In 2003 I got a puppy from my local shelter, and 2018 is when I had to say my final goodbye to my beloved pet dog Ginger. It is always hard to deal with pet loss. It is heartbreaking and there is a grief period. Honor the loss and allow your self time to heal. Our pets are like family.
Writing has always been a way to sort my thoughts. Let me share a diary excerpt about when I said was able to say goodbye to my dear friend. My life circumstances changed in 2007 and Ginger went to live with family members. In 2018 near the end of her life, I was able to go for a visit and I knew it would be the last time I saw her.
“Not much else has reminded me of the passage of time than my girl. Looking at the grey along the muzzle, and the contrast of her dark eyes and the white mask she wears around her eyes, I see how time has marched on. Today, I am so grateful though, that she has been so loved over the years and equally grateful she grew up loved and with kids around.
Today she close to 15yo, old, grey and boney. Her legs are tired and weak unless she’s on a walk. Age has taken its toll, her ribs stick out, her spine is predominate. With every sneeze or ear shake, her body shimmies as if she’s doing a little dance, in reality, she struggles to catch her balance. She is alert and her eyes are a deep dark brown, yet with every snap of a twig or unexpected noise, she jumps. Either her mind wanders off or her hearing is distorted, personally, I like to think its the previous.
In her Youth….
And In my mind, I still see her as a puppy, a troublesome curious pup, who steals loaves of bread from unintended grocery bags and the one who continually squeaks her toys into submission. I almost bought her a new one this visit….it would have only served as a reminder of her youth, not something she would enjoy today, at least not in the same way.
This trip to Oregon had many things on the to-do list. It occurred to me about Tuesday that this will most likely be my last time to say goodbye to this old girl. Today she is hanging..but she is well, old. Still with a little spirit though. Apparently, she escaped the yard and spend a night in doggie jail recently…she has a mug shot now. She also still sly enough to ask for pets, charm those around her, and ask for treats.
I got to walk her today and will walk her again a few more times before I go home. There was the opportunity to lay with her today and cry and thank her. I long time ago when I needed someone she was there, just there. Lying on the couch with me all through the night, She was chubby then and her legs would stick straight off the couch, with her back next to me. In my darkest of times, she had my back..that’s what dogs do, share unconditional love. That was a lifetime ago. Time marches on.. yup…” June 2018
Although we only had about four years together, we were bonded. She was my girl. She lived out of state for many years and it was hard to go see her. We were apart for about five years the first time I was able to go visit. her with her new family When I walked in the door, she remembered me and immediately she came right over and sat next to me. I left so loved and it was really sweet after all that time. Dogs absolutely remember their owners.
Coping with Feelings of Loss and Grief
Let’s look at ways you can deal with the pet loss in a healthy way, and ease the pain.
Allow yourself to grieve. I feel very lucky I had time to say goodbye and spend some quality time before the end. It can be traumatic to lose a pet and it is o.k. to feel sad. It is a big deal. No one should belittle your feelings of loss.
Release the guilt – We are caretakers, and often at the end of a pet’s life, it is we have to make heartbreaking decisions. Should we do more? Is my fur baby in pain? Have I done all I can do? Sometimes when saying goodbye is the best option, guilt can take hold. It is a very difficult decision, but trust it is the right one for you and your pet.
Express your feeling about it. Write, Paint, Talk about it with friends. Don’t hold your feeling in. Pets are a wonderful part of our lives. They offer unconditional love, act as an unbiased soundboard, they are an exercise buddy. For us, single folks pets are day to day companions. Seriously, I even share my pillow and blankets with Pizza and an offer bite or two from my plate. …
Seek out support a support group either online or locally. Today Oct 2020 most of our life is turned to an online lifestyle. If you are isolated and having trouble dealing with pet loss, please check out VetVine They are a virtual zoom support group hosted by a group facilitator. Sharing and talking about your feeling is a healthy way to help get past the loss.
Memorialize your pet. It is good to have a ceremony to feel a sense of closure. There are other great ways to keep your pet in your memory. Frame photos of your pet, make a donation in your pet’s name, plant a tree, or shrub in your pet’s honor.
Take your time take as much time as you need. It is your journey of grief. Some pet owners have other pets at home and decide to adopt soon. Other people feel the need to wait. It is absolutely fine either way. Only you , will know if and when, you will be ready to get another pet.
Grieving Pet Loss is Normal
Animals become our best friends and confidants. It can be challenging to deal with pet loss. It is very common to go through different stages.
“Losing a beloved pet is often an emotionally devastating experience. Yet as a society, we do not recognize how painful pet loss can be and how much it can impair our emotional and physical health.”–scientific american.com
The loss of a pet is inevitable they only live for a fraction of time compared to our lives. Yet, they share a history with us and create memories with us. For some of us, they become our closest family members. I am dreading the day when I will have to say goodbye to my feline buddy, but pets bring such joy to my life I can’t imagine not having them around. Remember to be gentle with yourself. You are not alone. Pet loss is not something you have to deal with alone.
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I’m a busy blogger pet parent to my senior-aged cat Pizza. We have traveled all over Los Angeles, endured several moves, jobs, roommates and now global pandemic together. Today we write, learn, and share information and our favorite products, in hopes you can experience your best life with pets too, We currently live with other humans and their beautiful dog.