A Chat about Dog Bereavement


A Chat about Dog Bereavement

Some of my friends have lost their beloved dogs lately and it’s hard to know what to say to them. As I’ve said before I lost my Alfie back in April and there is still great pain there for me. Today I wanted to have a chat about dog bereavement. It’s a lonely time and hard to put into words the raw pain that you feel.

At the time no-one could console me, the grief was all consuming and no words would help. Some people said “at least he didn’t suffer”, this wasn’t helpful to me.I selfishly wanted him back, he left a massive void in my life, I was angry that he had been taken from me. My emotions were irrational, spiteful and selfish, so words of comfort said with good intentions, only made things worse. I wasn’t ready to be comforted, the only thing I wanted was the one thing I couldn’t have

Do What Feels Right For You’

I was wondering how other people deal with the loss of a pet. Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently to grief so there is no right or wrong way. You just have to get through it somehow and the pain reduces gradually.

Some people immediately go out and get another dog, maybe a rescue or a puppy. I understand this completely, it would put a sticking plaster over the wound, exchange sorrow for elation, but underneath that plaster is the wound healing? I’m open to another dog but he or she hasn’t found me yet. When the day comes…..I will know!

This is a poem I wrote for Alfie, it helped me at the time and there is a permanent reminder that he existed and was loved.

Goodbye, my friend, the time has come

To hang up your collar, your work here is done

The kindest soul, the warmest heart

The sweetest dog to ever depart

Your little soul mate looks so sad

She’ll never forget the love you had

That tiny puppy you taught to play

She’d nip your tail, then run away

When days were dark, with sadness and pain

You gave me a reason to rise again

And now, too soon, it’s come to an end

And your work is needed in heaven, my friend

They need an angel to stand at the gate

to welcome the others, who’d wait and wait

for their family to join them, so alone and so sad

You’ll comfort their sorrow

and soothe the pain that they had.

So, for now, I bid you goodbye

My angel in heaven, a new star in the sky.

Three years ago I fostered a little chihuahua called Harvey, who was terminally ill, through neglect. His owner, a breeder, wasn’t willing to pay for vet advice or medication, so his heart condition became incurable at just seven years old. He was with me for five months and died in my arms.

In this case, it was really important to me that this dog was remembered and that he knew love in his life. I bought a rose bush in his memory that blooms each year at the same time as Harvey died. The rose bush is now thriving and will always be Harvey’s rose.

So every bereavement is different, we just have to deal with the pain in a way that feels right for us. Some people get comfort from having the dog’s ashes close by or they give them a proper farewell in a special place.

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12/04/2023 11:28 pm GMT

I don’t have any words for anyone who is feeling this loss and wondered if anyone had any advice about what to say?

Also, how did you cope and what did you want from people at the time?

Were your emotions irrational and out of character like mine?

Additional Reading

What to Say When A Family Dog |Has Died

A Sad Time At Waggy Tales

Gifts For Grieving Dog Owners


Many people contact me with stories about dog bereavement, and how it deeply affects them. Some people are embarrassed to feel such pain about losing a pet when others are suffering from the grief of losing actual relatives and friends. However, this terrible pain should never be diminished, swept under the carpet or made to feel trivial.

We are a dog loving community where you can talk in the comment section below and someone will get back to you. Also, read some other messages so that you don’t feel alone in your grief.

Thank you for reading

43 thoughts on “A Chat about Dog Bereavement”

  1. This is such a touching post. The poem you wrote is beautiful too. I’m sorry to hear about Alfie and Harvey. Mourning pets to me is no different than mourning family and loved ones. I think it takes time. I recently read a book by Bernard Jan about his cat Marcel. Marcel died years ago and Bernard never owned another pet again all this time. He was unsure about ever owning another pet. When I asked him if he had any advice for people who were mourning the loss of pets he said this,

    -It is really hard to give any advice to someone who is going through such raw and brutal pain. I didn’t cope well with losing Marcel, my eyes still water each time I think of him. I can’t say I completely let him go. But I am also not letting go of hope and belief that there is some logic behind that meaningless death and dying. That there is a kinder place, time, dimension or what not, full of calmness, love and forgiving that awaits us when we step into it after our beloved departed ones. I am holding on to that thought. And the love I had. Hold on to your love and never let it go.-

    I don’t like to think about losing my pups, but after also learning about Rainbow Bridge from Luis Carlos Montalvan, I hope that it’s real and that we meet our pets again.

    Hugs <3

    1. Thank you so much and Bernard’s words are so comforting. We have to believe in Rainbow Bridge, what a party that will be. It’s lovely of you to take the time to send this and it means a lot xx

  2. I’m where you are. Butterfly died in July and it’s still hard for me to believe that she’s gone. I made a point of reaching out to blogville right away because I knew that this is where I’d find comfort. Nothing fills the void she left behind, but knowing that I’m surrounded (virtually) by people who understand, really helps.

  3. I was 40 when I got my first dog and remember dad telling me I should only get one if I was able too make the tough decisions that are sometimes needed. 6 years later I had to make the hardest of all when he was seriously ill with heart failure and ready to go. It was the hardest and most upsetting task but I did it for him. He left a massive hole in my life but so many memories and photos. It took several years before I was ready for another and then got 2. Now they are gone from my life I have more memories and photos and 3 more dog shaped holes in my heart. But I’d rather have the pain if losing them than never to have had them at all.

    1. I had two dogs.. Bani passed 3years ago very suddenly she was the kindest soul ever. When she passed we didnt know what to do but my other dog was very sad just like the rest of us. So we decided to fet another pup for tysons sake (my other dog) and for the familys sake. It didnt help the void completly but the new pup was just like Bani so that sort of helped. Couple of weeks ago i lost my Tyson he was 14years old and his time was up..it hurts more as he passed on the same day as Bani exactly 3years and 3hours later.. he was just 4 weeks old wen we had got him.. its so hard to keep on goin but i know i have to for the sake of my pup who we also named Bani.. if only i get the chance to see both my dogs again! Thanks

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  5. Very touching post and poem! I am so sorry for your loss! I have no idea how I am going to feel in a few years when my it is time for my oldest to go. I know I am going to be heartbroken, but I know I will not let any of my fur kids suffer and I would not trade the time I have with them for anything! <3

  6. What a wonderful poem you wrote for your doggy friend – so touching! Two days ago I said goodbye to my friend of 18 years – Sooty, my cat. The feeling of loss is overwhelming – the house is so empty without him… I’ve buried him in the garden and have bought a small pet memorial stone for him. I’ve also written short poems about him on my blog because writing eases the pain. When people scoff, “just a dog” or “just a cat”, *I* think that 18 years is a longer relationship than many marriages!

    1. Oh. I’m so sorry for your loss. 18 years is a long time you must feel completely lost. I found writing helped me, the poem was written when I was feeling like you are now. Six months later it still hurts, but it has become bearable. Sooty was very lucky to have you x

  7. Dearest Friends… My name is NT Marge and I was moved to tears by your loss of your Beloved Pets. I still cannot hold back tears missing all of my loves that have crossed Rainbow Bridge. Thank you for sharing.. you have helped me very much.🤗💖🌺🌺💅🐾🐾

  8. great post. My Sally is 13 and every day has been getting harder for her to walk, and get around. I know the end is coming and it makes me break down just thinking about it. I a so lucky to have 13 years with her and maybe I’ll get one or two more. But the thought of losing her right now is so painful, I cant imagine how Ill ever get over it when she actually does past. I hope writing a blog post helped you with that, I am planning to do the same one day when she leaves me.

  9. Thank you very much for this, Louise. We lost Spike at age 16 last November, and the emptiness is still raw and palpable. Prior to Spike, we had Lady for 18 years; prior to Lady was Scamp, who was a rescue from a breeder. We are petless now for the first time in decades, but I simply don’t know if I can handle the loss again – perhaps in a few years the right pet will find us … . I always plant a tree on the gravesites of our smallest family members, with a small memorial above, and I look forward to being reunited with them again. Again, thank you for sharing, and I hope you are continuing to work through this day by day, remembering the enjoyment they gave you.

    1. Hi Nick, its such a raw pain isn’t it? but it sounds like you gave your dogs wonderful lives and they do have a way of finding us when we least expect it! I found Christmas hard without Alfie but my daughter just had a puppy so he keeps me entertained. I also have Holly who is 14 and a very naughty rescue dachshund who keeps me very busy!

      1. My bride and I still have “Spike Moments” almost every day. They really do crawl deep into one’s soul!

  10. When I was 5 my parents made me do chores around the house to earn a dollar, for months I saved and finally I had hit $20 each one pinned on my bulletin board, which is how much my mother said I would have to save for a dog. Being a little girl, I wanted a poodle. My parents drove two hours to a puppy mill (which I would never do again) the man told me his poodles weren’t ready- and I wasn’t willing to wait. He brought out 8 dirty fluffy bichons and I fell in love with the little girl chewing the corner of his carpet. He gave her a bath and sent her home with me. Now at 21, I just lost her. The past three years I’ve been in school full time and working 70hrs a week. Two years ago I moved out and my mother took care of her since I couldn’t, I visited less and less because I couldn’t bear to see her getting older. She lost her sight- but she still loved to play, she lost her hearing, and she went down hill. Anytime I visited she didn’t greet me at the door anymore, I greeted her while she was snuggled in her bed- she would smell my hand and wake wagging her tail and licking my hand. Two days before she died I walked in and asked where she was and my brother said she was in the room sleeping and I thought “let her rest, she’s old, it’s been rough lately.” I didn’t get to say goodbye. I feel a lot of guilt for not going and waking her. I feel guilty for not being there for her as she was for me. I have always looked down on people who ditch their dogs when they got too old; but I did just that. Your poem made me feel a bit better, there’s nothing anyone can say to make it better. There’s so much grief and guilt, so many things I would have changed. I’m just glad I had her cremated. As I wait for her urn to arrive at the end of next month, I hold her in a box every evening since losing her apologizing for leaving her. Every trauma I’ve ever experienced, I turned to her. And now this one, I have to face on my own. I hope it will get better with time, but for now – I sleep with a stuffed animal wearing her sweater and I sob over a cardboard box of ashes.

    1. I’m so sorry that you lost your lovely little dog Mikayla . I’m not going to sugar coat this with kind words because they don’t help. I wrote a post called ‘What NOT to say when a dog has died’ because people say the worst things to people who are grieving. Now, from what you have told me your puppy could have died in that puppy farm, you saved her from that awful place and gave her a wonderful and long life. You didn’t ‘ditch’ her you were going through a busy time of your life and you left her with people she loved and who loved her. Feeling guilt is a massive part of grieving. I have a 15 year old little shih tzu sitting with me now and some days I can’t make eye contact with her because I know we don’t have long left together (I never told anyone that before ) I think we do try to distance ourselves when we see our pets getting old. Its hard to see them getting older when we just want them to live forever. Thank you for writing this down, I hope it helped, you made me cry because I know exactly how you feel. Take care and message me anytime. Your little girl will be close by watching over you and she wants to see you smile again soon xxx

  11. I Iost my 9 year old toy poodle 2 days ago. I am devastated. I can’t sleep. I cry off and on. I held her in my arms as she died peacefully, and I know it was the right thing to let her go. My poor Mae Mae. She meant the world to me and now I have emptiness.

    1. No words will help how you are feeling, but I genuinely know what it is like, such raw pain. Take care, thank you for stopping by and Sleep Well Mae Mae xx

  12. Thanks for a great poem.I just lost my Kasey and I just want her back.glad to know IAM not the only one. She was a asuie the best dog I’ve had.she was 17 yrs old. Missing her is unbearable. I hope we all get to see them in heaven.RIP my sweet KaseyK.🐕

    1. So sorry for your loss Cyndi, you definitely are not alone, it’s a devastating time. Sweet dreams Kasey xxx

  13. Randomly found this & it totally got me tonight. It’s been 3 weeks since I had to make decision to put my pup to sleep after 12 years of being by my side. Here I am crying again …. Did I make the right decision? If I’d known I would have made her last few days so special. The days are so busy I sometimes forget she is not there and then at night I go to let her out before bed and I remember she is not here anymore.
    I hope we get to meet again and I hope she understands. 😢

    1. You definitely made the right decision and your lovely dog would be so grateful that you took away her pain xx

    2. I lost my beautiful Cavapoo Rembrandt three weeks ago on September 1, 2021 5 days before his 10th birthday.

      I named him Rembrandt because he was a work of art. I got him from the breeder at 8 weeks. I am divorced and he was my little boy, and was there loving me through major hurdles of my life when no one else was there. I am so devastated and am so hurt that I could not get him to his 10th birthday. He died at home with me laying right next to him telling him mama loved him. He looked at me with his beautiful soulful eyes with love and sadness letting me know he was leaving.

      Right now my pain doesn’t have boundaries.I know one day the bleeding will stop but now I am in such a fog. He was my road dog who went everywhere with me. I can barely drive my car because I keep looking back for him in his car seat. I call his name in the house.

      Thank you for the poem and this space of understanding.

      1. I can feel how much pain you are in Karyn, so sorry for the loss of Rembrandt. Fly high beautiful boy and sending you a big hug (you are not alone) xx

    3. Caroline, I lot my Sheba almost 2 months ago and she was only 3 years old. She was my 50th birthday present. I love her like one of my grown children. She too was in pain from cancer at such an early age. Folks that get to have their dogs to old age are lucky to me because my baby died young and I miss her soooo much! I still come home and and say ” Hey Sheba momma home to her ashes”. I will get another boxer but no boxer or dog will take her place in my heart but only share my heart. I hope the pain slowly decrease with time. My husband and I would say I know Sheba would have loved to eat some grilled steak. She would would watch dad from the door at the grill! and she would lick up food we would drop. I would call her the “clean up woman”. I just miss her so, but I do have memories, pictures, and videos. I LOVE YOU SHEBA

  14. I lost my best friend Oct 4, 2020 we spent 7 wonderful years together. I gave her my world the same world that shattered when she past. I blame myself because at times I would feed her house food . She was a yorkie her name till this day hurts when I say it .. It was “ Cosita” that’s Latin for small things… I took her with me everywhere she was 4.5lbs. The night she past she had eaten some house food that I fed her. As you can imagine it’s been two years since and I can’t stop blaming myself. I often cry for her because I feel horrible for doing what I did . I swear if I would of known that would be the last night I spent with her I would of hugged her and kissed her but I just couldn’t … I read this post about grieving our dogs and it makes me so sad because I know how painful it is to go through this. I’m sorry for all the parents who have lost their babies . I’m sorry Cosita I wish I would have done things differently and instead of feeding you house food because I thought I was doing you good I should of been a better mom for you .

    1. Yordanka please don’t blame yourself for Cosita’s passing. I’m sure there could be lots of reasons why your little yorkie died and you would never knowingly do anything that could possibly hurt her. It’s so obvious that you adored her and you are still devastated to lose her. Take care and try to remember all the good times xx

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