Grief is probably the hardest factor and emotions to experience for those that have had the pleasure of the amazing love and a great relationship and bond with a dog.
It doesn’t matter if you experience the loss of your dog as a child or as an adult, either way it can be a difficult time for most.
I have had to say goodbye to 3 of my beautiful dogs within an 18 month period due to nothing but the aging population of my pack at the time, as well as working professionally in the animal industry for over 10 years, I have held the hands of many loving dog owners, shared in their tears as they have said their goodbyes to their beloved pets.
The one thing that I have observed is the differences in which people grieve. There are some that feel they are unable to possibly get another dog as they feel it would be a feeling of “replacing” the pet they have lost, whilst others prefer to get a dog sooner than later, not as a replacement but to fill the void and soften the grief. I have been to a many wakes for pets too, where we share stories of the joy we experienced with each pet.
At our home, we have been blessed to never have lost one of our pets via a shock or unexpected tragedy. We have been lucky enough to have the time to say good bye and that’s what we do.
When this time is upon us we call “last drinks”. Due to the nature of our work, there are many people that get to know and love our dogs, so last drinks give everyone the opportunity to come and say their goodbyes and share in the grieving process with us. Personally it is this time that I find the most difficult, knowing the inevitable goodbye is coming. It is for this reason I like to surround myself with friends, their good stories and memories of my dog.
When we have said our goodbyes and the hardest part has passed, we choose to have our dogs cremated, where we can keep their ashes in a special spot that suits our home and our personalities.
I remember after having to say goodbye to my beautiful rottweiler Sami, that my good friend Chris was preparing to make the difficult phone call to me and share his condolences. To his surprise I was laughing and enjoying my afternoon after saying goodbye to her that morning. We have had many a conversation afterwards in regards to grief and the many different ways we all experience it. For me as I mentioned before, the most difficult stage is the few days leading up. I sit with my dogs, I talk to them, I hope I have given them the best life and that they have enjoyed living with me as I love them to the moon and back and many a tear is shed.
For me personally, I hold my dog as they pass, and then fall apart for about 5 minutes. This is the time where I like to be alone, cry enough tears to break a drought and don’t like to be touched, hugged or consoled. After 5 minutes, it’s time for me to find the new normal in my life and get on with it. I know I can’t help anyone or my other dogs if I don’t pull myself together. I have had people ask if I suppress my grief, not at all, I get it all out, it’s that I might do it slightly different to others.
So there’s no right way to grieve the loss of a pet. Allow yourself to heal and go through the motions. If you need help, that’s ok, do whatever you need to do in order to find your new normal and find your happiness again.
To all of the animals that I have had the most amazing opportunity to work with, love and share in a treasured part of their lives, you are always in my heart and you are loved beyond any words could express and only our actions can demonstrate. I will continue my journey in life with my promise to you that I will always be open to learning and I will impart my knowledge and experience to dog owners so their pets can experience a calm life and have clarity in all that they do.
Until we meet again, may you rest in peace knowing how much you are loved and missed.