If you have ever lost a pet, then you will know what I am writing about. Pets are a part of your family. I am going to talk about my dogs in this article but this can apply to cats, birds rabbits, etc. I have had 3 dogs die and 2 of them recently. When I was younger, we had a litter of puppies all die from parvo. Let’s just say it-it hurts and that is an understatement. I wish pets could be around for the length of human life. I had a german shepherd dog that died after 2 1/2 years from kidney failure. I was pretty thorough with my research. I researched the breeder, I saw the litter of puppies and the mom and dad. They all appeared to be healthy. I grew up around german shepherds as a child. What went wrong, I don’t know?
I do know that this has happened before to other pet owners. The other dogs I have had lived until they were 12 and 13 years old. It did not make the pain any less once they died. I was blessed to have had them for a little while. It is terrible to watch your pet die. In fact, it’s brutal. I don’t know if terrible fully explains it? I don’t know what words to use. I have pictures, their ashes, sympathy cards and I took some hair and their collars after they passed away. How do you carry on? I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. All I can offer is experience, what worked for me, and some advice.
Every pet is different. You love them all but love each one in a different way. Everybody has their “favorite” dog or pet. Mine was my dog, Duke. I got him a few months after one of my other german shepherd dogs died, the one with kidney failure. A lady one of my work colleagues knew had a friend that has 2 german shepherds “dumped” at her house. One female and one male. I received a call from the lady who had them. She wanted to know if I would come and look at them and possibly take one or both home with me. I had just lost a dog and the pain was pretty raw. I didn’t want another dog at that time. But, I went and looked at the male german shepherd because shortly before I arrived, someone had taken the female. So the male german shepherd was living under the house. He came out and I look at him and he was skinny and looked like he had mange.
I said no to him and walked away. The lady who had him was persistent. She said are you sure you do not want this dog? I said no, I can’t take him, It was too soon to get another dog and plus it looks like the dog is unhealthy. I just can’t go through another dog’s death. She went on and explained, well I cannot keep this dog much longer and when I turn him in at the pound because he is a big dog, they will probably put him down. I believe she called me 3 times to see if I wanted the dog. I was hesitant but said I would look at him again and if I could take him to the vet to see if he was healthy, I would take him. So I took him to the vet, they ran his blood work and it was fine. No heartworm or other problems. What I thought might be mange were actually fly bits. He had been on the run and that is why he was so skinny. I went with my girlfriend to show her the dog and she said yes, I should take him. I went p to him and said let’s go and he jumped up with hesitation and went with me. She said, “that’s your dog!”
Well, he turned out to be the best dog I have ever had!! I was so glad I took him in! I keep thinking every once in a while-what if I didn’t go back and get him? He was a german shepherd male that weighed 100 pounds that was the best dog ever. Other people talked about him. He was just so “chilled out” and obedient. He died on January 24th, 2019. It broke my heart. I still have great memories of him. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of him. I am getting tears in my eyes writing about this. People who haven’t had a pet/dog, cat, etc. just cannot relate. They just don’t get it. No offense to them.
How to Cope
I am not sure if you ever get over a loss of a pet especially a favorite one? I can only offer suggestions that helped me. We did a memorial shelf for Duke. We have an 8×10 picture, his ashes a german shepherd figurine, a card, his collar and a painted picture of him when we walk through the front door. I have some of his hair in an envelope on my desk. Some people don’t like pictures. They have to get rid of the memories. I can understand why. Because it’s too painful to look at them. I prefer to have pictures. I have Duke on my phone and computer screens as a screensaver.
Talk about and Cherish Memories
It can be rough thinking about or talking about a beloved pet. I used to be a person who did not talk about death. All I can say is do what is best for you. You may want to reach out to a counselor. If you have children, most of the time it helps children to talk with adults or a counselor. Or contact a pet loss support group.
Pet loss hotline Call: 435-757-4540
How to help children http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/Documents/argus-2011-01-grief-children.pdf