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. 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.
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.
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?