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longgone's avatar

How did you deal with the death of a dog you loved?

Asked by longgone (14924points) December 13th, 2016

I had to say goodbye to my best friend of twelve years on Sunday. I keep thinking I must have missed something, and I’m convinced that I didn’t spend enough time with her during these last months. The night before she died, I told her she was panting too loudly…turns out she had fluid in her lungs.

What now?

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18 Answers

janbb's avatar

So sorry to hear that. It is terrible to lose an animal friend. I remember looking for Prince next to my reading chair daily for months.

Don’t feel guilty; I’m sure you were a wonderful human companion. We don’t always know what’s going on with them but we love them and they know it.

Hold on to the love.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar


You grieve in the same way you would had the loss been human.

cinnamonk's avatar

So sorry for your loss.

You may find some useful coping resources at this link, which includes a link to a chat room for discussing pet loss. Here is another link to a pet loss chat room.

You may decide that you want to speak with a grief counselor. Here is a link to a list of pet loss support and grief counseling hotlines that you can call.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have outlived many pets over the years. I keep pictures of them, and I have a plush version of my favorite one. Coping is mostly a matter of letting time do it’s work.

Seek's avatar

I’m so, so sorry, @longgone

When old Bub passed away, we buried him in the backyard, in his favourite spot to lay in the sun. Just a few days before he fell ill, I’d snapped a picture of him with a big Monarch butterfly perched on his back. As we said our goodbyes to him, a big Monarch landed on his grave.

We still call Monarchs “Bub-erflies”

It wasn’t until we moved to a new house that I stopped stepping over his spot on the floor when I got out of bed.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m so sorry @longgone. Allow yourself time to grieve. That’s how you deal with it. You’ll miss her terribly, but the pain will dissipate, the tears will come less frequently, and you’ll be able to think of her without feeling bereft.

I’m sure you didn’t miss anything, and I’m sure she felt your love over the last months. Guilt is pointless. Our animals love us unconditionally. They get us in ways nobody else does.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@longgone, your question is heartbreaking. Anyone who’s ever loved an animal will know about this profound pain of loss.

Time. As several other Jellies have posted, you need to let yourself mourn. You’ll feel better when your acute grief fades into happy memories of those 12 years with your best friend. You’ll also learn not to blame yourself for what you could-have-should-have done to save her. That response is very human and normal, and you’ll come to realize that our animal companions have very short lives; she had a wonderful life, indeed, with you.

zohaali146's avatar

Honestly, there isn’t any specific way to deal with it, you will just get used to the fact that he is no longer with you. Deep down in a corner of your heart the pain will reside but over the course of time the pain will be bearable. Stay strong!

abcbill's avatar

First, please consider yourself hugged. Heartdogs are tough to lose. I’ve worked in Dachshund rescue (Dachshunds have been my breed since I was 10…six decades.) Seniors tend not to be re-homed and I’ve usually adopted them. I both sympathize and empathize with you

First…If you’ve not heard of the Rainbow Bridge, the story is below..our companion animals do have souls…and we will be with them on our next plane of existence, however we view that.

Rainbow Bridge
‘There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.’

These next comments…are just me. Take them for what they are…comments from a guy who has paw prints on his heart…I lovingly remember Max, Lucia, Barney…all of my heart dogs…Not one can replace another…there are no first among equals. Lucia was my last heart dog to pas to the Bridge…this past January. Right now, behind me as I type this…is Perla, our 10 year old tweeny dachshund.

Grieve your beloved pet, you shared many great times. You provided well for you pup—and you likely missed nothing…dogs among all are some of the most stoic of animals. Hold the memories for a time…and then, when the time is right,..a deserving rescue pup will find her or his way into your life…just like Perla did for us.

Lucia and Max and Barney and Krieger..all my guys are with me…and your pup will always be with you…

As the saying goes…a house without a companion animal is just an empty shell and you seem to be the person who loves…

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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I’m so sorry for your loss. As much as I’m an animal lover, I always feel like they are heartbreak on four legs. If only they could live as long as we usually do…

Give yourself time to grieve and consider talking to someone about your loss. A trusted friend or family member? Most people will empathize—especially another animal lover.

Perhaps, with time, when you are ready, you can consider opening your heart to another four-legged friend. Before he met me, my SO had a beautiful white cat for 13 years that he just adored. He even lived off campus during college, so he could keep her and had her all during law school and his early days as a young attorney.

Losing her was tough, and he took it hard. But about a year later, a tiny 5-week-old orange kitten needed saving, and he was just the one to do it. Now, Mr. Cheeto is our beloved “fur-baby.” He still talks fondly about Chloe, and I enjoy hearing stories about her. It’s not a replacement, but a continuation of love.

longgone's avatar

Thanks, guys. I still feel horrible. I keep thinking she’s around, and then it hits me. I can’t even attempt to distract myself because nothing is fun right now.

This dog raised me. She went everywhere with me, and I can’t stop my brain from thinking she’ll be back. She was the most caring dog (person) I’ve ever seen, and she was my role model. I can’t believe I let them kill my best friend.

People tell me to focus on the good times I had with her. There are so many memories of her pushing up against me to cuddle, or of us rolling around on the floor together…but I keep seeing her looking at me, sad because I’m spending time with work or my younger dog. My family and friends try to assure me she was happy, but everything is in a haze for me. I just don’t know anymore.

Stinley's avatar

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Pets are part of your family and you must mourn her. Be kind to yourself and don’t feel it is a trivial thing to be upset over – it isn’t. A hug from your friend.

janbb's avatar

@longgone As @Stinley you are mourning and it is not a small thing. It takes time yo get over the loss of a dear animal friend. Try not to let the guilt come in if you can; your dog had a great life with you, I know.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@longgone Pets are 100% members of a family so it’s understandable that you would feel such immense grief. Give yourself time to process it.

Also, it’s important to remember that while it’s never easy to have to put a beloved animal to sleep, you did the right thing by ending her suffering. It was an act of love, as hard as it was. <3

blackbeard's avatar

I lost my cat a year ago.He had to be put down and I still wonder if i did right thing.I loved him like family as time goes on it gets easier but i still have moments that i wish he was sill purring next to me. Just glad the time we had.It took me a while for that felling that they are still with you to go away but it does.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@longgone, I’m sorry you’re struggling. I really do understand. I see Ollie’s face often in my mind and then I’m crying again. You said you let them kill her. Try not to think of it in those terms. For you to let her go, you must have recognised it was her time. You let her go before she felt too much pain or discomfort. You took care of her. You gave her permission to leave you. In the days leading up to Ollie’s death, we vacillated between calling the vet in or not. I had this awful feeling I was robbing him of life. In the end, I knew it was time to let him have the peace that death brings. You are hurting now. That’s normal. However, don’t let those feelings of guilt overwhelm you. You did the best you could for your loved friend right up to the end.

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