Oct 102008
 
grieving pets death

Our dog, Georgie, is almost 3 years old. We’re cherishing every minute of her life.

Two veterinarians describe how they coped with their pet’s death; their experience may help you say good-bye and grieve your pet’s death.

Pet loss involves stages of mourning, just like losing a loved family member or friend. With pet death, however, you may also be coming to terms with your decision to put your pet to sleep.

“Death…is not more than passing from one room into another,” said Helen Keller. “But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room, I shall be able to see.”

Imagine that your beloved pet can see now, is healed now, and is happy and even waiting for you now….let that comfort you.

Help Coping With Your Pet’s Death

The following stories about pet loss are from veterinarians who know what you’re going through.

A Veterinarian Shares How He Coped When His Dog Died

I remember losing our family German Shepherd as a 11 year old. I was devastated and it really was like losing a family member. The loss of a pet should not be taken lightly and it is not something most people get over quickly or easily – although many may think there is a social stigma not to grieve for animals as we do for humans. The fact is that the bond that is formed between people and their pets is in many cases even stronger than some of the bonds between people. Since losing our German Shepherd, I have lost two cats also – one was an elderly girl that had to be put down due to deteriorating health, whilst the other a couple of years later was sadly run over.

Each pet loss had a different effect on me, depending on the bond I had shared with each animal. I was particularly saddened by the death of our German Shepherd because I had grown up with her and because she had always been very close to me in my childhood. ~ From Veterinarian Mark Edwards

An important way to cope with pet death is to focus on you pet’s life rather than the death (regardless of the circumstances in which they died). As for humans, grief is a five step process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally the last stage – acceptance. Once you accept your pet’s death, it is not unreasonable to consider getting a new pet. This is definitely not something you should feel guilty about.

Getting your pet cremated can be a good way to remember him or her. You can chose to have their ashes given back to you in a wooden casket or an urn and can even have a picture and plaque put on this. Do give yourself plenty of time for the grieving process; you may even want to take time off work. You may be surprised how much the death of your animal affects you when it does finally happen.

If you feel guilty about pet loss, you might find Coping With Guilty Feelings After Your Pet Dies helpful.

A Veterinarian Describes Losing Her Pets Through Euthanasia

I’ve lost five dogs over the years; the last dog I lost was in April 2007. None died naturally, I had to euthanize them, and all but one had cancer. The other was euthanized as the result of a bad fall and was only 4 ½ years old.

I’m still sad, particularly about my “very best dog of all time.” She was euthanized 6 years ago, and I still miss her. We did everything together: she came to work with me, we camped together, and I haven’t had a dog like her since. Coping with grief because of your dog’s death takes time. Losing a pet is like losing a family member. You always feel a degree of sadness, but after a while it doesn’t hurt so much.

Some people like to get a new pet straight away because the loss of the old pet leaves such a hole. If you’ve always had a dog around the house, and then all of a sudden there isn’t one that can exacerbate the great sense of loss. In that case, a new pet can give you something to love and hug while you grieve the loss of the old pet. However, people need to be very careful not to compare the new pet to the old pet, as it will never measure up. ~ Veterinarian Rosie Brown.

Should you get another pet to help you cope with your pet’s death? If you have to put your cat or dog to sleep, it’s normal to go through the normal stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, guilt… I think denial and guilt are the two biggies when you have to say good-bye to your dog or cat. Many people feel guilt about choosing to “kill” their pet but it’s not like that at all. If it comes to euthanasia, then you and your vet are at the point where your pet’s quality of life will not be good, there’s nothing that can be done to make it better. You’re actually doing them a great kindness to end their suffering.

After your dog or cat has been put to sleep, be very kind to yourself and allow yourself to cope when your dog or cat dies. Take as long as you need to. Surround yourself with friends and family who understand what your pet meant to you, and who will listen to you and support you. The worst thing you can hear is “it’s only a dog, you can get another one”. Avoid people with that attitude, because it will only make you feel worse.

If you’re struggling with grief and guilty feelings because of the circumstances surrounding your dog or cat’s death, read Letting Go of an Animal You Love: 75 Ways to Survive Pet Loss.

I interviewed veterinarians, grief counselors, and pet experts for the best ways to survive the death of a beloved dog or cat, and I included stories from real pet owners who coped with their pet’s death in sometimes surprising ways.

Are you coping with your pet’s death? I invite you to share below; describing your dog or cat’s life and death can help you heal.

About Me

quips tips love relationshipsI'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.

  360 Responses to “How to Cope With Your Pet’s Death – A Veterinarian’s Help”

  1. Thank you for sharing about how you’re coping with your pet’s death. Though nothing can erase the heartache, it does help to know we’re not alone.

  2. My husband & I put our 81/2 year old Blue Nose Female Mystique aka Tique Tique Monster asleep yesterday.She had cancer of the pancreas a very rare form.We paid fir surgery but it didn’t help.We found out after she had a seizaier that last ten minutes or so.We made her a inside doggie loved her and spoiled her.We had her on predisone to help keep her glucose high.We got to the highest amount and started to feed her every four hours and give her sugar shots every two.
    She started having a hard time walking.But she still ate and drink water.Then in the last two days she’d fall when she would go potty.And would just lay around all day.I loved her so much and feel guilty for putting her down.I question if I should have waited longer,cause she still would love us and wag her tail at us.She just looked at us so sad…I just can’t get over the guilt.I know she would continue to suffer if we didn’t .But I feel I gave up too soon.We kept her strong for seven months since diagnosed but was that long enough?I love you Tique Tique Girl.I hope you forgive us in heaven.

  3. Well, were to start!Let’s go back to roughly 8:40am Monday 5th Sep when me and my boyfriend took a much regretted decision to put to sleep our beloved dog – Jess.His app was booked for 10:20 but we had to wait til about 10:40am.
    I cannot tell you all how much we regret this decision as I feel we were influenced by friends and family.Although I realize that the final decision was soley ours.
    I have never written on a forum before but my greive is so raw that I need to tell like minded people. Also it is a stark warning that if maybe anyone else is thinking of putting their pets to sleep then you need to really weigh up the pro’s and con’s and the best advice I could offer is to get a final consultation with your vet which we didn’t because I just thought we were doing the right thing.
    Jess had been to the vet’s just over 4 weeks ago because his glands were up. We were told that because he was old ( Jess was 17 ) that it was tartar build up and it was just an infection, so he was given anti-biotics and we were told to monitor them but not every day, every week. In hindsight it was not really up to us and I feel the vet should have asked us to follow up with a second app.once his anti-biotics had finished. I also think that they should have offered us a blood test to rule out any other ailments. Bearing in mind we didn’t think to have any of these tests done because they are the experts and we believed what they told us.
    Jess had been under the vets for a number of years. In Dec 2008 he suffered a stroke so we rushed him to the vets where he was put on tablets. That week he had another 2 strokes but we took a week off work, sobbing our way through it and we nursed him back to health and he went on to survive for another 3 years. We were so lucky to have been given the right advice that he could go on to have a near normal back to health life that he had before.
    Anyway roll forward to last Sep when we moved house which I prayed we’d get because it was gna be Jess’ retirement home. Another prayer come true, but then this year he gradaully began to lose all the strength in his back legs which resulted in me some of the time holding him up so he could eat and drink. Then over the last 10 day’s Jess was soiling everywhere in the house and even in his basket after he’d been put out. He looked down and embarassed when this happened even though I didn’t mind one bit and he was never scolded.My main reason for putting him to sleep was if he fell and got trapped and then maybe soiled himself, I did not want to come home to a pitiful sight and that would have been an even bigger regret. It’s just that as we took him to the vet’s he actually thought he was going for a walk and was excited, also he was eating, drinking and was generally happy and tottering around the house. I have never seen my boyfriend cry before as he has cried all week. I have not stopped crying and I only wish we would’ve asked the vet to give him steroids for his legs. I did ask about his glands and she said they seem more sinister than just an infection, still he never was given the once over and I feel guilty because he could have had another week,month….
    I will say that Jess was not distressed and just sat on the floor then once they shaved his leg, he lay on the floor were I held him and he lay his head over my arm just like he did every night when I cuddled him to sleep.I kissed him so many times and I miss him so much that I really do regret taking him as I’ve read so many times that its when your dog can’t/won’t get out of his basket that the time has come. Jess could get out of his basket, could eat, still liked walking, etc….I’m so sorry Jess xxxx

  4. Hey Laurie..

    Thanks for your reply and concern towards my dog’s death. I really felt good after reading your reply… Thanks so much.. You are really doing an amazing work.. Keep it up.

    Cheers,
    Raj

  5. Tina,
    Thank you so much for sharing, your kind words came at moment when I really needed them. I too am so sorry for your loss, I completely understand how you’re feeling especially the guilt, and it comes in waves of completely different things. Today it’s I should have tried harder but I know in my mind that it probably would have been even more painful in the end, knowing that I had allowed her to suffer more. Like you, I feel guilty about not being with her but I think she forgives me. It was such a shock that the whole thing was even happening, if I had known something so serious was wrong I would have done some research and been better prepared and known what to do should the situation arise, it would have still hurt like nothing has ever hurt me before. I just miss her so much, she was truly my baby, I feel lost without her. I do find comfort in the love we shared, nothing can take that away. I know I will be with her again someday, just as you will be with Maggie. I thought she was with me yesterday, following me around at work and I had to say a prayer that she is at peace and with God because I was afraid that I was keeping her spirit here because I am so distraught. I keep thinking tomorrow it will be easier and each tomorrow it isn’t. So now I just have to think, next week will be easier and maybe it will. Thank you so much for understanding, you have truly been a blessing. God bless you too.

  6. Valerie-

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can relate to your feelings of guilt over the euthanasia. You can read my post further down (from a couple of days ago.) Everything happened so quickly with my cat Maggie that it’s such a shock that she’s passed. She was a perfectly healthy cat- or so the vet said- and in a matter of a couple of days she could barely breathe. I struggle with guilt every day. I feel guilty that I wasn’t there with her during the euthanasia- no matter how hard it may have been for me or how scared i was of seeing it- I feel like I should have been with her while she passed. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t want her to be scared and im so terrified that she passed in fear. The vet told me that because of Maggie’s state she probably wouldn’t have recognized me. I keep thinking the vet is wrong- who is she to know- maybe Maggie could have heard me or somehow known I was with her. I would want my loved ones to be by my side when I pass. I do believe in the concept of “souls” or “spirits” – I do not believe that the life we have on this earth is finite and there is nothing after. I think atheists are actually ignorant people- when you think about it, we are after all floating in space! I just pray that my baby’s soul is at peace and with God and that she forgives me for not being with her during her last moments. I find comfort in feeling my love for her because nothing, I mean nothing, can ever take away that love. Because of my love for her, I am bound to her forever and she is bound to me forever. I hope you can find comfort in the love of your precious cat as well. God bless.

  7. I came across this website trying to deal with the tremendous grief and devestation I am feeling with the loss of my 9 year old cat Myah on 8/26/2011. This has been an utter shock and I am completely heartbroken and no one understands. Five days before she was gone I noticed her behaving differently, she stopped trying to go outside(she was an inside kitty) and she stopped greeting us at the door and following us everywhere. I told my husband that she was acting strange and felt like she had lost a little weight so the next day I made her an appointment for her vet on Wednesday. Sure enough, she had lost weight so they did blood work to figure out what was going on. The next day they called me with the results and her liver enzymes were high, which is not what I was expecting, I was expecting a thyroid problem. They told me to bring her in for subcu fluids and an antibiotic just in case and made me an appointment with an internal medicine specialist for the following afternoon. I stayed home with her on Friday instead of going to work to make sure she was eating, drinking, going to the bathroom. She was eating on Wednesday, by Friday she had stopped. I forced fed her a little. I took her to her appointment with the doctor and he examined her, felt a mass and fluid in her abdomen, so he took her back for an ultrasound and a sample(I forget what you call it, they put a needle into the mass and withdraw some cells to look at). I waited for about 45 minutes and they called me back to a room to talk with the doctor. She had a seizure during the ultrasound, complete shock and disbelief, he told me that she had a mass in her abdomen that involved most of her organs, another growth on one of her kidneys, something on her liver and he thought the major mass was impacting her intestines, why she wasn’t eating. I was and still am hysterical. How could this be? How could a perfectly healthy cat one week to all this the next. I asked him what do I do and he told me I had three options, take her home and watch her suffer through until she passes which expected would be within a day, euthanize her, or try to get her strength back up so that she could undergo a surgery that would likely kill her and if it didn’t they could try chemo and radiation which would have little chance of helping her. I wanted to see her, I went to the room where they were doing the procedure while the doctor went to talk to the oncologist about the sample. She was laying on a hospital bed with a towel wrapped around her and a cone with some oxygen in front of her head, one of the dr’s asst’s was petting and comforting her, she purred, I pet and comforted her and after a few minutes she let out a very rough meow/yowl. It didn’t even sound like her, she had bubbles around her lips from the seizure, she was my baby. I loved her so much, I have other pets but for the longest time it was just her and me. The doctor came back and it was cancer and he said she had very little chance of recovering from this and one of the vet’s assts told me that if I took her home to be prepared for her probably have more seizures and probably have to take her to the emergency vet to have her euthanized once I could not bear to see her suffer anymore…..so I let her go. and I still can’t believe she’s gone. They offered to let me take her into a private room to say goodbye but I was afraid if they moved her she would have another seizure so I pet her and kissed her on her forehead. She was so peaceful laying there, I know she was ready, I couldn’t stay in the room with her, I was afraid of her body’s reaction to the euthanasia and how it would haunt me and now that’s just added to the list of things I’m obsessing over/guilty about. I miss her so much, and just wonder if I did the right thing. And I know there’s no right thing, this will never feel right no matter what. I know some day I’ll see her in heaven….Love you mama girl!!!!!

  8. Baby had been with me for 15 years, until this morning. She moved across country with me a year ago and learned to climb stairs for the first time. She had arthritis in her spine, then developed multiple UTI’s. She was put on thyroid medicine earlier this year too. She started to have minor seizures. I had to go away for a few days and in that time she developed severe swelling in her leg and groin area. (lymph blockage)She had a hard time walking and she was panting so hard all the time. She was put on medicine to reduce the swelling and then her back legs gave out, wouldnt eat and when I did get something in her she threw it back up. Last night she had, basically, a grand mal seizure. The meds werent helping anymore and she looked so tired. I have had to have many animals euthanized over the years but she was the most difficult as she was my buddy out here. So I ended her suffering at 10:30 this morning and realized how tired she was when it didn’t take long to take effect. Everyone tells me she was holding on for me because I wasn’t ready to let her go. I know that she tried really hard to keep going for me. But now it was time to put me aside and think of how she was living. I love her with all my heart and know that she is happy with the other pups that were previously in my life. That doesn’t make it easier and the support of all my family and friends are many miles away.
    My house and back seat of my car is so empty now, but I think I need time to grieve her and not bring in a new pet yet. This is the first time in 26 yrs I have been without a dog. I have always had a pet of some sort my entire life. I am lost.

  9. I lost my beautiful cat Maggie Monday morning around 6am. I am still in such shock and disbelief when I hear the words “Maggie has passed away.” We adopted her when she was just a few weeks old and had her for 11 years. She would have been 12 years old this coming April. Her birthday is the day after mine. She was always healthy, or at least seemed that way. She developed an abscess about a week and a half before she passed. We took her to her vet, and they performed surgery to drain the abscess. She was sent home with pain medicine and antibiotics. I would wake up every morning at 5am to give her the pain medicine because I was horrified that she was in pain. I would sit by her side for an hour and when she drifted back to sleep, I went to bed. We took her back to the vet this past Friday to check on the abscess, and the vet said she was healing just fine. I did notice she was breathing a bit heavier than normal, so i asked the vet if everything is fine with her lungs and he said he didn’t notice anything when he listened to her lungs earlier. I was so optimistic about her healing and couldn’t wait for her to get better so she can run up the stairs again to my room and cuddle with me, like she so often did. Sunday morning, I woke to find her breathing abnormally heavy. Her whole body seemed to move with every breath she took, and her nose was moving too. She seemed as though she was struggling. We immediately took her to the vet, who gave her oxygen and took x-rays of her lungs. Turns out she was in heart failure and most of her lungs were filled with fluids. She was basically drowning in her own body. They gave her diuretics, but nothing worked. The moment they tried to take her out of the oxygen tank, my baby went back to open mouth breathing, struggling. The vet said they will try all they can and they did. But at 2am we were told that my precious Maggie went into cardiac arrest. She passed for a couple of minutes, but they brought her back. I remember praying so hard for her, and I closed my eyes…her face suddenly appeared to me. It was so weird that I was extremely startled. I think she came to me when she passed for those couple of minutes. After they brought her back, everything they tried still couldn’t help. The vet thought she also lost her sight because of the cardiac arrest. They told us there is not much more they can try. We decided to put Maggie out of her misery and put her to sleep. I couldn’t be there- it felt too painful-but the vet was with her, petting her the entire time. I asked to see her little body one final time after she passed- she looked so peaceful, curled up like a little angel. Tears just exploded out of me. I love her so much and always will. She wasn’t just my beloved cat- she was my baby. I adored her so much. I was truly given a gift having her in my life. I love you baby, Mommy will see you again someday.

  10. Just came home from vets, my wee 16year old yorkie trixie had to be put to sleep. The pain is terrible. Had her since she was 5weeks old loved her so much don’t know how I’m gonna cope without her..

  11. Hi alison and hubby, i too was so glad to have found Lauries site.I am so sorry to hear about your baby Murphy. I lost “my baby” Connor my beautiful golden retreiver 4 weeks ago this friday 2nd sept. He also had to be helped up as he had arthritis in his back legs, he had a fantastic appetite, and once he was picked up,would go out for a little walk in the garden.I too struggled about letting him go, if you have a good vet like i did, he can give you advice and perhaps recommend a steroid tablet as mine did for connor, it really did give him a good few weeks better quality of life, he was even getting up on his own!The only dissadvantage was, he had his age against him. Have you tried a hydrotherepy class for Murphy. These come highly recommended.You will know when its time, believe me,no one can advise you, it is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make as i had to. All the very best to you both and murphy, i hope he has a few more years left in him, as he sounds so similar to my dog. Tina.x

  12. I am so glad I found this site. My husband and I are struggling over what to do about our almost 12 yr old Airedale Terrier, Murphy. Murphy has 2 bad back knees. He can walk, but has to be picked up off the floor. Recently he’s started having accidents here & there…mostly because he can’t get up on his own. He still has a great appetite, seems happy & engaged, and once picked up, goes outside & walks around the house begging for treats. I’m not sure we are to the point of euthanasia yet, but I know it’s coming. I have cried all day today and can’t stop crying. We don’t have children so Murphy is our baby. We have had him since he was 8 wks old & he has been the most loving, sweet dog you could ever ask for. I truly can’t bear the thought of letting him go.

  13. On 8-20-11 I lost my Biff Edward. Biff was my almost 10 year old St. Bernard, which is ancient for a dog his size. Today marks the one week anniversary of his death. The pain is unbearable. The open wound that is my heart now throbs.

    My boyfriend came home from work to find Biff lying in his favorite spot in the living room, however he would get up to go potty. He tried to help him up, but Biff wasn’t having it. You can’t make a 200 lb dog do anything if it really doesn’t want to. I rushed home as soon as I heard (I work nights), and found him with his head tilted to the side, left sided facial droop, and his eyes were moving side to side very quickly. I thought he’d had a stroke. I called the hospice vet who said it was probably vestibular syndrome. I made the appointment for 8 the next morning. I read all night about it. It’s an inner ear problem that messes with the dog’s equilibrium. Biff was motion sick! I cancelled the hospice vet, and got Biff to the vet. My vet said it was vestibular syndrome. It’s a problem that older dogs get that can be caused by an ear infection, old age itself, or a brain lesion. He said that Biff would tell us if it was a tumor, because he won’t get better. Imagine my relief! We took him home, got him comfortable and for the next six days I never left his side. Biff wasn’t eating or getting up. After a few days, his appetite improved. His liquid intake was good, and the weird eye movement was gone. Things appeared to be on the upswing.

    Fast foward to friday. I noticed that his puppy pads were dry. He was getting up to use the bathroom. Alarmed, I rushed him to the vet. In usual Biff fashion, as soon as we got to the vet, he peed all over the place. While relieved that his peeing resumed, I him not getting up, as well as bed sores, urine scalds, and his quality of life. I knew he felt bad about going in the house. My vet said vestibular disease can take a while to recover from. Back home we went. I was so torn! I didn’t want to put him down if he could get better. While I was giving him his bath that night, I just prayed that either God or Biff would give me a sign. I sat up most of the night with him. The next morning I was awoken by Biff the next morning, dragging himself towards the living room, and I realize he’s pooping and trying to get up, and get away from it. I went to him, and realized it wasn’t just poop, but bright red blood throughout, and a lot. He gave me the look and I knew. We went immediately to the vet. I took his Snoopy dog toy with us, and blankets from home. He was so calm, more than I was for sure. I stayed with him. He gave me one last slobbery kiss. The vet came in, and started the injection. He had his head up, and looked around, then at me. He laid his head in my arms, and I felt his gentle, giant soul leave his body. The vet listened for his heart, then told me he was gone. I let out this long, animal-like wail.

    So a week ago today, my big Biff was here. Now he’s not. I know I did the right thing for him. He isn’t suffering. He’s free from his aging body, and is running around on Heaven like the bull in a china shop that he was when he was a puppy. He was such a sweet dog, who lived a long time, with his family that loved him. He was such a super star. Everywhere we went, people wanted to touch him, and play with him. He was a beast! It saddens me even more thinking about how one day I’ll have to do it to my Lab, Sam.

    I’m just super sad. I miss him so much. I feel privileged to have had him in my life, glad that I was there in his last week when he needed me so much, worried that I either waited too long or that I gave up and he would’ve been ok, and feel a little less scared about when I die because I know he will be waiting for me to get there.

    I know how much pain you guys are in. But our babies are no lomger in pain. They’re all playing in that big dog park in the sky.

    Rest in peace Biffy. I will always love you and will never forget you.

    Val

  14. HELLO ALL YOU WONDERFUL,KIND AND CARING PEOPLE WHO LIKE ME HAVE RECENTLY LOST THEIR BEAUTIFUL BELOVED PET. I LOST MY GOLDEN RETRIEVER CONNOR ON THE 5/8/11 AND CRY EVERY DAY. THE REASON I AM WRITING TODAY, I HAVE COME ACROSS THE MOST WONDERFUL WEBSITE LIGHT A CANDLE.APART FROM THIS LOVELY WEBSET THAT LAURIE SET UP,IT HAS REALLY HELPED ME COPE EACH DAY WITH THE LOSS OF MY DOG. EACH CANDLE BURNS FOR 48 HOURS SO EVERY 2 DAYS I LIGHT ONE FOR CONNOR, TRY IT FOR YOURSELF ITS VERY SPIRITUAL AND YOU CAN LEAVE A FEW WORDS ON BEHALF OR YOUR WONDERFUL PET. TAKE CARE LOVE TINA. X

  15. Dwain, I am so sorry to hear that your cat Tiger disappeared. You’re right; not much is written about pets that just disappear. That’s so difficult to cope with, as there is no closure. I hope your friends are right, that he did wander off for some inexplicable reason and will come home to you…my heart breaks for you.

    Patricia, thanks for sharing your pet memorial here. One of the best ways to cope with pet death is to keep memories alive by writing them down where people can read them!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  16. Anyone who has ever opened their heart to a pet knows how hard it is to say goodbye. My thoughts are with you all in your time of loss. I lost my German Shepherd, Abbey Rose, April 13, 2011. Her hips were so bad she could not walk anymore. I did not want to see her suffer so our vet euthanized her. My Girl was great. I know she is running around somewhere close by thanking me for letting her go. I miss her terribly but I know I will feel better in time. Love you, Girl. Mommy

  17. I am now coping with the loss of a great friend and family member, my Tiger. He was slightly over 2 years young and one day about four weeks ago he just disappeared. He was taking his morning walk. As an indoor cat, he has never spent a night out alone. But now I’m realizing he’s probably gone.

    There is a lot of advice on how to cope with the death of a pet. Very little seems to be written on ones that simply disappear. There is more guilt – maybe I didn’t watch him closely enough or I should have had him fixed, so that he wouldn’t want to roam.

    I think about him every day now. I think about all the special times we shared. I relive the last few moments that I saw him, wandering about the neighbor’s yard. He was a scrawny cat, very thin and had a crooked tail. But he was always so cute.

    He would choose to sleep with me when others were around. He would greet me when I came home from work by crawling up my leg, wanting nothing more than to be picked up and scratched. He would sleep in my lap in the most uncomfortable of positions, just to be with me when I was at my computer. He would lick my fingers for no reason other than to remind me he was near. All of these small joys are now lacking in my life, even though my wife and I have two other cats.

    People say he might yet come back. Time is my enemy. I fear that in his last moments, he thought of me, wondering why I wasn’t there to protect him.

    I will always remember him. His life was short but his contribution large.

  18. Dear Dr S,

    Thank you for sharing about Loving in Home Euthanasia! I hadn’t heard of mobile veterinarian before, or home euthanasia – though one of the veterinarians in my article did euthanize her dog at home.

    Thank you also for giving us your perspective as veterinarian performing the euthanasia. I didn’t know that some pet owners feel so bad afterwards, that they blame the vet. I guess that’s to be expected, though, since coping with pet death is SO difficult for most of us.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  19. I am a mobile veterinarian. One of my main tasks, is to perform Loving In home euthanasia. More often times than not, I am sincerely thanked for the service that I offer and that they understand that his can be a very difficult job. Client think of me as an angel. But occasionally (once every few years) I have a situation, for one reason or another, experiences either a hiccup in the procedure, an owners rethinking their decision or for no apparently reason at all, I then you become the devil. This really bothers me, I know this is the anger of grieving and try to understand that. I try to just tell myself… “you are trying your best”.

    In addition, I have a client who had their former vet euthanize their pet at home. For a year, they demonized him at every turn for every reason to me whenever I saw them on an appointment. I really felt bad that they thought he was a devil reborn and only wished him bad things.

    I guess the whole point… every Veterinarian has a heart and is just trying their best under difficult circumstances. I have read many an article of how this situation is one of the main reason Veterinarian experience a lot of stress in their profession. This profession has a higher suicide rate most of all the medical professions.

    Because one of the grieving processes include denial and anger, I do not think there is a good solution to this problem. But thanks everyone for listening.

  20. Dear Tina,

    Thank you for sharing Connor’s life and your memories here. I’m sorry you lost him…he sounded like an amazing dog. I wish you all the best as you mourn his passing, and hope that one day you remember him with only joy and no tears.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  21. At 2.30 this afternoon i had my beautiful golden retriever connor put to sleep,he would of been 15 years old this september 25th 2011.My heart is broken, how will i cope?I know many people would say that i was so fortunate to have him in my life for so long but thats just it, the thought of never seeing him ever again is killing me. Please will someone tell me that i will see my big boy again.I can not stop crying.I feel so guilty about having him put to sleep, but his body was just so old even though his mind was so young.He had arthritis in his back legs and became incontinent and had to be helped up to standing position most days, due to the stiffness in legs love him. he was a wonderful dog who never barked, had many illnesses over his 15 years lifespan, ranging from a broken leg, cancer and 15 months ago he had a stroke.my vet was so amazed by him as he was a real fighter, we used to joke about his name as i named him connor after connor mc cloud in highlander as the saying was there can be only one. and he certainly lived up to his name.THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER LIKE MY CONNOR. xx

  22. Dear Raj,

    Thank you for sharing how your poor dog died – I’m sorry for you. It’s hard enough coping with pet death, without wondering if the medication that was supposed to help her, actually harmed her.

    I can’t imagine how hard and heartbreaking it is to be helpless to help your dog, and to see her look at you with eyes full of innocence and pain. The thought of it breaks my heart — I am SO sorry for you.

    I don’t know anything about that medication, but here are two veterinarian websites that offer free pet advice:

    http://www.askvetadvice.com/
    http://www.free-online-veterinarian-advice.com/

    I hope they help, and wish you all the best.

    Blessings and sympathies,
    Laurie

  23. I am here to tell you what happened to my little Sony on July 18th,2011. The worst day I ever had in my life. She was nearly 8 years old and for the past two years she was suffering with some respiratory problem not sure what the problem is. No one has diagnosed her problem correctly and on July 18th my dad took her to the vet to get her diagnosed.They have given her some injection(Avil)as she was gasping heavily on that day and that injection reacted in a bad way. By the time my dad reached our home her tongue turned to blue and her back legs got paralyzed and she went to my mom by just dragging her back legs and fell down and she looked at everyone with an innocent and painful face. By the time I reached my home she was there just with her last breath and she was getting the hiccups and she already lost her eyesight. I just kept my hand on her and whispered in her ears that I love her so much and I was calling her name with tears in my eyes. She survived for another 5mins and she stopped breathing, I felt like someone pulled my heart from me. I really feel bad that we don’t have good and qualified vets here in India. Today is the 6th day since she left us and we were not able to eat nor sleep till now. We keep on watching her pics and videos and our hearts are filled up with lot of vacuum. We feel that she has rested in peace… We are thinking to get another doggie but don’t want to take the risk again cause this moment would come for her also at some point. I don’t have guts to experience such a devastating scenario once again in my life. I just want to share my experience with all of you to get out of this grief but it will take time. I love you Sony and I miss you a lot. If any vet sees this blog please tell me what happened to my doggie after taking the AVIl Shot. Is that med reacted to her in a bad way? They have given 0.8ml of Avil.

    Thanks!
    Raj

  24. I echo Sally’s remarks…may Peppy rest in peace. Sandi, I hope you’re healing through the mourning process.

  25. Sandi,

    I can’t believe what you went through with your pet’s death. I have never had a dog, but it sounds like you loved Peppy so much. I have only had cats but their deaths weren’t as heartbreaking as your dog’s. May Peppy rest in peace.

    Sally

  26. Yesterday we had to put to sleep our 7 year dachshund Peppy. She broke her neck when she jumped against our back fence while barking at the neighbors dogs. We did not realize what truly happened until it was to late. After she hurt herself she seemed somewhat normal but late Wednesday we noticed something was wrong. Thursday she could no longer walk so we brought her to the vet hoping for good news ; she hurt herself before a few years ago and seemed fine after taking meds. This time was different thought after we brought back home her health began to get worse… the vet sent us to a specialist yesterday. We were told that she was compeletly paralized and even if we would do the surgery it would not help. It felt like someone ripped a piece of my heart. We all gathered around and I whispered to her that I’m sorry for the pain and I loved her so much …she licked my face and I fell apart she seemed ok except for that she could no longer walk and would not be able to breath as it progressed ….I held her and told I loved her over and over the vet told us after second shot to step out because of what could happen. I can not stop crying. I miss my big girl I feel bitter she was taken from me to soon and it’s not fair. She was scared and confused that’s what gets me so sad she did not what was happening and there was nothing I could. It has only been a day and pain feels even worse than yesterday. We have to 2 other dogs who sit by doggie waiting for her to come out. I miss her so much. R.I.P Peppy I hope your chasing those birds in heaven.

  27. Thank you for sharing your stories, about how you’re coping with your pet’s death. It’s so painful and personal — and I know it helps everyone who reads it, to know they’re not alone!

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  28. My best friend died on May 9th, 2011 at 10:35 AM. Gunther was a Rotti that I rescued. He was wonderful and sweet and so silly. In February of 2010 he was diagnosed with bone cancer. My heart was broken. I decided to do all I could to save him. On February 16th (my b-day) I left him at the vet for surgery to remove his leg. They kept him there for 3 days, if I could have slept there I would have. I missed him so. We followed up the surgery with 6 rounds of chemo. This was expensive, but it got me another 15 months with my loving dog. The Vet-Oncologist said he would live another 18 months to 2 years (I was hoping and praying everyday), but 15 months was all I got. I was hoping we could do more treatment, but the bone cancer spread to his lungs and I was told that nothing more could be done. It came so fast at the end. One day he was walking and playing a little bit, then the next he couldn’t get up. We took him to the vet, she didn’t think it was time yet. Thought maybe he had some arthritis in his back legs and put him on pain meds. This was the Wednesday before he died. My dad had to come over 2 times during the day to help me carry him out and stand him up to go to the bathroom. He was still eating and drinking. Then when my husband got home we would take him out 2 more times before bed. On Mother’s day we made the dreadful decision to put him to sleep. We called the vet and made arrangements to come to the house Monday morning, I wanted it done in his home where he was happiest. The vet was to be here at 1:00 pm. Around 10:15 AM we took Gunther outside to go to the bathroom and lay in the grass in his favorite spot.
    He looked so happy and perky that I came in to get my camera (thinking maybe we were wrong and it was not the time), my husband called to me that something was wrong I came running and I could see something was not right. I ran to him and was holding him and petting him and telling him everything was all right. He looked at me, licked my face and then he laid his head down and died. I have felt overwhelming despair and grief ever since. I haven’t been able to sleep, the few times I fall asleep I wake up crying and I don’t know why. I can’t go in my bedroom (which is actually the formal living room, we put our bedroom downstairs when Gunther could no longer use the steps). My husband dug up the spot in the front yard where Gunther died and we planted a garden for him, it didn’t help. I walk around all day carrying his favorite toy and a picture of him. I wasn’t able to help my children through their grief because mine was too overwhelming.
    Gunther was 4 when we got him and died at 10. I keep telling myself he had a good life and was well loved. I have had many dogs, but the bond I had with Gunther was like no other and the grief is much worse.

  29. Also, let me just say…I believe the vets Knew that he was sick…but what could they do? Cancer like this is something that isn’t cured generally and I think that I would have chosen to put him down rather witness his quality of life be non enjoyable…When you love something…you let it go…at least thier bodies…their spirits never leave you… :)

  30. I believe my dog is in heaven right now. I have no reason to believe otherwise and it is what gets me throught he times I feel the overwhelming amount of guilt about having to put him down to sleep. He had liver cancer. My guilt is that I knew but I did’t know…if that makes any sense. I knew that his lymph nodes were swollen and though I took him in, and they assured me that nothing was wrong (via xrays and bloodowork), I still knew in my heart he wouldn’t be here with me much longer. He also had terrible lumps all over his body…they looked like large moles and he was very itchy toward the end of the last year…I feel guilty about getting on to him about itching…although I know that he’s in heaven and he’s safe and sound in the Father’s arms…I still miss him tremendously…he was only 11 years old…he was a Bichon Frise…the runt of the liter and he died November 21st, 2010…I will NEVER forget him and I’m still depressed and grieving today…it’s not something I share with others, especially family, because they don’t understand…I suppose they wouldn’t…Don’t let anyone tell you that you have no right to grieve…you do…let the feelings out whenever and however long you care to…it’s by doing this that your pain will subside…at least to the point of being able to get on with your life…and know that he can hear whatever it is you’re saying to him…I always tell my Beejy boy…I love him forever and a day!

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