Death of a dog
If you have recently experienced the death of a dog, firstly I offer a huge hug from my heart to yours. Above is my beautiful wee Bono who died last January. He was very ill and there was nothing we could do but let him go. I still have a tears in my eyes, I miss him so much. He was 12 when he had to go, the decision to let him go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and a day I will remember for the rest of my days.
A hidden grief
When we lose a person in our lives we get support and sympathy from everyone who has known the person. When we experience the death of a dog, it is only the dog lovers in our lives that truly understand the immense loss we are experiencing and the grieving period needed to cope with that loss. For those who have no love of animals the death of a dog will not register as a loss, after all, ‘it was only a dog.’ You are expected to get back to ‘normal,’ go back to work and get on with life hiding the grief you are experiencing.
Back to normal
There is no normal in life after the death of a dog, how could there be. They’ve been our furry babies, source of unconditional love, companionship and fun for whatever length of time we’ve been lucky to have them. Your normal has changed forever and as with a human, it is important to recognise that the death of a dog is just as painful, ‘if not more,’ in some instances.
Words of comfort
After Bono died, the nurse attending gave me a poem to take home with me. I didn’t want to read it, so I folded it up and put it away for the day when I would find the strength. It has taken me nearly nine months to read the poem and has been the inspiration for me writing this article. Below are some dog poems that I hope you will find comforting in your time of pain. I hope you take the time to grieve your loss and look after yourself through this time of mourning.
IF IT SHOULD BE
If it should be I grow frail and weak
and pain prevents my peaceful sleep.
Then you must do what must be done
when this last battle can not be won.
You will be sad, I understand.
Selfishness might stay your hand
but on this day, more than the rest,
your love and friendship take the test.
We’ve had so many happy years
that what’s to come can hold no fears,
you’d not want me to suffer, so,
take me where my needs they’ll tend.
Only – stay with me undtil the end.
Hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know, in time, you too will see
It is a kindness that you do for me.
Although my tail its’ last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Do not grieve it should be you
Who must decide this thing to do.
We’ve been so close, we two these years.
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
Empty arms are all that I have left.
Tears and sadness thinking about the day you left.
You had to go, I know, no choice and no regret,
but damn, I’ve nothing left but empty arms.
Nearly every hour you were with me everyday.
You brought me love, laughter and made me get out and play,
you knew just how to brighten up my darkest days
and how to take away my pain.
I wonder where you are and what you’re doing right now,
do you miss me as much as I miss you?
They say that time will heal, we start a life anew,
but damn, I’m missing you.
My empty arms, nothing else can fill,
nothing left to say but I miss you everyday.
I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
Her gentle head upon my knee
And shared her silent thoughts with me.
She’ll come no longer to my call
Retrieve no more her favourite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called her to his golden throne.
Although my eyes are filled with tears
I thank him for the happy years
He let her spend down here with me
And for her love and loyalty.
When it is time for me to go
And join her there, this much I know
I shall not fear the transient dark
For she will greet me with a bark.
They Will Not Go Quietly
They will not go quietly,
the pets who’ve shared our lives.
In subtle ways they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still can make us think
we hear them at the door
Or step back when we drop
a tasty morsel on the floor.
Our feet still go around the place
the food dish used to be,
And, sometimes, coming home at night,
we miss them terribly.
And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our hearts
belongs to them…
After Bono died, the vet told me to get another dog, my heart sank, how can anyone just go get another dog? no other dog could ever replace Bono and I didn’t want another dog. Like all grief, we need time to go through the grief stages, for me it was minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day until I finally came to terms with his loss. There’s no way out of the pain, how could there be, the pain we feel a measurement of the love we shared, that pain must be expereinced, you must cry, grieve and acknowledge that life will go on albeit in a different way.
How to cope with the death of a dog?
As I have said, lots of crying, get it all out. Take time off work if you can, you need a few days to rest and grieve before going back into the world.
When Bono died, I took some photo’s and created a video of him, tears streaming down my face.
Talk to people who are animal lovers, you know who they are and they can be a great support to you.
Visit the places you went to for walks, I did that immediately after Bono died, it gave me a sense of closness to him.
Be gentle on yourself, this death as I have said, is equal if not more devastating in some cases as a human. How could it not when you’ve had your beloved dog with you for such a long time.
Your dog was thee most precious companion in your life, celebrating their life in some way is a therapy following the death. Think about how maybe organising some form of memorial in their honor an outward expression of your grief for example a dog memorial plaque, or keyring, below an example.
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Getting another dog
I know, thinking about getting another dog is probably the last thing you want to do, everyone will tell to you get another dog, they have your best interests at heart, they want to help you through your grief and think another wagging tail will sooth your loss. They mean well and hopefully will be able to open your heart again and allow yourself to love another dog. You will know when the time is right, if ever, your heart will always have a very special place for your beloved dog, but your heart is also very sore and the love of another dog can help ease the pain, there are so many dogs out there that need your love and your dog would be happy that you are helping another dog.
I remember watching Jimmy Stewart the famous actor reciting a poem dedicated to his beloved Beau, have a listen and know that you are not alone when it comes to grieving the death of a dog.