Pet Loss & Finding a New Friend

After you say goodbye to a great friend, when is it time to find a new best friend?

For those who don’t have or have never had a pet, it may seem illogical to mourn so much over an animal.  But dogs are more than animals to those who love them.  They are friends, children, and a close family member.  Dogs can go everywhere and do almost anything with us.  So, when they pass, it is a huge loss.  In fact, many states have support groups for those that have lost a dog to help others get through the grieving process.

Coming home from the vet without a companion can be a very empty feeling.  Favorite places to sleep are empty, there is dog food in the cabinet that the dog will now not eat and there are the toys you may trip over as you head to the couch to sit down and grieve for a while.  No matter where you go, it will be difficult to get away from the memories of your beloved friend.  Just remember that it is normal to grieve over the loss.  Upon losing your dog you may feel:

  • Guilt – You may feel this if your pet died in an accident and you wonder, “why didn’t I stop it from happening”.  Or you can feel this as you wonder, “why did I delay getting to the vet. Could something else have been done?”  Remember, accidents happen and even people pass away from illness.
  • Denial – Coming home from work or from another function, you may get the feeling that your dog will be there when you return.
  • Anger – Since there are many treatments for dogs, you may feel anger at the vet who cared for your dog.  “Why couldn’t s/he save my dog?”  Sometimes it is easier to get angry than to move forward in the grief process.
  • Depression – Losing a close friend is difficult and you may feel as if it is hard to do anything.  It is important that if these feelings persist to talk to a doctor.

During the grieving process, there are many ways to honor your believed dog.  You can make a donation to a shelter in the dog’s name (many have memorial donation programs), you can bury your dog in a pet cemetery or have a wonderful urn for the ashes or you can get a portrait of your dog, among other things. There are many options available so you can create a memorial that best reflects your relationship.

Although it may not seem like it at first, the pain will get easier and at some point, you may start longing for another friend.  Although it may seems as if it is a betrayal to the deceased dog, getting a new dog is not a replacement of your lost friend.  Remember that there are other dogs that need homes too.  You still have a special gift to share with a dog and when the time is right, you will find the right one with whom to share it.