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Grieving the Loss of a Pet

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Our beloved inquisitive canine Poncho the Dog - always remembered, forever loved.
Our beloved inquisitive canine Poncho the Dog – always remembered, forever loved.

Dogs bring pure joy into our lives and homes. The flip side of that is the devastating loss when they leave us. As a certified professional dog trainer and  behavior consultant, and dog mom, I would be remiss if I didn’t post about pet loss and its accompanying grief. The purpose of this installment is to offer some resources and to provide comfort during a very difficult time.

First, intense grief and sadness over the loss of a dog, or any pet, is normal – at least in my opinion. A dog is a family member and a big part of daily life. The human-canine bond can be very strong, and not all humans understand that. Mourning the loss of your dog is a way to deal with the sadness. I can speak firsthand about this matter, as we lost our beloved inquisitive canine Poncho one year ago today.

Grieving is a very individual and personal process. Everyone has their own way. And many of us are creating and finding our ways to grieve as we go along. It’s never easy and sometimes it may be the most difficult thing one faces in life. For myself and my husband, we found solace in attending both individual and group pet grief counseling sessions. Dr. Kathleen Ayl, who hosts these sessions, was our saving grace during what has been a very difficult time.

Animal welfare organizations, veterinarian offices, and other animal-related groups suggest the following to deal with the overwhelming grief pet loss can bring:

A memory table for Shadow, a beloved golden retriever.
A memory table for Shadow, a beloved golden retriever.
  • Give yourself permission to grieve.
  • Reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear.
  • Write about your feelings in a poem, story, or essay.
  • Call your veterinarian, local Humane Society, animal advocacy group, or mental health hotline to see if pet-loss support groups are offered in your area.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet.

For more help on coping with the loss of a furry family member, you may find the Humane Society’s and Rainbow Bridge’s Web sites helpful. Or, a call to the Pet Loss Hotline,  (877) GRIEF-10, may provide comfort, too. Here’s a Web site of a veterinarian I know who specializes in honoring the loss of a pet: Kalee Pasek, D.V.M.

If your emotional loss and pain is unbearable, consider the services of a professional counselor or therapist.

Please know that the Inquisitive Canine family fully understands that the loss of a pet is one of the most difficult experiences. Ever. Our sympathy is with you.

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