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How to Deal With the Loss of a Pet

One of our dear clients just called with horrible news, they put Carly to sleep on Saturday. A beautiful, 130 pound merle Great Dane, Carly loved everyone and had a heart of gold. After her adoption several years ago, Carly lived an amazing life, enjoyed hanging out with her furry siblings and was very much loved by her owners.

Her Mom is heartbroken. We're all heartbroken. Carly was very popular at the shop and most everyone knew her by name. Two months ago Carly's Mom found a large lump on her front leg. The Vet confirmed her very worst fear. Bone Cancer. Because of Carly's size, amputation was not an option. The difficult choice was made to let Carly live out her remaining days as pain-free as possible, surrounded by love and her favorite people.

What would you do if faced with this decision with one of your pet's? Your fur baby is sick, in so much pain and you know you have to make that difficult choice to say goodbye. How do you deal with the loss?

You. Just. Do.

The emptiness will be immense. You will cry for days, even weeks. You will wonder if there was anything you could have done differently. Maybe it was a sudden, unexpected loss. Either way, you will have so many questions for the Vet. Why this disease? What was it caused by? How much pain are they in?

Should you be there when your pet is put to sleep? I always recommend yes. Be there for your pet as they were always there for you. It is your greatest gift to let them go peacefully and with dignity.

But remember this. Your pet loved you.

Let yourself grieve, be upset and cry. You can even be angry. And that's ok.

I've lost my own pets and so many wonderful clients' dogs and cats. This is what I know for sure:

  • It sucks. Nothing anyone says to you matters. "Your dog was so loved." "You had the best dog ever." "Your cat was so beautiful." It may take a very long time, but after a while the memories and kind words from family and friends will comfort you.

  • Get another pet. It doesn't have to be right away, but getting another dog or cat can help fill the void. You will always miss the one you lost, but so many animals need and crave your love.

  • It's not your fault. You obviously loved your pet and took care of them very well for many years. But nothing you did caused their death. You loved them and they loved you unconditionally. What could be a more beautifully simple bond.

  • It's your choice on where to keep your pet's remains. My husband and I bury our pets on our property. I like to plant flower gardens near the sites. If you want to keep your pet's ashes on the mantle go right ahead. Next to your Aunt Mary's urn? Why not. Some may think it's weird but who cares. Be weird.

  • Everyone deals with death differently. Some people seem to move on in a matter of days while others may take weeks or months. You take as long as you need. It's your grief, own it.

This is a wonderful website that may help with losing a pet: Grieving the loss of a pet.

Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you. I loved you so...

'Twas heaven here with you.

~Isla Paschal Richardson

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You will be missed so very, very much.