Coping with the loss of your dog

by Nancy Boland

Coping with the loss of your dog is something we all have to eventually face, and the sense of loss can be devastating.  Each of us deals with the grieving process differently; but the most important thing to do is to actually let you do so.

Don’t limit your grief to certain period of time. Just make sure to go through each process, so you are eventually able to move on. If you are finding it extremely hard, try putting away the bed, toys and pictures and anything else that reminds you of your dog while you go through that grieving period. Sometimes having the reminders constantly in your face makes it all the more difficult to move on.

Make sure that you do not try to replace your dog by bringing another straight into your life before you have completed the grieving process. Once you do feel ready, you must treat your new dog as just that, a new dog. Often after losing a dog, people want their new one to be just like their old one and compare them. When you do get a new pet, avoid getting a “lookalike” pet, which makes comparisons all the more likely.

Never expect your new pet to be “just like” the one you lost, but allow it to develop its own personality. Never give a new pet the same name or nickname as the old. Avoid the temptation to compare the new pet to the old one. It is common to want to try and heal the wound left by your old companion with a new one, but this isn’t fair anyone and again emphasises just how important it is to complete each mourning phase.

dog loss

 Remembering your dog is really important. Even though it is painful to remember, it can be  very cathartic to cherish the times you had together, and not to ignore them. Remembering the memories will help bring you closure. This can be a really great time to make a photo album or scrapbook of photos and memories of your dog. Include stories, pictures and notes all about your dog, or frame some particularly nice photographs you can cherish.

Donating something in memory of your pet like donating to a shelter, or the area of medical care your dog may have received, like cancer care or research.

Once you start to feeling a bit stronger, and start missing the company of a dog, consider volunteering at a local shelter, or fostering a dog at home. These services are always desperately needed, and are very rewarding for both you and the dog you choose to foster. It also allows you to get back into the routine of having a dog, without the full time emotional commitment.

Most importantly, remember that you are the only one who has any control over when to let go, become happy, rescue a dog and start all over again.

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