Coping with dog bereavementThe death of a dog often reveals the deep bond that human's can attain with their pet. To many dog owners, especially those who live alone with a dog, the loss is often compared to the death of a family member.
People who have never owned and loved a pet, often find this hard to understand. Often they are dismissive of the idea that someone could actually love a dog, in the same way that they could love a child. But many, many dog owners do.
Sudden death, accidental or otherwise is rare. A "so called" natural death for a dog can often be prolonged, painful, and traumatic for pet, and owner. Around 75% of dog owners, at some stage in their pet's life, are going to have to make a decision. It isn't an easy one. The question you need to ask yourself is. Is the quality of his life such that he would be far happier asleep?
Often you put it off. "I'll just give him a bit more time, perhaps he'll perk up". But in your heart you know that bringing your dog's life to a peaceful conclusion is now the right thing to do. By putting your own, often selfish, feelings to one side, and thinking solely about the plight of your dog, you've shown him this final act of kindness.
Once the decision is made--phone your vet. They are all understanding, and you will not have to face a waiting room of people. On the day, if possible, have someone supportive accompany you. Be brave for your pet's sake in the final moments--say your goodbye's. The overdose of anaesthetic, causes drowsiness, then he'll lapse in to unconsciousness, and within seconds a peaceful death.
Don't feel guilty, don't dwell on your decision--its inevitable, as we only have them for a short time. Allow yourself to grieve. It is a natural, healing process. Don't try to bottle up your feelings, let them pour out of you. Initially, your home will seem empty, your routines changed and unusual. Grieving takes time. I made a video of 4 of my dog's playing together on the beach. I lost all 4 in relatively quick succession--it took me several years before I was brave enough to watch that video.
Your pet's funeral will often depend on your philosophy on life. Some people let the vet handle things. Others, opt for cremation and retain the ashes, or for burial in a casket, with a fitting gravestone. Many, myself included, prefer the garden. Somehow, it seems more personal, as if their not that far away. Wrap them in their bedding, or a blanket, or towel with their toys. Make the grave at least 3 foot 6 inches deep.
Eventually the hurt decreases, the memories are not so painful. Life, as it must, moves on.
Dog's need good homes--far too many wind up unloved, and uncared for. Perhaps the greatest service anyone can do for dog's, is to provide them with a good home. At some stage--perhaps you will be willing to do dog's a great kindness again.
Here are 3 resources to help you cope with the bereavement of your dog.