Losing your dog is a very difficult time. And, whether the decision has been made by yourselves or your dog passes unexpectedly, it is emotionally challenging. Knowing how to cope and who to speak to can be hard, but your vet can offer support and contacts for advice.
The right time to say goodbye?
This is a question that is often asked of vets, when is the right time. The answer is that this varies with each dog, it depends on health or behavioural problems and other factors. If you are trying to decide whether to say goodbye to your dog, then visit your vet for a conversation and examination to discuss it. Friends and family can also provide assistance.
If you have made the decision to say goodbye to your pet the vet will discuss everything with you about the euthanasia process and the options for after your dog has gone.
Preparing for loss
Your dog will have been your friend, companion and likely have been with you through some hard times; they act as a support, simply with their presence. They have incredible personalities, you fall in love with them. And knowing when you get home they will be there, no matter what, is a huge positive.
Ask any questions that you need to make sure you have things clearly in your mind. If you want to have a friend note down some questions for you to ask, that may be helpful too. Their objective view might come up with something you overlooked.
There are various emotions that you may feel surrounding the loss of your dog. You may feel denial at first that your beloved companion has gone, as this is a confusing time but often denial itself brings a strange sense of comfort. Often following denial is anger when reality sets in that your dog has gone, and this anger can be directed towards anyone, including family members. Another stage can be bargaining, which is often a feeling not expressed aloud but in your thoughts such as ‘I’d do anything for one more day’. Depression is the most commonly considered emotion following loss, and this sadness can last for some time. Finally, acceptance is found, that your pet is gone but never forgotten.
When you lose them, firstly talking to someone who is aware of the situation can be helpful, such as a family member or a close friend. Chatting through experiences and sharing stories of all the good times with your dog can be helpful.
If you feel unable to talk to your close friends as you worry how they will react, or prefer to speak to someone who doesn’t know you or your situation, then there are lots of organisations that can help. Blue Cross have a trained bereavement team to chat on the phone, by email, or a chat system so that no one goes through the grief process alone. They offer support, compassion and understanding and confidentiality. There are numerous online memorial sites for putting a written memorial up for your pet.
Remembering all the good times with your dog can be the perfect way to help accept the loss of them. Everyone is different and the way you feel about your loss is personal to you, but realise you aren’t alone. There are many options following the loss of your pet that may help you with the grief. These include paw prints of your pet, portraits and memorial gardens. Even a special plant or flower in your dog’s favourite spot in the garden, with the collar around the planter, can be a precious memorial. Your vet can help offer support at a difficult time so contact them if needed.