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Posts Tagged ‘loss of a pet’

Love the ones you’re with (while you still have them)

April 11, 2012 21 comments

Last week I wrote about my dog Jasper and the intensity in which he attacks everything in his life.

My friend Amy left the following comment “Buster has a lot of the same energy as Jasper, but now that he’s approaching is 5th birthday, he seems to be settling down a bit. There are more moments of calm between the craziness and, while I thought it was what I wanted, it makes me feel a little sad. It means he’s getting older and I’m not so excited about that.” I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness, because I knew what she meant. It won’t be that long before Jasper will be slowing down too. I so love his intensity. I love that he is naughty sometimes. I love that he keeps me on my toes and is always making me think. Slow down? I don’t want to even consider it.

Xander

Then later that week, I got word that a family who had been involved in the search for Lady had lost their beloved dog, Xander. They had adopted Xander from Minnesota Sheltie Rescue after his original owner died. Being the big-hearted people they are I have no doubt that Xander was showered with love for the five wonderful years they had him. I couldn’t help but be reminded that my time with Jasper (and Daisy and Lady) is short.

Even at his most exasperating, I know that one day I will be missing Jasper, like Xander is being missed right now.

I know that one day I am going to miss the fact that he has to go back outside 3 minutes after he gets back in because he forgot to go to the bathroom while he was out the first time. I will miss him attacking the outside water dish every time I empty it out to put fresh water in. I will miss him staring at me, waiting for me to throw his ball. I will miss his need to herd me, the cat, Daisy and Lady. I will even miss him chasing runners at the park.

Hearing about Xander and reading Amy’s comment made me realize that I need to appreciate all of my moments with my dogs – the good, the bad and the frustrating. Because, someday, I will miss each and every one of them.

My condolences to the Gilbert family on the loss of their boy. I know it must be heartbreaking to not have him there with them. I just hope they find some comfort in knowing they gave him such a wonderful life. One filled with love and happy memories.

When a dog dies…

March 21, 2010 4 comments

Remy

Today my family said goodbye to my brother’s dog, Remy. Remy was a Chow-Lab mix, and even though he was 15 years old, it still broke our hearts when my brother called us today to say that Remy was not doing well and it was time to say goodbye.

One of the hardest things that we, as pet owners, have to face is saying goodbye to our furry best friends. In some cases, losing a pet can be even harder than losing a family member. That’s because our pets are our companions, confidants, comedians, and best friends. They are with us more than most family members and see us through the good times and the bad.

Given the loss of Remy today, I thought it might be appropriate to post some information about the Five Stages of Grief.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first introduced the Five Stages of Grief in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Although the five stages were designed to help people through the process of grief and tragedy in their own lives, I think they apply to our beloved pets as well.

The Five Stages of Grief are as follows:

1. Denial – “My dog is fine.”; “I’m just being silly. My dog is not showing signs of being sick.” ; “My vet must be wrong, my dog looks fine to me.” – For many pet owners, admitting that our dog is sick or is the near the end of life is too hard to deal with so we pretend that everything is okay. They’re just having a few accidents in the house or they ate two days ago, so they might eat again tomorrow.

2. Anger – “Why my dog? It’s not fair!”; “It’s all my fault. If I had only brought her to the veterinarian sooner, she would be okay.” “I should never have done left him alone.” – Often in the second stage (anger) we look for someone to blame, whether that be our veterinarian, a family member or ourselves. We may even look towards other external sources: dog food companies, boarding facilities, etc.

3. Bargaining – “If I just try this new procedure, I’m sure my dog will be okay.”; “If I just wait a few days/weeks/months, my dog will be better.”; “I might make a decision too soon when my dog could recover.”; “I’ll do anything for just a few more years with my buddy.” – In the third stage, we hope that we can somehow postpone or delay death. Sometimes we even negotiate with God in hopes that we can spend a few more precious days with our friend.

4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I don’t want to do anything now that my best friend is gone.”; “I don’t want to even look at another dog right now. They would just remind me of my loss.” – In the fourth stage, we may find it difficult to eat, sleep, or concentrate and we may not want to be around other people. Our grief overcomes us and we mourn. One of the most difficult things for pet owners to deal with is seeing their pet everywhere they used to be – a favorite rug or chair, playing ball in the yard, searching the kitchen floor for scraps, etc.. This is often the most difficult stage because what was once a possibility is now a reality.

5. Acceptance – “I miss my dog, but I can move on.”; “My dog had a really great life in the time he/she was here.”; “I had some wonderful times with my dog.” – In the fifth stage, we begin to accept that our furry friend has died and focus on the wonderful times we had with him/her. For pet owners who’s pet has been sick for a long time, there can even be a bit of relief – not that our beloved pet is gone, but that the care-taking and stress involved with caring for our sick pet is finally over. (Owners should not feel guilt or shame over this relief. It is okay to be relieved that the stress and worry is gone.) There will still be times when we experience deep sadness, anger, or guilt at our loss – I still shed a tear now and then for my pets – but we start to look forward rather than backwards and we may even consider looking for a new pet.

The Healing Process:
One of the best ways to begin to heal from our loss is to express our love for our pet in other ways. For me, the loss of my dog Alicia led to me to volunteer at an animal shelter, where I could help other dogs and cats. For one of my clients, it involved creating a shelf dedicated to her beloved dog. For others, it may be creating a picture book or planting a tree. Whatever the thing may be, consider doing something that honors your pet. It can go a long way towards the healing process.

Remy – We miss you buddy!

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