, stress, and anguish. Feelings of loneliness are overwhelming, and all-consuming. The devastation can be compounded by the fact that many people just don’t understand why you feel such despair. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t really know how to deal with grief and loss. Try to avoid these people during the initial stages of your grief. It doesn’t mean they’re unlovable, but they’re simply not up to the job of taking care of you right now.

How Do I Get Over the Grief of Losing My Dog?

You will feel vulnerable and raw. The last thing you want, when you reach out for support, is to be met with apathy. Who is it safe to talk to? Is there a trusted friend or family member you can speak to about your heartbreak and sorrow, who will ‘get it’? 

I liken grief to the sea tides. At first, the waves threaten to engulf and even drown you. Having someone you can share the initial stages of shock and grief with, will keep your head above water. The tide will soon subside, but it will be back, just as big, and you’ll need that person again. This will repeat over and over in the first days after you lose your dog. You won’t be able to breathe properly.

You need to be able to cry, say your dog’s name, cry, talk about them, cry, say over and over how much you love and miss your dog. Cry, and cry some more. 

Eventually, you will notice that the waves are not so high, and they come in a little less frequently. Your breathing will be a little deeper, and you will start moving ‘through’ the process.

Some other strategies you might explore when you feel ready:

  • Make a scrap-book or photograph album of your dog
  • Write poetry or a story based on your dog’s life and personality, it could be a story for children!
  • Volunteer at a rescue organization as a way of honoring your dog, and giving back
  • Do something for yourself, a positive change such as learn something new, or get fit
  • Think about your dog, and talk to your trusted humans about them

Why Does Losing a Dog Hurt So Much?

Your dog is always ‘in the moment’. Your bond with your dog is a loving and effortless connection. It doesn’t have the many complexities and complications of our human relationships, which can often use up our energy, and become a roller-coaster of emotions. We have to ‘work’ on our human relationships, which can be wonderful, but sometimes problematic. 

Dogs, on the other hand, are constant and unwavering in their devotion, companionship and love. And this is no matter how you feel, look or act towards them. Dogs are just happy to be with you. If we could speak their language, they would be saying, “I’m here, I love you, shall we go?, this is fun!” 

They teach us to be better people. To love, and be loved back. That, after all, is the true essence of happiness and joy.

Is It Wrong to Love My Dog More Than I Love Other Humans?

Studies have shown that humans have more empathy for dogs than they do other humans. This is because for many humans, dogs are part of the family and occupy the same emotional space as children. We are very protective of the vulnerable, who often can’t take care of themselves. This makes us think we love them more. It’s normal to feel this way.

Some people do love their dogs more than other humans. That’s normal, as well. Love is love. Whoever said that humans deserve it more than dogs or other animals.

How Do Dogs Make Our Lives Better?

Having a dog gives you a sense of purpose. You have lots of things to do together. Walking, playing, sharing. The companionship of a dog is known to benefit children as well as adults. Stroking and touching a dog fulfills our need to have contact with another warm, living being. They help you to keep fit and active. They are a universal talking point, with many social interactions taking place when you’re out on walks.

Being with your best mate lowers cortisol levels. This results in less stress, as your body is not placed in a state of high alert and alarm.  Also, the oxytocin system is activated, which is thought to be largely responsible for many biological and emotional advantages

Oxytocin is known as the ‘love hormone’, and it plays a role in human behaviors such as recognition, trust, love and bonding. 

There is a known reduction in epinephrine and norepinephrine. This means that people with dogs have an improved cardiovascular response to stress, meaning less chance of adverse outcomes. Our heart rate and blood pressure are slow to rise, reducing the effects of stress on the body.

Is It Normal to Feel Guilty After a Dog Dies?

It’s absolutely normal to feel guilt when your dog dies. It’s just our way of trying to make sense of things, to put everything in order. Our mind wants to calculate, ‘something bad has happened, and this is why’. It wants to tell the whole story, and resolve the ‘problem’.

If your dog was euthanized, you may torture yourself that you should have waited longer, or that you left it too long before alleviating their suffering. Perhaps your dog died naturally, or in an accident. You may feel there was something you could have done to prevent their death. 

This guilt is felt by everyone who loses a dog. It will lessen as you work through your grieving. Try not to dwell on the hurtful aspects of your dog’s death. If it was traumatic, you will naturally go through a process of revisiting the event. It’s your mind’s way of coping and moving through it. Be kind to yourself. Find something to be grateful for. 

  • The years you had with your dog
  • The great age they reached
  • The wonderful life you had together
  • They didn’t suffer at the end
  • You were holding them when they died 
  • They had a happy life with you
  • The love you shared
  • You did the absolute best you could for them, even at the end

You’ll also feel guilty when you start to emerge from the darkness and loss. You feel disloyal because you feel a bit better. This is also completely normal. You will move through it.

Rest assured, you are not leaving your dog behind. You are only adjusting to life without them being physically there.

5 Tips For Coping When Your Dog Dies

  1. Find a Safe Place or Person

Cry, rage, talk, despair. Without any reserve. Let it out. Talk about your dog. Say their name. Reach into your memory banks to bring them closer to you. Smell their blankets, toys and bed if you need to. It will be excruciating, but it will help you start to move through the despair. It’s all valid and normal. Repeat, repeat, repeat, as necessary.

  1. Be Kind To Yourself

Accept every emotion you experience for what it is. Normal and natural! The tides of grief will come and go. Humans have coped with this process for as long as we’ve inhabited the earth, and made dogs our beloved companions. You will feel as though you’re trying to swim through molasses. Do only what you can manage. Do nice things for yourself. Be the person you need someone else to be for you, right now.

  1. Collect Your Dog Up Into A Memorial

Making a scrapbook or photo album really helps to sort your mind out. I like to get as many photographs as possible and put them in one folder or slide-show, or even a printed album. I put all my dog’s stuff, bed, coats, toys, etc in one place. It helps to have a special area to go where they are right there, waiting for you. Anything you can do to draw them in and keep them closer is very comforting.

  1. Help Someone Else 

Being of service to others who need help and support is a great way to feel your life has meaning. You may have a shelter or rescue organization close by where you can do a few hours volunteering. If you’re not ready for other dogs, help a friend, neighbor or local care-home out. Older people are lonely, and a walk round or friendly chat means the world to them. 

  1. Know You Have Not Lost Your Dog Forever

If you’re a dog person, there’s a chance you will say goodbye to many dogs in your life-time. Your heart will break apart, and that is the gap you will place your beloved dog into. As my pain subsides, and my heart stops hurting so much, I imagine my dog snuggled up in the wound. 

As my heart slowly heals, it envelops my dog and keeps them safe in my heart, forever with me.  I do this, and I touch my chest when I want to cuddle them. Our hearts know no bounds when it comes to love. You can fit a billion dogs in there. They are never lost to us.

Final Thoughts

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose, under heaven” (The Byrds)

Coping with the loss of your dog is a process, sometimes taking weeks, months or years. Remember, you are not alone. Having someone to be next to you as you start the process of grieving is invaluable. There are online support groups if you can’t find someone you trust.

Try the strategies I have mentioned. It won’t happen quickly, but eventually something will start to shift for you. You will feel joy again. You will be happy, and when you think of your dog it will only be with love and happy memories. Know that you did your best for them. You love each other. They are still there.

Don’t run out and get another dog to fill the gap. You will compare the new dog to the lost dog, and they will never measure up. Give yourself space to grieve. You’ll know when it’s time to love another hound. When it is that time, consider saving a life by adopting a shelter dog. You will never be sorry. Above all, take care of yourself. You are not alone.

64 thoughts on “5 Proven Tips For Coping When Your Dog Dies”

  1. Wonderful article, Laura. Lots of great, thoughtful advice. I’m sure it will help a lot of sad and grieving pet owners. We’ve all been there, and I’m sure we will sadly be there again one day. Hxxx

    1. I can’t thank you enough for this. It’s Tuesday, and I just lost my babygirl this past Saturday. I am sitting in my office, hoping no one will talk to me as I wear my shades. I didn’t come into work yesterday…but honestly, can’t be home another day. Nothing feels right. But, here I am. Missing my girl….#thatssoraven – Thank you, so so much!

      1. Hi, Laura. Thank you for your message. I’m so sorry you have lost your girl. It will feel insurmountable for you at this early stage. Take each day, and look after yourself. You are not alone. Nothing is supposed to feel right for you at the moment. Your world is utterly diminished. Your grief is testament and honor, to the love you and your girl have for each other. Love and thoughts. Laura

      2. Nothing feels right. That’s exactly how I feel. I just lost Monty, my Australian Cattle Dog, who has been by my side nearly constantly and everywhere I go for 10 years. This dog was at the center of my life. Now I am lost.

        1. Hi Jess. I’m so sorry to hear of your beloved Monty. You will certainly feel the loss of him, having been your constant mate for so long. We are NEVER prepared for this grief. Please know that you’re not alone with your sadness and despair. Take care, and lots of love to you, Jess. Laura

    2. Janie Gutierrez

      Thank you for your advice. My heart feels so lost and full of hurt. I have another dog and I know he feels her loss too. I try to keep occupied but I just want to cry. My eyes swell so much and I know I look awful, so I stay home and keep to myself. I’m so lost right now and feel like I’m missing something. I’ve already ordered a headstone for her. buried her close to my home so I could talk to her all the time.

      1. Hi Janie. I’m so sorry you have lost your mate. I know from experience that your remaining dog will be full of grief, too. Lean on each other, and love love love your dog. Cry, cry as much as you want. Our dogs never leave us. We have to adjust to them not being physically there. But they are with us. Lots of love, Laura

  2. So helpful and reflects how we feel when the furry member of our family passes. We have a little border now who is 11 and love him so much

  3. It truly is devastating to lose a fur baby. We love ours so very much and are dealing with the pain and bewilderment of finding out one of our precious ones has terminal cancer. To say we are devastated doesn’t begin to describe it….

    1. I’m so sorry to read this, Jamie and Amy. It is absolutely devastating to know that your precious dog is terminally ill. You can always gather some comfort from the fact that they have had the best life with you, and you with them.

  4. Thank you for this amazing article. I just lost my pup yesterday due to a horrific accident and I feel shattered into a million pieces. She had just turned four-years-old a few weeks ago. This truly helps me go through the grieving process and know that things will get better one day at a time.

    1. Megan, I am so very sorry to hear about your beautiful girl. I know how broken you are, right now. My heart aches for you. Don’t try to rush your grief process. You are not alone. Lots of love to you.

  5. Thank you so much for this beautiful article. I lost my twelve year old pup yesterday. She was absolutely amazing and wonderful. Even though she had been dealing with serious health problems for a long time, it still came as a horrible blow to me and my family. We are all soul-crushed and trying to process. This will be very helpful to all of us as we move through the grieving process.

    1. Janet, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful girl. Twelve is a great age for a dog, but it’s still always too soon to lose them. You and your family will have an emotional journey for a good while. It will get easier, I promise. You are not alone. Bless you all, for your love of your dog.

  6. Thank you so much for your article. I will confess, and not ashamed of it. But, before, I used to think these grieving “procedures” were not “practical.” However, my “scientific” minded attitude showed me how wrong I was. I’ve never owned a dog; albeit I’ve taken care some of my friend’s years ago. Seven years ago, I adopted my first. Her name was Abby, a dachshund. She proved me wrong in all of these assumptions. I grew up loving her more than I loved myself. I pampered her, spoiled her, so much friends would often say I was over doing it. Yet, I’ve never stopped. After 7 years, my little princess, love of my life, Abby, went to heaven at age 16. Albeit, she was 16, she never acted like it. She developed pulmonary hypertension due to pneumonia and after a week of ICU and hoping for a recovery, she was getting not well, and the doctor told me she started to exhibit early stages of possible suffering. So, I also experienced the other aspect of being a dog owner: the one that decides to give the OK for her to be euthanize. I feel guilty that I feel if I had to or not, and etc. It’s been a day since she left alas, and now I cry here and then, and now experiences exactly what you said the process is for a person grieving. I have taken, thus, your advice, and all. Thank you.

    1. Hi, and thank you for your message. My heart feels your heaviness. Like you, my career is science, but the love between you and your dog is not scientific, as you say. You are on the start of your grieving journey. You are not alone. Take each day as it comes, be kind to yourself, and know it’s normal and OK to miss Abby. You were blessed to have each other. Lots of love and thoughts. Laura.

  7. I just lost my beautiful 12 yr old Shepard 2 days ago. It was just the 2 of us since the day I bought her 12 yrs ago. She was my rock and the lover of my soul. It feels like my heart has been ripped from my chest
    Thank you for letting me know that this is not abnormal to feel this intense grief and feelings of guilt. Don’t know how I will go on without her.

    1. Hi, Lauren. Thank you so much for your message. I’m so sorry you have just lost your beautiful girl. Your heart is in pieces, and will be for a long time. The pain you’re feeling is testament to the love and bond that you and your dog have, and will continue to have. She is always yours, and you hers. You will adjust to life without her physical presence, but she will always be in your heart and soul. Feel absolutely OK about your grief. You are not alone. Take care. Laura

  8. lost my loving boy two days ago, feels like an eternity. i never dreamed it would hurt this bad or doubting myself, could i have tried more meds to have kept him here longer?
    did i put him down to quickly? about a month ago i had appointment to put him down, that morning he acted like nothing was wrong, p laying and acting normal and had a month before he got bad again, three days before i got him in he got so bad i couldn’t
    believe how miserable he looked and then the day to take him in his head was up and looking around with curiosity. could i have had another month, did i do the right thing? he wouldn’t eat or drink or play but i cant stop doubting myself. i just want my boy back i just want to die and be with him.

    1. Hi Laurie. Thank you so much for your message. As you can see from all our other comments, your grief and pain is absolutely normal, and you are not alone with this. Your feelings of doubt are also normal. We all feel that we could have done more, waited longer, waited too long, should have seen the signs, etc, etc. It’s how we try to process and make sense of the devastating thing that has happened to us. I want to reassure you that you did exactly the right thing for your boy. That extra month you had was a special gift, but he was ready to go and rest. Dogs will always instinctively look better than they actually feel, if possible. They are very stoic. You read the situation perfectly, and did the right thing for your beloved dog. You will get through this, I promise. We have all felt exactly how you feel now. Take care. Laura

  9. Matthew Wilkinson

    I lost Dennis 2 days ago. I adopted him 14 and a half years ago when a medical condition put me in a wheelchair. He had to adjust to life with a disabled guy… not a lot of running or playing, but he didn’t seem to mind. I hireds sa dog walker so he could get some exercise and change of scenery, but he was happiest when he got home from his walks — he’d run through his dog door and immediately check where I usualy sit to make sure I was there, then go to his water dish to drink some water. He was happiest just laying next to my left leg, his snout on my thigh, which was how he spent his days (I am paralyzed and can’t walk). He started to show signs of dementia (disorientation, getting lost in the apartment we’ve been in for 7 years, bumping into corners) and the vet estimated he was 16 and it would only get worse, so I gave the green light to let him go to sleep one last time. I held him while they did it, and he even started snoring after the first shot! I “know” intellectually I did the right thing, but I feel empty; everywhere I look, I “see” his absence. It feels like life will never be okay again. I had to stop several times while I wrote this because I was crying so much I couldn’t see the screen; I have shortness of breath, and my neck and collar bone feel like they’re encased in cement.

    1. Hi Matt. Thank you so much for your message. You describe the physical pain of your grief so vividly, I can feel it myself, again. I can’t tell you how sorry I am, that you have lost your pal, Dennis. What a gift you were to each other. What a success story for anyone’s life, and bless you, Matt. You did absolutely the right thing for him. That is the measure of true love. I can’t say anything that will ease your pain. You are not alone. You are not alone. The pain will ease in time, but the fact that my own grief returns with every message I receive such as yours, proves that the love is never gone. We carry our dogs with us forever. Take care. Laura

  10. Dear Laura,
    I lost my most sweetest loving girl, Zoe yesterday. I adopted this beautiful Maltese about 9 years ago, she may have been about 4 years old then. She was taking medication for right heart failure and medications gave me 4 more precious months with her. I left to do some errands that could have be done the next day but decided to do them one day earlier. I left Zoe who was exhausted from vomiting for 2 days. She was sleeping and breathing ok so I left and came home about 2 hours later. She was still laying close to where I left her in the same position but when i approached her I saw that she had passed. I yelled in grief and felt that I had betrayed her. I wasn’t there for her.. I cried but felt so guilty and then lonely. It was hard to sleep. I woke up early and searched for help and found you.
    Thank you for your insightful beautiful words. I really like your advice about putting all her things in one area to help the healing process. Just writing this note to you is helpful. Aloha from Honolulu

    1. Dear Kurt
      I’m so sorry to hear about Zoe. What an awesome partnership you had together, and such love. Zoe was not let down by you, Kurt. Quite the opposite. Dogs do know when it’s their time to go. She would have relaxed and let herself peacefully go, once you had gone out. She would have been waiting for the right time, and you provided it for her. She was no stranger to illness, and how wonderful to have that precious extra time with her. Bless you, both. You are not alone, Kurt. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. What a special girl you had. Lots of love x

  11. Thank you…..A million times Thank you for this article. After 17 years, my Odie died yesterday. He was my kid before I had kids. I feel guilty for not giving him the attention he used to get once my son was born but reading this lets me know I’m not alone. My husband found him and I haven’t asked him how or where Odie was when he found him because I can’t help but feel that I should have been there. I don’t know who to talk to so I searched for some guidance on losing a pet and found you.

    1. Dear Ana
      Thank you so much for your message. I am so sorry to hear of your darling, Odie. What a beautiful and long life he had with you. 17 years is the lifetime of a happy, healthy dog, so your‘s and Odie’s life together is a success story.
      You’re so right. You are not alone. Only a dog lover knows the pain of losing a best friend. Unfortunately this intense grief we feel is testament and proof of the enormous love between us and our dog. You do not have to feel bad about being distracted by motherhood. Odie was your family. He knew that.
      Be kind to yourself, Ana. Lots of love x

  12. Hello, thank you so much for this article. It has been the most helpful one for me online. My 18 year old cat died suddenly from a stroke a week ago, and I am having a hard time processing the grief. I found comfort in this article and the comments. Thank you so much- everything feels weird without her.

    1. Hi, Bonnie. Thank you for your message. I am so sorry to read about the loss of your precious cat. What a fantastic age, and a wonderful long life together. Animals save us from ourselves, I think. Bless your heart. You are absolutely not alone. Lots of love. Laura

  13. Dear Laura,
    Thank you for this article. I lost the most amazing dog a girl could ask for two days ago. Lucy was my best friend, my shadow, and my sidekick for 7 years. It was a dumb accident that took her life at such a young age, and I can’t stop beating myself up for it. If I had had her on a leash, it wouldn’t have happened. We were going from the car to the front door maybe 10 steps away when she saw a squirrel and chased it into the street and into the path of a car. I witnessed the whole thing and couldn’t do anything to stop it. My heart is broken. I feel like I let her down when it was my job to protect her. I would give anything to have a do over for that morning. Everything in the house reminds me of her. Your article brings me some comfort and hope that I will get through this.

    1. Dear Jane. I’m so sorry to hear the story of the tragic accident. What devastating results, of an act so commonplace and normal. Of course you feel awful. You are a dog lover, and you absolutely cherished your girl, Lucy.
      We all would have loved to turn the clock back, at times. It’s just a horrible accident. Nothing more. My heart aches for you. Try not to dwell on the event, if you can. The fact is, dogs chase things. Far too often with horrendous results. You are not to blame. You are absolutely not alone with this. Be kind to yourself. Lots of love, Laura

  14. It is comforting to know others feel the way I do about their dogs, because I thought something was wrong with me and I’m taking this too hard. Friday I put my baby Zoe to sleep she was 14 and in heart failure she could barely breathe and I knew she wouldn’t last very long. So I made the decision with my 19 year old daughter to let her be at peace and suffer no more. She isn’t suffering anymore and that brings me some peace but on the other hand I have no peace without her. I loved that dog as I love my children I am not taking this well. Everything triggers me to think of her but I can’t bring myself to put her dog bed or bowls away. I have another dog who is 3 she is a chihuahua mini pinscher mix and she is so confused and looking for her which breaks my heart even more. I know eventually we will all mourn this loss but for now we are just crying and sad. I’m trying to remember all the things I loved about her and that she did have a long life with lots of love and we are blessed to have had that special girl.

    1. Hi Kim. I can assure you that there is nothing wrong with you. You are an animal lover, with an enormous capacity for love. Huge love = huge heartbreak when we lose them. What a wonderful, long life you had with Zoe. You are right, she is at peace now, and you absolutely did the right thing for her. Regarding your other dog. She will get used to Zoe not being there, eventually. She will need a bit of extra attention from you, for a while. Surviving dogs do go through grief as well. She has youth on her side, so she will bounce back. Take care. It’s early days and you shouldn’t rush anything. Just get through this initial, horrible period of time. Lots of love, Laura

  15. Oh my goodness! I’m so happy I clicked on this article. I let my sweet girl go almost a week ago, she was three days past her 8th birthday. I’ve been having such a hard time. I feel so guilty. She was a beautiful firecracker red dobie, she had a very big personality and was also so happy and excited about everything. She caught snowflakes and loved everyone. She had DCM – after diagnosis we had 8 months with her, but she had taken a quick downturn and despite extra meds she was in congestive heart failure and wasn’t eating. For the first time in her life she seemed sad and tired and I could tell she was suffering, I think she was telling me it was time so I did what I thought was right because I did not want her to suffer one more hour. However, now I miss her so much and wonder if I let her go to soon. If I should have tried more meds, etc. I’m just heartbroken and I miss her so much. I can totally relate to all these comments – the grief everyone describes is just what I feel. It’s good to know it’s normal and I’m not alone. Thank you.

    1. Hi Christy. I’m so sorry to read this. You certainly lost your girl too soon, but she did so well to get to 8 years old. DCM is horrible, and I can assure you that you did absolutely the right thing for her. I do know from much experience that dogs tell us when it’s time to go. You know it too, because you recognized it. You are simply being human and trying to blame this bad thing on something or someone. It’s all part of the normal grieving process for us. You are missing her dreadfully, but you did not let her go too soon. You showed your true love, by doing what was best for her. Bless your heart, Christy. As you have read on our wonderful community of comments, you are not alone. Take care of yourself. You will eventually adjust to life without her physically being there. But she is in your heart, forever. Lots of love, Laura

  16. I had to make the choice to euthanize yesterday. My 13 and 1/2 year old Morkie was sick for a couple of days (copious vomiting of bile, diarrhea, lethargy). I could not get a vet appt., so took him to an animal ER. Blood tests showed pancreatic and kidney failure issues, with blood chemistry values so high that they literally were off the charts. The vet said he was in pain and the decision was made. I lost my sister and husband a year and a half ago, and now this. I am beside myself with grief.

    1. Dear Barbara. Your grief and pain is utterly palpable. I am so sorry for your loss. I know you will have been supported and comforted by the unconditional love of your precious dog, when the unthinkable happened a year and a half ago. He and you had a good long life together, and he was sick for just a couple of days. It is the hardest thing, to have to let go of your best mate. I know it all too well, as does everyone in this community we’ve created. I’m sure you feel that life will never hold joy for you, again. It will, I promise. Take care of yourself while you navigate this horrible time of overwhelming grief. You are not alone with this. Lots of love, Laura

  17. It is so comforting to hear the stories of others who feel the same way as I do. On February 16th I took my dog in for some routine bloodwork and a check up which ended up in a downward spiral. Her labs were atrocious, She began to have vulvular discharge while at the vet’s office, and the immediately thought she had an open pyometra. They went to prep her for emergency surgery and her nose started to bleed. This has never ever happened. They did some more labs to see what was going on and found that her coagulation times were doubled. She was not a candidate for the life saving surgery she needed. We transported her to two other hospitals including one out of state where she had 7 units of plasma transfused over the next 24 hours to try to improve her condition and get her the surgery. Ultimately after further testing they found many other unknown issues and the diagnosis of a pyometra was no longer even on the table. She was in critical condition with lines in every one of her legs. She was on IV fentanyl, getting her plasma transfusion, and all alone in the ICU the last time I saw her. We only had 10 minutes since they didn’t allow visitors on that unit. We told her we would be back to see her again tomorrow and she smiled. A few hours later we got the call that she had passed. It was 100% unexpected. We had just made the decision 2 hours prior for her to be a DNR due to her current state. There was no definitive diagnosis as to what happened and there was nothing else we could do to save her. Her blood stopped clotting and that was the end. I just don’t know how to cope with this grief I am feeling. It has been a month and its all I can think about. My girl would’ve been 8 next week and now we are celebrating her birthday without her. I never in my wildest dreams would’ve imagined a pain like I am feeling now and still don’t believe that this is real.

    1. Dear Amanda. How utterly traumatic for you. It’s no wonder you are engulfed in grief. How do you possibly begin to process all that you’ve been through? I cannot tell you how sorry I am, for the loss of your girl. I do know that a traumatic loss is quite different to the grief we feel when our older hounds have died from natural causes. Your brain will be scrambling to make sense of it. Your chest and heart will be trying to breathe, and you will be trying to get through each day, while life just rudely carries on. There is no sense to be made of this, other than, not every dog lives to old age. One fact that is worth a mention, is that she was absolutely fine and enjoying life, almost to the end. She knew you were there for her, and she didn’t linger in misery. You are still in shock, Amanda. Your enormous pain is testament to the unconditional love you and your dog shared. She would have been so aware of that. Animals are genius at love. Take your time. Don’t rush yourself through this process. You will get through this. Lots of love. Laura

  18. Hi Laura,
    I found out yesterday that I’m losing my boy Neeko to cancer. Our vet said he’s hanging in there for me, but he’s in a lot of pain. I’m in denial but we are scheduled to euthanize on Friday. My husband and I had just gotten married when we found and adopted Neeko at 3 months old. He’s been with us now almost 12 years. He was my baby before we had our 2 kids and he’s been my shadow since day 1. I’m so sad and I can’t imagine what its going to be like waking up on Saturday without him. My heart is literally breaking.

    1. Hi Jaymee. What sad news, for you and your family. I don’t think you are in denial, you are incredibly sad, and that is normal. You will be feeling this way for a long time. It goes without saying that you are doing the absolute best thing for Neeko. He needs you to bring about his release from this horrible, inevitable diagnosis. How wonderful to have had each other for so many years. He would have had a fabulous life, and that’s all we can do for our dogs. He will be fine on Friday, and if you are there with him he will only sense your enormous love. You will be left behind, but he will be free and at peace. Just enjoy these next few days with him. Touch him, take time off work if you can and love him to the moon and back. You are not alone, Jaymee. The grief will eventually lighten, and you will adjust to life without Neeko being ‘physically’ there. He will always be with you, though. Lots of love. Laura

  19. Hi Laura,
    I lost my precious OSO on Tuesday. He was 8 years old. I had my 3 year old granddaughter visiting and took her down to the mailbox to get the mail. My Dog knows better to cross the street but i have a feeling he wanted to protect us because my granddaughter was with me. He followed us across the street and we both witnessed him getting run over. The car didn’t stop and just kept driving leaving pieces all over the road. All I could do is hold him in the street and let him know it was ok and that I loved him. I am destroyed, my soul is crushed, and I have lost faith in humanity. I found your article to be very insightful and I am crying through reading this. I know I need to cry and not keep these feelings in but the man in me says stay busy and put these feelings away. The anger and sorrow at the same time is almost unbearable. I appreciate the paragraph on “you need to cry” it helps me get this all out.

    1. Dear Chris. I am so very sorry that you lost your beautiful Oso. For you and your granddaughter to witness this will add an almost unbearable element to your grief. My heart aches for you. I’m sure Oso cannot have suffered, going by your description of events. He will just have been happy to go with you both, and that will have been his last thought and memory. It’s important you don’t torture yourself. It’s not anyone’s fault, but the driver should have stopped. Cry for all your might, Chris. You are not alone. Your grief will be a rollercoaster because it was traumatic for you. Don’t bottle it up. Oso will be with you forever, and the pain will ease for you. Sending lots of love to you. Laura

  20. Hi Laura,
    Thank you so much for this article. I have had my dog Rascal since he was three months old, and he is now 15. I have done what I can for him, but he has several health issues including kidney failure. The last thing I want is for him to suffer, so we are having him put down. But my heart is breaking in two. He has been by my side for 15 years, and it’s hard to imagine life without him. I can’t quit crying. But your article helped by saying that it’s OK. The grief sometimes seems overwhelming, but I’m trying to focus on the good memories. I will forever be blessed that he was in my life. I just want you to know how much I needed to read this.

    1. Dear Rachel. I’m so sorry you have this journey ahead, with Rascal. How blessed you both have been, to have had each other for so long. What an enormous love you have. Rachel, you are doing the right thing, and you know you are. Grief will engulf you for a long time, but it will ease in time. Rascal will always be with you. Lots of love, Laura

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me and others a place to share and for reassuring us that we are not alone in how we feel. My precious baby boy Kirby was 16, incontinent, deaf and nearly blind, and on medication for heart valve disease, but he was still puppy-like when it came to food, treats and snuggles. One day he barked six times loudly in his sleep, and after that his breathing rate was rapid and it never slowed down. The vet gave him meds for pain, thinking his rapid breathing might have been a pain response. But the meds only made him woozy and unable to walk and the rapid breathing got worse. Another vet saw him and was willing to end his suffering. I have all the guilt though just like you mentioned. Is it something I did or didn’t do for him that caused his death? Should I have waited to see if the pain medication just needed longer to work? So many questions and doubts, and I miss him terribly and the tears won’t stop. But I know I did the best I could for my baby boy and I hope he could feel my love for him.

    1. Dear Suzanne. I’m so sorry you have lost your precious Kirby. But, what a fantastic, long life you had together. Your love for him, and his for you, is such a force for life. You can rest easy in the knowledge that you prolonged his life, and nothing you did was wrong. It was time for Kirby, and he was likely unaware that anything was amiss. Rapid breathing is often associated with heart failure, so you did the absolute best and most loving thing for him. It was definitely time, Suzanne. He would have known you were with him, he would have felt safe in your love. You are definitely not alone. Lots of love, Laura

  22. Hi Laura,
    I’m so glad I found this article, it’s truly comforting to read what others are so unfortunately also going through. I lost my beautiful Oliver on May 11th due to heart failure and I am sick with guilt. He’d been on heart meds for over a year for cardiomegaly and mitral valve degeneration, trying to keep HF away, in March, he started a diuretic; he had blood test and Echo done that showed the diuretic was working but end of April I started hearing crackling in his voice and I didn’t rush him to the vet! I always rushed him to the vet, how could I not do that this time? he was still playing, eating, ect.,, and his heart rate wasn’t off the charts. I feel like I killed him – he was chewing on his sister’s treat and started coughing so I thought he was choking, I reached in to see if I could help him but he started to turn blue instead… rushed him to emergency and they tried diuretics, 3 hours on oxygen, ect..,I would have spared no expense to keep him alive but when they brought him to me still on an oxygen tank, he pushed it away, and just passed out. I looked up at the doctor and told her it’s okay now.. let him cross over. Doctor said he was in complete heart failure and not responsive. He was only 10 1/2 year old adventurous little Chiweenie. The best little guy ever. I’m broken.

    1. Dear Cesca. I’m so sorry to hear about your beautiful Oliver. Firstly, it is absolutely normal to blame yourself, when in fact you did everything right. We humans simply have to make sense of our trauma, and because there is actually no blame to be laid, we just turn it on ourselves. Oliver was almost his usual self, you had every reason to just carry on. Even if you had taken him to the vet, the outcome would have been the same. You were so blessed to have each other, and he was happy and loved right to the end. Please go easy on yourself, now. Lots of love, Laura

      1. Thank you very much for your response, Laura. I will print this out and re-read it because I’m having a very down day. Miss him terribly. Sincerely, Cesca xx

          1. Hi Laura,
            I come here often in my 5 months of grief to continue to heal with your beautiful messages to many pet parents. To honor my Oliver, we rescued a 10 year old Daschund from a shelter on Saturday. I believe Oliver lead me to him as I kept asking him for a male, stray, brown Daschund! He’s a little joy & and a handful, much different than my angel Oliver – but we already love him. I’m still grieving definitely (Ollie is my heart dog) but I am happy to provide a happy loving life for this shelter pup OATIE 🙂

            Hi Cesca. That is wonderful news. Lucky Oatie! Of course, Oliver can never be replaced, and he will always have a special piece of your heart. Oatie will carve out his own place, and he will be a great healer to you, as you will be to him. Lots of love, Laura

  23. Thank you so much for this article. We lost our sweet Phoebe just yesterday, and we are lost. She was diagnosed with a collapsed trachea about a year ago. We were told to put her on diet, and we did. She had lost some weight and seemed to be doing well. Then, the day before yesterday, she didn’t want to eat and rapid rib cage breathing began.

    There was no change in her yesterday, so we took her to the vet. She nearly died while we were waiting to see the doc. They rushed her back and gave her some oxygen. She seemed to perk up after that. They took some X-rays but couldn’t find anything wrong. Even her trachea appeared open on the X-ray. They gave her antibiotic and steroid shots, and told us to take her home.

    We got her home and she ate an entire treat. We were so encouraged! Then, she sat on my husband’s lap for about 5 minutes. She acted like she wanted down, so he put her down. She walked about 12 feet, and then she sat down. We rushed over to her, and she laid over on her side. She died with us petting her and telling her it was okay to go, and that we loved her.

    Her canine sister, Ella, looks so sad. We’re giving her lots of extra attention. I think she’s comforting us as much (or more) as we are her. But we are so heartbroken, because of how Phoebe fought so hard to stay with us. That baby loved us and never wanted to leave.

    I’m sure I’ll revisit your article many times in the days to come. Thank you.

    1. Dear Jodie. Thank you so much for your message. I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful girl, Phoebe. She really did want to stay with you, and she would have known you wanted that too, with all your heart. You did the best thing for her, you were both present and totally loving as she passed away – peacefully. That is all our dogs want – our love. Your grief process will take a long time, as it does with every huge loss. Ella will need you, as you say. Stay close with each other. The grief and sorrow will eventually start easing up, I promise. Lots of love, Laura

  24. Thank you so much for this article. I am lost since my sweet Emma Jean passed away. She was with me for 12 years, and was at least 14 years old when she died. I was there with her, and after she gave me three kisses, she was gone. Just like that. My heart is broken and I can’t stop crying and thinking about her. I have one of her toys with me, which is helpful. I work from home, and she was always coming into the office for a pat, or to see what I was talking about or to whom I was talking. She was my world, and I miss her so much. I am waiting for her ashes, paw print and urn, and I have a shadow box to fill with her pictures, collar and toys. I will then be able to visit her whenever I feel the need, which right now, is every waking moment! Thank you again for the article. 1-26-09 – 7-11-23 RIP Emma Jean

    1. Hi Michele. Thank you for your message. I am so sorry to read of the loss of your precious girl, Emma Jean. I bet she was a character, with such a fantastic name. She reached a good age, for any breed, Michele. That alone is testament to your love and care. You are doing all the right things. Cry long and hard. How lucky you both were, to have each other. Those last three kisses will be with you forever. You are not alone. The pain you are feeling will lighten, I promise. Take care of yourself. Lots of love, Laura.

  25. Thank you for this article. Last Monday I took my beloved Russell Terrier Penny for a teeth cleaning. Shortly into the procedure, she stopped breathing and they couldn’t bring her back though they immediately stopped the anesthesia and tried for 15 minutes to revive her. It is particularly heartbreaking for me and my partner because neither of us felt comfortable about having it done in spite of being led to believe that it might have helped with other issues she had. I could have cancelled, considered cancelling and didn’t. The grief is compounded by the guilt I feel at having let her down. She was only 9 years old, and I had hoped for more time with her, she was such a delightful, joyful being. I know these feelings will subside, and I try not to be overwhelmed, my Cattle dog and cat get very upset when I cry, and Didgie my Cattle dog is showing signs of depression, they loved each other a lot. My partner is Buddhist and today I helped him make a shrine for her which helped for the time it took, but then the waves returned. I think I might make a book with some of the countless images I have of her. She never ceased to amaze with her cleverness and endless sense of humor. I miss her more than I can express.

    1. Dear Tamara. I’m so saddened to read of your precious Penny. I can really relate to your loss, and your sense of guilt. I had a three year old dog who I decided to have spayed. I also had a sense of unease about it, because she had a traumatic birth and had to be revived, so I knew she was vulnerable. She, too, died under anaesthesia. I blamed myself, as you are doing now. The truth is, we do what we think is best for our dogs, and their well-being is our primary concern. My dog was having issues, and spaying her was the only way she was ever going to have a peaceful life. Your Penny had issues, perhaps heart problems if teeth cleaning was necessary? You had no choice really, because leaving her with bad teeth would have been miserable for her. You did your best for Penny. She was loved by you, unconditionally, she knew that. You were taking the best care of her. Look after yourself, Tamara. Lots of love, Laura

      1. Thank you Laura for your response. We thought for years we were fighting chronic allergies which always led to courses of antibiotics for secondary infections. My partner and I were beginning to think she had asthma or some other respiratory condition, but all tests immediately before the fatal cleaning were normal, and I let myself believe that she would be fine. I now wonder if her heart was in trouble. Cecily, the Russell I had before her had congestive heart failure, and Penny was the same bloodline. I love the breed, and when we’re ready to get another puppy, I may look for another breeder, or maybe it’s time for another rescue puppy. Thank you again, I know this happens with anesthesia, but it is really helpful to read the words of someone who has had the same tragic experience. Sending lots of love back to you, Tamara

  26. Thank you for a very thoughtful and helpful article. My wife and I just lost our beloved dog a week ago, tomorrow. He was almost 12 years old, and very much a key part of our family. The pain of losing a dog is never easy (we’ve been through this before). But it is the price a dog owner must pay for the company of such loyal and loving companion animals. It does get better, but its dreadful going through the grieving process.

    1. Hi John. So sorry to hear about your boy. Yes – our dogs are members of the family and leave an enormous hole in our lives when they go. I remember when one of my dogs died at only three years of age. I was devastated, but someone said, “when you’re a dog person, it’s something you have to go through a lot, and it’s not always expected”. You obviously know the process, John, but it’s still like a whole new mortal wound.
      Lots of love, and thoughts to you all.

  27. I put my beagle Sammie to sleep a week ago. I still am in a serious grief place; my mind knows this will get better as it has with multiple dogs before her. I feel the emotions others have mentioned: grief, guilt, joy and gratitude, amusement at the images that can play across my mind, loneliness. I am going to do what we all must do at these times – that is, tie a knot and hang on. My heart goes out to each of you because I know what you have experienced. I hope you have found relief in the time since losing your pet. Thank you, Laura, for doing this for people.

    1. Hi, Suzan. Thank you so much for your message. I’m so sorry you have lost Sammie. It means so much when people reach out at such a challenging, displaced time. That’s how it always feels to me. Life somehow is going on around you as usual, while you are inside the bubble of grief, just trying to breathe. You know exactly what you need to do, Suzan. I can tell by what you have written. Know that you are not alone. Sending lots of love to you. Laura.

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