It is never easy to say goodbye to those we love. It is no different if we have to say goodbye to our dogs, too. It is important to recognize how losing a canine companion can be a very painful and sad time in our lives. When it comes to grief from the loss of a dog, some pet owners can deal with the loss, while others find it is very difficult. Here are some ideas to keep in mind if you or someone you know has to say goodbye to a beloved pet.
How to Cope with the Loss of a Pet
First and foremost know this: It’s ok to grieve.
Some may not understand the true bond between a pet and a human. Do not worry about those people. Allow yourself time to be sad and do whatever is necessary to recognize it.
- Do not set a timeline. It will be even more difficult to say “next week will be better” and then when next week comes, you do not feel better. Losing a pet is difficult. Do not put a timeline on when you will be “over” this loss.
- Allow yourself the grace of memories and happiness. If you are happy, your pet will still be happy. It's ok to focus on the positive they brought to your life. Embrace the paw prints they left behind on your heart.
- Silence is sometimes deafening. When you have a home with a dog, you are used to the sound of footsteps, barks and squeaky toys. While you could turn on music or television to add to the “white noise” sound in your home, just being aware of the silence will help you prepare for the emotions associated with it.
Celebrate your Pet's life in a meaningful way
It's also healing to celebrate their life and how they made you feel. Some ideas include:
- Place a headstone or garden stone in your yard.
- Plant a tree, flower or bush in your dog’s honor.
- Scatter your canine companion’s ashes in his favorite outdoor spot.
- Make a scrapbook of photos featuring your pup.
Celebrate your pet's life on these pet memorial holidays:
- Their birthday or the day they passed.
- Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, August 29
- National Pet Memorial Day, September 13
- Remember Me Thursday, September 24
On these days, you can do these simple things to celebrate the life they gave you:
- Light a candle in their honor.
- View photos of your dog and remember the good times.
- Post your favorite photo on your social media and share it with your friends.
- Make a donation to your favorite pet charity in their honor.
When should you Get another Pet after the death of your Pet?
Only you can answer this question. For some, they may want to go out and get another dog right away. Just remember that just like people, every dog is unique. Do not get the same breed of dog and expect it to be just like your previous dog. It will disappoint you. Dogs are like humans in that they should not be compared to each other and expected to be similar to each outside of the physical resemblances. Just because your new beagle looks like your old beagle, does not mean she will act like your old beagle. Be sure to give your dogs grace to be their own unique selves!
Here is an idea to test the waters to see if you are ready for another one. There are so many pets out there that need love. Start with a visit to your local pet shelter, or even volunteer to see how you feel around other dogs. You might even decide to bring one home as a foster parent at your favorite animal shelter. This can give you the opportunity to enjoy time with dogs and help one in need before fully committing to bringing them home for good.
If being around dogs is still too soon, consider honoring your pet by:
- Contributing money to an animal-related charity in your pet’s name.
- Volunteering at a local animal shelter.
- Donating items you may have that your dog did not use such as unopened bags of food, kennels and unused toys.
Are you grieving a pet? Our thoughts are with you as you heal. Remember, the paw prints they left on your heart will last forever. Be thankful for the time you had and the memories you have of them. As long as you have that, they will live on forever.
Please share your favorite photo of your Rainbow Bridge dog on our FaceBook page! We love all dogs, especially those who have given unconditionally throughout their lives.