Coping with the Loss of a Pet

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Pete the Wonder Dog
Apr 2003 - Dec 31, 2013

Photo by Chris Lee Photography

It's Never Goodbye

Given the intense bond we share with our animals, it’s natural to feel devastated by feelings of grief and sadness when a pet passes away.
 
While some people may not understand the depth of feeling you had / have for your pet, we should never feel guilty or ashamed about grieving for an animal friend, a family member.  The memories live on so it's never "goodbye", I prefer to feel it as "till we see each other again". 

Each of one our pets are incredibly special to us but every once and a while you meet one who changes everything you thought you were, they take your breath away. That is exactly how I felt, how I still feel, about my Pete, a Basenji-Corgi  mix. 

I rescued Pete when he was 9 years old, a survivor of abuse, scarred from life, afraid, and ill. But his perseverance, his deep desire to be loved affected me deeply. I met Pete and immediately knew. Shortly after adoption he developed an incurable auto immune disease called IMHA and I dedicated the rest of Pete's life to researching the disease, supporting fundraising to find a cure, and to making him as comfortable and happy as I could. It was a long struggle and finally after 3 years, on New Years' Eve 2013,  I knew he couldn't fight  anymore and I made the difficult decision to put  him to sleep. I was devastated. I questioned if I had done enough, if he knew how much I loved him, if he forgave me for what I couldn't fix. At the same time I felt relief that he was finally at peace and an incredible associated guilt.

It took a full year to get accept the emotional loss and even today when I see photos of Pete I cry, but now I cry for the times we shared, for how loved I am confident he knew he was. Just months before Pete passed our Vet actually cleared Pete, the disease was in check, and he was expected him to enjoy a long life.  But IMHA is a tricky devil and that diagnosis was quickly overturned.
Read " Pete's Story of Illness and Recovery " describing the battle we all faced.
 
 
I have sadly said "till we meet again" to many dogs over the years and each time I felt the heartache, but Pete taught me so much more about myself and about he depths of grief and the dangers if we do not deal with it  appropriate.


Please view these healthy ways to grieve your loss , including comforting yourself and others, as you begin the process of moving forward.
General resources for grieving the loss of a pet

Details on understanding pet loss grief and how to cope with the pain and sadness.

Tips on how to cope when it’s time to say goodbye to a beloved pet.

Guidance for helping children of different ages cope with the death of a pet.

A webpage devoted to helping you better understand and deal with euthanasia.