Dogs are like part of the family, and they become such a huge part of our lives, that when they leave us, it can be devastating. Losing your beloved dog is like losing a member of your family, and understandably, it can take some time to deal with.
Society doesn’t always appreciate the loss of a dog, and although some of your friends may not understand, you shouldn’t let them tell you how to grieve. For some people, losing a dog is just as painful as losing a human, because their dog is such a huge part of their life.
It’s OK to struggle with the passing of your dog, lots of other people are in exactly the same boat. However, you don’t have to suffer alone, there’s lots of help available for pet owners who have experienced a great loss.
We know how hard it is to cope when you have to say goodbye to your pooch, and that’s why we have put together this handy canine grief guide. Find out how to manage your grief, and find coping strategies when your four legged friend goes over the rainbow bridge.
Why is losing a dog so hard?
There are lots of reasons why dog owners find losing their pooch so hard. Dogs are often tied into our daily routines, so when they are not around we feel a bit lost. They also give us unconditional love, and ask nothing from us, which creates a very special mark on our lives.
Often dog owners feel like ‘puppy parents’, and to them, their dog is like a child, which makes the loss even more painful. Most of all, it’s so tough because we miss our companion and our best friend. It’s one of the hardest things about owning a dog, knowing that someday you will have to say goodbye, but it’s important to live in the moment like dogs do, and treasure your time with Fido. All you can do is give them the best life possible, and create lots of amazing and wonderful memories together.
Grief has no time limit
Canine grief is the same as human grief, in that it doesn’t have a time limit. There is no set time period in which you are expected to get over your grief by. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and allow yourself time to grieve, no matter how long it takes.
Some extra special dogs stay with us all our lives, because they made such a huge impact on us. It can be frustrating when others don’t understand how awful and upset you feel after losing your dog, but it’s important to ignore how others react, and focus on yourself. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need to process your grief.
Reach out to others
You don’t have to be alone in your grief, there are lots of ways to reach out to people. You can get support from your family and friends, or you can get in touch with other people in the same situation.
If you don’t feel like talking in person, you can message people online on special dedicated grief forums. It’s a brilliant way to talk to people who are feeling exactly the same way you are, and get tips and advice on how to cope. Sometimes when grief hits you hard you just need someone to talk to who is in the same boat.
If you are really struggling with the loss of your dog, and started to get symptoms of depression, you make want to speak to a counsellor. It can sometimes help you to process and understand your grief better.
Do something special to commemorate your dog
Doing something special for your pooch can really help you to process your grief as well as commemorating your dog. Spend some time making a photo collage of memories, create a special place in your home to commemorate your dog or get something engraved with their name such as a necklace or bracelet. It might make you a little sad initially, but getting creative and making something in Fido’s memory is a wonderful way to pay tribute to them.
Getting another pet following a loss
A lot of people really miss having a dog around the house, and feel completely lost without canine company. Whilst it can be helpful to get another dog, you might need some time to process your grief first.
However, you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting another dog and starting a new chapter in your life if the timing is right. If you get a new dog that doesn’t mean that you don’t still miss your old friend or treasure their presence in your life. Only you will know when you are ready to welcome a new dog with open arms, don’t let others influence your decision.
If you aren’t ready to take on the responsibility and emotional demands of another dog, consider borrowing a friend’s dog or volunteering at a local shelter. This will help you to stay in a routine and keep spending time with dogs, which can be very therapeutic, especially if you are helping rescue dogs.
Donating all your dog’s bedding, toys and accessories to your local shelter can also be a lovely thing to do, however hard it may be to let some of their things go. At least you know other dogs will be benefitting.
Let go of your guilt
Many people experience feelings of guilt after losing their dog. This can be for many different reasons. It can often be linked to having to make the decision to put your dog down, which can be heart-wrenching, and extremely difficult. Try and let go of any feelings of guilt and trust that you did the best thing for your dog.