When It’s Time: Dealing with Grief

October 12th, 2007 by Aileen

Every “dog person” has at one time or another had to deal with the grief of losing their beloved pet. Whether that pet lived long or relatively short, the amount of love and caring invested is no less. Just as with people, who also get more or less time in life on a relative scale, losing a young’un may even hurt more acutely.

And dogs, like all other animals – including humans – can die of different maladies, injuries and circumstances. There are no psychological studies that weigh the relative pain of losing a dog suddenly to a wayward car or truck, and losing a dog to cancer, old age and debility or some other disease/condition that makes us have to choose when to end the suffering.


Yet a feeling of responsibility comes with the decision to end a dearly loved friend’s suffering, even if we know it’s the “right thing” to do. Then, when it’s over, comes the guilt about how much suffering our loved one had to endure before we made that decision.

I killed my best friend today…

Morgan Sandlin

Everyone that knows me and knows her tells me it was the right thing to do…but I have spent this day in tears… capturing myself… and then sliding into another grief ridden puddle.

What do you do?? How do you do the right thing?

She was 13. Still lively and still looking at me as if I was the sole purpose for her being.

But… she had also bitten or tried to bite three people in the last two months. She had taken to growling at friends she knew and knew her. Indifferent to food, even when I knew that she had to be hungry..she had taken to defecating on lawn chairs while staring off into the distance at a view only she could see.

So… that wonderful little pound puppy, that little ball of fur who knew immediately that she was surrounded by love… who went “grrr…” at people with the termerity to walk on her sidewalk in front of her house when she still looked like something that came out of the lint collector in the dryer… is gone.

No more Halloweens with her celebrating every young child that came to the door. No more summers with glasses of wine while the dog chased squirrels. Just no more.

I’m crippled. I keep thinking I can handle this, then I’m crushed again. Of all the changeable things in my life, relationships driven by politics, contacts, social connections, etc. She was totally driven by love. And she’s gone… and I did that. God forgive me.

The pain can be acute, the loneliness palpable, the guilt debilitating. People suffer the death of their beloved pets, and no amount of “it’s only a dog” will make them feel better.

Some people need time to cope with their grief. Some need the support of family and friends. Still others would benefit greatly from communicating with others in similar situations, in person or on pet grief forums on the internet.

Euthanasia: How Will I Know When It’s “Time”?

Dealing with Pet Loss

Pet Loss Support: Links & Hotlines

Pet Loss Grief Support

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