Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to cope with the loss of a pet

This may not be all that relevant to dog training, but I thought now was a good time to write about this, as I have now lost two of my beloved dogs in the last four days.

Whether it was from old age, sickness, an accident or some other reason, its never easy coping with a pets death. I got the dreadful news a few days ago, my dog, the one I have written about many times on this blog, had escaped from our yard and was hit and killed on the highway. Then today, my 16 year old dog from my childhood, was put down from old age. These past few days have been rough and slow, but I have learned a thing or two along the way.

First thing I learned was that not everyone understands that losing a pet can be just as hard as losing a human family member. Some people have never had a bond with their pets, maybe have never even had pets before, and can't empathize with how you and I may be feeling. It's okay to mourn over a dog like you would a human. Studies have shown that petting a dog, especially in women, releases the same endorphins as holding your own child. That's powerful.

One of the most important things not to do after a death is blame yourself, or others for that matter. Most of the time it was nobodies fault, because nobody intentionally killed your pet (and if they did then I couldn't help but blame them.) Blame gets you nowhere, and it definitely doesn't bring your dog back. Anger, too, is usually a waste of energy. I understand that sometimes these feelings are natural and part of the morning process, but too much will hurt more than help.

Grief comes in waves, some are small, and some knock you off your feet, but with time things start getting easier. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don't feel as sad as I think I should be feeling over the loss of a pet, but then I remind myself that there is nothing to be guilty about. You aren't forgetting your pet by not feeling sad, or some other feeling. You aren't replacing your pet by getting another pet to help comfort you. You didn't let your pet down by not making a bulletproof, tank-proof fence in the first place. Excepting these things brings a peace of mind that you can't get without.

The most important thing I learned is to enjoy the time you have with the pets, and people you care about while you can, because you never know when they might be taken away from you.
Think about the happy memories when a pet passes away, because those memories help to comfort with the knowledge that that dog was a very lucky dog to have you as its loving owner. accept that they are gone, and that you'll never forget them, and then you'll find peace.

Peanut and Annie
Until we meet again at the Rainbow-Bridge.


1 comment:

  1. I've had a few pets die in my day. I know I'm going to be pretty messed up when my current dog, Edgar, passes. Thanks for posting this.