Loss of a Pet

Recently I read a letter in an advice column, from a woman who was having a very difficult time getting past the loss of her beloved dog. It had been a while and she was still grieving the loss and wondered what she could do to recover from it and live with her sadness. Having just gone through such a loss, I could certainly relate. It led me to research how someone who experiences the loss of a pet can learn to deal with it. Here are some of the suggestions I found, many from the American Kennel Club.

Seek out others who understand and have also gone through the death of a pet. Not everyone understands how deeply affected some pet owners are from such a loss. Perhaps a family member or friend who has experienced it is willing to listen to your concerns. Social media and online support groups can be helpful. One is the AKC Pet Loss Support group on Facebook. It is a private group that offers members a place to grieve and comfort one another. Realize there is nothing wrong with grieving the loss of a pet. You shouldn’t nor do you have to grieve alone.

Find a way to memorialize your pet. Plan a service, plant a tree or flowers in their favorite spot, create a scrapbook of photos, donate in their memory to a rescue group or animal shelter. Even collecting items like their collar, blanket, a toy, and putting them together in a memorial box is helpful.

Know that other pets in the family may experience grief at the loss of their friend and need more attention and love, especially if they are the only remaining pet. Showing them extra care can help you work through your own grief.

As with any loss, there is no timetable or expiration date for grief. It takes as long as it takes to get past the initial shock and feelings of sadness. If you feel you need professional help, do not hesitate to reach out. There is a wealth of information online, but a local rescue group, shelter, or even your own veterinarian might be good resources to check for finding a support group and getting the help you need. The AKC itself offers a lot more ideas.

There is also no timetable for when or even if you are ready for another pet. Some folks rush right out and get another one; others need time to process the loss before they’re ready to welcome another animal into their life. If you decide to adopt a new pet, don’t view it as replacing the lost pet or compare it to that pet. Each animal is its own being and will bring their own joy and companionship to you.

Since we have just passed the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, it seems fitting to mention the many search and rescue and comfort dogs who worked at Ground Zero and the Pentagon. From Ricky, a rat terrier who could squeeze into small places, to the German Shepherds and Retrievers, who worked for weeks to help recover remains of those who perished in the attacks, they all were inspiring to the human rescue workers. Although they were not able to find many survivors, the dedication of those dogs and their handlers will always be remembered and honored. The last remaining canine hero from 9/11, a Golden retriever named Bretagne, was laid to rest in June of 2016, at nearly 17 years old, but an exhibit by photographer Charlotte Dumas, in Lower Manhattan, entitled “K-9 Courage” memorializes in portraits many of the dogs of 9/11 in their later years.  You can find out more about the canine heroes of 9/11 by going here:  https://www.dogingtonpost.com/remembering-the-hero-dogs-of-911/

In memory

Foo Foo

6-20-2009 to 08-13-2021

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