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Grieving Over The Loss of a Pet

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Grieving Over The Loss of a PetLately in our Facebook group, I have been seeing quite a few posts where beloved Chihuahuas have passed away. I know it’s a part of life and something we all know will eventually happen, but it’s still so sad. All of us who have loved and lost a pet know the heartbreak it causes. When our beloved fur baby passes away, they take a little piece of our heart with them.

Grief

One of the things most people want to know when they are hurting so badly, is when will it get better? Everyone heals at a different rate. And it won’t happen all at once. You will notice as time goes on, that the hurt lessens with time and there will come a time when you can think about your fur kid and not cry but smile at the wonderful memories you had with them. But do realize, it never goes away completely.

It is important that you work through your feelings. Don’t try to stuff them down and hide them. You need time to process your grief. You are going to feel a deep sense of sorrow and loss. There is just no getting around that. Your dog was a big part of your life, and now they aren’t there. You may start crying uncontrollably when you come across one of your dog’s toys or see their leash hanging on the hook. All this is normal. Just let it happen.

One of the things that is hard about grieving for an animal is that often times, people won’t understand. They will think, and sometimes even say to you, “It was only a dog”. They would never think of being that callous if you lost a human family member. They just don’t understand the depth of your love or your grief for your dog.

So it’s important to talk about your grief with people who do understand. You can talk with us on our facebook group (here’s the link to join if you haven’t already: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ilovemychihuahuaclub/  ) or find a pet loss grief group on facebook. I found this one:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/423903057974943/

If your dog hasn’t passed yet but you know that day is coming soon and are wondering about Euthanasia, here are some things to consider.

  • Please know it’s normal to feel guilty about this and feel like you are “killing” your dog.  But you would feel guilty either way. I let one of my dogs go way too long because I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him and I still feel guilty about that. He wasn’t in any pain, but all quality of life was gone. Do what is best for your dog, not what’s best for you. This is the time you need to be strong for them and love them enough to let them go when it’s time.
  • Please stay with your dog during the procedure if you can. I have a friend who is a vet tech and she says it breaks her heart for the animals when their families leave them during the process. The pet, who is already afraid and may be in pain, will feel like you abandoned him if you leave him to die without you. This is another time when you need to be strong for your dog and do what’s best for him or her.
  • Although it’s a little more expensive, if you can afford it, see about having a vet come to your home for the Euthanasia. Your dog will feel much more comfortable going through this in their own home, rather than a vet clinic. I know for myself, when my time comes, I would much rather pass away in my own home than a hospital; wouldn’t you? Here is a website where you can put your zip code in and find a list of veterinarians who will come to your home for this: http://www.lapoflove.com/

What To Do With Your Dog’s Body

There are several options here.

  • You have the option for your Veterinarian to dispose of the body. They usually will charge a fee for this.
  • You can bury your dog in your own backyard. Just be sure you go deep and be careful not dig near any utility lines in your yard.
  • You can bury your dog in a pet cemetery.  This is the most expensive option but it’s a nice way to honor them.
  • You can have your pet cremated. There are lots of nice urns available .

Other Pets

Your other pets may or may not show signs of confusion or grief when your pet passes. When my last dog died, he died at home and I let the other dogs come and see his body so they would know he had passed and not wonder why he wouldn’t be there anymore. Of course, this isn’t always possible to do.

Your other pets may grieve for their lost companion or they may not. However they will notice that you are grieving and that may cause them stress. So either way, give them some extra cuddle time. It will be good for them and for you too.

Grieving Chihuahua

Children

Depending on your children’s ages, they may or may not understand about death. Here’s some things to consider:

  • Do not say that you “put your dog to sleep” if the child is young. This may cause some sleep issues in the child. Remember, kids take everything literally.
  • In the same vein, do not tell your child that your dog “went away.” This will just leave the thought in the child’s mind that the dog may come back. They need to understand that their dog is not coming back.
  • Depending on your belief system, you can tell them your pet is in heaven, and is no longer in pain.
  • Let them grieve too. They will probably need some time to deal with their own grief. Be there for them and let them grieve the way they need to. Don’t stop them from crying if that’s what they want to do.
  • Encourage them to do something in remembrance of your pet. When my beloved Cocker Spaniel died when I was a kid, I made a little book about him, complete with illustrations. It really helped me. You child may want to do something like that, or maybe have a little memorial service for your dog, or do a craft project related to your dog (a painting, clay art, etc.).
  • Check your library, local book store or Amazon for books for kids about losing a pet.

When to Get a New Pet

Some people want to get a new pet right away, but in my opinion, it’s best to wait a bit. By getting a new pet, you are not giving yourself a chance to adequately grieve for the old pet. You need to give yourself at least a month or two.

I know this from personal experience. When I was in my mid twenties, my 2 beloved Yorkies Ernie and Chassie died in a tragic accident. The grief and guilt I felt was almost too much to bear. In an attempt to help me get over it, my parents bought me a new Yorkshire Terrier puppy named Wendy. I loved Wendy, but I was never quite able to bond to her like I had with Ernie and Chassie. I think it was because I hadn’t been able to work through my grief over them.

Remember Them

One of the things I have done to remember a pet that has passed was to get together a bunch of photos of him and make a poster sized framed collage.  You can also donate to a rescue or shelter in remembrance of your dog, get a garden stone with their name on it, or get a special ornament to remember them.

You will get through this. Many of us already have.

Have you lost a fur child? How did you handle going through it? Or are you dealing with a new loss of a loved one right now? Feel free to tell us about your pet in the comments.
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Nana

Friday 26th of July 2019

My son and his family just had to have one of their dogs euthanized a couple days ago. The vet came to their house for the procedure. Their 4 children (ages almost 5 to almost 11) were there while it was being done, so they were able to say goodbye to Jack. It has been hard on the kids - Jack was older than all of them, so they've never been without him. They are having him cremated, but haven't gotten him back just yet. Jack was 13 or 14 years old, which is fairly old for a border collie mix. I know they will all miss Jack; he was a special dog.

Cathy

Friday 26th of July 2019

Yeah that is tough for kids to lose a dog they have known their whole life. I'm glad the euthanasia was done at home and Jack was surrounded by the people he loved the most.

Gary

Saturday 26th of January 2019

I had to have my little Maggie put down Wednesday morning. She was with me for 15 years plus my wife do 33 years divorced me about a year ago. Maggie was about to suffocate due to heart and respiratory issues. I stayed with her when the er vet euthanized her. It’s hard to unsee since it was. 3 days ago. I feel hollow inside, but I couldn’t leave her when she was so scaired. This sux.

Cathy

Saturday 26th of January 2019

Gary you are very brave and loving to stay with Maggie when she needed you the most. You have had several traumatic losses lately so take it easy on yourself. It takes time for things to get better. It will help if you get some help, someone to talk to like a grief loss group or a counselor.

Morianna Steele

Monday 21st of May 2018

Words cannot describe the amount of sorrow I felt reading what you wrote. Chica was my sister. It might sound bad to say, but she was closer to me than either of my siblings. I miss her daily and I think about her even more now. I had a feeling it would be the last time that I held her when I left to move to Georgia. And I cried. I felt guilty for crying about the dog but not worrying about anyone else...When I was visiting Georgia in January I broke down about Chica to Daulton, and that I’d have to lose my horse too. I did everything in my power to get even closer to her and spend the most amount of time I could before I left, like taking her to Ace Hardware because she wanted to go bye-bye with me. She never wanted to go anywhere with anyone but you, so I felt I needed to take her if she wanted to. She followed me around and laid with me a lot more than she used to. I enjoyed it a lot and it made me feel very loved. I tried to do all I could to help you guys figure out what was wrong. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but make them live a happy and comfortable life for whatever time they have left. Loss is a part of life and you can do everything in your power to prepare yourself for it, but it doesn’t help. Chica Marie was different than any other dog I’ve had. She was a little person and was unexplainably special to me. She still is. I love you Mom. -Your Daughter

Tiffany

Wednesday 6th of June 2018

I'm just seeing this sweetheart. I love you so much. Thank you for this. I miss her furry face daily. She was special that's for sure. Never had or met a dog like her before. She really thought she was a human! Love, Mom.

Cathy

Monday 21st of May 2018

Chica sounds like she was a very special little dog.

Tiffany

Sunday 20th of May 2018

I have dealt with a lot of death in my life. Close family members and friends, including my dad to cancer when I was 14. None of it prepared me for losing my fur baby a few days ago. I have never felt grief such as this. It is a whole body and mind encompassing grief. And the guilt. My mind stumbles over the last year of her being sick (enlarged heart and a lung issue) and ends on her last few hours. Did I do enough? Did I do something wrong? She was happy and healthy in every other way until the end. I knew it was coming but it happened so fast. I know I should be thankful for that. That it came on strong and in a matter of hours she was gone. The final traumatic moments probably lasted minutes but it felt like hours.

I walk around my house looking at all her spots. She was my shadow for 10 years. Comforting me through my health issues and chronic pain. She slept next to my hubby and I, in the middle. Got tastes of almost everything we ate. Went bye-bye everywhere. She was my baby. The other deaths have tought me that I will survive. But this hurts so much. So deeply. There are no words. I love you Chica and I always will. My pretty baby.

Cathy

Sunday 20th of May 2018

I am so sorry Tiffany. Chica was such a beautiful little dog and I know she had a good life with you. You have nothing to feel guilty over. You aren't God and there's only so much you can do. I don't envy you right now. I know how much it hurts and how hard it is to go through. My thoughts are with you.

Viviana

Wednesday 20th of December 2017

I just lost my boy last week. It kills me to the core. I had him almost 17 yrs and I miss him terribly. He was with me through my depression, the worst time of my life. He licked my tears, cuddled closer and gave me love in abundance. I'm lost without him. I had to make a decision that I knew wasn't the best for me but my baby needed rest. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. His whole family was present. Mom,dad and 2 sisters. We all miss him. I'm having to get counseling because I don't know how to function. I feel guilty when I eat because I would let him have a taste of what I would eat. I have another fur baby that misses his brother. I can see it's hurting him too. I know our babies don't live forever but I don't think anything could have prepared me for this. I miss my baby. I'm sad. I'm broken. I love you Peanut, my loyal baby.

Cathy

Wednesday 20th of December 2017

I'm so sorry Viviana. I can tell you are hurting a lot. You did the most selfless thing you could for Peanut and I know he wouldn't want you to be hurting so much for him. He will be forever in your heart.