National Geographic

On Losing a Dog

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, so: On Tuesday morning my 17-month-old dog ran into a busy parkway, met a car, and died on impact.

My husband and I took his body to the vet. Then we came home and wept, in fits and starts. We took all of his stuffed animals and balls and bones and other crap down to the basement. I took a bath, and later, a shower. We made sandwiches. We flipped through old text messages for the dozens of photos and videos of him we had sent to each other. We tried to get used to a too-quiet, too-clean apartment.

After a few hours, because this is what I do, I started looking up scientific research about losing a pet. There were more studies than I expected (PubMed produced 66 papers with search term “grieving pet”), and what the studies reported was more comforting than I expected. So I figured it might be helpful — both for my mental health and for any of my readers who are going through something similar — to write some of it down.

We’re already talking about getting another dog. We’re dog people now, thanks to him.

The new dog would never be the same: Even if the same breed, it would no doubt have a different personality, quirks, abilities. But a different dog is far superior to no dog. That’s the logic.

But there’s also the fear. Fear that the next dog will be a constant reminder of what happened. Fear that something awful might happen to the new dog, too. Fear of the inevitable day in the future when we would have to go through this hurt again.

We’d be taking lots of risks.

“Those who do insist on a special relationship with their dog or cat put themselves at risk from a mental health point of view,” wrote British psychiatrist Kenneth M.G. Keddie in one of the first studies about mourning for pets, published in 1977.

His report goes on to describe three medical cases illustrating the “psychiatric penalty” that can follow the death of a pet.

There was a 16-year-old schoolgirl who, after losing the King Charles spaniel she had had since age 3, developed a rash on her hands, couldn’t swallow fluids or solids, and repeatedly played with her fingers. A 56-year-old dog breeder lost her 14-year-old Yorkshire terrier, one of her champions. She had nightmares and “attacks of sudden breathlessness” during the night. And a 55-year-old who was severely depressed for 18 months after the death of her 14-year-old poodle.

Keddie proposes that these extreme grief reactions happened because each woman had created a specific “family relationship” with her dog. To the young girl, the spaniel was the sibling she never had; the breeder’s dog was the sympathetic husband she didn’t have; the 55-year-old’s poodle was the second child she had always wanted.

These three cases, Keddie writes, “serve to remind us of the hazards of pet ownership.”

I don’t know many dog owners who haven’t formed some kind of family relationship with their dog. Ours was our only child.

Science backs me up on the “dogs are like children” thing. As psychologist John Archer explains in this 1997 paper (that link will get you the full .pdf if you’re interested in any of these parenthetical references):

“Pet owners treat pets like children, for example, playing with them (Smith 1983), talking to them in motherese or baby-talk (Hirsh-Pasek and Treiman 1982), continually referring to “my baby,” and holding and cuddling them as one would a baby (Carmack 1985; Serpell 1986)… Similar (but less systematic) evidence that pets act as child substitutes can be found from anthropological and historical accounts of other cultures: this includes breast-feeding of young animals by humans (Messent and Serpell 1981; Savishinsky 1983; Serpell 1986, 1987).”

A few years ago researchers in Hawaii surveyed 106 people while visiting the waiting room of a veterinary clinic about their experiences as pet owners.

The survey was detailed and probed lots of different psychological measures. Sixty-nine responders reported losing a pet and filled out a battery of so-called complicated grief. I wrote about this phenomenon once; it’s defined as an intense, consuming grief with symptoms lasting for more than six months.

About 4 percent of the survey responders were deemed to have complicated grief. Nearly 32 percent reported some kind of grief features — numbness, disbelief, preoccupation with the loss — lasting at least six months, and 12 percent said their grief caused at least “slight functional impairment.”

Seventy-five responders reported the loss of a pet and filled out a battery of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I’ve often written about PTSD; it’s defined as the recurring memories and heightened state of arousal that lingers for more than a month after a traumatic event.

Even using the most liberal criteria, none of the survey responders would meet criteria for PTSD, the study found.

“Findings from this study suggest that many people have close bonds with their pets/animals, often consider them ‘part of the family,’ and experience significant features of grief reactions after their death,” the authors write. “However, the percentage of people experiencing major pathological disruption after the death of a pet/animal is relatively low (<5%).”

In 1989, grief expert Kenneth Doka wrote that pet loss (like perinatal death and induced abortion) is a type of “disenfranchised grief,” meaning that the griever’s relationship with the deceased, and therefore, the griever’s grief, is not sufficiently recognized by other people. Pets, unlike people, are not publicly mourned, which means that grievers don’t get the social support they need to recover.

I’m grateful that that hasn’t been the case for us. After sharing what happened on Facebook, we received a flood of supportive messages, emails, and flower deliveries. It has meant the world to us to know that other people know how much we loved him, and understand that this is a real loss.

Pets are good for people, and good for couples.

A 1995 study of couples’ day-to-day interactions found that:

“…couples with dogs had greater well-being, and those with the highest attachment to their dogs — and who confide in them — fared the best. Interestingly, talking to dogs — in addition to one’s spouse — was related to greater life satisfaction, marital satisfaction, and physical and emotional health. Confiding in pets to ‘discuss’ difficult life situations greatly relieved stress.”

A 2002 study measured cardiovascular changes of 120 married couples while they performed two stressful tasks — one was “5 minutes of rapid serial subtraction by steps of three from a four-digit number,” and the other was a 2-minute hand bath in ice water. Participants had lower heart rates and blood pressure when performing these tasks in front of their pet than when doing them in front of their spouse, the study found. Pets, the authors suggest, offer unconditional support under duress, with no judgments.

“While the idea of a pet as social support may appear to some as a peculiar notion,” the authors write, “our participants’ responses to stress combined with their descriptions of the meaning of pets in their lives suggest to us that social support can indeed cross species.”

Digging into this research has helped me understand the value of having a dog, and more fully appreciate the bond I had — and apparently still have — with the one I lost.

But there are questions I haven’t found answers for in the scientific literature, at least not yet. And for these I would love to hear stories about other people’s experiences.

How long do you wait after one dog dies before doing it all over again? If you get the same kind of dog, is it comforting to have a similar set of dog traits in your life once again, or instead just incredibly sad?

Do people ever regret getting another one? And if they do, do they ever dare to admit it?

There are 169 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. DaveG
    November 21, 2013

    My sincere condolences. Dogs rule.

  2. Mike Lewinski
    November 21, 2013

    My condolences and e-hugs…. I know the pain of losing a pet too well.

    I lost a cat earlier this year, and found the process of writing about her to be very helpful. I also received a great deal of support from friends and family on social media and through my blog.

  3. E. Van Every
    November 21, 2013

    I’m so sorry. It’s very hard to lose these beings who are part of the family.

    We lost a deeply beloved German shepherd–who was for my husband what I call the “once in a lifetime” pet, the animal equivalent of the “love of one’s life”–in May 2012. Her death was pretty devastating to my husband, as she’d been with him for over 13 years, longer than anyone other than his bio family (he literally could not even handle making the arrangement when the time came, but sat in the vet’s hallway sobbing, and had to take the following day off work because he was so distraught), and he still periodically bursts into tears when he remembers her. We tried adopting a new dog seven months later, a mixed-breed rescue; it turned out she wasn’t the right dog for us (couldn’t handle being around our cats), but even beyond that, it was probably a little too soon for us to try another dog. We weren’t really emotionally ready for a dog that was very different in temperament and behavior and we had trouble separating that from our memories and expectations of the dog that had died, which made it difficult for us to bond with her and train her effectively. Ultimately we had to return her, for her benefit as much as ours (and she was adopted again almost immediately).

    We adopted another German shepherd in February 2013, which was not entirely intentionally, but my husband fell in love with her the moment he met her. The additional time away from the death of the previous GSD and what we learned with the dog who didn’t work out had made a difference in the grief, but we did need some time to adjust our expecations of her compared to the previous GSD, especially because she’s the same breed. There are some similarities because of the breed, and there have been times where one of us has called the new dog by the old dog’s name accidentally. But we also quickly became aware that the new dog has a lot of differences in personality and behavior, even as we see the things that are similar due to breed. Having another dog of the same breed isn’t sad in and of itself; it’s sometimes a reminder of the previous dog, but with time it’s turning more into fond remembrance rather than direct comparison.

    It’s worth noting that we went through something very similar with cats several years ago, where I lost one who had been profoundly beloved and with me through a big stretch of my life, and the grief was overwhelming, and we adopted a new cat only four months later which was definitely too soon in terms of my emotional recovery. But the cat presented fewer challenges in terms of adapting to each other, and he’s still with us and much loved. If I had the benefit of hindsight, we’d likely have waited awhile longer. But then we wouldn’t have the cat we love now, and probably wouldn’t have the cat we adopted to keep that cat company who we also love. I’m not sure there’s a hard and fast process for this kind of thing; it seems to be alchemical and circumstantial in many ways, depending on the people, the animals, and the circumstances.

    (I also note that I’m having a very tough time saying “died” in relation to these animals, which likely says something about their places in my life and how it’s still painful in many ways to be aware of their deaths and absences.)

  4. David Peters
    November 21, 2013

    The only solace will come from another puppy. And over time, especially if its the same breed, it will seem like the same dog. I’m on my fourth Samoyed since 1975.

  5. Em
    November 21, 2013

    I don’t know anyone who’s ever admitted regretting getting another pet. I’ve seen all sorts of decisions: some immediately after, some years after, some getting a puppy even before the old pet dies. We waited about a year, and got the same kind of dog (breed, sex, and color). They were both very much their own animals and they never bled together in our memories. I’m sorry for your loss, and I can’t predict how you would react to the new dog being similar to the old. I can only say that every animal I’ve had in my life has been distinct and has its own place in my heart.

  6. Claudio
    November 21, 2013

    Our strategy is having more than one dog, with their ages being somewhat staggered. They keep each other company, and we have some form of support network against grief when one of them dies. But there is no escaping it, it is a 10 years of joy, happiness and companionship for a couple of weeks of absolute misery. I for one think it is a good trade.

    I am really sorry for you loss.

  7. Pat
    November 21, 2013

    I’m sorry for your loss! I bet you made every day he lived a happy one, though.
    When I’ve replaced dead pets, I have always let other life events determine the timing. For instance, an upcoming move, or a trip, or upcoming holidays during which I would be away a lot. I wait until there will be a good long period when I’m at home. Somehow, this kind of thinking helps me switch from grieving mode into planning mode.
    The last time I replaced pets, I got two who were already each other’s best friends at the shelter. That’s worked very well. Any period during which I might have been unable to commit was covered over by the fact that they had each other.

    OTOH, I’m the sort of person who responds to the pet staying out all night by thinking about what kind of kitten I’ll replace it with, so my advice on grief should be taken with a lot of skepticism.

  8. Randal
    November 21, 2013

    Hi everyone,

    This is Ginny’s husband. Thank you for your thoughts and kind words. They’re very helpful, especially the ones about whether we should get another dog and whether that dog should be the same breed. I think we’re both ready to snatch up the first mini-Aussie we meet, and it’s hard to know whether that’s a healthy thing. It looks like the consensus is yes.

    Incidentally, I took the above picture on one of our almost daily walks. Very necessary to get some of his crazy energy out so that he curled up next to Gin rather than disturbing her work all day. It was joyous to watch him bound about, and this photo captures his personality as I will always remember it.

  9. Tara C. Smith
    November 21, 2013

    So sorry for your loss. The last time a dog of mine died, I waited about 6 months for a new one. This was mostly a lag because there were very few appropriate small dogs in local shelters at the time, which was what I wanted–breed to me didn’t matter as much as personality and ability to be around another dog (I still had a 7-year-old chihuahua at the time) and relatively small kids. It didn’t stop the grief at all, but as I’m a dog person too, it did make the house still feel a bit more like it was before Spike died. (And distracted the kids’ attention from his death a bit–something obviously you won’t have to deal with, but it helped in my family).

  10. sandra maloy
    November 21, 2013

    My grandson and granddaughters dog got hit and killed at my grandsons 10th birthday party. Someone opened the door and the dog ran out. Both children saw what happened. They cried the rest of the day and night. Early the next morning I picked them up and we looked at puppies. They feel on love with a little cocker spanial. They begged me to get it for them. We called their mother and she said she thought it would be to soon for them. We hung up the phone and with tears in their eyed asked what are we going to do and I said get the puppy. Their tears quickly turned into smiles. That was 13 years ago and they still have their dog. To me it is never too soon if it feels right.They were still sad over the loss of their other dog but I believe the new pup was the reason they wern’t scared for life.

  11. fran
    November 21, 2013

    Loosing a pet is the hardest thing ever; more than loosing a family member. Having been thru this 4 times and about to go thru it in the near future, I empathize with your pain.My dog is almost 14 ( at the high end of her breed lifespan) and starting to evidence medical issues..
    I know only too well, the gut wrenching pain that will come when she leaves me.and the only thing that will help to ease the pain will be a new dog. The same breed; different sex and color.
    From experience, it will take me time to bond.When my cats died, the kittens were nice.. at first I liked them… one day, I woke to realize that I loved them.. the same, but different..but I LOVED them.. and I know that this will happen with my dog..
    How long will I wait? the only factor is availablitity.. I am going back to the same breeder..As soon as he has a pup for me will be the deciding factor.There will be no guilt as to time to mourn.If it is immediate , then it will be, if it is 6 months.. then that will be the time.But there will be another.
    For people who don’t have dogs, they can not understand the depth of our grief. The real and in your face loss..coming home w/o that perfect being.Disenfranchised grief is possibly the second worst part of loosing a pet.. Having to justify the pain and sorrow to people makes our despair deeper.
    When I lost my first pet, I went to Grief counseling; a brilliant woman concieved of this idea about 30 years ago. It gave me the help and support I needed in a time of loss and vulnerability.Counseling allowed me the space to cry and the strength of understanding that I was not alone.
    We are not crazy.. We love and loved.. The price of the love is the pain.
    We are privileged to share the love..

  12. John Rennie
    November 21, 2013

    Ginny, this is a lovely piece, and I hope that writing it brought you some measure of the comfort you and Randal both need right now.

    I’m wondering whether there is much research in an aspect of this topic that is heartbreakingly relevant to your own loss: the effect on owners of losing pets suddenly to accidents. Dogs and cats with owners, I am guessing, generally live long enough to succumb either to the ills of old age or to cancers or other terminal ailments. And in most of those cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if those animals meet their end in a vet’s office. (If so, the sheer scale of the veterinary euthanasia program makes me reel.) But emotionally, it’s one thing to make a decision to end your pet’s life to spare it further suffering, and a very different thing to have a happy, healthy pet snatched away through violent misadventure.

    When our dog Newman was diagnosed with a brain tumor, my wife and I had two more great years to enjoy his company and gradually adjust to the inevitable. We had a choice about when to put him down, and although that decision was wrenching, we got to make it and had time to think of it as the last, best thing we could do for him. You and Randal and all the other people whose pets are lost in an instant are denied that, and the hurt of that must be awful. Your grief may be a thing apart from what the rest of us know. And I’m so sorry for that.

    —Damn, now I’m weeping out another contact lens over your news. This has to stop.

  13. Jessica Marshall
    November 21, 2013

    I know two people who lost their dogs this year and in both cases, they got a new one almost immediately, within a few weeks. It seemed that they just couldn’t be in a household without a dog. And some people are just [fill in the breed] people, who always have the same kind. That seems fine, too. You picked that breed for a reason in the first place, right?

    So sorry for your loss, both of you.

  14. Anne Carter Thomas
    November 21, 2013

    Dear Ginny and Randal,
    We grieve with you, your sweet and dear dog is in the special place in Heaven reserved for such precious earthly creatures. Thinking of you both, Aunt

  15. Katie Hobson
    November 21, 2013

    I read somewhere after my dog died suddenly that losing a pet is like having the world go from color to black and white. That’s pretty much how I felt for several months. But as time went on I realized I missed having a dog, and was ready to get another one. The timing is personal and I think your gut will lead you in the right direction. If it feels right, and the dog is right, you’ll all know!

  16. Marcia Monroe
    November 21, 2013

    I loved this article and am so very sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is absolute agony for those of us who love them so deeply. My father passed in 2004 and was a man who showed little emotion. Throughout my entire life I only saw him shed tears twice, When my mother packed up suddenly and left the family and again when we had to have our 12 year old Great Dane put down. Now that I’m grown with a family of my own I will be facing the same heartbreak in a few more years. We have a 5 year old Beagle with Epilepsy, a Dachsund-Chihuahua mix to keep her company, 3 indoor cats and a slew of outdoor cats who I provide outdoor shelter from the cold and food everyday. My 16 year old daughter is very reserved and quiet though brilliant and cares about nothing more then her grades and her Beagle. I know the time will come when she (and her younger brother and sister) will be heartbroken over Layla’s demise. It is a constant source of stress and worry for me. Will she be able to handle it? Will she become deeply depressed? I pray when the time comes for Layla to pass on, as well as our other beloved pets my children will be able to grieve openly and then be happy knowing their pets were loved by our family and had a beautiful home. I do believe that all of the years of companionship and unconditional love they give to us is certainly worth the grieving process in the end. Those memories will always be there, They’ll never fade.

  17. Heather
    November 21, 2013

    I, too, am very sorry for this loss to your family. Grief is grief. It’s an inescapable part of the human experience. So is learning to love again, even those who remind us, sometimes uncomfortably, of those whom we have lost.

    Curiously, I had just finished reading this. You certainly are not alone:

  18. Virginia Hughes
    November 21, 2013

    Thank you all, truly, for these thoughtful comments. Rand and I have been enjoying them all day. Social support is a big comfort, just as the studies say. And knowing that so many others have gone through this helps us believe that we can, too.

    John, I have been wondering about the accident question, too. I couldn’t find any research on this in pets, but I didn’t do a very extensive search. But I’d guess that whatever researchers have found about differences in grief after a >human< accident versus after a >human< chronic illness would apply to pets as well.

  19. Pete Farley
    November 21, 2013

    Oh, no! So sad and so sorry. Peace.

  20. katherine griffin
    November 21, 2013

    Hi Virginia, So sorry about the loss of your dog. When we lost our 13-year-old husky/shepherd mix last January, we invited friends and family to a small memorial service for him, at our house. I made a slideshow and people who had shared good times with him spoke about him, and at the end we sang the chorus to “Long May You Run.” It was really lovely – choosing the pix for the slideshow reminded my husband and me of what a great life he’d had, and having other people share their memories and their sympathies with us all together felt like an important part of the grieving process. Making it more “franchised” and recognized. One family member thought, beforehand, that it was a bit over the top – but he didn’t feel that way afterward. It sounds like you have great support from the people in your life. Hope it helps you through the tough spots.

  21. PurposePoint Mentors
    November 21, 2013

    Hi Virginia, I never comment publicly, but I felt it was important to say something on this thread. I am a veterinarian, a dog/cat-momma (no human children) and have had my share of losses as well (both human and animal). Most recently, (4 weeks ago) we lost our beautiful shepherd mix, Nalu, to cancer.
    I noticed in your bio that you write about neuroscience and behavior. I have studied under an international human behavior specialist – Dr John Demartini, and he reminds us that in science, there is a universal law that all energy is conserved. If we, as life beings are energy, (not to sound too airy fairy), then the traits that we love and perceive lost, are conserved. Those traits that we miss, are those which we are infatuated with. If we truly love both sides (traits we love – cuddles and licks, and traits we don’t – chewing our shoes and housebreaking issues), then we have really learned to embrace the real meaning of love and are in a state of gratitude for those, both two- and four-legged who have enriched our lives. Nothing is ever missing. Their “energy” remains in our hearts, and we no longer feel the “pain” of loss. If you look around to see who is demonstrating the traits you miss about your dog, you will see it appear – either in one or many, either in a person or another pet. Those traits, the “energy”, is not missing, they are just transformed. This concept may be a little too philosophical to put in a comment thread, but feel free to reach out if you need someone to talk to. I promise, I’m “normal” – whatever that means. :-)

  22. Lily
    November 21, 2013

    My pup is the only thing I have in my life. I couldn’t function if anything happened to him. I have already decided, when he goes, I will go right after him. There’s just nothing else worth sticking around for. Just the reality of my life, and I’m okay with it.

  23. AJ
    November 21, 2013

    I had to put two of my elderly cats to sleep this summer, and it was absolutely heartbreaking: the worst part of pet ownership. I teach so I was on summer break and I was grateful for that, because it meant I got to spend those last quality days with each of them, and I didn’t have to have people questioning my grief. Unmarried women with cat–we’re a joke, doncha know.

    You’ll know when it’s right to get another pet. Be open to it and the right one will catch your eye, or…in my case, show up at your doorstep. I share your grief.

  24. Mom
    November 21, 2013

    Dear Ginny and Randal,
    You will recall, Virginia, what is was like for me when we lost Glory. Then 4 years later, to the day, Rocky died as well. Enjoyed your article and am now convinced that it is time to get another dog. See you next week. Glad you are both feeling better. Love, Mom

  25. Deb
    November 21, 2013

    My neighbor (man, 60 y.o. lives alone) had two old dogs, about 12 years old each. He came home from work one day and one dog had passed away. The man was completely devastated. Two weeks later, the other dog died….most likely an illness that took over after his buddy of 12 years died. This 60 y.o. man has cried and cried about those dogs….it broke my heart, and has prompted me to start rescuing animals, mainly dogs, before they are to be euthanized.

  26. Allie Wilkinson
    November 21, 2013

    When I was in 10th grade, we unexpectedly had to put down our 7 year old golden retriever after a tumor burst in his stomach. I remember being a wreck, and demanding to be taken to the vet to say my goodbyes. My friends on my block wanted to get me a new puppy almost immediately, but I wasn’t ready for a new dog in my life. Seven or eight months later we got a white lab puppy for Christmas, and I was excited. I’d had enough time to grieve the loss of my first dog. Even though she is a similar type of dog, her personality is so incredibly different from my first dog. Sometimes that makes me sad, since I miss those traits and the closeness I felt with him, but I’ve never regretted having another dog in my life. It will take time, but you will know when you are ready to bring a new dog into your life.

  27. Forza
    November 21, 2013

    “Fear that something awful might happen to the new dog, too. Fear of the inevitable day in the future when we would have to go through this hurt again.”
    This was very sad for the writer and for her dog.

    Car/dog collisions are almost always preventable. The best way the writer could serve dogs and their people is to share with her readers the specific mistakes she made that allowed this to happen; to inform them about other kinds of common mistakes that result in so many dogs being hit by cars; and to help her readers (and their friends, and their friends) prevent this, for all dogs.
    Not trying to be mean or blaming—just hoping something constructive can come of a terrible and preventable event.

  28. Ann Gordon
    November 21, 2013

    Virginia and Randal,
    In spite of the fact that we have known you for quite some time it behooves me to write in response to your research. We have been the owners of pets, ie. Golden Retrievers, since before children. Our first pet, of Golden Retriever breed, named Brandy, was our first baby. I can only empathize with the torment of your lose because of the investment we had on the character of our dog, aka our first baby. We can relate to your suggestion of mourning but believe that there is more at stake.
    We agree with your findings but can document that the loss is singularly to each owner. We invested hours of play and training to our “CHILD” with an expectation that a long life ensued. To our good fortune that investment paid out in spades. We suffered no such loss and yet had the luck of a long and prosperous life of a dog. Had there been an incidence similar to yours we would have been besides ourselves. Even having had 15 years of her life it was still a situation of mourning for the loss as we had to put her down because of illness.
    We can only emphasize that you are not alone. There are many who can attest to the significance of their loss as measured by the investments of their spirit in the ones they love. Each owner has their own level of or measure of investment or love.
    If for nothing else let this serve as a condolence of sorts. We feel your pain. We respond in kindness. We ask for comfort in your heart.
    God speed.
    Ann & Steve

  29. Mike S
    November 21, 2013

    I don’t fully remember my feelings when I lost my dog. I was six years old and lived in a home where my widowed mother deeply traumatized me emotionally. It seems pretty logical that dog meant a lot to me as the only close connection I had. My mom drowned him in a pail of water and left the body for me to find. She told me she killed him. Damn, even today I cannot summon tears. I guess I’m writing this to show just how powerful love of a dog can be. I’m 67 years old now and about a year ago finally allowed myself to love an animal – a cat. My son left if for me when he moved out. It’s real nice to have a gentle loving critter in my life. Please be gentle with children and pets; they form close bonds. Now I’m crying…

  30. Nicole P
    November 21, 2013

    We waited nine months between our losing our first dog and getting our second, and maybe six weeks between our second and third dog. They are our children as we have never wanted kids. It has been some of the worst days of my life when we lost them (first dog at six to cancer, second dog at four to complications from surgery and having epilepsy, current pup is almost six). They have all had different personalities, and I love and have loved them with everything in my heart. I can’t imagine not having a dog in the house…even knowing what will happen down the road. You will know when the time is right for you…

  31. Lee
    November 21, 2013

    We lost our second dog just shy of three months ago. Having brought this dog into our relationship, I took his death much harder than my husband, whose dog we lost five years previously. In both instances, we rescued new dogs less than a month later. Neither was planned. And both new additions bring us great joy, and a welcome distraction from the grief. But even three months later, I am caught off-guard by the sunami of grief that sneaks up on me regularly, for the bond I shared with my lost love. Neither new pup is a replacement. But my husband and I have too much love to give needy dogs to keep that loved bottled up for long.

  32. Rick Magee
    November 21, 2013

    I lost my dog to cancer last May, three days after my birthday. He was almost 12 years old, and had had three other bouts with cancer before. He was a sweet, smart, goofy lab mix who loved every single thing he did.

    My wife and I started him with puppy training that soon led to more obedience classes and therapy dog training. Several of the other dog people talked about their “heart dogs,” dogs who somehow transcended the ordinary relationships they had with their other dogs. Seamus was that for me. We walked together every day, and I estimate that we covered over 15,000 miles together.

    I still miss him horribly and I’m not sure I’ll ever really, completely get over losing him. However, I do want a puppy now. Not because a puppy could replace him, but because I need to have a dog around me, and I want my son (who is 10 months old) to grow up around dogs. I’ll get another shelter mutt lab-mix because I love that type, but I know the pup will be different and have his own personality.

    I am so sorry you lost your pup. I hope you do feel like you can someday get another dog and share your obvious love with the best creatures who have ever lived.

  33. gp
    November 21, 2013

    I’ve had several cats in my lifetime, and much like people, each one had a completely different and wonderful personality. Certainly I had a unique bond with each of them, but I’ve currently got a very special relationship with my 14 year old cat, and I absolutely adore her. While at 14 she is still quite youthful and healthy, I know that day will eventually come, and it saddens me to no end if I dwell on it.
    Having said all that, in the past when I have lost a beloved pet, I never hesitated to acquire or adopt a new one. One reason is, because they are all so different, there is no danger in there being similarities to past pets causing sadness. I never found that to be the case. Another reason is that we have room in our lives for a delightful creature to share our home with, and we have that surplus love to give readily.
    Even when I eventually lose my sweet girl, she would leave such a gaping hole in our lives that we would absolutely have to fill it with the love of a new pet.

  34. Richard Dashnau
    November 21, 2013

    At some point, those of us who have dogs in our lives learn the hard lesson that we are destined to outlive our pets. Humans live longer than dogs, and that’s just how it is. I was discussing my dog with some younger co-workers one time, and one of them asked me if it was worth having a dog when I know that I will eventually lose it forever. And I answered that it most certainly *is* worth living with a dog. For 1 year, or 7 years, or 12 years, I have the compansionship of that pet–for EVERY SINGLE DAY. While the loss of a dog hurts, I have countless good memories of that pet that will far outlast the grief of my loss.
    I’ve recently lost the dog I’d had for 6 short years–she died of complications from mast cell cancer. I’d found her by looking to adopt one (I’d had a purebred one for 12 years before that, before he died of kidney failure). I’d decided after him that I would lighten my life by saving another dog’s life–by “re-homing” one (instead of buying a new puppy). It took me 2 years to find the right one that time.
    After my recent loss, I grieved…but then I remembered how happy we were to have found each other; and I realized that I had the potential for that same joy when the next dog and I met and saved each other. So, I began looking, and hoped that it wouldn’t take another 2 years–but I knew that however long it took the wait would be worth it. And…I found a dog in nearly the same situation–loving owners looking to find a good home for a wonderful puppy (they could NOT keep their dog). It took a lot less than 2 years. And so we’ve met. And she’s with me now. I know I’ve again given my “heart to a dog to tear” (as Rudyard Kipling wrote), but the journey until that sad time is always worth it.

  35. KT McCann
    November 21, 2013

    Your post, and the responses are very moving. I am especially touched by the horror of losing your beloved “whip-smart” pup in the way you did. I had a “love of my life” dog, Tetley, who died, perhaps of cancer, suddenly at the age of 8 in 1991. I still think of her and grieve her. I recently (well, 2 years ago) got a Briard pup who was handicapped with hydrocephalus, and he began struggling in the arms of the man who delivered him to me when he was still six or eight feet from the car. He flung himself into my arms and began kissing me and flailing against me. My partner took him and he got quiet and nestled against her. He came back to me and again went wild. The thought that he was Tetley reborn was inescapable, though of course I’ll never know if he is. He still gets out of control with love for me, flinging himself at me and so forth. He doesn’t feel particularly familiar to me, but it’s clear I am very familiar to him! The loss of Tetley, 22 years later, is perhaps not as sharp, but still very deep. We are all joined in the loss of beloved pets. I am so glad you are comforted by the society of those who responded to you, and hope you fall in love again soon…..

  36. Jla
    November 21, 2013

    After my dog of 15 years died, there was a hole in my life. However, my instinct told me that if I were to get another dog quickly, that would be an attempt to replace her, and in a way felt disrespectful to her. And to get another breed like her was completely out of the question. To have another dog around that looked like her would have made me very,very sad.

    I didn’t get another dog for several years-and even then, it was the new dog who adopted me, not the other way around. The new dog found me.
    And they were not the same breed at all.

    I’ve never regretted getting me new dog. But I am extremely grateful that I waited until I fully grieved my old dog-and extremely grateful they look nothing alike.

  37. Amy Pridemore
    November 21, 2013

    Thank you for writing this piece. I just lost my 17 year old terrier. I feel broken. Reading this helped. I have lost pets before and know it will get better. But she was the hardest to loose. She was the child I never had. I hope a new mutt will present itself to me in due time. But I also feel it’s okay to wait and grieve. My heart goes out to you and your husband.

  38. mike
    November 21, 2013

    We had a male sheltie we named Lambeau.. he was a bright, energetic loving friend. He was just shy of 11 when he died. I cried more when he died than I did for my parents. I went off to China for work and my wife couldn’t handle not being greeted at the door for very long.. when I got back from China she went to a private breeder in our state and came back with not one but two puppies .. they have been as awesome as Lambeau was.. but Lambeau was the first and will always have a special place in my heart. I would get another puppy when you are ready… I was really reluctant to get a dog in the first place because you get one then you have to go through the grief when they die.. that’s true, but the almost 11 yrs of joy offset the short time you grieve.. they never replace the first one, but they do ease the pain of losing one… God Bless You in your grief and in your search for a new friend!

  39. Cathie
    November 21, 2013

    Allow yourself time to grief. When you stop seeing your new pet as a replacement to fill the gap your ready. Then let your heart & soul let you both to your new friend, maybe even a pound puppy or older dog. You will know them when you see them. In the meantime take joy in the pets around you. Visit family or friends to get some unconditional love.

  40. Maegan
    November 21, 2013

    Thank you so much for your post. My husband and I just lost our magnificent 4-1/2 year-old dog to cancer last month. She was our first pet as adults, our first pet as a couple, and as we don’t have children, our first child in a sense. We planted a dogwood tree today with her ashes scattered around it. It has been a very rough journey, and it’s so comforting to know that there are other people out there who understand what we are going through.

  41. Cathi
    November 21, 2013

    My thoughts are with you both on the loss of your beloved boy.

    We too have had companions of many species, all of whom were special, but some of whom we shared a particular bond with (I’m thinking particularly of my staffy Celly – who I thought of as my first daughter – and my dwarf rabbit Blaze). Their loss was heartbreaking and felt a long time after they had passed, so I understand the grief you feel.

    We lost our last staffy Leila (who we got as a pup prior to Celly’s death) 2 months ago, and while it is still raw at times, we have coped much better due to the companionship of our foster dog Topaz. He and we have grieved together and we are likely to “foster fail” and adopt him. Knowing how many other dogs need fostering while looking for their forever homes, we decided to take on another foster, much sooner than we would have looked at getting another dog permanently. Although they are still getting to know each other, I think it has been a good thing all ’round.

    I think the range of normal goes from “straight away” to “never”, and am sure you will find your spot in between, but if you are still uncertain, consider fostering. I’m sure there are rescue for every breed in your area, just as there are for Perth in Western Australia.

    One other thing to bear in mind is that you may feel the loss more in some ways Ginny, since you work from home and so he was likely an integral part of your day. I would suggest in that case that it may actually be healthier mentally to invite a new companion into your home sooner, so that the grieving is more “natural” (for want of a better word) and less prolonged by the change in your “workplace”, rather than simply the love you had for him.

  42. Julie
    November 21, 2013

    Condolences upon condolences. My colleague at Do You Believe in Dog? recently reflected on this life event that no matter when it comes, it will be too soon. Grief resources specific to the loss of a pet And for other thoughts, a poem posted by Dr. Patricia McConnell:

  43. Sarah
    November 21, 2013

    I’ll admit I regret getting another pet. I had gotten my cat when I was 23, my greyhound two years later. They were with me for all of my adulthood. They moved with to new cities and sometimes were my only friends. My cat had FIV and a heart condition. I was told I would be lucky to get two good years. I got ten amazing ones. He was the most incredible creature and I can’t begin to capture why in a blog post. He got very sick while I was out of town. There were no flights out that night when I found out how bad things were. I took the first one the next morning. I spent every minute agonizing over whether I’d make it home in time. I did but he was in bad shape. He died on my chest while I was waiting for a call back from the vet to bring him in to euthanize him. I was looking in his eyes when he took his last breath. It was awful and wonderful all at the same time. I truly believe he waited for me. And two years later I still can’t write about this without breaking down. Less than three months later, my sweet gentle greyhound passed suddenly from a burst mass I didn’t know was on her spleen. She was only ten and had been her playful self when I left for work. When I came home, for the first time ever she didn’t want her dinner. I knew something was very wrong. She died a few hours later on the operating table. After she was gone I was just numb. Broken and lonely I got suckered by well meaning but totally dishonest people in to adopting a mess of a dog scheduled for euthanasia. I have spent thousands of hours and dollars working with her to make her tolerable to be around. She’s so out of control and unaware of her size I can’t really have her around kids or my folks. She exhausts me. Because she isn’t aggressive, and I believe an animal is your commitment for life I’m still working with her, she is finally starting to come along, and I do love her, but she is also a constant reminder of how lucky I was before. And I know that isn’t fair to her and those thoughts make me an asshole, but that is my truth.

  44. Frances
    November 21, 2013

    Thank you for this article. I just lost 4 of my dogs these past months just right after I lost my dad. Its heartbreaking and earth shattering. In fact, I am still (silently) grieving for them because I never got that kind of support from other people (I was told that they were just dogs so I shouldn’t weep for them) .I have always thought that I could never love another dog again but I still have 2 young dogs that love me unconditionally. I am still afraid that I might lose them anytime but every single time I see those 2 adorable dogs I forget every fear that I have. They are really comforting and the unconditional love they give to me is insurmountable. I cannot compare their love for me to those dogs I have lost and my love for them can not be compared to the love I have given to those 4. My life will never be the same without those 4 other dogs but I know that my life wouldn’t be better without my new dogs.

  45. Nathaniel
    November 21, 2013

    Your experience strikes such a nerve with me. My partner and I lost our beautiful pup one week after her second birthday. Boy, did we love that dog. She was so optimistic, diplomatic and intelligent. I enjoyed games with her as much as she did we me. It hurts to think that, because I assumed we had such a long future together, there were times I didn’t bring her for that walk she wanted, or choose to leave her at home when I went to the beach. Her life was so short and beautiful, and it felt very different to loose such a young dog than the bittersweet pain and beauty of watching a wise old companion pass away. Tybee was just transitioning from puppy to dog and showing us her personality as she calmed down a bit. Her optimism and brightness was combining with a new feeling of loyalty and maturity. She died within two weeks of a rare autoimmune disease. Suddenly a dog who had boundless energy could not walk or swallow. We had three more days with her as medicine prescribed had a short lived affect on her symptoms

    We decided that with so many dogs in need of rescue that it was the right thing to do to take another pup in to our home. Two months later we did. It felt like a good way to honor Tybee. After all, she had no possessions. All she had to leave behind was love, and we wanted another rescue to have that. It’s a out 6 months later and I think of her constantly. I try to talk to folks about her from time to time but most people politely demur. It’s hard. I am so sorry for our loss. That photo of her reminds me so much of our little blue eyed Tybee,

  46. Al
    November 22, 2013

    I share your grief, as I lost a 4 year old lab last summer. I’ll never know how he got outside of the gate, to be hit. It felt like a very heavy weight on my chest for days afterward. I came to the conclusion that I had loved him too much. After six months I got a replacement pup. Life recycles, time heals.

  47. Lucy Vaughn
    November 22, 2013

    My parents had two dogs while I was growing up. Yeva, my Mom’s dog, died when I was still too young to remember. Zeke, my Dad’s dog, died when I was 5; but since was 14, it seemed natural, and while I was a little sad, I wasn’t grief stricken. (The fact that my Dad had told me Zeke died in his sleep, instead of the vet assisted truth, might have something to do with it.)

    But Patch and Jemma, my childhood dogs, changed it all. We got Patch when I was 8, and he was diagnosed with throat cancer when I was 19, almost 20. My first summer home from college. We tried everything; even drove hours to Knoxville, where the UT vet clinic was located. I was so fearful, but hopeful, when we drove him down. But they called, and said the tumor was so large he may not even wake up from exploratory surgery. He did, but we still had to drive down and get him, and take him home to die. I remember picking up a brochure about pet death there; and it was when reading it that I made the clear decision to be there when it happened. I didn’t want to send him off to the vet with my Dad and cry with my sister and Mom as it happened far out of our sight. I wanted to be there, petting and comforting him, and telling him how thankful I was. And that’s exactly what I did- when the pink fluid went it, and his eyes went big, I said “Thank You.”

    Jemma was pretty depressed for a a few weeks afterwards, but soldiered on for 4 more years. When her time came, it was a little harder. Patch was the family dog, but I had saved up for Jemma, picked her out, and trained her. She was my “training for adulthood” dog- from age 11 to 25, she was my responsibility. Losing her felt like losing a childhood friend who had helped me grow up. When the decision had to be made, I asked for 24 hours, and I spent them all with her, even sleeping on the couch at my parent’s house right by her. I still regret not getting down on the floor with her when she woke up. I went with her too, and even though I couldn’t see her eyes when it happened, I thanked her as well.

    Jemma passed a little over 4 years ago, and in September, I got my new dog: Boudica. Enough time has passed that I don’t feel like I’m betraying my old dogs, but making new friends that they can play with in puppy heaven some day. I know a day will come when I have to thank Boudica too, but I hope it’s a good 12-14 years from now.

    I lost my Dad in June, and now that I’ve dealt with real and unending grief for a human, I can differentiate between that and grieving for a pet. I loved my dogs, but it’s a different kind of sad that’s hard to describe. I was so sad when Patch and Jemma left, but it felt like they had done their job, fulfilled their purpose. With Dad, all I can see are all things in my life he won’t be here for. Maybe it’s because I’m automatically resigned to a dog’s lifespan, maybe it’s because I miss my Dad more. All I can hope for is that my Dad has found them, and all his old dogs, and they’re all playing fetch together in the Summerlands.

    Typing this made me cry a little. I’m going to cuddle on Boudica, and I sincerely hope that you find a new playmate, and that someday he’ll find your old dog, and that you can find them, and we can all be together. Isn’t that a nice thought?

  48. Rob James
    November 22, 2013

    Nearly 6 years ago I adopted a 3 or 4 year old beagleX named Fred. He’d had 4 failed adoptions before I came along, and as a result had a lot of seperation anxiety. But we bonded instantly.
    I’d been suffering from depression for a while before I got him, and i seriously credit him with keeping me alive.
    A year after I got him I found a lump on the inside of his leg, which turned out to be a MAST cell tumor. Basically a skin cancer. I was crying, i didnt want to lose him. He’d become my world, was everything to me.
    Fortunately, i’d found it very early, and surgery was able to remove it all. I was beyond relieved. Over the next 4 years he had 3 more, but because I was paranoid about lumps after the first one, i found them all very early in their formation, and surgery got them all with clear margins.

    After everything we’d been through, he was absolutely my fur child. I’m single, and he was everything to me. Friend, confidant, child, partner in crime, everything. he went everywhere with me, and was always happy just being by my side, no matter what i was doing. I told him i loved him daily, and spoilt him rotten.
    Early this year he had a little bit of a cough, and was drooling a bit more than usual, so i took him to the vet thinking he had an infection of some sort. Fast forward 5 days, he’d had emergency vet checks, ultrasounds, biopsies, and a CT scan. The verdict was a soft tissue sarcoma (cancer) in his throat, pressing against his saliva glands. It had already spread to his lungs, and was inoperable. 4 days after the final diagnosis, he no longer wanted to eat, nor go for a walk, so i made the hardest decision of my life and put him to sleep.

    I was beyond heartbroken, and would cry myself to sleep for weeks afterwards. Unfortunately being single and with no real family, i just had to try and deal with it. In 10 days i’d gone from having a loving dog, to him being gone.

    Like you i had become a dog person, and I needed another dog in the house.

    A few weeks later i found a 9 month old labrador named Bennie that needed a new home, so he came home with me. That night, i more or less had a physical reaction to having a new dog in the house. I had massive “buyers remorse”, was physically shaking, and looked at the new dog with almost resentment.

    I felt like i had traded my Fred in, and gotten a dud in return. Obviously this wasnt the case, but i couldnt shake the feeling. I’ve had Bennie for 6 months now, and although we’ve started to bond, we’re nowhere near as close as I was with Fred. There have been many times i’ve found myself comparing him to Fred, wishing he was Fred, even accidentally calling him Fred.

    I’m not over Fred, and I dont think I ever will be. Bennie does help, but it is a very slow road to getting over the loss of a dog i considered my family.


  49. Ken Dally
    November 22, 2013

    Thanks for this Virginia,

    In the last 2 years I’ve lost 2 dogs both German Shepherds. The first had been my companion for over 9 years and she had to be euthanased when an unknown until then, large cancerous tumour burst causing internal bleeding. It was across multiple organs and it didn’t seem moral to put her through surgery with a very small chance of survival. Far better to keep her with family where she was loved until it made her sick. The end came 4 days later when in the morning she didn’t want to eat or drink, so I took her back to the vets and spoke softly to Skadi and held her as she went to sleep.

    We had her cremated and have a memorial stone in the garden under one of her favourite shrubs she would shelter from the heat under. My little nieces and nephew still go and say hello to her when they visit.

    The next was her successor and was only 10 months old. At 7 1/2 months she was hit by a horse float after running out to check out one or the neighbours driving past. She new to keep away from the car but not the towed trailer. It was a Sunday and I rushed her to the on call vet and had to play nurse as we closed bleeding wounds and stitched up her eye in an attempt to save it. It wasn’t until I got back home I realised I covered was head to toe in blood.

    The next day what we had hoped to be just shock turned out to be a broken vertebrae and she couldn’t move her hind legs. Another trip was arranged to a specialist Orthopaedic vet surgeon 300kms away in Sydney. There was never any question of cost, she was family. The very complex surgery went well with the bones healing but even after 2 1/2 months of me giving her massage and physiotherapy at least twice a day her spinal card didn’t heal. Her eye had partial vision but at 10 months old and not even able to get out to toilet by herself, dragging her hind legs and trying to play after a final consultation wit the Surgeon we reluctantly agreed that it was no life for a young creature. I put myself in her position and realised I would not wish to be unable to do anything. After all dogs don’t have hands which can compensate to large extent.

    So it was that about 14 months after losing my previous girl I again found myself sitting on the floor of a surgery talking gently and cradling my dogs head as she peacefully slipped away. Eowyn now rests under the same shrub as her forebear, Skadi.

    After 4 German Shepherds of my own and the family always having corgis since I was a toddler I’ve found I can’t not have a dog. I now have another female Shepherd, Freyja, she was born at the end of the month I said goodbye to my last and I adopted her 8 weeks later.

    Each dog is never the same as the last, and in quieter moments I miss them all, especially Eowyn, my last. Spending so much time trying to help her heal changed me. I think I’m a better more forgiving person now. Having pets all my life and inevitably having to say goodbye helps you cope with the loss of human friends. You learn it’s part of life, it hurts but things go on. I’ve seen this also in my nieces and nephews.

    Dogs are always glad to see you, get you out the house when your feeling low, will quietly sit with you and just take in your surroundings and be happy for just being. The sheer exuberance of puppies can heal a soul. I think these and many other aspects of the bonds you form with them far outweigh the loss you feel when they leave.

  50. Alicia
    November 22, 2013

    When I had to have my enormous ginger tabby cat euthanized (heart disease) I was a wreck. The best decision I made was taking my vet up on the offer of a Maine Coon that had been boarded at his clinic ever since her owner’s stroke. I felt ghoulish adopting a cat minutes after my other cat’s death, but it really was for the best. I resented my new cat for a few days (and thought to myself that I’d trade her for my tabby in a skinny minute), but I couldn’t ignore her. She was in a new place and very nervous about the big changes in her life. I had no choice. I had to hold her, pet her, play with her, talk to her, and sleep with her. Me, I would’ve wallowed in my sadness over my cat’s death, but my newly adopted cat wouldn’t let me. I love her to bits.

    I’m really sorry about your loss. It’s great that you’re getting support from family and friends.

  51. John H. Appel
    November 22, 2013

    Our sincere condolences with your untimely loss.

    We just lost our last friend of ober fifteen years and still feel the pain every day. However, as we are in our late seventies, we have made the painful decision not to replace him, as we think it is unfair for a young friend to have to share his life with a couple of geriatrics. But let me tell you, this decision has not made life easier, for who do you confide in now? Who is happy when you get home from an outing?
    But then again, you never know who will someday cross your path.

  52. NR
    November 22, 2013

    My deepest condolences. I have to applaud you for writing this while dealing with your grief. My dog died to a horrible cancer 3 months ago and I still find it difficult to deal with the sadness. I have decided never to get another dog again after seeing how that poor creature suffered the cancer. Those last few months were a living hell, waiting for calls from the vet as they went through various tests and operations, always getting bad news. The day after he died I started work at a new job. My dog kept me grounded while I was unemployed and depressed. My life is back on track now somewhat but I feel very numb after loosing him.

  53. Julia
    November 22, 2013

    I am so sorry for your loss. This year has been an incredibly unlucky one for me – my parents’ cats (aged 13 and 8) that I grew up with died in May and July, one of cancer (that we were expecting) and one of a blood clot (that we weren’t). I grieved for them. Then in October mine and my husband’s cat died suddenly and mysteriously, aged only four. He was our first pet, and the most complicated and human cat I have ever known. He was our child in a very real way. We had a trip abroad already booked, so we went away for three weeks, and we got a new kitten as soon as we got home, just a month after losing Hobbes.

    Our friends and family were very supportive, and we were grateful for that, but at the same time it wasn’t really that helpful, because no one else ever really understands the bond you have with an animal. Because it’s not a bond formed of words or conversation, I think it’s hard to understand it yourself, let alone describe it to other people. So when you lose that people say, “oh I’m so sorry, he was like your baby wasn’t he?” and things like that, meaning well, and part of you gets frustrated because he wasn’t LIKE your baby, he WAS your baby.

    I am so, so glad we got the new cat. There is absolutely no comparison; Hobbes was one in a million, we were never expecting or hoping to have him again. But the house was so quiet, and we knew we could offer a wonderful home to another animal. We are both still grieving. We are planning his memorial stone and getting photos printed for the walls, and we cry while looking back and remembering, but at the same time we have little Mouse running around. We’ve fallen in love with him too, and we can laugh about him at the same time as we cry about Hobbes. It makes it bittersweet, but that’s better than just bitter.

  54. Alla Katsnelson
    November 22, 2013

    I’m so sorry about Conan. His legacy seems to be, in part, at least, turning you into dog lovers, so it does seem that now you have to get another dog. In our family we had a pug named Oliver, who was unbelievably close with my grandfather. Oliver died while we were all on vacation at a rental house that didn’t allow pets — he had a heart attack on the 4th of July, during a particularly intense burst of fireworks. When we learned of his death, my grandfather said, “I was sure as I left that Oliver was telling me we were saying goodbye for the last time.” He was devastated, and we all were too; all six of us went to the beach together and that night slept there like vagabonds. A few months later, my mother got another puppy — not only was it the same breed, but they all decided to give him the same name! Oliver Jr. I was horrified, but it seemed to really give both my mother and my grandfather solace. In fact, my mother says that if she gets another dog after Oliver Jr dies, she’ll name him Oliver as well because she now always needs to have an Oliver in the house. Hugs.

  55. Pete Etchells
    November 22, 2013

    Virginia, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. It’s so hard to make sense of these things when they hit us out of the blue, but it’s heartening to hear so many voices of support in the comments.

    When I was about 15, I had a labrador called Archie. He was an absolutely mad dog, always running around with way too much energy, but he had an absolute heart of gold – he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He died of cancer when he was about 2 and a half, and it left a gaping hole in our lives for a long time after. Everything seemed so much quieter without him, and all of our normal daily routines were completely thrown out of kilter. But he was a good friend, a little rogue, and a brilliant dog, and I’ll always remember that with a smile.

    I hope you’re both okay.

  56. Ed
    November 22, 2013

    Very sorry about your dog. All the science about loss and grief can be summed up in by the technical phrase: it sucks. For now. But give it time. Time works with pets. Certainly don’t give up on dog ownership (alright, cats too, I guess). Life’s too short not to have a constantly hungry, marginally productive canine lurking nearby to see if you want to scratch their ears.

  57. Mike Simmons
    November 22, 2013

    I know at some point that my beagle is going to break my heart. It’s almost inevitable – almost; I could get done in first I suppose. That said, we found a little dog that my wife and I absolutely love in a pound that would have had to put him down in a week or two, and since then, he has lived a pretty good life of walks, treats and snuggling on the couch with his people. Everyday is better thanks to Jake, and that includes the days where he gets into something he shouldn’t or doesn’t make it outside to take care of his business.

    I know it’s going to happen, and it will be terrible. Some of my friends will understand, and some won’t. That said, after a period of time we’re going back to the same pound and we’ll do it all again, with a different little dog who for some reason wound up there, possibly facing that final nap. Instead, he or she is going to wind up with some people who love them, despite knowing how it will most likely end.

  58. Kim Curtsinger
    November 22, 2013

    My sympathy to you and your husband. I lost my sheltie in January to Lymphoma. I still cry at the sound or sight of him name. He fought such a brave 16 month battle against Lymphoma. We got another dog six weeks later….waaaaaaaaaaay to early; and he didn’t work out. Two month later we had to return him to the rescue group because I just couldn’t deal with him at that point. He was a beagle and they are so much different than a sheltie. Broken heart number 2. We now have another sheltie, a puppy, who is quite different than our Randy but still has the sheltie character.

    don’t go right out and get another dog. Let yourself grieve and heal. It takes time, lots of it. But by all means, do get another one when the time is right. Grief is the price we pay for having loved.

    “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…..and unspeakable love.”—-Washington Iving

  59. suzanne
    November 22, 2013

    I had 2 dogs that lived to the ripe old age of 14. Raising them from puppies, they were my chidren. After their passing, I said I’d never get another dog, but now, once again, I have 2. They have not replaced the originals and I felt so guilty in the beginning of getting 2 more, but found this saying which made me feel loads better. Maybe it will help:

    It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will become dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.

    I don’t know who wrote it, but I got a plaque on line that I now hang in my bedroom.

  60. Tracy
    November 22, 2013

    In march we lost our 13 month old puppy. She had a blockage in her intestine from eating toys an other inedible things we kept trying to keep from her. She didn’t survive the surgery to remove the blockage.
    She was the youngest of our, at the time 4 dog. We’re back to just 3, and will likely keep it that way. But this summer I started occasionally fostering dogs from our local shelter. Fostering is a little heartbreaking, but also heartwarming. We get to know a dog, come to love it, then send it off to a new forever home. But knowing we’re saying goodbye to one dog, while soon welcoming in another is a comfort, but much more so, is the knowledge that we’re saving an animal and helping a family find a new pet.

  61. Lynn Barkema
    November 22, 2013

    We lost one of our two dogs unexpectedly in July. The “karmic” thing about it was that just 6 weeks earlier, we had been led for no apparent reason to adopt a rescue dog, different breed and personality altogether. So he had already made his place in our family before our Libby suddenly started having seizures one morning that would not stop, suffered irreversible brain damage and had to be put to sleep. The new little guy has made his own place in our hearts, though the whole Libby left is still there, and always will be. Im very glad the new little guy came to us when he did, and continues to help provide some of the doggy love we lost along with Libby. Our one concern, and maybe you can offer advice on this, is that our big dog, Hunter, who was our first dog, is still grieving for his lost companion, and there’s no way we can explain to him, or comfort him. He gets to sleep on my bed now, and gets extra love and play and treats, but he will still go and sit at the back door and gaze mournfully across the yard to where she is buried, or stand in the yard at night and bark pathetically, as if he is calling her.

  62. J Weight
    November 22, 2013

    We have done the staggering pets thing as well. Unfortunately, when the younger one died upon meeting a car it was absolutely devastating. We still had Reugar to help us through it. He took it pretty hard too though. Now we are about to embark on the next phase. The dog we are getting now is actually the younger brother of the one we lost, even more than the same breed… The same mother. We are super excited and love being dog people. I see a cycle like this for the rest of my life, but I can’t live without my puppies. BTW they have all been Yorkies…

  63. Ron M. Knight
    November 22, 2013

    Well I hope for your next dogs fate that you don’t let it run free next to a busy parkway. There are many ways to prevent this from happening. Get an electronic fence and collar and take the time to obedience train your dog. You wouldn’t let your child run around unsupervised near a busy street so why let your dog? Be responsible pet owners please.

    • Virginia Hughes
      November 22, 2013

      I appreciate your concern, Ron, but you actually know nothing about the specifics of the situation.

  64. Vince
    November 22, 2013

    I buried my dog on Monday, the day before you lost yours. I had the same feelings as you. It’s the little things that would get to me – dropping a piece of food in the kitchen, then realizing there’s no dog there waiting to lick it up, no more dog hair on the floor, etc.

    Despite the pain, we will get another dog. To paraphrase Tennyson – its better to have had a dog and lost her than never had a dog at all.

  65. Rebecca Harris
    November 22, 2013

    I’ve lived with dogs for the majority of my life (I’m 67), and so have experienced their loss many times over. It is never easy, and I’ve mourned each one in its turn. They are family, even as you tell yourself they’re dogs, not people. We waited nearly ten years after the death of the last one, unwilling to go through that heartbreak again, but the pressure built. There is an emotional need in humans that can only be fully satisfied by a dog (or other animal companion), I think. Eventually, we adopted a shelter dog, a little beagle mix, and she’s been a total joy. I regret that we waited so long, because she’s young, and the fear now is that we might go before she does. I’m more scared of leaving her than I am of the knowledge that eventually she will leave us.

  66. Joanne Stark
    November 22, 2013

    My son shared this site with me and it was helpful to know how many of us feel like we have had a family death when we no longer have a special four leg friend with us…and getting another pet will ease the pain in time…

  67. Chris Fry
    November 22, 2013

    Virginia, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. But I’m also glad you chose to write this, even though this was SO recent. I think writing about it helps.

    I wrote a response comment about the loss of my own dog and the puppy that came after, but it was too long for comments so I dropped it into my own (only occasionally used) blog site.

    Link here:

  68. Jeanne
    November 22, 2013

    Thank you for your beautiful & timely article — today I lost my ever vigilant guardian. My Boston Terrier was only 10 years old and died from a stroke. I have lost many pets,; some Bostons and some labs. I have loved them all deeply for the wonderful dogs that they were. Each had their own quirky traits and personalities but all were loyal, loving, and always a part of my heart. I still have his brother who is mourning as I am. Yes, another pet will find its way into my heart and home. Thank God for our pets.

  69. Josh Maxson
    November 22, 2013

    Thanks for this post. I appreciated the science and the knowledge that the grief is real.

    I always had dogs growing up, a few cats too, and a slew of other pets and some livestock as well… I didn’t really become affected by the loss of a pet until nearly 9 years ago when I lost my black lab/husky mix Carrey. She was the first dog that was my own. My parents surprised me with her for my birthday when I turned 16. I still remember her, all chubby and wiggly, with loose pajama skin when she flopped all over my lap as I came in the door from school. She loved the snow more than anything in the world. She looked like a lab, but she’d whine to go out in the middle of a blizzard, and curl up in a little hollow she’d dig in the snow and just let it cover her up. She was my constant, faithful, loyal and unconditional companion through all the traumas and adventures of late teens and early 20′s. She vetted my girlfriends and eventually my wife. When I married, we couldn’t bring her to our first apartment, so she stayed with my parents, playing old mentor to my parent’s younger dogs. She had contracted lyme at some point we think, she slowed down considerably in her final year or two, but the snow still could make her become that rambunctious husky puppy again.

    I remember vividly the night she died. My wife and I were house sitting for my parents while they were out of town for a while. We were coming back in the evening after running some errands. We found Carrey lying unresponsive on the back porch. The other two dogs had been frantically circling her, pawing and nudging at her. We aren’t sure what happened, but we think she’d had a seizure, she’d had a few mild ones shortly before that my Mom had told me about which is how we’d discovered the Lyme. There really was nothing to be done. I tried to give her the medication that the vet had given us… It was a pill though and she couldn’t swallow it. We called an emergency veterinary clinic, but they were an hour away, and basically said they would probably just put her down. In the end, I just made her as comfortable as I could, and like so many times watching before while watching TV with our family, I put my head on her chest and stayed with her. I think she could sense she wasn’t alone anymore, her breathing became more shallow, less ragged. She seemed to relax, and even let out one howl; a farewell to her pack. I recall perfectly the moment her heart didn’t beat again.

    I felt so guilty, and I’m not sure why. I cannot think about her without being gutted as if it had just happened. At first I couldn’t imagine getting another dog. Once my wife and I moved to apartment where we were allowed pets, we started to talk about getting a puppy. It was a couple years before we got our current dog, she’s a golden retriever / yellow lab mix. If I can, I will be with her when her heart doesn’t beat again, and then we’ll get a new dog after mourning for as long as feels right. I can’t think about losing a dog, but I also can’t imagine not having one in my life. The passing is as important and meaningful as the first ticklish licks and nips from the little puppy with the baggy pajama skin, and I pity anyone who doesn’t get to experience it.

  70. Heather
    November 22, 2013

    Its just plain crazy how emotionally attached we get to the critters, and for those who don’t have pets…I think it might be confusing for them when they see the rest of us feel such profound sorrow when they pass. I know it confuses me, and logically makes little sense since I’m a meat eater, after all. But fortunately, I think its becoming more acceptable to acknowledge that the fuzzy faces play such an important role in our lives, and give us great happiness and comfort. I know I grieved for over a year after I lost my little kitty Speck. It just seemed so stupid to me that I felt as sad as I did, but she was the only one who, up until that point, knew ALL of my boyfriends! She shared so much of my life! And now with my pups, I fear the day I will have to say goodbye to them too. I also think the lessons we learn from the loss, and the insight we are given, are somehow invaluable and ultimately give us better tools for dealing with the hardships of life and aging. That said, the question of when to “replace” a pet has a different answer for everyone. It took me over a year to adopt another, but a friend of mine lost his mastiff and brought another one home only days later. You’ll know when it feels right, and please know that I cry with you for the loss of your pup.

  71. Jay
    November 22, 2013

    Just because someone dies doesn’t mean you stop loving them. I understand the pain you feel at the loss. That never really goes away. My little Buffie had a full life. A lassa-poo, she was my baby, my pal and —- spoiled. She died when she was 17, and that was about 14 years ago. I rescued two Dandy Dinmount terriers that some creep abandoned. They were handfulls, but we got along and eventually they went the way of all life. Now, we share our home with our daughter’s two little dogs. They are our “grand-dogs.” We love and fuss over them, but they are Jamie’s babies. Try as I might, I can’t feel for them the way I did for Buffie. We also have cats, cats, and more cats. Earlier this year, Mandy was euthanized for a terminal ailment. She was cremated and my younger daughter has her ashes. The second was Snowball, nature’s mistake who had half a brain. He was largely — no, “completely” — unaware of his surroundings, couldn’t be house trained, could barely eat. Finally, after several years, he was taken to an animal shelter. I don’t like to think about what happened to him from there. Then, there was Sir Chance, my wife’s favorite. He had been with us for 17 years, was senile, going blind and deteriorating quickly, now. She made the decision to euthanize him. She hasn’t yet gotten his ashes. My wife’s mood is very low. She dearly loved Chancy.

    All of these animals have personalities. They fit into our household and they are loved for various reasons. I hate losing even one and having many doesn’t make the loss any easier to take. We keep saying that we won’t adopt any more, and then — just like that — another one arrives at our door step. We can’t turn them away. The most recent is Marmalade. A tiny kitten, she sought me out, leaving her mother and fleeing some abusive neighbor kids. She almost died several times of malnutrition and sickness. But she rallied, thanks to our great vet, Dr. Fammiy. Now she is a loving, short-hair calico, small by most standards, very happy to cuddle and — you can tell — glad to have a welcoming home.

    When the time is right, you will find another companion animal. You’ll know when. It’s just the way lots of us humans are.

  72. J McKenna
    November 22, 2013

    I am so sorry for your loss. It’s especially hard to lose a young pet so full of life.
    For the older couple who said they were too old to replace their pet – my 90 yr old mother lost her beloved Bichon last year. Recently, she adopted the most adorable rescue dog – a 2 yr old terrier/chihuaha mix. Best decision ever – for both of them. “Sugar” is a devoted companion who my mother now says is the best dog she’s ever had. The rescue org. we used spent a couple months finding just the right dog for my mother – small, calm, loving – and Sugar was the perfect fit. You are never too old to share your life, and heart, with a pet.

  73. Ann G
    November 23, 2013

    Thank you for writing this article. It reminded me of our Dixie whom we lost a couple of weeks ago. She was our heart and soul. I just wrote a post referencing your article and our own experience with grief, as well as adopting another dog in our lives.

  74. Cathy, South Dakot
    November 23, 2013

    I am so sorry for your loss. We lost our beloved Heidi who was a little over 16 years old. She was a German Shorthaired Pointer. We got her when she was 6 weeks old. She passed away this past September. She was the love of our lives. We had her more than 1/2 of our married life. We miss her terribly. She was part of our everyday lives and there wasn’t anywhere she didn’t go with us – unless we took a trip where we had to fly to. There are days we just can’t believe she is gone and can’t stand that she isn’t here, and feel we will never get over losing her. Her and I were joined at the hip and anything I did, she was there. My husband walked her twice a day from the first day we got her to the day she died. She sometimes got three walks when her and I would take a nice evening walk after I got home from work. Our family all live away, so she was our little girl who filled that void. Everywhere we went, we think of her, because we know we have taken her with us at that particular place. So many people ask us if we will get another one, and we say at this point we can’t imagine getting another one after her. We certainly won’t get one now, even if we decide to get one later because of the time of year. We know how much joy and happiness she gave us, but we feel right now it would not be fair to a new dog – as we are not ready. I think everyone has to do what’s right for them and their situation. Only you know what you can and cannot do. Down the road, we may be ready and willing. We liked her breed so much, we thought that would be the type we would want, but we also know whatever we decide to do there are no comparisons to the one we lost, as its not fair to Heidi, nor to a new dog. We know the pain you are going through, as we are still going through the process. Our friends and family have been very sympathetic to us as they all have pets. We buried our dog on the back of our property, so it’s nice to go back there and visit her resting spot. No matter what we decide to do in the future, we will never stop loving or missing our Heidi girl. She was one in a million and we will always thank her for being the wonderful friend, and companion she was to the two of us unconditionally. Take care and we hope all the memories you have of your dear friend and companion will help you through this very sad time. God Bless.

    • Lynn Barkema
      November 23, 2013

      Virginia and Randal, I don’t think you need to worry about if or when to get another dog or what kind. Your next dog will find you, and the time is right for him/her and for you. In a way we were fortunate. Our “next” dog found us six weeks BEFORE we lost our Libby Lu to seizures, and it has helped us and Libby’s companion dog, Hunter, though we are all still grieving her loss, we at least now have Little Man making his place in our hearts.

  75. Amy
    November 23, 2013

    Sorry, for you loss. I once read that there is a high amount of people that have experienced near death experiences report having being reunited with a lost pet from some point in their lives. Worth looking into. When my beloved golden retriever passed from cancer after only having spent 6 years together I thought I’d never love another. A year later a run away showed up at my house. I took him in for the night and posted on the web looking for his real family. I never found them. And now I can’t imagine life with out him. He couldn’t be more different than my golden but I love him every bit as much.

  76. Stephanie
    November 23, 2013

    First of all – I’m very sorry for your loss. truly . As for timing on getting a new dog, I believe that is a personal choice, and in reality the best way to look at this choice is to recognize that your rescueing and starting a new life with a new dog, not replacing another dog that has passed away. My husband and I rescued the same breed we lost 30 days after we lost our Otis. The thing that we changed was the gender not the breed because we adored this group. Our Emily never felt like a replacement. We rescued her and she rescued us and our aging cat that was going blind. Also, She was a pup in distress with some normal puppy ailments living in a foster situation. By adopting her – we helped her with her health and to me that equates saving a life.Life is cyclical, so saving a rescue puppy is always the best choice in my opinion. And having two pets whether a dog and a cat or two dogs and two cats is also helpful. I hope this helps and warm hugs to you both. I’m all for the Aussie puppy, they are a marvelous breed!

  77. Lisa Marie D
    November 23, 2013

    I am really sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved dog. It’s tough. Our first dog, Scout, died 11 years ago (he was 9) and I still get teared up when I think of him. I was not ready for about 2 years after our Scout died. It took me another 2 years for the kids and I to talk my husband into another puppy. Moose has been great and waiting a long time was OK but there is nothing wrong with getting a new dog much sooner. He is really are so good for everyone in the family and we just love him so. Dogs are very, very special creatures.

  78. hdufvbu
    November 23, 2013

    i fell so sorry for your lost i hope you fell better i fell bad that happen to you i will pray for u in church

  79. Amy
    November 23, 2013

    Dear Virginia,

    First, I am so sorry for the traumatic loss of your dog! Second, I was given a dog as my second Christmas present. Heidi was the best present a little kid could receive! She made me grow-up to be a kind, empathic, responsible person. Sadly, at 14, she developed cancer and I had to make the decision to euthanize her. It was the first time in my life that the weight of an adult responsibilty sat on my shoulders. I cried for months. Finally, my dad said, “Kid, it is time for a puppy!” I felt guilty and kept thinking, “if a gradnparent dies, one doesn’t just go adopt a new one!” But I was lost without my dog, so at 16, Braxton entered my life. He saw me through some of the worst moments of my life. At 23, I developed an auto-immune disorder that went undiagnosed for years. The sad day came when my little old man developed pituitary adrenal failure and I had to have him euthanized. I cried for months, then one day I woke-up and decided I was lost without my dog. At 30, Georgia-Ruth came blasting into my life with the joy and enthusiasm I needed to re-engage with living. She was amazing! She was house-trained in two hours, no kidding…blew my mind! She was funny, she had comic genius! She was sweet, kind, gentle and beautiful. George was very authentic and she had this energy that people responded to. One of my PhD committee members had a severe dog phobia for 63 years, after two afternoons hanging out with Georgia, he changed his mind about dogs. She was that awesome! One morning, we were playing ball in the backyard when in an instant a white-tailed buck came charging out of the little bit of woods between my house and the subdivision behind us. He charged her with is antlers. I ran down the yard towards them screaming, but he wouldn’t stop hurting her. She got away from him and ran towards me, but he caught up to her in one leap. And, started again…. It was only seconds, but it felt like years getting down 1/3 of an acre to my baby. I finally reached them. The buck was still there, as I bent down to pick-up George I felt his breath on my neck. When I straightened up with her broken little body in my arms, he was gone. We raced to the Veterinarian’s, but she died, in my arms enroute. Georgia-Ruth was only 9 years old and was so full of enthusiasm that people mistook her for a younger girl. Losing George was the worst moment of my life. I cried for months. I was once again, lost with out my dog. But this time was different. One day,my partner, Andrew said, “Amy, half of your identity is dog, you are lost without George. Please get a dog! I miss you!” After, George was killed, I continually bought yellow flowers which wasn’t normal for me. Then, one day, I stopped and analyzed why I was buying yellow flowers. Well, I had one of those moments of insight that almost knocks one off one’s feet. I was buying yellow flowers because I called Georgia my sunshine. I trust that she was sending me a message that she was okay and that I needed a dog. You see, I was consumed with grief over the fact that she had spent the last moments of her life terrified and in pain. I was sick over it. A few weeks later, we adopted a 1.5 year old rescue who we renamed Kowhai which means yellow in Maori. Honestly, he was as broken as me, but together we healed each other. And now, I can think of George and smile and, Kowhai, well, he is so happy he wags his tail in his sleep! We even adopted a sister for him about a year ago! So now we have two dogs, Kowhai and Pammie. The point to this very long story is that you will get a dog when you are ready. As you said, you are now dog people thanks to your first dog. Second, it will not replace your deceased dog, but it will fill-up the hole in your heart and life that he his departure left behind. And as far as getting a different breed or sticking with what you know, it depends on you. The most important aspect to adopting a dog is that it fits your wants and needs. All of my dogs have been miniature dachshunds excpet for Pammie who is half dachshund and half who knows. All of my dogs have been and are their own unique characters. Finally, having lost two dogs to old age and one to trauma, the latter is so much more difficult to process. So, when you adopt, know that when old age takes over and illness kicks-in and euthanasia is the kind decision, that the grief is less intense than the traumatic grief you are coping with right now. I never understood that grief is so much more complicated when violence is involved. I thought grief was grief, but it isn’t. Traumatic, violent loss is grief magnified. And, please in honor of your dog, save a life and rescue rather than buy. There are rescues for every breed and, unfortunately, after the Holiday season, shelters are inundated with discarded dogs! Of course, there is much to be said about mixed breed dogs! Best to you and your husband. And, again, I am so so sorry for the tragic loss of your dog.

    • Lynn Barkema
      November 24, 2013

      I keep telling people, you do NOT pick your dog. Your dog picks you! I have now had 3 dogs, None of whom were the dog I had in mind when I set out to get a dog. But, when we met them, they latched on to us and would not let us leave.

  80. pjcamp
    November 24, 2013

    I watched a documentary on dogs a while back that argued that they activate the same brain regions in us as our children do. They are children that die before us.

    Sugar and Sam were my children. They have a remarkable story:

    But they are both gone now and I don’t know how to deal with that. I lurch from denial to collapse. But as with you, the house was simply too empty without them. Even when it was just Sam, it was empty.

    So now I have Lady Sadie and Dallas Alice, and they have created their own place in my heart. But the place of Sugar and Sam is still empty and always will be. Nothing can ever fill that void. My girls help but they don’t heal.

    I found some purpose in joining a rescue society. I’ll help dogs find good homes. And every time I do, I’ll remember Sugar and Sam. That’s how they came back to me.

    There’s no love like dog love — perfect, uncomplicated, and unconditional. I have a friend who won’t have dogs because of how much it hurts when they leave. But I think that it can’t hurt that badly unless it felt equally good to have them. All things travel in opposites. And I can’t find it in me to give up the wonderful times in order to avoid having the bad ones.

    Dogs make us better than we are.

  81. Barry Vegter
    November 24, 2013

    This is Ginny’s father in law. The loss of Conan makes me think about the loss of my Dad in July of this year who you also wrote about. I sit here in tears as I think about the two of them. Conan died at 17 months. My Dad died at 93 years. This Thursday we will have the most ever for Thanksgiving, 23, as our extended family grows. There will be a pain in our hearts when we think about Conan and Dad as well as my Aunt who died a year earlier.

  82. Jeff
    November 24, 2013

    My baby girl is named Melissa…Missy for short. She’s a cat/human.

  83. amy sudol
    November 24, 2013

    I lost everything in Sandy and then lost my two dogs soon after. Max was older so his death wasn’t shocking. My other dog, Indie, had stomach cancer. I didn’t have the money to have an operation to remove her tumor in the midst of all the devastation around me. She was only 5 and even though she was my constant companion, had lost 20 pounds in the months after the storm. I barely noticed, I was in a fog for so long. Her death was worse to me than losing everything else. Even after months, I become so terribly sad when I come across others walking dogs in the woods or hesitate to leave ham or cheese in the car for fear that it will be gone when I get back. Every day, I regret not having the operation, I regret not trying every way possible to raise the money to save her. How could I have let her go when I had nothing else… It is so hard to live with my decision. I am now in a small apartment, but I dream every day of getting another dog like her. I know I will someday find a more permanent home where I can have a dog. I can smile now knowing that it will be a rescue and that we will both have a new home. To all others who have mourned the loss of a pet and wonder about getting another, please think of me. I will be with you in spirit, sharing your joy. I would do anything to be in your shoes. How appropriate to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving knowing that we are all thankful for the wonderful memories.

  84. Onur
    November 24, 2013

    My condolences. I have recently lost my 13 years old cat, and he was like a son to me like many pet owners. I have thought about it a great deal and decided not to own a pet for at least a couple of years. Still I frequenly catch myself googling certain cat/dog breed information :) I am guessing from the article that you are leaning toward getting a new dog. I hope this will work out great for you and your husband.
    p.s.:If I am not mistaken there was a photo of your dog on the sidebar, am I correct?

  85. Megan
    November 24, 2013

    I have had many pets in my life, both as a child and as an adult, and so have said good bye to many beloved animals. When I wash graduate school, my family cat of 18 years passed away. Our dog had died several years earlier, so when the cat died, there were only two-legged creatures in the house. My mother said we needed time to mourn before even thinking about another cat. That lasted 3 days. We went out and got two (“I will never be without an animal in the house again” my mother said with great determination) sisters, little balls of feline fluff. The empty house was just more than any of us could take. And I firmly believe that the best wy to honor a pet is to save another one. So go on Petfinder. The right one will find you. They always do.

  86. Bob
    November 24, 2013

    Six weeks ago we too our beloved basset hound 9 year old Fred to the Vet for a Sr citizen check up. Expected a clean bill of health as he is slim and trim. We were shocked to learn he has anal cancer. After several tests, three opinions and a visit to a cancer center we found that his future is short.
    As we have an empty nest – he has really become our second child. He is smart (don’t let anyone tell you bassets are not). He is spoiled yet he has also spoiled us. After 5 weeks of not showing any signs – he has begun to. So we begin our dance with death. I have asked our minister whether dogs go to heaven. She says yes. I too believe that there would be no heaven without them.

    He is the 5th dog I have had – none of the others compare. He is going to leave a huge hole in my heart. Foe the past 8 years (we rescued him) he has been a part of our everyday life – at the center of every activity.
    Once my wife gives the OK we will adopt another – I know we will love him too. No one however will take Freds spot in our hearts. I am crying as I type. This is the hardest part of owning a dog.

  87. Karen Koch
    November 25, 2013

    Our family had the most amazing Border Collie/ Mcnabb. She was an incredible athlete and loved us so much. For my kids she was a playmate always ready to join the fun. For me she was the child that always had time for me. At the time my second daughter had just marries and even though I still had 2 young children at home I was feeling the beginings of empty nest syndrome. My oldest daughter and her husband moved in with us for a time and brought their dog who was used to having 100′s of acres to roam. She started running off and our dog would go with her. We live out in the country. We took to not letting all the dogs out at the same time or putting one on a chain and then they would stay home. One morning I woke to find my son in law had let our dog out. I looked out the window and saw no dogs. I don’t know what he was thinking but as soon as he let ours out they had run off. We hurried around calling and then in the distance we heard gun shots, howling, and they never came back. This was 4 years ago and I bawling writing about it. We hung up posters, 100′s of them, just on case they were still alive. Finally someone called to say they had found the bodies under a bridge about 1/2 mile from our house. My husband and son in law brought them home and we buried them together. I loved that dog so much. I spent every waking moment of the month she was missing driving, looking, hanging posters, talking to people. When we knew she was dead I couldn’t believe it. It truely was akin to losing a child. She was only 2 when she died. There was such a hole inside me. I couldn’t stand it and immediately started looking for a new dog. The same kind, the same color, the same markings. I knew it wouldn’t be her but I needed something. She was technically my sons dog but since he was only 7 she seemed more like my dog since I was in charge of most of her care. It took awhile but we finally found Gidget. When we got her she was quite small. Her feet seldom touched the ground because someone was always holding her, loving her, even my husband who is not normally like that had her on his lap when he was watching TV. She was not Ribsy but she filled that hole in our hearts. Now she is 4 and such a joy. Sometimes though, I look at her and think “Some day you too will pass” and then I am sad ahead of time. One of the hardest parts of losing her was the fact that most people could not understand why we were so distraught. The month we looked for her gave me such empathy with parents of kidnapping victims. I can only imagine how horrible it must be but I feel I have experienced the next worse thing. I cried for over a year, spontaneously with no trigger. I would just be driving and suddenly burst into tears. Sometimes we would all be sitting quiet in the car going somewhere and I would look around and we were all crying quietly, not wanting to distress the others. I could go on and on but will stop here. Dogs are amazing. Created by the creator to be our friends, to fill a spot in our lives, and to love and be loved.

  88. Lisa
    November 25, 2013

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have lived with at least one dog most of my life. The following speaks my heart so much better that I:

    The House Dog’s Grave (Haig, an English bulldog)

    I’ve changed my ways a little; I cannot now
    Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
    Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
    You see me there.

    So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
    Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
    And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
    The marks of my drinking-pan.

    I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
    On the warm stone,
    Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
    I lie alone.

    But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
    Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
    And where you sit to read–and I fear often grieving for me–
    Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

    You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
    To think of you ever dying
    A little dog would get tired, living so long.
    I hope than when you are lying

    Under the ground like me your lives will appear
    As good and joyful as mine.
    No, dear, that’s too much hope: you are not so well cared for
    As I have been.

    And never have known the passionate undivided
    Fidelities that I knew.
    Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
    But to me you were true.

    You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
    I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
    To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
    I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

    Robinson Jeffers, 1941

  89. Zoe
    November 25, 2013

    These comments are for Lily – Lily, you say that when your pup goes, you will go right after. Loneliness is a terrible sadness that I know myself. However, you are more than your relationship with your beloved dog. God created you & your dog in love, and he loves you. Even when your pup dies, you must not think that is the end for you. There are people and dogs who need you and your love and who will love you. Look around and don’t give up. Offer your love to someone who needs to be loved and/or to a needy dog, even now. God will guide you.

  90. Randy
    November 26, 2013


    Thank you for sharing with us about your loss. My heart goes out to you…

    We recently had our Precious put to sleep because of her age and poor health. We had her for 19 years. She was as her name – Precious. It was by far the hardest thing to do. Then to bring her little body home and bury her. I will just say that it was a very, very, very sad day.

    But I found peace in that she was loved and gave love. We will always have her in our hearts. She outlived all of her puppies. How many stories can 19 years hold?

    We are and always will be dog people. The minutes of happiness always outweigh the days of sadness. That is what you have to hang on to – those puppy dog smiles that say – I LOVE YOU!

    lastly – I am not into breeds. I love them all! We have always had small dogs. Then Penny showed up at our house one day 3 years ago (90 pounds of love). Penny thinks she is little around our other two little ones – Kane and Bit!

    Lastly, go get you a tail wagging new friend! I am absolutely certain that there is one that is waiting on you (right this minute) to show up!



  91. Shana
    November 26, 2013

    I lost my best friend of 8 years last year. There isn’t one day where I don’t think of her and relive the memories we had in my head. The feeling was overwhelming for me when she had passed. I thought I honestly couldn’t go on. The bond a human being can have with their pet can honestly be inseparable. I know there is a heaven for animals and I believe I have a guardian angel watching over me, waiting for when it is my time. I understand God has a time for all of us. I’m just thankful for all the time and opportunities I had with my best friend. Thank you for creating this article, it really made me reflect my past and bring back positive memories I’ll have with me forever. God has a plan for all of us, even pets too! He is the way.

  92. nirpal
    November 26, 2013

    i Lost my hero TOMMY who was about twelve :’(
    He was so special that i buried him im my yard :’(
    We’ve shared lots of great moments together :’(
    We used to go to the river together everyday where he would swim :)
    Swimming at the river was his favourite sport :)
    Everyday he’ll wait for me and he integrated our family so much that he even started sleeping next to my bed for the last one year of his life :’(
    During his illness and we were heading to the veterinary, he laid his body on me in the car, like if telling me THANK YOU A LOT dear :’(
    He knew he wouldn’t survive his illness and he knew i’ve done everything to save him :’(
    Nowadays, even you’re not here , you still stay in my heart :’(
    I do have FOUR dogs but you can see how my love for dogs have been :’(
    Your favourite partner among them (Roxy) was in love with you, as you did for her :)
    She misses you too :’(
    Rest in peace TOMMY :’(
    We’ll always love you :’(

  93. Pair a dachs
    December 1, 2013

    @Mike S – I can’t even image the mental state your mother was in, but I am horrified that you and your pup had to experience that! I’m not a huggy-type of person, but I’m sending you a spiritual hug, and my pups are sending you some spiritual cuddles and kisses!

    I come from a dachshund family. My parents had two ‘kids’ before they brought me into this world. I remember the oldest, Kenny, but I don’t remember his death. I do remember coming home from school the day Muffin died. It was years after her death before I could think of her and not cry. As a family, we waited several years before getting another dog, Little Bits. Shortly after, we adopted a homeless cat. I had left the house, finished years of active duty military, and was in college when my mother called to say she was sick. She died later that same day. It’s been many years since then and I still tear up thinking about her. In the meantime, I’ve adopted two of my own. They’re both getting up in the years and I’m already dreading their loss. One in particular is my “once in a lifetime” dog, and I know I’ll be mentally devastated when she’s gone. I definitely understand @Lily’s take on it and I’m not sure how long I’ll stick around after my pups are gone. I’m okay with that, even if the rest of the world isn’t.

    While we’ve always had dachshunds, they’ve been as different from each other as I am from any of my other family members. We’ve had full sized and minis and we’ve had reds, blacks, and dapples, so their looks have all been as unique as humans are. More importantly, they’ve had common characteristics, but unique personalities. I definitely think of myself as a dachshund person, but I’ve never actually met a dog I didn’t like, so if I meet a dog of another breed at the right time, I would certainly be willing to consider changing up the family affiliation. But if I explicitly go looking for a replacement, I’ll look first to dachshunds in need.

  94. Kate Wilson
    December 4, 2013

    It is very moving reading all these comments. thank you Virginia for writing here and opening up a space for so many to share their stories. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear puppy ands I am glad that your friends and family have been supportive- this makes such a difference.

    At the moment I am facing the future loss of my beautiful dog Bonnie who has been my heart dog since I first saw her as a puppy. She is 11 and has cancer. She is currently well but it is aggressive and I know our time is limited.
    But the reason I am writing now is because of what happened to my first cat many years ago. I was 16 and he had walked into my life at a lonely and difficult time for me. He was a young ginger male and he quickly became my closest friend. I named him Steppanwolf. One evening I let him out into the garden after feeding him his dinner. He had looked up at me and miaowed so I have him a little extra which was unusual for both of us. Thank goodness I did this as he then ran out onto the road and was knocked down. This happened 40 years ago and I still remember the date and exactly what my brother said to me when he came to give me the news. I was totally devastated and cried myself to sleep for many weeks. I don’t think that even my animal-friendly family had any idea how deep was my grief. I think things have changed now, I hope so. It is so important that people write about this and share it in public. This can only increase understanding. I think the shock of losing an animal in an accident changes the grief as well. I have lost animals after illness or in old age and although it has been devastating the grief is softened somewhat by the knowledge that at last they are not suffering. The loss is agony but the shock is muted. Accidents cause loss and shock and disbelief and its a hard road to travel. Love to you both and to all those who have found their way here. I imagine we all know what it is like.

    • Bob
      December 4, 2013

      A week or so ago I commented on my basset hound Fred. He has cancer of the anal gland and lymph nodes. I found out 7 weeks ago via a routine checkup. They said 4 – 6 months. Well cancer of the anal gland is VERY aggressive.
      He was mostly OK up thru yesterday. Went to the vet tonight and he said the time has come. It has only been 7 weeks. We took him home to say goodbye. Tomorrow (12/05) at 6:30 PM we go back there. His suffering will be over. How long will my heartache last? Is there any cure?

      • amy sudol
        December 5, 2013

        Filet mignon for Fred tonight. I am so sorry for you Bob. I recently lost two dogs and was heartbroken, still am. It never goes away but after months I can at least smile when I get a lump in my throat when I think of my dogs in doggie heaven. I tell myself that when they died they went to sit on the lap of a child who died the same day. It makes me feel a little better. I now have beside me a new dog that is full of kisses. While she is no replacement, nor ever will be, she is a new vibrabt young life in my home and we will build a string of memories together just like I have done many times before. You will smile again, albeit with the lump. Thinking of you, Amy

        • Bob
          December 5, 2013

          update and conclusion for Fred. Last night we went to the vets. He said it was time to put him down. I took him home so the family could say goodbye. When we got home he could no longer stand, eat or drink. The vet gave me 3 things of meds I gave him one at 9. His breathing had become labored. He was crying and moaning. He was going down hill.
          I gave him another at 4. I knew I had to call the doc at 7 AM and push up his final visit. I was to meet him at 9 AM.
          I asked the doc if it was ok to give him the final dose I had and he said sure. That was adminstered at 7:10. (We had taken turns lying down in the bed with him) As I went to tell my wife he’d have to leave in 10 minutes – she said he stopped breathing. We looked – he was still breathing a little. A moment later she said it gain, he took one final breath and was gone.
          IMO he wanted to die at home with us. I had told him weeks ago how much I dreaded what I had to do (take him for the final ride).

          I believe both Fred and God understood. I know someday I will see him again.

  95. Virginia Hughes
    December 5, 2013

    Oh Bob, I’m so sorry to hear about Fred. There’s no cure except time. Give him lots of hugs today, and take some photos. You’ll be glad you have them later. All the best to you and your family.

  96. Trish
    December 12, 2013

    Hi, Virginia ( and Randal),

    I am so sorry for your loss – I cannot even fathom losing a dog so young, so suddenly and so tragically. I’ve been fortunate enough to see my dogs through to old age, but the losses are still so painful. I am in a similar boat as you and working through a very recent loss of my beloved pit bull, Victoria. She was one of my four rescues, and I was so fortunate to have her for over 11.5 years – I estimate she was at least 13 years old, but had the nature of a puppy. I’ve never loved anyone (human or animal) as much as I loved her.

    My boyfriend and I created sort of a Brady Bunch of dogs – two of mine, one of his and another we adopted as a senior as all of our dogs were up in years. 2013 dealt us a harsh blow as we lost each of our original three this year (ages 15, 14 and V at 13). As we lost one we had another few to comfort us, but with Victoria gone we cannot begin to believe we are down to one dog – and so quickly. We were actually very interested in adding a third dog to the family, but V got sick so suddenly that we realized the last few weeks needed my full focus on her.

    The house is so empty these last couple of days that I am itching to get another, yet at the same time, my grief for her is so deep. I want to get another pit bull since their need for homes is so great. But the bond I had with Victoria holds me back in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever be ready. I don’t want to put an expectation on the new dog and think she’ll be just like the one I lost. Someone commented that you get the same breed and pretty soon it will seem like the same dog. While all my other dogs were of various mixed breeds, no two were the same and every dog is an individual. I am committed to rescue, so I am sure I will get another, but the three dogs we lost were so perfect and fit into our lives so well, that the hesitation hangs over me.

    I do hope you bring home another dog when you are ready to help complete your family again. And maybe consider a rescue dog – there are breed specific rescues always in need of experienced adopters. I hope it helps heal your heart. Thanks so much for writing this wonderful piece.

  97. Tina
    December 13, 2013

    It has only been 2 days since I had to put my 14-year-old rescue pit bull to sleep. I am in agony, it is hell just walking in to the empty house. The kids and I have started ‘talking’ to her in a desperate effort not to fall part in our grief. She was the soul of this family and in the past 2 years, her needs and care came first with all of us.

    Every time I pass her empty basket the finality/the horror of euthanasia/the memory of her last day of liver failure just fill me with a deep sense of ‘pointlessness’. I was not diligent enough of her health in the past 2 weeks and it cost her her life.

    I want her back. Just for one more day to say goodbye in peace.
    I cannot imagine having another dog. I only want her old face, her traits, her old bark. I feel I would diminish her importance by getting another dog.

    • Trish
      December 13, 2013


      I am so sorry for your loss. Reading your post made me feel like I was reading my own thoughts in so many ways. I lost my girl on Tuesday, and I’m still in shock and disbelief. I just discovered she was ill a couple weeks ago and it all happened so fast. I blame myself in many ways, too, but I am sure you did the best you could for her. I also wish I could turn back the clock and give my girl a more peaceful send off – she was in so much pain and I’m haunted by it. I am committed to rescuing dogs, so I know I want another, but she was so perfect that I can’t imagine loving another. And I don’t want to diminish her memory or put expectations on another dog to live up to what she was to me.

      Try to take it easy and not blame yourself. It is so hard not to, I know. But focus on what you shared – what we share with them is so beautiful and special and can never be taken away.

  98. Russell
    December 15, 2013

    Glad that Randal indicated that the picture was actually of their dog and not stock. What a cutie he was. Sorry for your loss.

  99. Jennifer
    January 16, 2014

    I just lost my beloved Rosie four days ago. The grief is overwhelming. I had her for thirteen wonderful years. She saw me through my single years, marriage, children, loss of my father (to whom she was a treasured friend through his decline with Alzheimer’s) and so much more. This dog was a gift from god. When I was single and alone I had some trust issues and was afraid to love…she taught me to love and trust again and now I am blessed to have my husband and two daughters. But our family has always been five. Any trips any outings…Rosie was included. Our girls are young four and six and have reassured me Rosie is with grandpa in heaven. I hear them, but in my heart, there is a hole. I loved Rosie so much. My first pet and I never knew or understood the love for animals. I felt so close to her and I miss her so much. Another pet….I can’t answer that. There will never be another Rosie. I found an article about a little boy who lost his dog. When the family was sitting together afterwards someone commented how sad it is dogs live such shorter lives compared to humans…the little boy piped up he knew why, humans have to live longer to learn how to be happy and be nice, dogs are already born to love and be nice so they don’t need to live as long. Unconditional love….a dog….my Rosie….I grieve quietly as most don’t understand the impact of losing your pet. Someone said after they heard Rosie passed, well it is not as if it was a family member or your child. No it was not my child but definately a family member. Thank you for letting me have a voice. Jennifer.

    • Randy
      January 17, 2014

      (Jennifer) Your comment that Rosie was family is so true. they always give you a smile when you need one. I cringe when I think of losing any one of mine. we have also been through loss with many. Each one is different and fills a void in our lives. Just like the little boy said, the love they share teaches us. signed Randy & Penny & Little Bit and Kane…

    • DaveG
      January 17, 2014

      Jennifer, I’m sorry you lost Rosie. I hope your insensitive acquaintance “gets it” someday.

  100. Sherryl
    January 19, 2014

    I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet pup. I came across your wonderful article because of my need to read about how to deal with the loss of a pet. Last Wednesday, January 15, we lost our very sweet girl, our weimaraner Wendy, suddenly from bloat. She would’ve turned 12 on April 1st.

    She was our first child, having gotten her two years before our first child was born. We have three children ages 9, 8 and 6 who all grew up loving her and enjoying her as their big sister. Wendy was a wonderful dog – so loving, kind, attentive and so sweet. In all the years she had to share the house with the kids, not once has she growled at them or bared her teeth at them. Not even when the kids would dip their fingers in her food bowl while she was eating, take her toys from her mouth by force, not even when my two year old decided to body slam into her while she was sleeping. She loved those kids beyond words and they loved her unconditionally back.

    Wendy was diagnosed with diabetes a few months after she turned 10 and over the next year and a half, cataracts formed in her eyes that robbed her of most of her sight and recurrent bladder infections would rob her of her dignity from having “accidents” around the house. But throughout all of that, because she loved as so much, she forced herself to stay – even when her poor, tired body was showing signs of age. So after starting her dinner on Wednesday night, I noticed that she has not touched her food, only her water. Wendy is not known to leave even one kibble in her bowl so I knew immediately that something was wrong. Then I noticed her swollen belly, called the vet and rushed her to the animal ER immediately with my three children in two. My husband was thankfully able to meet us there, having just arrived from a business trip. It was in there that we learned that she indeed is suffering from bloat and the only treatment to reverse it was invasive surgery to untwist her stomach. We decided not to have our sweet girl go through that much pain. We did the kindest, most unselfish thing we can do for her – put her down peacefully. We gathered the children, told them that Wendy needed to stay at the hospital and asked them to hug and kiss her goodnight, not knowing that it would be the last time. I too, said my goodbyes, having decided that my husband would be the one to stay with her during the process. Our angel grew her dog wings peacefully that night, while in the arms of her loving daddy.

    We told the children the next day that she passed away peacefully in her sleep and they are devastated. We told them that Wendy was lucky to have such wonderful siblings who loved and adored her and that they were equally as lucky having a dog who loved them unconditionally.

    My husband and I decided that we will eventually get another weimaraner – when the time is right. The time will be right when enough time has passed that it wouldn’t hurt as much when we think about her. She was with us for almost 12 years. We need to go through the whole process of grieving and healing before we open up our hearts and home to another. Wendy deserves that.

    • Lynn Barkema
      January 19, 2014

      Your next loving dog will be led to y0ou when the time is right. You won’t have to go look for it. We had two dogs, and had not planned on getting another,but our newest little guy was led to us and we just had to take him. Almost 6 weeks to the day later, our beloved Libby Lu was suddenly taken ill and could not be helped, and we had to let her go. Little Man in no way replaces her, Our big dog Hunter is still grieving for her, 6 months after. but Little Man has in his own way helped fill a hole in our hearts. an d made Libby’s passing just a hair easier, though we still miss her terribly. I wish you well, enough, and great joy.

  101. Jennifer
    January 19, 2014

    I can’t tell you how much these words about Rosie mean to me. My own siblings never called to offer their condolences or even acknowledge her loss. I always felt Rosie was our first child. My husband and I met later in life, he a confirmed 45 year old bachelor who fell in love with the dog and then the girl (we actually joke about that). Rosie was special. My husband learned about unconditional love and responsibility of caring for another vulnerable family member (Rosie). She accepted our children without jealousy when others told us she would hurt them..we knew. Rosie had a special relationship with each of my girls. She slept with our six year old for part of the night as she knew she was a bit afraid of sleeping alone and she got into trouble with our four year old that always led to getting Rosie cookies. She knew just what to do. I worried as she grew ill that I included her too much in our family as our girls always talked about Rosie as being in the family. How would her loss impact them? I underestimated my girls. One week ago today we celebrated Rosie’s 13th birthday, and yes we did have a party with my girls making cards for her and I made a homemade dinner and dog birthday cake..we did all of this not knowing we would lose her the next day. My six year old told me god gave us that day so Rosie could leave this world having a wonderful day with her family. I was right…Rosie is their family and its okay if others think we are weird and even correct us and tell us she was just a dog, to us, she is a family member and her life and passing are teaching my girls and me so much about life and respecting all life. It what we perceive as important to us and who we consider family. How could we not consider a dog who loved us all, watched over us, waited for us everyday to come home, greeted us with her tail wagging and a toy, and gave the best cuddles and kisses ever by a dog….yes she is our family. Rosie was so much …Thank you for letting me express my love for my Rosie. Jennifer

    • Sherryl
      January 19, 2014

      Oh Jennifer! I am so sorry for your loss! It seems like we lost both our girls within days of each other (please see my original comment above yours – dated 1/19). I understand how you feel – the pain is blinding at times, the wound so raw. Our house is so empty without the pitter patter of her paws on the hardwood floors and too quiet without the squeaks that she would make playing with her toys. I’ve forced myself to begin the healing process – for the good of the family. I’ve given each of my children little keepsakes of her things – one of her collars to each of them, her toys, even her bed. The latter was a request from my 9 year old who said that she wants to keep Wendy’s bed under her bed so she can always feel her presence when she is asleep. At the moment, I am spending some time gathering up the hundreds of photos of Wendy we accumulated over the years and turning into a memory book for the kids. Seeing the photos of our beloved weimaraner – from puppyhood, to when each of the were born, to the final days of life, gives them a little comfort knowing how much she was loved by all of us.

      I truly believe that time will heal all wounds – even ones as big as our loss. We will never forget Wendy, she will never be replaced. We only hope that one day, when we’ve mourned her enough, and when we’re ready, we will once again open our hearts and home to another dog. Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time. If you ever need to talk about it, I would be happy to volunteer. Goodness knows that I need to grieve with someone too. Please email me through my business email and I will give you my personal email after that.

  102. Ester Gamache
    January 23, 2014

    I am so sorry for your lost and thank you for sharing your story. I lost my beloved Benji, a fun loving miniature poodle on January 16, 2004. It has been a week and my heart is still hurting so bad. I miss his presence in the house. He has just turned one year old. He ran out the house and headed to a busy highway. We were able to retrieve the body and laid him to rest in our backyard where I can see it from my kitchen. He was a part of our family. He loved my family unconditionally. I love him and miss him dearly.

    • Randy
      January 23, 2014

      (Ester) I am so sorry you loss Benji. What a heart breaking thing to happen. Thank you for sharing your loss. You are among friends here that know your pain. I too have 3 little graves in my back yard that can be seen from our kitchen window. But each one still lives in my heart and I am a better person for having known their little wagging tail smiles. I also have 3 more that demand my attention (scratch by ear, throw the ball, give me a treat) and get it… God Bless Ester and Family, Randy

    • Sherryl
      January 23, 2014

      Oh Ester – I am so sorry to hear about Benji. I feel the same pain as I just lost my weimaraner of 12 years last week (1/15) as well (see my post from 1/19 above). This is a testament to the fact that it doesn’t matter how long we have our dogs – be it one month, one year or 16 years – they still make an imprint on our hearts and leave that piece broken when they are gone. It sounds like you gave Benji a wonderful home and family. He was lucky to have you and you him – even in the short time that he was in your life.

  103. Rob
    January 27, 2014

    We lost our golden retriever today. A 15 year old female that gave so much to everyone, and a true part of our little family. As a “dad” to her i feel a lot of pain for not being home when she passed. After all those years of care i feel that i let her down at the very end, knowing she was feeling very sick today, but i left to do some things. Her age makes it a little easier to realize her time was gone, but leaving her alone will take time to reconcile.

    • Sherryl
      January 28, 2014

      I’m sorry for your loss, Rob. You and your dog are equally lucky having all those years together. I know all too well the pain of losing a beloved dog as we lost ours just two weeks ago. The first few days are the toughest but soon you will find that it gets a little better each day. Allowing yourself time to cry helps…

  104. Jacquie
    February 6, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, your research and your sorrow. My heart is with you. On Jan. 25/14 we had our 15 yr. old Jack russell euthanized. He was suffering. Vomiting, incontinent, blond, deaf, unable to settle down, pacing constantly and very distraught. My husband and I agreed that keeping him alive was unkind and selfish. I am now distraught with grief. It is the little things that trigger me into despair. A dog hair on the cushion, no one to share my toast with, I even reach down to pat him and of course he isn’t there. Our dog was part of who we are, we body mapped our lives with him. Now I am empty. It’s strange that we grieve more over the deaths of our dogs than we have over our human relatives. I wonder why?

    I will not deny the pangs of missing our beloved dog but as he was a fun loving terrier I will embrace the joy he brought into our lives. We are blest to have had 15 yrs. with him. “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Hugs to all who going through the death of a beloved pet.

  105. Sahra
    February 17, 2014

    I stumbled across this post during a sleepless night struggling to make sense of the very very recent loss of my 16 month old Rhodesisn Ridgeback. My Balius died in similar tragic circumstances and both my husband and I (and our whole family really) were so unprepared for his loss.

    Balius was my first dog, but was my husbands 3rd Ridgeback. I fell in love with the excited puppy he was and the gently living giant he had grown into.

    I am still crying at the drop of a hat and haven’t been able to pack away his bed, toys or dishes yet, or vacuum the rug he lay upon for his morning nap, but I know I will get there.

    I finished work to take maternity leave 2 months after bringing Balius home with us and had 2 months home together before being blessed with our beautiful daughter. I have not yet returned to work and Balius was my constant companion every single day for the past year, and it was a joy to watch the bond between him and my daughter strengthen.

    I do hope to have another ridgeback in the future but feel heartbroken at that same thought, because the new dog won’t be Balius and I miss him so much.

    I hope that now, 3 months on, things are easier for you Virginia. This grief business is the worst!

  106. Virginia Hughes
    February 18, 2014

    I’d like to sincerely thank you, Sahra, and the dozens of other commenters on this thread. Writing this piece and reading all of these heartfelt responses has been one of the most gratifying and touching experiences I’ve had with the blog.

    I’d also like to give a happy update: Last Friday, on Valentine’s Day, my husband and I got another puppy, Crosby. He’s similar to Conan in many ways (same breed, coloring, sex, size) but has a surprisingly different personality, too. Dogs are wonderful, aren’t they? I hope all of you going through the pain of losing one will one day try again.

    • Lynn Barkema
      February 18, 2014

      I have had 3 dogs now, and my experience has been that your dog finds you when the timing is right. When we first went to the pound to get a dog, I told them I didn’t want a great big dog, nor did I want a little yappy ankle-biter. So they gave me one of each! *LOL* They gave me a Lab/pointer mix who had been a stray and weighed 51 lbs. Nice medium sized dogs with dinner-plate-sized paws! I should have known! The first 4 months we had him he gained 40 lbs! A year or so later, we went to get a companion-dog for him. That time we got a Beagle/Chihuahua mix, about 25 lbs. Both times when we went, we looked at al the dogs they had, and in both cases the dog immediately bonded with my nephew, who is very much an alpha male. On their advice, I am the one who feed and tries to train them, otherwise I think I’d be chopped liver! *chuckle* They both eventually bonded with me too, though he is still the favorite. Then last summer Nephew commented that we should get a chihuahua, as his girlfriend has chihuahuas, and we’d need to find out if our two would accept a chihuahua so we’d know if it would be safe for her to bring hers with her when she comes to visit. I said I’d think about it, and dismissed it from my mind. Just a few days later I saw a photo of a beautiful long-haired chihuahua who had been found as a stray by the local rescue group. They were looking for a foster home for him for over Memorial Day Weekend as their normal fosters were going to be out of town. I showed the picture to my nephew, saying that would be one way to find out how our two would accept a chihuahua without actually being committed to adopt it. Well the new little guy bonded with my nephew like super-glue the mmoment they brought him and inserted himself into the whole family as if he’d been born there, so we had to keep him! Almost 6 weeks to the day later, the Beagle/Chihuahua mix suddenly began to have grand mal seizures that would not stop, and had to be put to sleep due to irreversible brain damage. We wee devastated! And the big dog grieves even more than we do. But the new little guy has done his best to help fill the void. He makes the big dog play with him, sleeps with my nephew, tells me when it is time to get up and go to bed, and even will come and get me if he decides my nephew has overslept! *LOL* So he has helped a lot, and had we not had him before Libby died, I doubt we’d have had the courage yet to get another dog. So “your” new dog will tell you who he is and when the time to get him will be. My thoughts are with you, andI wish you well when the time comes.

  107. Marsha Jones
    February 21, 2014

    So sorry for your loss. It surely is a loss not everyone can relate to. I had never been a pet or dog person until I got a little black Peek a Pooh for my daughter shortly after I married the 2nd time in 1988. He gave me such compassion for all animals and after living to be 13 I had to have him put down due to severe kidney disease. He was by then “my” little boy because my daughter had grown up and moved out. I didn’t think I wanted to ever go through such pain ever again. As the weeks went by I wanted to fill the void in my life and for a Valentine’s day present my husband got me my sought for Shih tzu pup. He was the most precious little pup and he was mine from the beginning till the recent end. I didn’t realize I could love another dog so much and at that time I also didn’t have a grandchild, so he was totally my baby. After our only granddaughter came along I was a little afraid of him being jealous of her, so I introduced him to her gradually as she began to lay on the floor and start to crawl. She’s grown up with him and is a great loss to her also. He survivied extensive kidney stone surgery 2 1/2 yrs ago and at that time we found out he had a heart mumur, but the vet didn’t seem it would cause a problem later. I’ve read since that sometimes heart mumors can eventually lead to congestive heart failure which did happen to my precious dog. After 8 months of a lot of medication to keep him happy, comfortable and thriving he suddenly went down hill and passed away this Valentine’s day morning. My family of 4, me, my husband, daughter and granddaughter were there with him at the vet, but he had already started passing in my lap, so I was the only one in the room when the doctor administered only a small amount of medicine to help his little heart stop. We stood around him and stroked his little furry body. My daughter and I cried with all our heart. My little 7 yr old granddaughter thought she shouldn’t cry because her Paw Paw wasn’t crying, but she did cry. When we got home my granddaughter helped me gather his toys and put them in a box, throw out things that aren’t needed anymore and I let her decide what to keep out in his memory. I posted his passing on facebook and got some very warm and thoughtful responses, but it being Valentine’s day it was overshadowed some by other people’s pictures. I have since posted a few more pictures where others that didn’t know would see. This morning was the hardest so far for me it being a week since his passing. No one really knows how bad I’m hurting. I tell my husband how much I miss Dusty and he will say “I know you do”, but he hasn’t reacted to Dusty’s death like he did our other dog that he was more attached to. My daughter has been of some support, but my little granddaughter seems to want to hold it in and not show any emotion and doesn’t quite understand when she still occasionally start to tear up. No, it’s not like the outpouring support when a human in your family passes away, but the grief is still there. My husband and I both agreed due to my limited health mobility and coming close to retirement that we wouldn’t get another dog, but I find myself looking at them on the internet. I hope this will soon pass. I did find a way to make a memorial to wear of my little Dusty. I saved some of his hair from a brush and ordered a floating charm memory locket with dog charms and will put a lock of his hair in it. Creating it online helped me stay away from looking at dogs for at least one day and even if I don’t wear the locket very long, I will have it as a forever reminder of my beloved “Sir Dusty Valentine”. Thanks for this site, it helps to vent my grief.

  108. Marsha Jones
    February 21, 2014

    In correction of my posting above regarding my dog Dusty. I meant to say, “when I still want to tear up”. Unfortunately my granddaughter told me when she feels like crying over dusty she just sucks it up. I let her know that it’s OK to cry. I won’t press the issue because all of us of all ages have to deal with grief in our own way and she is doing just that.

  109. Joy Davy
    March 2, 2014

    A beautiful, thought-provoking and insightful article. Related to this, there is a phenomenon I call “the Dead House feeling,” after working with many clients as a psychotherapist with a special focus on Pet Grief. This is the feeling of emptiness when there is no animal to come home to. I discuss it in my blog post here: Yet, getting another animal companion “too soon” can be problematic, too….

    • Lynn Barkema
      March 4, 2014

      Joy Davis, As I posted earlier here, God led our next dog to us about 6 weeks before our middle dog died. As this was my first experience with losing a pet, I would not have known when or if the time would come to get another dog, but that choice was thankfully removed from our hands. We were all devastated by Libby Lu’s loss , and I still think my oldest dog, Hunter, is somewhat depressed. However, yesterday when the weather was warm enough for the dogs to be let out into the yard for more than 5 minutes, I noticed him and Little Man, the new dog, playing chase with each other. Seeing that made me stop and think, and I realized how much Little Man has actually contributed to helping all of us heal from this. So don’t stress over when or if to acquire another pet. Your new pet will find you when the time is right. Now my Hunter is beginning to show signs of age, graying at the muzzle, etc. and I am going to have to prepare myself for the fact that he won’t be around forever either. As he was my first dog, this will be even harder. Any tips on that?

  110. Paul
    March 8, 2014

    Virginia and Randal,
    Thank you for posting your story online. I recently lost our beloved dog of 13 years and reading this has been so helpful to me. I really appreciate it. I’m glad to hear you have a new puppy in your life to bring you a new happiness. I never knew how much my old dog would impact me, and how we changed over the years. I decided to write it down and I hope you all enjoy. I call it The Would Be Soldier:
    You came into our lives ready for duty
    I brought you into our home to carry out a mission
    Guard our prized possession at all cost
    Fulfill your duty because you can and will be replaced

    You never missed a beat
    You guarded those three little guys with your life
    Anyone who doubted this would be met with a frightening growl and lots of teeth
    “No one comes near my loved ones” you must have thought

    You stayed at your post all night long watching intently at every sound
    Like a true soldier you were always ready for battle
    “If you come in this house you’re coming through me” you must have thought

    You weren’t a perfect soldier by any means
    Knocked over trash cans, food off the counter, an occasional growl at a friend
    But like a good soldier, you were always there when we needed you

    The years went by and you were as faithful and reliable as they come
    Your prized possession was all grown up now and your mission was near complete
    The years were catching up to you, and you knew the day was coming soon

    You never showed weakness, brave and loyal to the end
    We sat there with you as was only fitting for our brave old friend
    Your mission was complete, your prize is grown and safe, and it was time to go

    But what happened to the soldier I brought home simply to carry out a mission
    The one that we were going to teach ended up teaching us
    For he really was no soldier at all, but an irreplaceable piece of our heart which is now gone

    I was the last to walk out the room when you left
    I talked to you one last time and said something I may never have said
    I told you I loved you and meant it with all my heart
    You had taught me the true relationship between a man and his dog

  111. Mags Mc
    March 12, 2014

    We lost our baby of 2 years 6 months on the 20th jan. He was playing and healthy just let out two yelps and was gone.To say we were devastated is putting it mildly we fell apart. You see we moved abroad and he settled us in my husband ,son and myself he was a ball of black fur with black eyes so cute. We sat and cried could not eat or go out for days it just devastated our life and Paddy will or can never be replaced. My reaction was I will never get another dog and go through this again too much pain and heartache. When a few days later we seen a puppy on the Internet just like Paddy we were a little unsure but my husband said let’s go get him but the problem was he was a 9 hour drive away but both he and my son drove there and back to get him. We were very nervous when we got him and brought him to the vet the next day for a check up as my hubby did not think the place they had picked him up was a very nice breeder and he was right the poor little mite had all sorts wrong and he was on antibiotics for 4 weeks after we brought him home. I even called the police to look into the breeder we had purchased him from as they had other puppies there and I was worried about them . The sheriff was great and assured me they would check this woman out.We called him Johnjo and he will never be Paddy but we love him with all our heart and were meant to save this little man who has done wonders to help us cope with the loss of Paddy. Sometimes things are meant to happen while I never wanted another doggy Johnjo needed help and Love and that’s what he got. He follows me around from room to room wherever I am he is sitting beside me like a guardian angel taking care of me. He is not Paddy who we talk about every day but he is loved as much and for the few weeks we have him he has brought so much joy and has helped us heal from our broken hearts.

    • Randy
      March 13, 2014

      I am a dog person (I have 4 rescues) and I was sorry to hear of your loss, but I am happy to hear of your new companion. Thank you for sharing…

      (Paul) awesome poem! thanks!!!!


  112. Tessa
    March 15, 2014

    Hi there, all I can say is wow and thank you. My dog was killed instantly by a car and we live down a very quiet street. I have been in disbelief and shock ever since, and at the same time been yearning for another puppy. Reading this has helped me heal and I will probably keep re-reading it until I am able to get another puppy. Thanks again.

  113. Manda
    March 18, 2014

    I can relate to all of this. We lost our beloved Mn Schnauzers last May.
    A person broke into our home and murdered our Hugh & Stella. Since then I have been in therapy and on medication to cope with what they say is PTSD. It has been a long road and far from over. We did get another puppy, a different breed this time, we just could not stand the quiet home. Finn brings us a lot of joy and makes us smile again. Thank you for sharing.

    • Virginia Hughes
      March 18, 2014

      Oh Manda, what a horrible story! Wow. Did you ever find out anything about the murderer? Did they catch him/her? Why would anyone do such a thing.

    • Sherryl
      March 18, 2014

      Oh Amanda – I am so sorry! I remember reading about an article on your dogs on the examiner. I am glad that they caught him – may he get the punishment he deserves. Your sweet dogs knew you loved them very much and the wonderful memories you have of them, no one can take away. My weimaraner Wendy bloated suddenly last January and we had to let her go. My heart still hurts and I am hoping that one day, just like you, we can open our hearts to another beloved dog.

  114. Adeleine
    March 19, 2014

    My corgi Oliver, which I can say was my once-in-a-lifetime friend, passed away last Sunday, March 16th from getting into a zip lock bag of food that I thought was thrown away. He had a history of getting into our trash when we are away so I made the habit of taking out our trash before we leave somewhere every time. My boyfriend and I left for work, and we put a cone on him now because he constantly licks himself and gets hot spots easily…he was fine and happy, and had enough water. We both get home, and we don’t hear his usual barking when we open the gate, and horrifically we find him laying on his favorite sleeping spot, lifeless with a sandwich zip lock bag over his snout. I had adopted him in 2011 and he was supposed to turn 8 this year…I am completely devastated. I have been crying every morning, feeling guilty…asking why, feeling like I should’ve been more careful…I’ve always read about cutting bags when you throw them away, and keeping your trash in a closed bin, but I’ve always felt that I was careful, that it surely wouldn’t happen to my Oliver, and unfortunately it did.

    This page makes me feel less lonely and grief-stricken that accidents do happen, I am still getting over the fact that it happened, although subconsciously I just feel that it’s as if my Oliver had gone missing/ran away from home and will come back soon.

    Life gives you lessons and this is just one of the hardest but shall be ingrained in my head forever. For all those pet parents that have recently lost their fur babies, I pray for peace for all of you as well as myself. My boyfriend is already trying to adopt another dog to keep me and our cat company when I am alone at home, she is a 3 year old black lab who is a total sweetheart and matches our lifestyle, and as bittersweet as this sounds I cannot wait to spend time with her.

    We do so many things to prevent the worst/inevitable to our pets from supplements, timely vet check ups, keeping them happy as best as we can…but we cannot prevent what God wants to do. I believe Oliver is playing, frapping everywhere and enjoying the hills of Heaven…but waiting. I hope he is waiting, because I honestly cannot wait to see him again.

  115. Becki
    March 20, 2014

    I believe this article,not one second or one minute or a week and the 5 months that have passed have gotten better. Our 15 year old Yorkshire had to be put down from cancer and everything about life is just grey. It is hard to get up,hard to talk to people, hard to breathe! The pain of loosing your most loved friend I think damages you and you have to suffer with the loss until you die also

  116. Randy
    March 21, 2014

    Hi Becki:

    I have four little ones buried out back that always reminds me og their love and loyalty. It is with that I smile in knowing we both shared that. Their lives were well lived as was mine for having known them. It is that that I find solace. But there are so many out there that will still bring a smile to your heart. When you are ready…

    p.s. but don’t wait to long… ;)

    God Bless

  117. LizzieClyde
    March 23, 2014

    From the perspective of a ripe old age, I suggest getting another one or two pets as soon as one can following the loss of a pet. This will not “replace” the lost pet. What it will do is bring focus on “another” back into your life. As I sit typing this, Lily, our 8 year old Bombay cat is sitting on my knee, purring and patting my hand and arm. Two months after having our 17 year old big black cat, Magnus, put down, we realized we needed another cat in our lives. Lily is NOTHING like Magnus. She is very dependent and needy; Magnus was independent but loving. But Lily once more brings joy into our lives, and her loud purr comments upon our days.

    When my service dog had to retire early because of health problems, I wasn’t sure for a couple of months, if I even wanted to get another, much as I need a service dog. A few sessions on a telesupport group helped me understand that while no animal will take the place of another, there is always room in one’s heart for another – just as there was always room in our hearts for another child. So I am applying for another service dog. And I know the new one will never take the place of the other one, but will be it’s own self and have it’s own place in our lives.

  118. Bonnie Shirley
    March 23, 2014

    I had never had a small dog, then a few years ago, I received a rescued chihuahua. She was one pound and two months old when I received her. She is up to 5 and 1/2 pounds now. I was devastated when I found she had hemangiosarcoma, usually only found in large dogs. I cried in public everywhere for at least two weeks, and had problems sleeping at night. I tried to remind myself of people more terrible life problems, lost children, severe illness, etc…it did not help much as our feelings are pretty selfishly directed to ourselves.

    She had five courses of chemo, and surprisingly is still alive 15 months after her last chemo. How long she lives is questionable, but at least I still have her. I suppose the tiny size of her has evoked my most protective instincts. I also was devastated just months before her diagnosis when my beloved husky boy died of a congential illness. He was sweetness itself. I had rescued him from the pound as a disabled (had only three legs) dog.

    Is it worse since I have no children? Only those who have had children and suffer pet losses can answer that question perhaps. Thank you for this article.

  119. Lisa
    March 25, 2014

    I have never done this before..added to a long list of messages on grief. Three weeks ago my Chihuahua/terrier cross was killed by a car. And yes it could of been prevented IF the pizza delivery guy had closed the gate to the yard. He didn’t and when Ancho finally went out after all day refusing (the rain was coming down) he ran right out. Gone no more than 5-10 minutes, when he didn’t come to the door when called, my husband and I started calling and looking for him outside of the house and yard. My husband found his body on the far lane of a bordering busy street. His poor little head had been crushed.

    I have dealt with animals death a lot as has my husband (we are both veterinarians). We have lost beloved cats, but not suddenly like this. And Ancho was our first dog. And dogs are very different from cats. They love you in a demanding and in your face kind of way. I don’t know how long is too long to grieve (if there is such a thing). The violent way of his death, the suddenness and the hole that is left in our home and of course hearts…it is sometimes too much to bear. Even our Siamese cat who did not like him seems to miss him. She definitely knows that something is wrong and is sticking to us a lot.

    The only thing that could of prevented this is going back in time and not ordering that pizza or not letting him out etc…but that train of thought is just too damaging too caustic and not helpful. We will have some type of “ceremony” and I know that will help.

    But for now it is hard to be home. I see him on the desk watching me come to the front door and home, expect him to snuggle with me at night, and deliriously wag his tail and lick my face raw. Can’t get away from it. And I do think that the traumatic suddenness of it is heartbreaking, and worse than loosing them from illness or end of life. You were not able to say goodbye. You weren’t able to tell them for that last time how so very much you love them, how they make your life so happy.

    We re both so sad and so lonely without him.

  120. Sara
    March 25, 2014

    Just wondering what you did?? Did you adopt again? Just lost our 14 month old golden retriever pup. Absolutely devastated. He ate a cane toad(vet thinks) did all the right things by wiping mouth out etc when I noticed symptoms and rushing to vet, but by time got to vet he had collapsed and his heart eventually failed. Still in shock and going to be a long time before I deal with it, but huge void has been created since he has gone and we are looking at getting another pup, just not sure when time will be right. ** Just a side note to say that our property has toads everywhere and he never went for them before and we taught our other older dog, that did go for them, to leave them alone, he must just of been bored. Now will be paranoid with next dog. I know you can’t wrap them in cottonwool just feel in some way to blame 

  121. Randy Hill
    March 28, 2014

    I just found this web site today. I lost my beloved Miniature Schnauzer “Frita” on Tuesday. She was 14 and went within a week. I have had the honor to be her Dad her whole life. She was under the care of UC Davis and died peacefully while she was sleeping. Her heart just stopped. I am a pilot and was coming home the day she died. It kills me that I wasn’t there when my love passed. The pain is tremendous and trying to figure out how I’m going to do life without her. Worst pain I have ever experienced. I know time heals all wounds but this seriously sucks. :-(

    • Sherryl
      March 29, 2014

      Randy Hill – I am so sorry for your loss. I feel your pain. It is not only hard to lose a beloved pet but even harder when they pass on without you. My husband and I lost our beloved first dog together, a doberman pinscher of only 6 1/2 years, to cardiomyopathy (an enlargement of the heart) while we were away on vacation. He was under the care of our vet who we trusted fully. Our dog received the best care but his heart also stopped suddenly and he passed away peacefully in his sleep. We were both distraught but sought comfort knowing that he died without pain. It doesn’t make it any easier whether or not you are there with them in the end. But your animal knows that you love them and that gives them peace. We waited a year before we got our next dog, our weimaraner Wendy. She gave us such love and joy and was our dog when we started having our children. She passed away last January 15, 2014 from bloat at almost 12 years. Unlike Mickey, we had to make the difficult decision to let her go instead of letting her get invasive surgery. My husband was the one that stayed with her in the end. It was hard on all of us. We still grieve and mourn for her everyday. We are waiting another full year to get another. I hope that you find it in your heart to get another dog someday.

      • Lynn Barkema
        March 29, 2014

        I see that for many, a part of the agony of losing a beloved dog is when, or if, to get another dog., We were thankfully spared that agonizing decision. We had two dogs, and had not thought of getting another, but one day God sent us a third, a rescue, a very special little guy. Almost 6 weeks to the day later, our little Libby Lu suddenly began to suffer severe and continuous seizures. It was a Sunday morning and by the time we were able to get her to the emergency vet hospital, an hour’s drive away, her temperature was 109 and she had suffered what the vet thought was irrepairable brain damage. We had to decide to let her go. It was the first pet loss I had ever suffered, and was and still is devastating! However, the company of the new little guy has gone a long way towards helping adjust, though we all are still dealing with it. Even our big dog is still grieving, but he and the little guy sometimes play together, and that helps him. He is a special little dog, and I’m glad he was sent to us when he was.

  122. Marie
    March 29, 2014

    My condolences to you and your husband.

    My family had a full blood German Shepherd dog, since I was a child. He wasn’t just a pet ( which I don’t know if we fully realized until the end) he was an incredibly loved family member. He protected the family adamantly, as if he just knew that was his purpose, why we oiginally adopted him. But at the sane time he had the sweetest temperment i have ever witnessed in a dog.
    In january 2014, we made the difficult decision to put him to sleep, as he had cancer, and putting him through an incredibly risky surgery at his age would have been unnessecary. We were told there was no way he wasn’t in daily pain, so we did decide it was his time. Which was so difficult because even at the end, he was smiling and loving and seemed just happy to have us all around him. It was the hardest thing I have ever done to stay with him while they did it, but how could I not stay till the end, after the decade + of happiness he gave me.

    Afterwards, the house just wasn’t the same. We realized that through him, we had become “dog people”
    So…after months we decided to start searching for a new “baby”
    We just have found a new gsd, and he’s adorable and has already found his way into our hearts. Don’t misunderstand, I love our new family member and accept him as a new, completely different dog. But I do have bouts of guilt, and extreme remourse over my old gsd.
    With all that said, I believe that yes, people DO in fact mourn their pets the same as humans. And I wish it could be different (for selfish reasons) but I am not sure if some people ever truely “move on” from beloved family pets. I know my family is doing alright, but i hope that one day I will feel closure and completely be able to accept his death, and no longer feel guilt knowing I “decided” when he would go.

    Rip baby: may 2003- jan. 2014

  123. Stephanie Snyder
    March 29, 2014

    My husband and I are in our 70s and we lost our toy poodle last year. She died beside us in bed at the age of 12. We cried, we moaned, we wailed, and we said never again. The house was so quiet and within 3 months, we had another. I was so worried that I was replacing our Dolly, but the worry was needless. You can’t replace a dog anymore than you can a child. And as far as time healing, the only thing I can say about that is it doesn’t heal, it only lets you think of them every few days instead of every minute, every hour of every day. But when you do, the pain is just as powerful. And eventually, you’re able to talk about them without crying every single time. Our new little boy has brought smiles and laughter back into our life. Something we thought might never happen again. No, we’ll never regret getting another. How can you exist without a dog?

  124. alice
    April 1, 2014

    I want to thank you, and everyone who has posted here, for your comments and recognition of the reality of the intense grief of losing a pet. I had to put my cat down in December under traumatic circumstances and while I’ve finally gotten to a point where I don’t cry every day over her, her absence is still a sharp, often constant pain, one that is fairly societally unacceptable to express to most people. Thankfully, even though she was my cat for a decade before we were together, my husband knew and adored her too; even so, the lack of her has definitely changed our relationship.

    I still expect to find her waiting for me at the door every day when I come home. Sometimes I get really hard on myself for this–like, is it normal, when can I expect not to be so sad about her death? Reading this post, and all of the comments, helps enormously.

    • Randy
      April 1, 2014

      it does get easier. I have three little ones buried in my back yard that I see everyday. We shared many years together. I can see their little tail wags and smiles whenever they come to mind. Now the sadness is mixed with happiness for having known their love and devotion. I also have four more wagging tails that keep me busy with new life experiences. I didn’t ask for these, they just wound up at my doorstep full of love. Nothing can replace those lost or those gained… I found that the the best cure for sadness is a little bit of time and lots of love… ;)

  125. Kathryn
    April 2, 2014

    I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is sooo hard. We have lost so many. We lost our first dog, Damian a black Chow Chow, then we lost his mate, Sasha, another black Chow Chow, then we lost thier daughter, Misty a blue Chow Chow (this one hurt the most). We lost our black and tan German Sheppard dog named Buck (this loss was very difficult too), then we lost our female black German Police dog recently (she knew we were pregnant before we did and she was our son’s protector-it was so sweet-the kids are still sad over losing her, Daisy was her name), and we lost her son, Clovis another black German Police dog. He was still a baby (9 mo old) when we had to euthanize him. It broke our hearts, he had advanced stages of hip displaysia (a common issue for purebred German Sheppard dogs) handed down from his father who also had to be put down at 8 years old with the same condition (he came from the Rin Tin Tin line and this was a real issue in this bloodline). Each one of these losses was incredibly hard. Our dogs are like our kids. We love them completely. We have a white German Sheppard dog now named “Bolt” from the movie Bolt because he is white and fast. He is part of our family and we all love him deeply. Getting another dog will bring you sadness at times when you remember the dog you lost, but the joy you will receive from having this new pet will be worth the while. I know, I can speak from experience. I can also identify with the intense grief from losing a pet. My Misty was the most devastating loss. I knew she was dying, she was 13 years old and these types of dogs generally live 8 years, anyway she was funny about her bathroom habits. She would do her business and then run a few feet from it and kick dirt on it. It was hilarious. Well at the end of her life she could not do that any more so I Knew it was coming. She had heart-worm, and I was told by her vet to let her live her life out because the treatment would most likely kill her because of her advanced age. She passed the day before I delivered our son. I ended up with PPD afterward and a large portion of that was because of her loss. I took her everywhere with me. She was like my daughter before I had children. I know the grief of losing your dog is intense, but it will lessen over time and the great memories will remain after the loss is not as painful. You will always remember your dog, but grief will be replaced by wonderful memories.

    • Sherryl
      April 3, 2014

      Thank you for sharing, Kathryn. It’s been almost 3 months now since I lost my weimaraner to bloat. Last April 1st would have been her 12the birthday. The pain is still there but slowly ebbing away. I think I will always grieve over her loss but am hoping that when we get another puppy, it will remind me of all the joy that she has given us over the years.

      Whether you’ve lost one beloved dog or ten, it is always a hard thing to go through. The pain is never less than before. Thank you for letting us know that the pain and grief will eventually subside and our hearts can indeed open up again to another.

  126. Erin
    April 3, 2014

    I have just found your post, and It struck a cord with me because I lost my 18 month old cattle dog Samson 3 months ago, to a brown snake. It was so sudden and unexpected, it took me a long time to get past the shock and now I am truly grieving.
    I came home from work one afternoon and found my little boy lying in his favourite dig hole next to a 1.5m brown snake, he was already dead and there was nothing I could do.
    The guilt I feel every day still is unbearable, that I wasn’t there with him in his final hours when he needed me the most. He would have been terrified and in pain, and I let him down. Even if I couldn’t have saved him, I just wish I could have been there with him.
    For the first week after it happened, I couldn’t eat, barely slept, couldn’t stop crying, and I didn’t go to work. He was the life of our house, and it was just too quiet without him.
    Our other 2 dogs missed him also, and it was heartbreaking when they would go looking for him in all of his favourite places. It took them about 2 weeks to stop doing this.
    A month after we lost him, we took in 2 new dogs that a friend of ours was unable to look after and was going to surrender to the pound. One dog has settled in great, the other dog has severe separation anxiety issues and it’s very stressful. She also stresses out the other dogs and doesn’t fit in with them. Given my emotional state and her nature, I just haven’t been able to bond with her. I am trying, and not ready to give up yet, but at the moment it just seems too much for me. I believe we got new dogs too early. I have felt guilt for ‘replacing’ my old dog (not that he could EVER be replaced), and I haven’t been as open to loving them as they deserve because I am still mourning.
    I still miss my Samson every day, I still cry all the time when I think of him. He is buried in our garden and I sit with him every day for at least a few minutes, just to tell him I love him and miss him.
    One thing that I don’t regret is that I told him I loved him every day, and it was the last thing I said to him as I cuddled him before I left for work that morning. We had also just been on holidays for a month and spent every day together, walking, playing, snuggling. He had slept the last night up on my pillow with his head nuzzled into my neck. My husband said he was so cute in the morning that he didn’t want to wake him, so he didn’t say goodbye to Samson before he left for work like he usually would have.
    Losing my Samson so suddenly, at such a young age and in such a terrible way, has been absolutely heartbreaking. He was so lively and vibrant, we should have had another 15 years with him yet. It is so unfair.
    I feel strong sympathy for anyone who has lost a beloved pet, but having experienced this, I feel particularly for those who have also lost a pet unexpectedly and before their time.
    Luckily our other dogs have helped to ease the pain, and it has been somewhat joyful to watch them develop some new traits and mannerisms since they lost their big brother (especially the ones which emulate things that our Samson used to do).
    I am so grateful for the short amount I time I had with my Samson, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I do wish that we waited for a while longer to get a new dog, because I now realise I wasn’t ready. We had thought that the pitter patter of new doggy feet in the house would make it feel less empty, but the experience had been quite stressful and made me miss my Samson more.

  127. Chick
    April 5, 2014

    Habibi was the perfect 7 1/2 yr old Boxer. We adopted her from my son because of his military career and deployments. 3/2/14 she died peacefully in her sleep as a result of the awful GME disease. Her last 5 months of life were filled with misery and hope for her, but to no avail. GME is a death sentence and is the answer to so many dog deaths. It can be a quick death or in her case, months. Oct ’13 she walked into a table for no obvious reason and the next day at our local vet, he found she was totally blind in one and eye and only 10% vision in the other. That afternoon, Univ of Tenn Vet ophthalmology Dr. reported that GME could be her problem and started a regime of steroids to see if this could be a cure for her. Of course hindsight is 100 percent and wish that the word death was mentioned. For the most part she was miserable on the drugs and sometimes I wish we would not have done that to her. As the drugs were reduced, she did show signs of returning to being herself, but 10 days after drug completion she began the death walk as her brain began to die. She walked into corners and could not get out, she went deaf, her heart rate soared, breathing labored and dangerous temperature as her brain died. Such a sad end to a perfect dog. She will be waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge and we will play again. Her ashes I greet everyday and I await her final necropsy report, but know it will say death due to Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis. Folks learn about this disease and pass along to other dog owners.

    • Randy
      April 5, 2014

      I am sorry for your loss of Habibi. Losing her had to be hard.

      what else would you have done differently?

      Thanks you for your reply.


  128. carie schuster
    April 6, 2014

    All these experiences resonate totally with me. We lost our wonderful dog Morris in Feb. 2013. He was the light and joy of my life and I have really struggled since his death. During his life he had a distance healer, a wonderful person called Suzy, who would help relieve his bodily discomforts. As a senior dog he had stiff hips and the occasional ache or pain. After he died, Suzy said some wonderful things that really helped to heal me. Grief is a natural process and is the mind and souls way of releasing the pain felt after loss of a love. Suzy reminded me that I was Morrie’s saviour and that in doing one dog the kindness of providing for them for life, you do all dog-kind a favour. She also said that Morris was sent to me/us so we could learn lessons about life (mine, was to not be so anxious – which he really helped me with). Suzy also said that once Morris had died his soul or spirit returned to the ‘logos’ (a large pool of gathering of all energy that is life), and that one day, when we/I cam ready to love another dog, his spirit would contain a small part of Morris – because all life comes from the ‘logos’. It’s a sort of continuing, wonderful cycle of life. Her explanation really made sense to me. I would say allow yourself time to grieve the loss, and when you are ready (you’ll know when this is) each time you feel sad at a memory, make sure you think immediately afterwards of a moment of joy that your dog brought you – and this way, you will start to feel more peace and accept the situation. Morris was a once-in-a-lifetime dog and there is no other like him, but one day we will have another dog, who we will love for who he is.

  129. Kathryn
    April 6, 2014

    I have a special memory regarding the death of my beloved Blue Chow Chow Misty. She passed away the day before I delivered my fist child, my now 8 year old son as I have said in an earlier post. The most amazing thing is I do not remember much after my son was born, they gave me a spinal and morphine for the pain so I was a drugged up mess. Anyway before my son was born that next morning I saw my Misty’s ghost get up from beside my bed and walk out the room door. It was the last time I saw her. I will always remember it. My hubby was scared to come in an tell me my Misty died early that morning. He let me sleep in. I did not see her go, I was asleep . That morning I had my Ob visit to go to. I was admitted into the hospital to deliver our son, and this news made me happy because I was still reeling from the death of my beloved dog. I loved her so deeply. I was there when she was born, I could not be there when she passed. I felt so guilty for that. But seeing her presence in the hospital room that morning before my son came out was one of the most precious moments in my life. She said goodbye to me. It was the only time I saw her physically like that again. I am glad she said goodbye, however it still hurt and even though it has been 8 years since she left me it still hurts to write this. She was the most awesome dog ever. I will always miss her. I remember the fun she brought to my life and the first time I found out what it meant to have a pet just for you. She was mine, and I was hers. It will always remain that way. I love you Misty.

  130. Liliana
    April 7, 2014

    Dear Virginia and all,

    I am so sorry to read about all your losses, but I am also glad to see that the grief that I am feeling right now will subdue with time.

    On Friday, March 21st, my husband and I said goodbye to our angel Sasha. She was my first dog (my heart dog) and our first dog as a couple. She was 13.5 years and the last 2 she had been battling Osteosarcoma.

    When we found out about her cancer, we did everything we possibly could to not only extend her life, but to ensure that extra time was as happy as possible. We even enrolled her in a clinical trial at Penn Vet, and I truly feel that if it weren’t for the vaccine she received, she would not have made it past 8-9 months after diagnosis.

    This girl meant (means) so much to me, to us. We have 4 others at home, and though they are making her loss a little easier, the house still feels ‘empty’. I don’t think there will ever be a day where I don’t miss her.

    One reason why I wanted to post here is that I want everyone to know of this trial and what Penn Vet is doing to help dogs with bone cancer. Please tell your family and friends so that everyone knows and if they have the unfortunate diagnosis of bone cancer in one of their pets, they should really consider the trial.

    No trying to advertise here, but if you care to see my girl, you can check her page: We wrote about her ‘journey’ since diagnosis her diagnosis, and how her visits to Penn Vet went each time we took her (drove from Raleigh, NC to Philadelphia).

    Thank you for this post and thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. It has been very tough for me because I don’t really have friends, both our families are far away, and my family doesn’t understand the bond and love a person can share with their pet.

    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ” – Anatole France


    • Kathryn
      April 8, 2014

      Hello Liliana;
      I love this quote. I feel that to my very core. I loved all my dogs very much and I know of the hole left when they leave. It is hard to go through that, but our love remains forever. That is comforting. I am ever so sorry about the loss of your precious Sasha. There will be a day when you stop hurting as much. It does come, slowly but it will happen. It has been 8 years since my beloved Misty died and I still miss her and every now and then cry because I miss her still but I remember the fun and great times with her. She was truly my girl. Even her vet said he never saw a bond like the one her and I shared. She had to go through heartworm treatment and I had to come during my lunch breaks from work 1/2 a mile away by bicycle ( I did not have a car at the time) to help them administer her treatments. They could not calm her. When I got there she instantly calmed and I helped to keep her calm while they did the job of administering her treatment. I even had to help bring her back to her kennel before going back to work. It was so hard on me to see her go through this, but I knew it was absolutely necessary to save her life. When I came to take her home after 4 days at the vets away from our home, she was so happy to get to her bed and lay down. I would sit with her and talk to her until she went to sleep. I never knew I could love a pet so much. She was my first pet, that I was completely responsible for and her love was so fulfilling. She made me whole. I loved her, I still love her, more than words can adequately express. When she left I felt the void for a very long time afterward. Now I have pictures of her to remind me of how wonderful she was and how happy I was to be her mommy. The pain will decrease over time, but it will never fully heal. Our pets take a part of us with them when they go. It will get better. I am so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself, and GOD bless you.

  131. Maria
    April 10, 2014

    Hi.. I just googled some info on losing a dog and found your post. I lost one of my 2 pups a couple of days ago, he got ran over by a car. And the pain is very hard and it hurts so much. I just wanted to say that its is comforting to know there are people that have gone through the same pain and understand just how much of a loss this is. I had to skip 2 days off work because I could not keep myself together … I can barely stop the tears coming out from my eyes. I still have my other little guy and I need to stay strong for him, but honest to God there is an emptiness in my heart that I don’t know it will ever recover. Thanks for sharing your experience..

    • Kathryn
      April 10, 2014

      Hello Maria;
      I am so sorry for your loss. I lost a puppy too. He was deeply loved and we got 9 months with him before we had to put him down. It was so hard to look into his beautiful eyes and say goodbye and that we love you when he closed his eyes forever. We were tore up for a long time about it. I cry as I type it and it happened 12 years ago. He was the sweetest dog I had ever seen. So loving and always by my side. He had hip displaysia (really bad) and would have had to stay on meds to keep him from being in so much pain. We decided after some heartbreaking conversations that it was in his best interest to put him out of his misery. It was the hardest things to do. We loved him so much (I mean we named him Clovis(the name for the most valuable Indian arrowhead) for his high value and awesomeness in our lives). This was so hard. It will get easier as time goes on Maria, but it will never fully leave. You will always miss this dog and love them forever even though he is gone. That is the great thing, you get to keep the love forever. I am so sorry for your loss. Please take care of yourself, and love that other puppy as much as you can. Try to remember the fun he brought you. Cherish that for now. GOD bless you.

  132. Cindy
    April 14, 2014

    I may be part of that small percentage with a major pathological disruption. It’s been almost two years since I lost my beloved Moomoo unexpectedly when she didn’t recover from anesthesia after a spay.

    I got my darling Pug puppy at 4 mos. of age. We fell in love at first sight.
    She slept with me from the first night home, never whimpering for her mama or litter mates.

    She loved stuffed toys and never tore them up. I kept adding to her collection, as did Grandma, who would show up with a new one from time to time. Maggie loved them all and played fetch. She knew every word I said! I’d say, “Go get the Devil” or the “Doggie” or the “Bug” and she would hunt through the house and get the right one every time.

    I wanted to learn to show her and we went to puppy classes as soon as she has all her shots. We learned together. At 6 mos. old, she was old enough for the ring and I started showing her. For the next 9 mos., she was usually the only one in her class and won first place. Then we’d be up against the adult dogs and she would lose.

    At 15 mos., my sister was with me at a show. She had shown dogs for years. She said, “You’re gonna win today.” I laughed it off, but Maggie did win the points that day. From that day on, every show we entered, she won the points. She became a Champion within 3 mos.

    When she was close to 2 yrs. I bred her to the No. 3 Pug in the country. My sister delivered her babies. By then, I was calling her Moomoo. She was my baby. I only tell you all this as these special times naturally resulted in a very very strong bond between us. Life experiences, good memories, endearing her to me so.

    She had one more litter. I kept a son and daughter from the first litter a son and daughter from her daughter’s litter and showed them all, but my Moo was always my special baby.

    I lost her daughter unexpectedly 6 mos. prior to Moo and was still trying to recover from that loss.

    I had raised 4 children and decided to go back to school for my RN degree at 59 years of age. It was a few weeks before graduation when I noticed that Moo had a stinky discharge and noticed a bulge of flesh protruding from her vagina. I took her to the vet. He said he thought it was a vaginal polyp and suggested spaying her. My Moo was 8 yrs. old and very bright and healthy, but I was still worried because flat-faced breeds don’t do well with anesthesia. However, he assured me she was in good health and it would be better to have the surgery at this time than to put her through it at an older age. We set an appointment.

    At school, we were working on a slide show for the ceremony. Each student could submit photos for their slide with words of thanks to special loved ones. Moo’s photo was included on my slide, hanging over the back of the couch with her sad expression, saying thanks for waiting patiently while I went to school, did homework, and worked and assuring her it was almost over and we would have more time together.

    Her surgery was 5 days before graduation. The night before, I was very beside myself with worry, but kept telling myself I was being ridiculous and that everything would be okay.

    The next morning, Moo was happy, as always, loving going bye-bye, looking out the window. We got to the vet and she strutted in, joyfully greeting everyone. I planned to sit with her until she was going into surgery, rather than have them put her in some crate to wait alone. The doctor called us into a room to check her out before surgery, but then unexpectedly picked her up from the table. I hurriedly said, “Are you taking her now?” He said yes and started to walk out. I turned to leave, with tears starting to well, and said, “Take care if her, she’s my best friend.” He smiled and told me over his shoulder not to worry. I quickly glanced back at my precious Moo and she was straining in his arms, glancing back at me. That was the last time I saw her alive.

    Later that day, they told me she wasn’t coming out of it like she should and I rushed over. When I got there, the other doctor told me she had died 10 minutes ago. The words were so horrific to hear that I couldn’t do anything but hold my ears, shake my head and sob.

    After conflicting explanations, I was taken back to my girl who was laying on a steel table, stiff and cold. I’m a nurse, that doesn’t happen in 10 minutes!

    As weird as it may sound, I took her home, put her on my bed and laid next to her, sobbing until, exhausted, I fell asleep. She was my Moo.

    I deliberated what to do, bury her at the family farm, cremate her and keep her ashes? Finally, I decided to bury her in my yard, so that we could be close. My son was coming in town for my graduation, so I kept my Moomoo on the top of her doggie stairs at the foot of my bed on a soft blanket with a pretty candle for 5 days, so my son could help me dig her grave. It was summer, and I had the air-conditioner on. I would visit her several times a day and sleep with my head at the foot of the bed by her and there was never any smell. It didn’t surprise me. I actually didn’t know if I could put her in the ground. It was absolutely heart-wrenching.

    I buried my sweet girl the day before graduation. And my promise that we would soon be spending more time together was sadly not fulfilled.

    My mind replays our last glance at each other in slow motion. It’s almost like our souls knew it would be our last glance. I just pray we’re together again some day.

    I cried my heart out daily for a good year. I have her framed photo close and look at it often. She’s on my cell phone too.

    Now, coming up on the second anniversary of her death, I no longer cry daily, but at least once a week. Going over it or replaying that glance makes me cry, as I am now.

    I still have her two grandchildren and we have grown closer over time.

    I spent a lot of time looking at photos of Pug puppies, as my sister told me I needed to get another puppy, but I realized that no Pug puppy, no matter how darling, would ever measure up to my Moo and to me, it would have seemed like trying to replace her. There was just no way.

    I am ashamed to say that for a long time, I was mad at God for taking her from me. I could not understand why that had to happen. I quit going to church. Having nowhere to turn for answers, I searched the internet for “Will I see my dog again. “. It pulled up a lot of websites devoted to that topic and I spent hours reading and crying. I am working on my relationship with God again, but feel I’ve somewhat burned the bridge for not having what I thought I did have – trust and faith in The Lord. I feel farther away from God now and unworthy for not being able to accept it.

    I did get a German Shepherd puppy and hope that love will grow. And I have the Pugs. I just have to go on and I know that. It’s not like i can change that she’s gone. But at this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop grieving for her. I’ve had many beloved pets in my life, but this is that “once in a lifetime” bond.

    I apologize for the detail and length of this post, but I thought the detail would help shed some light I’m the depth of our bond and my despair. I work, I function, I laugh, but this is a deep wound.

    To top it off, I feel so guilty that her life was cut short because of my decision to spay her. I know I was doing it at the vet’a recommendation and know I thought I was doing the right thing, but she’s still dead.

    God and Moomoo forgive me.

    • Paul
      April 14, 2014

      Hello Cindy. I am so sorry for the loss of your Moomoo. I’ve been reading this blog since I lost my boy of 13 years and it has helped tremendously. I haven’t replied to any of these, but just wanted to send you a quick verse. Luke 15:11-32, the story of the prodigal son. As heart breaking as your story was, I was more heartbroken about the part you said “burned your bridge with God”. This is an impossibility. God NEVER rejects us when we walk away, and then come back. He knows us, and knows our heart, and always welcomes us back with loving arms. So when my time comes, just like the story of the rainbow bridge, I look forward to seeing my boy again as he runs up to me and shows me the way to those pearly gates!

  133. regina luff
    April 15, 2014

    Can someone help me? I lost my GSD girl unexpectedly to an inoperable tumor on her spine over the past holiday season. The last thing she did was open her Christmas gift as she loved to open boxes, the bigger the better. She was an incredible loss and I have been missing her for six months now. Ok to change the subject I am picking between two gsd puppies. One came right over to me and put her head on my knee and licked by fingers. Then when it was time to leave she actually sat at my feet like a little soldier. she also made her rounds to my family members that came with me. She did this very calmly and then found her way back to the breeder happily. The other that my family seems to all love is great too but she did not want to leave the breeders side. She was playful with the breeder and finally came to me and let me tickle her belly for a bit but then went back to the breeder.( breeder stated that she was her favorite). So I am confused. The breeder did say both have great temperaments and that the one who came to me is more laid back. So can someone comment and help me? I am still healing from losing my Stella black gsd dog. Its been a long emotional roller coaster for me. but somewhere deep inside I am excited about raising my 3rd gsd dog. thanks all- p.s. coloring will be almost same on the dogs but my family doesn’t get it. They will look like other litters born in past, blk and silve in color.

    • DaveG
      April 15, 2014

      regina, I don’t currently own a dog but it seems like a coin toss to me. Why not both puppies?

      • Regina luff
        April 15, 2014

        Hey thanks DaveG. The coin toss is prob what it will amount to. Getting both would be an amazing training experience. But if you haven’t owned a dog before, a German Shepherd takes a lot of energy. Lol. You did put a smile on my face though:). Thanks for your reply. Appreciated it. Reg-

        • Cathi
          April 15, 2014

          Hi Regina,
          Who will spend the most time with the pup and on training? If it is something that your family will share, then I guess it would seem fair to consider their opinions. On the other hand, if you will be with the pup the most and carry out much of the training, then I’d suggest you choose the pup you already felt a bond with. While not a replacement, whichever pup you choose, I hope she helps you to heal.

          • Regina luff
            April 15, 2014

            Thanks Cathi. The trainer would be me but my husband has realized how deep a dogs love can be after the loss of our beloved dog. As a result he is so excited about the puppy so he will be helping me more now and yes, I felt a bond looking at the photo but when I saw the dogs in person, the other puppy is the one that came over to me and put her head on my knee. It’s just ridiculous how this has affected my life. I should be able to handle this better. My dog was by my side through some very sad times in my life. I know I’m still healing. It’s like I am excited and sad at the same time. Thank you very much for your comment. P.S. It helps to write about it plus if have never done this before.

    • Lynn Bqarkema
      April 15, 2014

      Hello, Regina. I have had 3 dogs in my life, and each time, the dog picked us. And each dog has been the best dog one could ask for, in his/her own way. So if you cannot take both, take the one who picked you and your family.

      • Regina luff
        April 15, 2014

        Thank you so much for your comment Lynn I will keep that in mind.

  134. Elisa
    April 22, 2014

    Virginia, this was the most helpful article on pet loss that I’ve read and feel very lucky that I found it shortly after I lost my sweet Freddi. I’ve read it a few times and it has been incredibly comforting to me. So, thank you. As many of the reader comments were helpful to me as well, I’d like to add some thoughts about my experience that could possibly help others dealing with such a difficult loss.

    First of all, I know this has been said before but don’t let ANYONE make you feel like your loss was trivial. I lost my mom last year and dealt with it much better than I dealt with the loss of Freddi a month ago. What I realized is, it’s our attachment to these wonderful creatures that make the loss so profound…not just our love for them. They are there for us on a daily basis, they accept us without judgement, they sleep with us, comfort us, make us laugh and give us the opportunity to care for a living being. There is no substitution for the relationship we have with our pets. I became much more attached to Freddi after my daughter left for college; I didn’t even realize it at the time, but now I do.

    I’d also like to add some practical advice. I felt better when I was busy and distracted. I didn’t cry when I was out grocery shopping or at a movie, but when I sat home alone, that’s all I did. I think it’s important to grieve, and to cry, but it’s also important to live. VERY IMPORTANT: I felt comforted when I was around friends who understood the profound loss intimately, having gone through it themselves. Sympathetic people…even strangers I communicated with online. One of my friends made a stupid comment and I decided not to talk to her again until I felt better. It was the right decision.

    Try to focus on the positive things in your life. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you lose a pet, but if you appreciate the good things, it helps. Finally, looking at puppies online…contacting breeders, following a puppy cam, looking at rescue sites…made me feel better. I wasn’t (and am not) ready to adopt a new puppy, but it made me feel optimistic that there is cuteness in the world, and maybe one day I can have that again.

    It’s been a month since I lost Freddi and I finally feel a bit better, a little more normal. I think of Freddi every day and still cry and I know there will never be another dog like him, but life is about moving forward and we HAVE to.

    Virginia, thank you again.

    Elisa in NYC

  135. Liliana
    April 24, 2014

    Dear Kathryn,

    Thank you very much for your comment, I really appreciate your kind words.


Add Your Comments

All fields required.

Related Posts