How to Cope After Losing Your Pet Dog
Dogs bring so much joy to our lives, but sadly their life spans are only 10 to 13 years on average. Saying goodbye is heartbreaking. It’s difficult to prepare for the pain you feel during the final days together and the emotions that follow.
In time, the painful memories at the end of your dog’s life will fade, and there are many ways you can honour the love you shared. Here, pet journalist and blogger Rachel Spencer who lost her dog Daisy in April 2018 answers five questions that recently bereaved owners might have.
What do I do after my dog has died or been put to sleep?
If you have your dog put to sleep, your vet will explain what will happen afterwards. You can ask that your vet comes to your home if you feel your dog will be more relaxed there or it can be done at the surgery. Afterwards, if you choose to bury your dog at home your vet can advise on the steps you need to take and this is an option if you own your home. If you decide on a cremation, the vet will take your dog away to a morgue and will put you in contact with a local cremation provider. You can attend a cremation service at the crematorium, or arrange for the ashes to be returned to you.
In the instance of your dog dying suddenly or in an accident, consult your vet, or if you’re away from home, find a local vet, and they will be able to support you.
Can I have time off work when my dog dies?
It is completely natural to experience grief when you lose your beloved dog, and you may feel unable to work or face people outside of your family. You can speak to your employer and explain the situation. Many employers recognise the huge role our dogs have in our lives and treat them as part of the family. They may offer you paid, compassionate leave or you can take some holiday or unpaid leave to give yourself time to grieve.
Is there anyone I can talk to about my dog dying?
Bereavement counsellors would traditionally work with clients to help them process their feelings about losing human family members. But in recent years, many are recognising the incredible bond we share with our furry friends and the attitude that ‘it’s just a dog,’ is changing.
If you are struggling to cope, you can find a pet bereavement counsellor by looking online, and the Blue Cross animal charity also offer free 45 minute sessions either online or over the phone. The Pet Bereavement Support Service is available from 8.30am to 8.30pm on 0800 096 6606.
If you have children, it might help for them to read a book to help them come to terms with the loss of their friend. Try The Rainbow Bridge by Judith Kristen on Amazon.
How can I remember my dog after they’ve died?
There are some fascinating ways you can ensure your pet is always close by even when they’re no longer with you.
You can make a memory box of their lead and collar, favourite toys or ball and their bowl, or have their ashes turned into memorial diamonds which can form part of a ring or necklace.
On craft website Etsy, you can find hundreds of ideas from memorial stones, keyrings, charms and paw and nose print art.
When I lost Daisy, I opted for a pretty urn for her ashes and a matching photo frame, with the date we said goodbye painted on it, and had a friend paint a portrait of my favourite photo of her.
How soon should I wait to get another pet after my dog has died?
This is entirely up to you. There is set time you need to wait until you welcome another dog into your life. For some it’s days, other people wait for years.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to grieve and come to terms with losing your dog. You may struggle to be around another dog for a while and that’s completely normal. Take it slowly. Offer to look after dogs for your friends or try BorrowMyDoggy to see how you feel. You will know in your heart when the time is right.
You will never replace the dog you loved and lost, but opening your home and heart to give another dog the same happiness you shared is a lovely way to honour their memory.